This is a question lots of new users ask when they can't find their shop in Google search results. In this article I'll help you to answer that question.
Is there something wrong with my site?
Thankfully this is a really easy one to answer because all major search engines: Google, Bing and Yandex, provide 'webmaster tools'. They will tell you definitively if there is something fundamentally wrong with your site stopping them from indexing you.
For example, in Google Search Console critical errors will appear in your Dashboard here:
Check that to see if there's anything flagged here.
It's also worth looking at the 'Security issues' in case your site has any of these- they'll stop it from being indexed.
Sign up for the Bing and Yandex webmaster tools too and take a look at their reports.
Have I been indexed?
Indexing is where a search engine visits your site, going through all of its pages to decide which ones are worth adding to its index- a directory of pages that potentially can show up in search results.
This is the first step towards appearing in search results so you want to make sure you are being indexed.
Again, you can use the search engine's webmaster tools to find out how many pages have been indexed.
Using Google Search Console as an example, the 'Index Status' report under 'Google Index' shows this:
If no pages show up here then you should investigate. If your site is very new it's likely that Google just hasn't visited it yet. Let's give them a prod:
1. In Search Console, go to Crawl > Sitemaps
2. Press 'Add/test sitemap'
3. Enter the path to your sitemap. This will likely be just sitemap.xml
4. Press 'Submit'
It can take a while for this to be indexed, so add a reminder to your calendar to check in after a week and then a month. If after a month there's nothing showing up in the index then there could be a problem. Drop us an email and we'll happily investigate.
If you have pages showing up in the search engine's indexed pages report then you don't have something critically wrong with your site stopping it from being indexed.
But I can't find myself in Google?
If you have a good number of indexed pages and you've been indexed for a few weeks you should start to appear for searches.
In Google Search Console you can see if you are appearing for searches and what those searches are by going to the Search Traffic > Search Analytics report.
Here you should see a table of 'Queries'. These are the keywords where your site has appeared in search results.
If there are any here then congratulations- you're appearing for searches! There is nothing wrong with your site stopping you from being indexed and Google is showing you in its search results pages.
Why don't I show up for [keyword]?
If you search for something like your brand name or a unique product you sell it can be confusing why you don't turn up for that search term.
Unfortunately we can only guide search engines in what we want to be ranked for. We do this by:
- including the keyword and natural variants in page titles
- writing product and collection descriptions containing this keyword liberally but naturally
- writing blog posts on the topic of this keyword
- getting links to our site from other sites where the link text contains this keyword
New keywords can take time to be picked up, gradually building value over time. Focus on one keyword or a small number of related keywords, doing all of the above over a month or more.
Then give it time, checking your 'Search Analytics' report in Google Search Console to see when you start appearing for variations of this keyword. You may well be down in the hundreds to start with! But if you have a good clickthrough rate and low bounce rate Google will naturally rise you up through the ranks.
Read more about this in How to measure if your SEO is improving or degrading.
A note about 'errors'
In this article we've mainly covered how to learn if there are things stopping search engines from listing you in search results. Clearly these are the things that need to be fixed (and fixed fast!) if there are any.
There are other things, sometimes flagged as 'errors' that should be fixed but will not stop you from appearing in search results.
For example in Google Search Console > Crawl > 'Crawl errors' you may be alarmed to see some errors here. Don't panic! I've yet to see a site with a zero here.
'404 not found' errors are natural as products, collections and pages are deleted/renamed. In this case, it's best to keep control of the number of crawl errors here by thinking about how you deal with things like out-of-stock items, but provided you have indexed pages above you will still appear in search results.
Take a look through your webmaster tools and if you have any questions about what something means just drop us an email.