How Long Will it Take My Website to Start Showing Up in Searches?

If there is one question I get asked most often it's "When will my website start working?" Unfortunately there is no standard answer. There are many different factors to when a site shows up. Search engines use mathematical formulas called algorithms to determine rank or where your website will show up, whether it's on the first page of Google (http://www.google.com/) or the 100th page. Here is what Google has to say about ranking:

"When your site is ready:

  1. Have other relevant sites link to yours.
  2. Submit it to Google at http://www.google.com/addurl.html.
  3. Submit a Sitemap as part of our Google Webmaster Tools. Google uses your Sitemap to learn about the structure of your site and to increase our coverage of your webpages.
  4. Make sure all the sites that should know about your pages are aware your site is online.
  5. Submit your site to relevant directories such as the Open Directory Project and Yahoo!, as well as to other industry-specific expert sites.
  6. Design and content guidelines
  7. Make a site with a clear hierarchy and text links. Every page should be reachable from at least one static text link.
  8. Offer a site map to your users with links that point to the important parts of your site. If the site map is larger than 100 or so links, you may want to break the site map into separate pages.
  9. Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.
  10. Think about the words users would type to find your pages, and make sure that your site actually includes those words within it.
  11. Try to use text instead of images to display important names, content, or links. The Google crawler doesn't recognize text contained in images.
  12. Make sure that your TITLE tags and ALT attributes are descriptive and accurate.
    Check for broken links and correct HTML.
  13. If you decide to use dynamic pages (i.e., the URL contains a "?" character), be aware that not every search engine spider crawls dynamic pages as well as static pages. It helps to keep the parameters short and the number of them few.
  14. Keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number (fewer than 100). "

FindLaw (http://www.findlaw.com/) follows these guidelines. To expand upon a few of the more important points

  • Inbound Linking - The more relevant the inbound link, meaning sites relevant to your area of practice, the more "respect" you will get from the search engines.
  • Content - The more content you have that is relevant to your area of practice the better the site will do.
  • Design is also critical because if you have a site that is not easy to navigate or is not appealing to the eye, the more people will click on the back button. There are hundreds of components that search engines use to rank but these are a few.

Another important area to consider is length of time your site has been online. Once a site gets published online is when the search engines start to index them or start the ranking process. With over 25 BILLION websites in the world and more added every day this can take time. It's not unusual for a site to take upwards of 9 months to start to be effective. There are no magic wands and anyone offering one should be viewed very carefully.

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