Where’s my site? Search engine basics

Why doesn’t my site appear when I type [insert your phrase here] into Google /Yahoo / MSN?

People ask us this a lot, so we thought we would write a short article that explains the basics of getting found in the search engines.

Consider this article a primer to what is a quite complex subject. However, following the steps mentioned below is the most efficient way to make improvements in the position of your site in search engines. For more detailed advice, please contact us.

The basics:

When you type a search term like “web design” into a search engine, a page of results are returned.

Google decide who to rank 1st, 2nd, 3rd and so on based a wide range of factors but the following two are by far the most important.

1. Page content

The web page must feature the term “web design.” It sounds obvious, and it is. Depending on the length of the page, the phrase can appear more than once, but make sure it appears early on in the page. It is a good idea to include an instance of the phrase in bold. Don’t over do the repetition of the phrase as this can be a real turn off to your human visitors, and the search engines don’t like it either.

You can use variations of the phrase in your text such as “web designer” or “web designs”, to raise the chances of being found for these related search terms, and to make your text more readable.

To make headings on a web page, you use special code called “H1 tags”. Use these (or ask your web designer to use them) to create a heading for the page which features your search term.


Make sure the page title features the search term.

It is set via some hidden code on your web page. The wording of the title has an effect on where you rank but also it forms the first part of your listing on the search results, so it has to be an eye catching sentence that is going to persuade the viewer to click your listing not others.

There are some other hidden bits to a web page, most notably the “description.” Your web designer should create a description for each page. This should feature your chosen search term, AND be a well written, attractive, catchy piece of writing. Why? Because Google and others often use the description as a little summary in the results. Our description is the black text in the above listing.

2. Is your site popular?

Google grew out of a College project called Backrub. The project’s objective was to create a better search engine for web sites. The name referred to the unique way in which web pages would be ranked – with reference to how many “backrubs” a web site gets.

How does a web site get a “backrub?” When web site A links to web site B, that considered a “back rub” for web site B. If a lot of web sites link to web site B, then the inference is that web site B is a popular site, and so it should appear higher up in the rankings.

Another important factor is the type of link to your site. The very best sort of link, is a text link with the search term as the link. For example:

Web design – Is your web site all that it could be? Speak to us at webbactivemedia about how we can transform your web site into a positive asset to your business.

You can find out how many sites link to you by doing a special search on Google or MSN.

Type in

This will reveal how many web sites the search engine currently knows about that link TO your web site, and list them. If this figure is none, or very few, you should start to get some backrubs!


If your web site currently does not appear when you type in a certain phrase, start by looking at your page content, and then the number of people linking to your site.

If you want to know more, do contact us!

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Jeremy Webb

Chief & Adventurer

Jeremy WebbWhere’s my site? Search engine basics

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