Here’s how to test if your site is indexed:
Do a Startpage search for www.[yourdomain].com to see if your site shows up in the search results. You can review all of your site’s indexed pages using the “site:” advanced syntax which more specifically is “site:www.[yourdomain].com”. For more information on making your search more effective, check out our Search Tips page.
If your site doesn’t appear in the search index, the cause is likely one or more of the following:
- Your website is new and the search engine has not indexed your website yet. You can submit your website to the search engines using the following links:
- Your website isn’t optimized for search engine crawling. Find more info below in the section titled “Improve your website’s ranking with sound SEO.”
Your website has been penalized and removed from search engines. Find more info below in the section titled “Guidelines on SEO techniques to avoid.”
The search settings are inaccurate. Check to see if any of your content has been flagged as adult content by turning the Family Filter off in the Startpage “Settings” menu. The Family filter eliminates sites that contain pornography and explicit sexual content from search results. While no filter is 100% accurate, the Family Filter uses advanced proprietary technology that checks keywords and phrases, URLs, and Open Directory categories. It sometimes inappropriately flags content as adult when it actually isn’t.
Your keyword market is very competitive, which has pushed your site so far down the index that you can’t find it. Look below for suggestions to make your site more visible.
Here’s how search engines index websites:
Websites are often indexed automatically. If your site is not indexed, you should submit it to search engines to be sure it gets proper attention. Once you submit your website to a search engine, a “spider” is sent to your site to crawl it for content. These spiders don’t view your site like a visitor would. They scan your site for meta content, keyword saturation, relevant content, and many other factors. Therefore, it is important for you to know what website content is actually seen by search engine spiders that will help your ranking.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a practice that seeks to improve technical and content-related aspects of a website, making the content easier to find, more relevant, and more accessible to the search engine spiders.
Performing SEO-related work is no guarantee of improving rankings or receiving more traffic from search engines, but failing to properly communicate with search engine spiders can lower your site’s ranking. It could also make it difficult for someone to find your website. Note that proper and up-to-date SEO practices are so important that many businesses employ staff dedicated solely to SEO. While you may not have the time or money for this level of SEO, it points to how important SEO is to a website’s success.
SEO is a complicated topic, but one worth pursuing if you want to maximize your website traffic and ranking. We will share some general tips here and we encourage you to use the Startpage search engine to search for more in-depth SEO tips and resources. Staying up-to-date on SEO is also important because search engine algorithms constantly change, impacting current best practices. A site that ranks at the top today could be lower in rank tomorrow based on even small algorithm changes.
Improve your website’s ranking with sound SEO:
General: Use one keyword per page. Each page needs its own title, a meta description and relevant content. The keyword has to be present in each of these sections so as to help search engines tell your pages apart. Important: Search engines rank individual pages, not domains.
Tip 1 – the title: Search engines use a page’s title to determine what it is about. When the title contains your chosen keyword, search engines will consider the page relevant. Your title should also be interesting and informative in order to attract a large number of people – the more clicks, the better your ranking. The optimal length for a title lies between 40 and 60 characters, including blank spaces. If a title has more characters, it will not be shown fully in search results.
Tip 2 – the meta description: The meta description can be seen underneath a page’s title in search results. It’s an incredibly important SEO feature and can increase traffic to your site if implemented correctly. If you don’t fill in a meta description, search engines will show arbitrary text found on the page (usually from the first paragraph). Instead, you should present your topic in an appealing way and place your keyword efficiently. Your meta description can be up to 160 characters long, including blank spaces. If it’s longer than that, it will not be shown fully.
Tip 3 – the URL: There are three rules for page (not website) URLs: They need to contain your chosen keyword, be informative and well structured. Make sure that the URL doesn’t contain any meaningless characters or words and refrain from using a date format – instead, create a short caption using your keyword.
Tip 4 – the content: You may have heard the phrase “content is king”. The rule is simple: Good content gets ranked high, while bad content may not get a ranking at all. But how does a search engine recognize good content? Here are the most important aspects:
- Place the keyword or your keyword combination in your <h1> heading, in <h2> <h3> <h4> subheadings, lists, your first paragraph and in the alt attributes of your images. The keyword density should range from 1 to 3%. In addition, you can use variations of your keyword.
- Create unique texts. So-called duplicate content will be scanned by search engines and take a toll on your ranking.
- Avoid complex sentences and be sure to use proper spelling.
- Structure your sentences with paragraphs and subheadings.
- Provide value: Helpful, easy to understand text attracts both search engines and readers.
- Don’t forget about quantity: In order to be attractive to search engines, you need between 400 and 500 words per page.
- Optimize images: Crop the images on your website – oversized files tend to cause long loading times. Also, don’t forget to select a fitting alt attribute containing your keyword for each picture.
- Optimize links: All pages of your website should be well-linked with each other. Not only will you gain a ranking boost, but your visitors will benefit as well by being able to navigate your site more easily. Important: Always link internal pages with their respective keyword. You may also link to external sites, but only if they fit the topic of your site.
Check for adult content (images, text, meta tags). It is often small details that cause websites to receive an adult rating.
Tip 5 – usability: Bad usability may cause visitors to leave your website quickly and not come back. For this reason, usability is imperative if you look to generate clicks and improve your ranking.
- Ensure short loading times: A slim website (file volume!), a qualified host and clean code reduce unnecessary waiting times.
- Create overview: A simple structure and comprehensible menu help visitors navigate your website, and the same goes for search engines.
- Don’t forget about mobile devices: Mobile responsiveness is a requirement all websites must meet. If yours doesn’t, your ranking will suffer.
Tip 6 – security: Get a SSL certificate. Unencrypted websites rank lower than their encrypted counterparts. Additionally, modern browsers may warn their users about accessing a site that isn’t secure. If you add a contact form, encryption becomes obligatory since you have to ensure that sensible user data will be transmitted encoded.
SEO: What you should avoid:
Several measures that were favored by search engines in the past now have an opposite effect. If your website used to have a high ranking, but can suddenly no longer be found, you may check for the following:
1. Too little text: Search engines favor relevant, elaborate content. A minimum of 350 – or better –, 450-500 words per page will improve your ranking. Enough text also prevents keyword oversaturation, which leads us to point 2:
2. Keyword spamming: When the majority of your text consists of your keyword or variations of it, both your text quality and ranking will suffer. If your content is unintelligible, search engines will demote your page’s ranking.
3. Automatically generated content: Some websites are filled with automatically generated text. Such text generally doesn’t make much sense and will lead to low rankings. Text that has been translated using software or scraped from Atom/RSS feeds falls into this category.
4. Participating in link schemes: If you use links to manipulate your website’s ranking, search engines will notice and demote it. Purchasing or trading links, using link exchange and affiliate sites whose only purpose is networking (especially if the content is irrelevant), as well as automated programs that generate links to your website are all considered link schemes.
5. Cloaking: Some website owners try to mislead search engines by displaying an array of content for human visitors, and different content for search engine crawlers. For instance, visitors may be shown images, while search engines are shown HTML text sites. Such attempts will lead to a lower ranking.
6. Sneaky redirects: You may wish to forward visitors to a new URL if you recently moved your site or own multiple sites – which is completely ok. But if you implement a redirect to try and deceive search engines, it will negatively impact your ranking. One example would be if you had one site for desktop users and one for mobile users whose contents differ vastly.
7. Hidden text or links: Invisible text or links are considered deception – they are put in place to present content to search engines while being invisible to the human visitor. This includes
- White text on a white background
- Text behind images
- Positioning text outside the screen using CSS
- Font size 0
- Putting a link in a small character (such as a hyphen)
When you search your website for hidden links, keep an eye out for everything a person might have trouble finding. Do people see the same things a search engine would?
8. Doorway pages: Such pages will be ‘put in front’ of websites and heavily optimized so as to ensure a great ranking. However, they don’t offer any real content and thus contradict search engines’ quality guidelines. Doorway pages are usually manipulative and aim to lead the visitor to a certain end page. Some examples would be
- Multiple domains for various regions that all lead to the same page.
- Pages with very similar content and no visible hierarchy
9. Scraped content: Some websites are merely an accumulation of content taken from other, legitimate sites. Such content has no real value and violates copyright, which in turn leads to a lower ranking.
- There’s very little that a competitor can do to harm your website ranking or have your site removed from search indexes. If you’re concerned about whether another site linking to yours is harming your indexing, we suggest contacting the webmaster of the site in question. Search engines aggregate and organize information published on the web. They don’t control the content of these pages.
- Occasionally, fluctuations in search results are the result of differences in data centers. When you perform a search, your query is sent to a server within a data center to retrieve search results. There are numerous data centers, and many factors (such as geographic location, search traffic volume, etc.) that determine where a query is sent. Because all data centers are not updated simultaneously, it’s possible to see slightly different search results depending on the data center that handles your query.
- SEO done properly takes significant time, effort and knowledge. You may want to outsource your SEO or use one of many online SEO evaluation services to more quickly identify issues and find ways to make improvements. You can find SEO services and resources by searching Startpage.com using search queries like the following: “SEO web page analyzer”; “Online SEO evaluation”; “SEO page rank service”
We hope these quick SEO tips will help you improve your website’s service to the community and its ranking in Startpage.com and other search engines