So you’ve taken a leap of faith, and paid money for a small business website. After several weeks and Hail Marys you are presented with a finished website. It looks fantastic and it makes your business proud, but you look it up on Google and…

Where is my business website!

What is the use of having a fancy website if it doesn’t even show up on Google!

That’s right. And good thinking for checking your ranking on Google. But there are a few things to know in order to really evaluate the performance of your website, and the first of them is–

Your website will take time to even be detected by Google

Google is super fast, but the internet is absolutely enormous. Google can take anywhere from four days up to 4 weeks to discover your site. Until then, your website will not be coming up on any searches, even searches for your direct business name.

After your site is discovered, it will start off by ranking quite low in Google searches. It will not come up on the first page on many searches. But surely and steadily, Google will start to trust and respect your site. It will start to come up on more and more searches, and the ball will really start to get rolling.

When to test the Google rankings of my site?

With respect to that timeline that we outlined in the previous section, when should you be testing the Google rankings of your site?

You should be searching your business name between 4 days and 4 weeks to make sure that Google has detected your site.

Then, after it has been detected, you should start testing your site’s ranking across various different searches as the site gains in age.

How to test your site’s ranking across various different Google searches

Your website should definitely be coming up on the first page of Google for searches of your actual business name. If your business were called ‘Hook Line and Sinker Tackle Shop’, then it should be one of the first results coming up in a search for that name.

But most people won’t be typing in ‘Hook Line and Sinker Tackle Shop’. They will be typing things like ‘tackle shop sans souci’ or ‘fishing hooks sans souci’. You will get the bulk of your website visitors from broader searches like these. And these are where you will get your new customers from, because they probably won’ even know the name of your business.

So over the next weeks and months, you should be typing in queries like ‘bait sans souci’, ‘sans souci fishing gear’, ‘best tackle shop rockdale’, ‘fishing supplies rockdale area’ and more.

Basically, there are two ways to come up with these queries:

  1. Type one of your services + one of your locations E.g. ‘live bait’ + ‘sans souci’ = ‘live bait sans souci’
  2. Imagine what people will search when they are looking for a business like yours E.g. ‘Cheapest bait sans souci’

Easy! It’s something you can do whenever you have a spare 3 seconds and it’s satisfying to see your website up there.

But one thing about modern Google searches–

How to prevent your Google searches from being ‘biased’

Imagine if Google gained consciousness and started trying to make conversation with people who are making web searches. In 2013, this basically started happening.

Google rewrote its entire search engine from the ground up, and released a major update that is able to understand ordinary human language. This was the seminal Google Hummingbird update, and you can now talk to Google as if it were a person…

I want to find a squidgy lure shop near me

It works! Now even the most computer-naive customers can find your business on Google.

But you might see the repercussions of this. The query ‘squidgy lure shop nearby’ will display different results for you depending on where you are located.

And there are now also a profusion of other variables that make every web search different. Google uses information about you, your previous searches, your location, maybe even mother’s maiden name. Who knows what factors come into play. But the main problem is that your own searches will be different to those of the people you are trying to advertise to. And…

Your website will rank higher on your own Google searches than on other people’s.

It makes sense considering that Google knows you are interested in this business, and maybe even knows that you work for it.

But wait, oh no! Is your website really ranking well then?

Let’s find out. You will need to test your Google rankings in a Chrome Incognito window, Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge InPrivate Browsing window, or Firefox Private Browsing window. In these private browsing windows, your own identity and location will be hidden from Google, so your search results will be less biased. You should do this almost every time you test your Google rankings.

Now one final thing to know about the search terms that you rank for–

Which search terms you should expect to rank for

Ranking on some Google searches is like getting onto the front page of the New York Times. It is extremely competitive and unlikely. This includes broad searches like ‘fishing sydney’. Huge numbers of fishermen across Sydney would perform this exact search, and they would all see the tackle shops that show up.

A small tackle shop would not expect to show up on the first page of searches for ‘fishing sydney’. You may expect to show up on searches for ‘tackle shop sans souci’ though, because this is more specific.

When your website is young, expect to rank for more specific search queries, but as your website ages, you may begin to rank higher on some broader queries. For instance, you may rank for ‘fishing bait rockdale’.

Is something fishy around here?

Hopefully not! If you test your website semi-regularly, and you are showing up on the Google searches that you are targeting, then great.

If you are not showing up on searches for your main services and locations (as long as these keywords feature on your website), then you will be grateful that you checked. You should notify your webmaster and request that they explain and fix the problem.

If you stay aware of your Google rankings, your website should perform strongly into the future.