If you have ever grown a plant from a seed, then you know it takes some basic elements. You need soil, you need water, and you need sunlight. With a little bit of luck and the right conditions, it might grow. The difficult part is taking that little sprout and making it into a thriving and fruiting plant.

Now, imagine your website is a seed. With the right design (soil), the right content (water), and the right social strategy (sunlight), it can become a fruiting and thriving plant. Of course, it can be helpful to have some fertilizer (organic, hopefully) in the form of an SEO package from a reputable source.

Google is a very prudent gardener. They will only choose the best plants for their garden. Google’s garden is referred to as the index, which is basically just a list of all of the sites that they have logged. Whenever someone searches for a term, Google looks at this list and pulls out the relevant data. Over 100 billion gigs of data have been included in this index. So, part of getting your website to pop up on someone’s search result page is making sure all of the relevant parts of your site have been indexed.

Part of how Google performs this indexing is through a program called spiders (or, for the sake of our metaphor, bees). These little programs will buzz around the internet, moving through pages and links retrieving information (pollen) to send back to the hive.

Your job as a small business owner is to figure out how to get your website healthy enough for Google to care, or, to count it among the sites that it indexes. There are some important basic first steps.

First, consider your site’s history. If you have ever been linked to any spamming or other punishable offenses, then you are at risk of being taken out of Google’s index. If you have a bad history, sometimes it is worth it just to start over.

Second, make sure your DNS is set up correctly and you do not have connectivity issues. If Google can not reach your site for it to be properly indexed, then it has little chance of showing up for your customers.

Third, check out your robot.txt file. This file informs the programs that Google uses to index which parts of your page are relevant and index-able. If there is an issue with this file, or it isn’t set up at all, then you will miss your chance. Think of this as putting a blinking sign up next to your plant that says “Hey bees, pollen here!”

Also take the time to correctly set up your .htacces file when opening up new domains. If you are going through some basic rebranding and want to use the flashy new website you just invested in, this file is the key to making sure that all of your old traffic is redirected.

Most gardeners know that there are some more things to think about than just the basics. So if you want your site to grow large enough for Google to take notice, then consider the steps we’ve discussed or reach out to talk to us directly.