Creating and maintaining a website that regularly shows up in your customers' and future customers' searches is a bit like a popularity contest. Even after your professionally designed website goes live with all of its carefully chosen keywords, your site's rank depends heavily on user engagement. While there's a lot of technical stuff behind the scenes when search engines index a site's content, one of the main criteria is how often users visit and return to your website.
When users find your website useful, search engines notice and boost your rank in the list of relevant results. But first, your site needs to be able to speak with search engines.
How Your Website Gets a Search Engine's Attention
When you click the "Allow search engines to index this site" button in your website's settings, the door is open for search engines to use their web crawlers on your site with "spiders" or "bots." It's impossible to control precisely when a search engine may evaluate a website; the process could take up to six weeks. After the crawlers have gathered information from your website, they organize the collected data using the following criteria:
- How recently was the page updated?
- How have people interacted with this page and this domain?
- What type of content is included with this page?
- What topics (keywords) are included in the page's content?
How Search Engines Rank Your Website
Each search engine has a proprietary algorithm that quickly ranks relevant pages into results when users search for specific information. So, a search using Bing may produce different results than a search using Google. On-page factors are under your website design team's control. Your site content should be relevant to your website and unique.
When your website isn't regularly updated, offering a consistent stream of helpful information to users, search engines interpret a lack of activity as the end of a conversation. While your site still exists on the web, search engines may penalize it if you fail to update information regularly.
Your site should speak directly to search engines, so they understand. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a search engine's favorite language.
- HTML tags define the title of a search listing at the top of a web browser. Titles must be accurate and offer a snapshot of the page's content.
- Title tags help the search engine understand information about the page's content for ranking purposes.
- Meta descriptions offer an accurate description of the page's content. It's the reason users may or may not click on the link to your page.
- Alt text makes the images on your website accessible to users and search engines. It offers an accurate depiction of the image using words.
- Suppose your site includes syndicated content that appears on other websites or has sections of duplicate content on multiple pages. In that case, a canonical tag tells search engines' bots where to emphasize search results while preventing other sites from taking advantage of your excellent SEO.
Search engines use additional off-page data to help create relevant search results, including:
- The language of the user
- The location of the user
- The user's search history
- The user's device type
Your Website and the Search Engine May Not Be Speaking
If your website isn't speaking with search engines, the contents of your website will not appear when users search for your business type and location, keywords in your site's content, or answers to questions that your site answers.
Search engines may not be able to index your website if the site instructs them to skip it. If you want search engines to index your website, navigate Settings > Reading > Site Visibility. Click on "Allow search engines to index this site."
If your website tries to communicate with search engines, but there's no interest due to low quality, thin content, or duplicate content, the search engine's bots may decide not to index your site at all. In that case, it's up to you to create a website that reflects your company's value in the marketplace.
Why it's Crucial to Manage Your Website's Relationship With Search Engines
Search engines have one goal; to produce a list of relevant content that gives users the information they want as quickly and accurately as possible. Perhaps your website is built to deliver high-quality and relevant content to users. Then, it's a matter of time before search engines pick up the information, index it, and show your site to users when it presents the best answer to their query.
Does your website need help speaking with search engines in a way that drives customer engagement? Reach out to the Synchronicity team today to learn more about how we can help your company with a new website.