Congratulations! You’ve finished building your consulting business’s website!
Putting together a site is harder than it looks. Consultants have a lot of angst writing about themselves, their services and designing their website in general. Hopefully, you created a blog, added some case studies and scotch-taped together your lead capture forms.
But, you’re over the hump and thinking “as long as people find me, I should be in business!” And, therein lies the rub: clients need to find you first. The first (and most likely) place they’ll stumble upon your intellectual empire is via Google search.
Luckily, it’s pretty easy. Here’s a primer on getting your consulting website into Google to accelerate the stumbling.
How Google Finds Websites
All search engines use specialized software programs called “spiders,” that scour the Internet for new sites to index. The process of seeking out new sites is known as “crawling” the web. Once a search engine crawls a site, it parses the information it finds and adds the site to its index.
The Google spider, known affectionately as the Googlebot, seeks out new sites regularly via manual requests or by analyzing outside links to new sites. While you can wait for Googlebot to find you, the best approach is to take matters into your own hands (hence, the reason for this post).
Requesting Google to add your site
To get started, you’ll have to register your website using Google Webmaster Tools (GWT). While GWT is free, you’ll need to create an account with Google if you don’t already have one.
The process is pretty straight forward: register the site, verify ownership (typically done by placing an HTML file in your website that Google can ping) and head over to the “Submit URL” page to put in a crawl request. Here’s a link to their instructions for adding a site.
Simple as that. Unfortunately, Google makes no guarantee as to how long the process might take. I’ve seen it take as little as three days and as long as two weeks.
The easiest way to see if your site has been indexed is to perform a Google search for your site’s address. If you’ve made the cut and are now included in Google’s index, your site should be the first search result you see. You can also check GWT for status.
With the easy part out of the way, let’s take a look at other ways you can help improve your website’s Google-ization.
Making Sure Google Sees Everything: Creating and Submitting Sitemaps
A sitemap is a special document that lets Google know about all the pages included in your website. This ensures that when the Googlebot visits to crawl and index your site, every available bit of your online real estate is included in the process. That’s critical because search engines index information at the page level, so Google is going to looking to deliver searchers to the most relevant page of your site, not at your virtual front door. Your sitemap also includes information about how often Google can expect your content to change.
The promise of new content makes Google happy to return to your site for more rounds of indexing. If your webpages are well structured, chances are good that Google will automatically find all your new content when it comes back to your site. Still, it is possible for Google to index some of your new pages but not others, so if you will be adding extensively to your website, it might be best to create a new sitemap afterwards.
If the idea of creating a sitemap sounds complicated, relax. There are plenty of online tools for getting the job done. Most Content Management Systems (CMS) have features built in that will take care of it for you and update the file automagically and contact Google when you create new pages or content.
You can use Google’s instructions here to submit your sitemap to via Webmaster Tools.
Moving Up the Rankings: The Power of Links
Nothing impresses Google more than stumbling onto your site through outside links to your content (add link to Future SEO post). When a site that Google already knows links to new content, it not only indexes that content, but it also sends Google strong signals about it’s value.
If well-respected online properties are linking to your content, Google is more likely to assume you have something worthwhile to say. Alternatively, if links to your content come from spammy, low-quality sources, Google is going to be less likely to show your content to searchers in its all-important first page of results.
In a nutshell: The more quality links to your site, the higher the ranking. More low quality referrers, your rankings drop.
So, how can you get these links? Check out The Worn-Out Consultant’s Guide to SEO in 2014.
Wrapping it up
And there you have it. Hopefully, you got your site into Google, made sure it saw all of your content and learned a little bit about improving your chances.
But, remember: SEO isn’t a one time thing. Keep creating content for your customers, building relationships and tracking your analytics.