One of the most frequently asked questions from new site owners is, “Why isn’t my website listed on Google?” That’s a great question and the answer is important for any type of website, whether a social network, blog, or specialty niche.
When you do a Google search, you may notice that there are hundreds of pages of results, if not more. All of those websites have been crawled by Google bots and “indexed” into their databases. Those Google bots crawl websites and pick up meta tags – descriptions, keywords, and page titles. They then save that data into Google’s databases which act like a very large encyclopedia.
This process takes time. When you search and see the first ten pages of results, those are the websites that have spent time building up their search Engine Optimization (SEO) and rankings. They do this in various ways but mainly, it’s by consistently adding good content to their website that is relevant to their niche or site topic. For example, a social network focused on classic cars would add blogs, photos, videos, classifeds and events that focus on classic cars. As Google bots search the website, they pick up on the various tags relevant to classic cars and index it in that category and with those keywords. Then, when someone searches for classic cars, google finds all of the websites with those keywords in their database and displays them in the search results.
Classic Cars is a broad category and as such, it could take a long time for a community dedicated to this topic to get to the top of the results, but it is possible to get there! It just takes work to post the relevant content. This is why it’s important to have members post content on your site. Encourage them to post as often as they can. One idea would be to do contests and feature the winner on the front page of your social network. Members love recognition and featuring member content is generally something that encourages more posting.
Another way to help get your website to the top ten pages in Google is to focus on a narrower topic. For instance, that classic car social network could focus on classic US cars or perhaps classic cars of a particular era. It would still need lots of content content but the network would have less competition and thus make its way to the top faster.
On that note, remember that you need good content. Not only are the bots becoming smarter, but most major search engines employ human evaluators as well to check for good content. If they find that your website has low quality content or spam, they can downgrade the website or, worse yet, ban it entirely from their search engine. Low quality content also is not good at keeping the attention of your users which can cause a drastic reduction of active membership.
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