Getting Your Website Found

Going live is revealing your content to the Internet. Typically, the Internet must in effect be told where your domain name is hosted, which I will do for you when your website is ready to be seen. In some circumstances the internet will already know where your domain name is hosted, in which case I will remove your temporary home page and reveal your real home page, with its links to your other pages, when your website is ready to be seen. In either case, up to that time, only you and I and people we care to share this information with will know what address to type in to see your website under construction.

Once your website has gone live, your website can be found at the most basic level, where people who already know your domain name can type it in and see your content. You can greatly increase the number of people who will go to your website in this manner, rather than via a search engine, by including your domain name in things such as advertisements and business cards.

Search Engines are websites such as Google and Bing that have searchers input search criteria and view the results. This is getting your website found at a more advanced level, where people who don't already know your domain name, or in most cases even that the company or other entity that your website represents exists, can find it. You want your website to be included in the results of searches, ideally near the top of the results, when searchers search the web and input search criteria for which your website is relevant. This is not a simple matter.

One important point is that what search engines index (add to their systems, so that they can even be considered) and rank (assign a relative value to; results are presented in order of highest rank to lowest) are individual pages of websites, not websites as a whole. You may only be concerned about your home page doing well with search engines, but sometimes the ranking of another page will also be quite important, due to its containing content that you think searchers will be looking for, such as a certain product or brand name. Most items included in search results look like they are for an entire website, but in those cases they are actually for the home page of that website.

There are several mechanisms by which search engines can eventually become aware of your website, including following a link in another website to a page in your website, and as a result index its pages. I submit your website to the major search engines when it goes live, rather than waiting for them to find your website on their own. Even so, it can take several weeks for a search engine to get around  to indexing your pages.

One of the things that I do when I submit your website to a search engine is to make it aware of a dynamic site map that I provide. The site map shows your current lineup of pages, and, for each page, shows the current values of your inputs for when the page was last updated, how often it gets updated, and how important it is relative to other pages in your website.

Getting search engines to rank your most important page(s) highly can be very difficult, in part because every other website is trying for the same thing. To see what you may be up against, consider how many websites you are likely to be competing with, and do a reality check by doing some searches using the key words and/or phrases that you think your potential visitors will use in their searches..

Your relative ranking is far less important when a search will present only a few results at the top that are truly relevant, versus thousands. It helps a great deal when:
  • Your appeal is inherently local. For example, no one is going to be doing a nationwide search for someone to repair their refrigerator or paint their house.
  • Very few people do what you do. For example, my client that builds glider planes has very few competitors even worldwide.

If you are going to be competing for search engine rankings against relevant pages of many other websites, you may need to turn to Search Engine Marketing (SEM). I know some things about SEM, but it is definitely not my field. That field can be subdivided into:
  • Things that you pay for, such as having your page included in a set of results above or to the right of the main results, where the main results are in order of how important and relevant the search engine thinks they are.
  • Things that you don't directly pay for, though you may pay someone to help you with them, the primary example being Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is attempting to have search engines rank your page(s) highly based on their merits.

Some things that affect the rank of your page for a particular search include:
  • How important the search engine thinks your page is, based in part how many pages link to your page and how important the pages containing those links are deemed to be.
  • How relevant the search engine thinks your page is, based on the key words being used in the search.

Things that improve relevance include:
  • Having the key words being searched for in your content and in certain meta tags, such as the title and description of your page.
  • How often those key words appear.
  • How prominently those key words appear, such as whether they are used in headings.

Clearly there are trade-offs between optimizing your content for search engines and optimizing it for people. You won't have gained much if your page appears at the top of the search results but the page description shown there, and/or your content if the searcher clicks on the link, consists of the same key words repeated over and over.

The websites that I build lend themselves to SEO, due to your being able to input and edit the headings, content, and relevant meta tags and sitemap inputs of your pages.

I have no expertise in SEM/SEO myself, but you can find out a great deal online, and you can read at least one entire book on the subject, namely Search Engine Optimization for Dummies. If you hire someone to help you with this, please let me know how that goes, as I would like to know of some good people in this field that I can refer my clients to.