Written by Stephen Foreman - 25th February 2012
There are several reasons why your website may not be showing in Google/Yahoo/Bing or may have disappeared from the results pages completely, and here is a quick checklist to establish the reason that specifically applies to you.
1) I have a NEW website that was in Google and now isn't (or I can't find it) in Google at all.
2) I have an EXISTING website that seems to have disappeared from Google.
It's a common misconception when building a brand new website to think that it will instantly appear in Google the minute you upload the website. Understanding how long it can take for your website to appear in Google can help you avoid hours of frustration trying to guess what you think you might have done wrong if it isn't showing in the SERP's (Search Engine Result Pages).
There are several reasons that a new website might not be appearing in Google, but here is the general checklist to follow to determine if there is a genuine reason your site is not being displayed.
1) How long has it been since your site went live? If the answer is 48 hours then I wouldn't expect it to be visible in Google yet. If the answer is a month then it should really be in Google by now. However, there is a quick way of seeing if your site has been indexed by Google and that's simply to type in site:askforeman.com (replacing my site name with yours and leaving no gaps). This will instantly show you if your content is within Googles search engine database, as pictured below.
As you can see, directly below the search bar I have 27 pages indexed by Google and then all these results are shown as if they were a search result (I have just shown 2 for the example). You can read more about what information you can obtain from Google on your website through the search bar by reading my article on How do I know that I am listed on Google and people can find me? In general, appearing in Yahoo or Bing takes approximately 2-3 weeks longer than Google.
2) If you have tried the above, but your site isn't listed and you get the result 'Your search did not match any documents' then you have two options. The first is that you can wait and keep checking to see when your site is listed, allowing up to 28 days from your website launch to see if it appears organically. However, for some websites that do not get many visits in the first month, it may be better to manually submit your website to Google. You can find out more information on how to do this by reading my article How do I submit my Website to Google?
3) If for some reason even after submitting your site to Google manually it still isn't displayed after 60 days then it's likely there is a problem with something on your website. The most common problem is an error in your Robots.txt file. A Robots.txt file tells any bots that visit your website trying to index information what they should and shouldn't index. A standard Robots.txt file should be placed in the same directory as your HTML files and simply say:
However, other reasons your site may not be displayed would be for breaking Googles Guidelines. If you think this might be the case you can read more about it here: Google Do's and Don'ts.
If a long established website suddenly disappears from the Google, then this is more of a concern, specifically if you think that you are not breaking any of the Google guidelines as detailed above. However, to a degree, the same rules apply with an existing website as to a new website - check through my 3 points listed in Question 1 on this page and see if your website is still visible when doing a site: query in Google. If it isn't then it's highly likely you have broken a Google guideline with your site or its content, so check the above link and try and problem solve to work out why your site might have been removed. However, if your site is still visible when doing a site: query, this is total different to it actually being removed from the search engines results.
The single largest reason for disappearing from Google in my experience, is not your website actually disappearing from Google, but instead your keyword ranking changing. In general, your ranking in the results will vary from time to time dependant on external factors. However, some people assume that because they can no longer find their website in Google under a search term they have ranked very highly under for years, then they might think that their website has been removed from Google. E.g. Someone had a website on cars. Everytime they searched 'Cars' in Google their site was displayed on the first page, then suddenly one day they searched for 'Cars' and they couldn't find their website anywhere in in the Google results.
In the above example it would seem that Google no longer classes your website to be as relevant to the search query/keywords as perhaps it once did. Your site hasn't been removed from Google, but its relevence to the query has made it an unimportant result for the search query. If you are experiencing this type of problem, I strongly recommend you read and understand my article on What is Google Panda and how does it effect my SEO?. Also make sure you understand a users intent when they are searching for something so you can identify if your website is actually useful for what the user is looking for. If the answer is No, then this is why your websites position is falling in the results pages, or has disappeared completely.
Hopefully by following my guidelines above you will able to get yourself into Google for the first time, or get back into the Google search results, but of course if you need any help please drop me an email from the link at the top of this page.
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