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Getting your website indexed on search engines

When going live with a shiny new website on a brand new domain, unless you decide to pay for online advertising it will take time before your site starts to appear on search engines such as Google.

Your website needs time to establish itself on the web and this doesn't happen overnight or in the space of a week or a month - it can take up to 3 months for a new website to be picked up properly by search engines.

A simple analogy

Imagine that your new website is instead a brand new island in a big ocean. You have just made the island accessible and have added an airport. However, nobody knows that there is a new island and so nobody will fly to it. This is because you have not yet arranged for any flights from other islands to fly to you.

You need to start speaking to the other islands around you - especially the big ones - to let them know that there is a new island which is worth flying to. You need to establish new routes that go to your island.

The same broad principles apply to your new website. You need to find the big "islands" - the popular, respected websites - and ask them to place a link on their website which points to your website.

Building links to your new website

You should add your business details and web address to Google+ Business. This will help you reach customers on Google Maps and web search.

Get your business details listed on reputable directory websites, such as Yelp, Thomson Local, Touch Local, Yell.com, Qype (for your local area) and Vet Help Direct. The RCVS website features a "Find a Vet" section - ask them to include a link to your website along with your contact details.

Reciprocal linking

You are not limited to web directories. A search online may reveal websites for local companies, groups and individuals with complementary interests/services to your own, e.g. dog trainers, pet groomers etc. Exchanging links with these websites is a useful way to increase the number of external links into your website.

A brief note of caution: trying to exchange links with any old website may be more harm than good. Be choosy - link only to websites with genuine relevancy to your own and which provide content that will be of interest to your visitors. Avoid linking to websites that employ dubious methods in an attempt to manipulate search engines - so called "Grey-Hat SEO" and "Black-Hat SEO" tactics.

Social media

If you have created a profile for your veterinary practice on the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Google+ remember to link back to your own website. As a minimum, make sure to list your website address on your profile overview. Even better, write original, interesting content for your website and post links to this from your social media profiles.

How this helps your new website

Your new website will be indexed by search engines more quickly if a link on a high-traffic website points back to your website.

If a search engine "spider" crawls a high-traffic website and finds a link pointing to your website, the search engine will follow that link and discover "there's a new website which isn't in my database yet". The search engine will then index your homepage, which means it will add a small amount of information about your website to its database. This is enough for your website to be listed by that search engine.

Over time, the search engine will come back to your website and index your other web pages too. Bear in mind that "indexing" has nothing to do with "ranking". Indexing means that the search engine is aware of your website. Once your site has been indexed, you can then concentrate on optimising your website for the words and terms that people use when browsing on a search engine to improve your ranking.