I love this little SEO trick. This is actually a really useful feature when working on your own SEO – or testing whether your SEO company is actually doing what they say they’re doing. Essentially, there’s little point optimising content on your website if the page that you’re optimising doesn’t appear in Google – or put another way, a page that isn’t present in the database will never be presented as an answer to your prospective customer’s question.
So, if you ask Google which pages it has indexed for a specific site (site:[domain] – replace [domain] with your domain name), you’ll be able to see how many (and which) pages Google has in its database.
How to do a site search in Google
You see, it’s all these pages that we should actually be optimising. Sure, crank up your homepage – but that’s just one opportunity on your whole site. What about all the others? What about the pages that tell your customers about these amazing services you offer? All the awesome products you sell? Your homepage may show up in search sometimes, but it could be other pages on your site – it all depends on what the searcher types in.
They can (and should) all rank in Google – but they’ll only have a chance if they’re actually IN Google.
Using site:search to search your (or someone else’s) website
Have you ever been to a website and you’re wanting to search it only to find that it doesn’t have a search box? Well, fear not, all may not be lost. One of the features that Google uses in its search beast, is indexing – the process of cataloguing
all most of the internet.
So you can use this exact same process as above to search anyone’s site (as long as their pages are indexed) and have a quick and easy search through at ‘Google speed’.
Let’s say you remember that we had written an article about creating a link to Google Review’s on here before, but you don’t seem to be able to find the link – and you don’t want to have to browse the Blog page through all the other articles we’ve written since then, you’d simply pop “site:hypestar.uk google review” into Google and hey presto – Google automagically shows you that page as it’s on the hypestar.uk domain and contains the words Google and Review.
I’m not seeing all my pages in Google – what do I do?
Chances are, either your site isn’t registered in [tooltip hint=”Google Search Console (GSC) formerly Google Webmaster Tools”]Google Search Console[/tooltip], or you haven’t provided Google a Sitemap. GSC is the tool that sort of acts as a gateway – a communications portal between you and Google that allows you to help Google understand what’s going on with your website, how you want them to understand your site and how you would like that information displayed in the [tooltip hint=”Search Engine Results Page (SERP)”]SERP[/tooltip].
[alert style=”warning”]Related: How to verify your domain in Google Search Console using WordPress & Yoast SEO plugin[/alert]
If you haven’t added your domain, you should go ahead and do that now.
Adding a sitemap to Google Search Console
Depending on what software your website is based on will depend on how or whether this will be an easy thing, or require a couple of steps, but let’s look at WordPress first of all. Assuming that you have the Yoast SEO plugin, a sitemap is generated for you – this will be at [domain]/sitemap.xml (see ours at https://www.hypestar.uk/sitemap.xml).
Note, there’s a difference between an HTML Sitemap (used to help users navigate your website – it often looks and functions as a ‘tree’ or listing of all of your pages in a simple layout so screen readers etc. can interpret it easily and allows users to jump straight to the page they want) and an XML Sitemap (used to help search engines understand the listings and hierarchy of your site). In this case, we’re talking about an XML Sitemap (i.e. don’t try and add an HTML Sitemap to Google Search Console).
How do I create an XML Sitemap?
If your website doesn’t have one (and they don’t all have them), you could use an online service (https://www.xml-sitemaps.com for example) to whip you one up. You would pop your details in this tool, have it generate your own Sitemap and then download it to your laptop.
Then, you’d need to pop it on your website somewhere (so you’d need access to your hosting or FTP – if you’re not sure about this, you may want to have a chat with your web host, developer or designer). The file needs to sit on your domain (as opposed to being uploaded to somewhere else) because that’s the path that Google is expecting. When you’ve added and verified example.com, GSC will assume that whatever you’d called your Sitemap (for example “mysitemap.xml”), that it starts with “http://example.com/”.
There are some other reasons why Google may not be able to see your site properly. Sometimes, I’ve seen WordPress sites not have this option disabled (it’s common to use it during the initial development period). You’ll find this in your WordPress Dashboard > Settings > Reading.
It should be unticked/unchecked in order for search engines to be able to ‘see’ your site properly (note, it has no effect on whether people can visit, see and browse your site – this is probably why it’s commonly overlooked).
Check out the site:search and see if it speeds up your internet usage – but check your own domain too and if you’re not seeing what you’d expect to see, now’s the time to do something about it.