Recently, my blog partner did a post urging any small business owners holding out on creating a web site to take the plunge (read that story here). He assured anyone feeling intimated that every “first try” typically lacks polish and suggested going to the Wayback Machine (a digital archive of the World Wide Web) if in need of evidence. I thought that sounded like a super fun experiment. So in the name of confidence building, let’s look at some big companies and their humble on-line beginnings. . . .
Certainly not without charm (because who doesn’t love minifigures?!), but I’m guessing the individuals in charge of this design can’t look back now without cringing.
I love a web site with a cartoon mascot that introduces himself before presenting the content of his page. Homer from Home Depot. Priceless.
Where pink, purple, and red and a dash of stars meet function.
I rememberd Google always being just a logo and a search box, so I was amused to see this early weightier version.
More cartoons. I’m lovin’ it.
This one may be my favorite. And I’m not going to lie, I wish I had the Shockwave plug-in.
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Look at all them clouds!
Not too shabby, right? I even kinda remember this design. I knew I needed to keep looking. . . .
Here’s the gold! This relic wasn’t available on the Wayback Machine. Their earliest functional crawl of Amazon was 1999, and I had a feeling that an older, humbler version existed somewhere. Thank you, versionmuseum.com. (In amazon’s defense, this design was among the oldest within this collection with a July 1995 release date.)
Welcome to “the Facebook.”
In conclusion, I restate: everyone has to start somewhere.
I hope one day your business grows so big that someone like me searches its origins to see the beginning of your journey.
SEO or Search Engine Optimization, in a nutshell, helps your web site be found online.
The very first step is to make sure search engines know your web site exists. Or, more specifically . . .
CHECK WHETHER YOUR WEB SITE IS INDEXED
Search engines “crawl” the internet, reviewing each web page found, and then organize the content in their “index” to provide as future search results based on the relevancy to keywords searched. If you’re not in the search engine’s index, you’re virtually invisible to searchers or, as applicable to us small businesses, potential customers.
Seeing whether your web site is in their index is easy. From any search engine, search for “site:yourwebsite.com”. (In our case, we search: site:brandbuildingforsmallbusiness.com.)
In our check, we found that most of our blog is a part of Google’s index. Since Google performs the lion’s share of searches (see below), we’re going to focus on them.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR WEB SITE IS NOT INCLUDED IN THE INDEX?
According to Google, a few common reasons explain why a site might not appear in search results. The most popular issues and some potential solutions are listed below for you.
PROBLEM: Other web sites do not link to your site, and/or your web site is simply too new.
POSSIBLE SOLUTION: You can create pages for your business in social media venues (like Facebook, Pinterest, etc.) and include links to your web site.
POSSIBLE SOLUTION: Find popular web sites that could benefit from content on your web site. Once you’ve identified some possible targets, send an email or letter to the appropriate person (usually a contact page will have the needed information) and explain why you believe their web site would benefit from linking to yours. Be sure to follow up.
POSSIBLE SOLUTION: Get online reviews. If applicable to your products or services, create a page for your business on popular review sites (google, yelp, etc.) and seek out reviews. If you know of a particularly happy customer that has a web site or a strong social media following, ask for a plug to your business.
POSSIBLE SOLUTION: Think about business contacts that could help you promote your web site. For instance, you may use intermediaries or suppliers that have an appropriate place on their web site to link to your business.
POSSIBLE SOLUTION: And last but not least, post quality content and be patient. “If you build it, they will come.” Whether a baseball field or a web site that adds unique value to the digital world, people will eventually find you, and they will link to your web site.
PROBLEM: Google’s ability to crawl the site has been hindered by Flash, other specialized technology, or a lack of text.
POSSIBLE SOLUTION: If your web site utilizes Flash or another specialized technology, you may want to consider a redesign in HTML. While this could be a significant undertaking, you want your web site written in a language that search engines understand.
POSSIBLE SOLUTION: Review the image to text ratio on your web site. Do you have enough words for search engines to fully understand the content for each page? If not, you can either replace your images with text (try to use formatting to achieve that same visual appeal) or supplement the images with explanatory captions. Remember that you’re communicating with your web site’s audience as well as search engines.
PROBLEM: Your web site generated an error when Google tried to crawl your web site.
POSSIBLE SOLUTION: The most common reason for this problem is secured content. If your web site requires a log-in to enter the site, Google won’t be able to enter either. Consider restructuring your web site so that your more general pages are open to the public and only the pages truly requiring a log-in get that restriction.
POSSIBLE SOLUTION: You can also register your web site with Google’s Search Console, which can give you some more specific information about the errors generated.
If you have any questions or comments about getting included in Google’s index, we’ve love to hear from you. Scroll down to the comments section. . . .
The next goal of course is to improve your web site’s search ranking, which will be the focus of a future post.
Special Note: Brand Building for Small Business has been identified by Feedspot (www.Feedspot.com) as one of the Top 100 Branding Blogs. Feedspot provides “the most comprehensive list of branding blogs on the Internet” so we are pleased to be part of that group. To learn more, visit https://blog.feedspot.com/branding_blogs/.