When your Ugandan website has not been indexed by Google, it will not show in the search results.
It’s the things that you haven’t even thought of that may prevent search engine crawlers and Google Bots from finding and indexing your website.
Simple things that your website developer or web designer, or you if you designed your own site, may have just forgotten, like unblocking your web content when you were ready to go live, doing 301 redirects from old website URLs to your new webpages, and canonicalization of pages with the same content as other website pages.
This is considered technical SEO, which is often the job of the website developer.
Technical SEO involves the use of webmaster tools to look at SEO page analysis, getting into the backend of the website for URL redirects, and adding code for canonicals in order to help Google find your website.
While it is great for marketers to know these things need to be done, you may be relying on your webmaster to do it for you.
Unblocking search crawlers so they can index your website
Unblocking your website and indexing the website pages takes only a few minutes.
If you are working in WordPress, you can go to your Privacy Settings and choose “Allow Search Engines to Index This Site.”
In other platforms, there will be a different process. Yes, it’s that easy, but the easy steps get missed more often than they should!
You can speed up indexing by submitting the site map in Webmaster Tools. After your site is entered into Webmaster Tools, simply expand the “Crawl” dropdown menu on the left side of the screen and click on “Sitemaps.” There you can add your website’s sitemap URL, and Google will index it almost immediately.
Keep page rank with 301 redirects
When you redesign your website and create new webpages, using new URLs to replace old content, you can still count on old URLs to work for you.
You just have to tell search engines that the page no longer exists and has been moved to a new URL with a 301 Redirect.
The 301 Redirect is like a permanent address change, so just as you can change your address and your mail will keep coming to your mailbox, your old URLs can be forwarded to your new ones.
You can redirect as many of your webpages as you want, but you want to make sure the redirect is as direct as possible. For instance, if you are redirecting a webpage about furnaces, you do not want to redirect to a Home page.
Instead, have the 301 Redirect got straight to the new Heating page or Furnace page. Redirect in one hop – from one page to another.
The best thing about using 301 Redirects on a new website is that you will keep page rank from the original URLs page rank, or page authority. Some people call it link juice.
Avoid getting docked for duplicate content
Duplicate content on your website is identical content that can be found on more than one URL. This can look like plagiarism to the search engines and may cause the search engines to dock your page rank or page authority.
You can use a plagiarism checker tool like Duplichecker to ensure that your page is unique across the world wide web.
You can use canonicals to ensure pages are not read as duplicate content, and the original page will get the credit for the content.
Canonicalization will give credit to the original website page, so your webpages are not competing for page rank for the same content too.
When your own pages compete against one another, it hinders your page rank, rather than helping it.
Check for Google penalties
Sometimes Google penalizes websites that violate their policies. A penalty can cause your page to lose ranking or be removed from Googl'es index.
There are two types of penalties, algorithmic and manual penalties. With a manual penalty, you will be informed through Google's search console of what issues a manual reviewer of your site has found.
Algorithmic penalties however are done by Google's algorithms. These are usually harder to detect and you may need to hire a professional to figure this out for you.
Factors that could contribute to being penalized by Google are:
- Buying links for link building
- Plagiarized content.
- Content with no value.
- Keyword spamming
- Hidden links
- Slow page loading speeds
- Bad user experience.
This list is highly generalized but should give you a good overview of what to avoid. Neil Patel wrote an exhaustive piece on Google Penalties.
If you have been penalized by Google, take heart, this can be undone. Contact us for a free consultation and we'll help you get around this.
Take the extra steps and get your website to rank well in Uganda.
Indexing your website, 301 Redirects and canonicalizing webpages does add time to the process of setting a website live, but in the end, it is all worth it.
You need your pages to be found on Google searches and rank well in order to attract new business, so be sure to take these important steps.
Ruth is a Senior (SEO) Specialist with Campaign. She spends most of her time optimizing client's websites so they perform well in Google search. Away from official work, she volunteers with Wikipedia and plays volleyball at Kansanga in her free time.