A lot of small businesses rely on being found in Google or Bing but can’t afford to hire an SEO specialist.
It’s a tricky and time-consuming business but there are some fundamentals that you can take care of yourself that will give you a leg up.
It’s easy to increase your discoverability by the search engines simply by telling them where you are and requesting regular revisits to update their index of your site. It’s also good to make sure the search engine has no issues accessing your site or encountering any errors as this will impact on your site’s listing in the search engines.
To do this you need to access the search engines webmaster facility. Trust me - it’s easy even for non-technical people.
Both Google and Bing have webmaster accounts that anyone can access as long as you can prove you own the website. The webmaster accounts are essential for a digital business to manage the important things around the search engine indexing your site.
Both Google and Bing webmaster accounts will allow you to:
verify your account and ownership
submit a sitemap.xml (which is absolutely necessary for a search engine to be able to index your website) on an ongoing basis as you make changes to your site.
make a request for a new page to be indexed by Google instead of writing for a random drive by of the search engine
check for any issues or problems that Google or Bing experienced in trying to index your site for their search database.
All of these things are really simple to take care of via the dashboard interface. They’re free and if you diarise to check, you can make it a quick 2 minute job each month to update your sitemap to keep your listing fresh as well checking that there aren’t any issues.
I’ve outlined the following for Google webmaster - but it won’t be too dissimilar for Bing :
If this account hasn’t been set up yet, then you’ll need to register
with your Gmail account.
If this is your first time logging on or setting it up, then you’ll need to submit your site and verify it for ownership purposes. You will need to either insert some code into your website or you can use your Google Analytics account to do this.
Once you’ve set up the account, go to Crawl > Sitemaps. In the top right hand corner will be a button ‘Add/test sitemap’. You must have the xml URL. If you don’t know it ask your web developer or website builder to tell. Generally it’s your URL /sitemap.xml It may take a few days for your site to be crawled however generally within 24 hours it will be done.
Return after a few days and check for any errors. Then work with your web developer to get them fixed. The most common error will be a ‘404 page not found’. This means that there’s a dead link or a page that’s been moved/renamed. A simple 303 redirect put in place will fix this. Again work with your web developer to get this in place.
For Bing got to: http://www.bing.com/toolbox/webmaster
There’s much much more you can be doing in this portal, but as a starting point and getting familiar with a key tool to assist with your search discoverability, these two sites are a good start.