So, you've got a brand new blog. And, you want Google to take notice, index you, and start sending you some traffic love.
How do you kick things off?
First of all, realize that getting a good footprint with Google is a long-term project and takes some time. It takes a solid content strategy and some good SEO.
That said, there's that pesky matter of getting Google to know about your site in the first place. How do you do that?
To kick things off, we're going to set your blog up with Google Search Console.
Search Console is a pretty useful tool. It allows you to easily track your performance in Google searches. Much like you would a paid ad, you will be able to see how many impressions you've gotten in search, your click-through rate, etc. You'll also be able to tell what keyword phrases you are actually showing up for.
Important for our purposes here, however, is the ability to simply tell Google we exist. So, let's get set up, shall we?
Table Of Contents
- How To Set Up With Google Search Console
- How To Submit Your Sitemap
- Now What?
- The Ultimate Guide To Search Engine Optimization For Bloggers (Updated For 2020)
- The Redwood Strategy: How To Get Massive Traffic To Your Blog With Strategic Repurposing (UPDATED)
- Traffic Generation: The Ultimate Guide To Building Your Blog Traffic, Predictably And Reliably
- Ultimate Blog Promotion Guide: 10 Smartest Things You Can Do to Promote Your New Blog (UPDATED)
How To Set Up With Google Search Console
First things first... head on over into Search Console. You'll need to be logged into your Google account. Then use the menu option to add a new property.
You will then have 2 options
The "Domain" option is the most flexible as it will allow you to control your site regardless of how your domain is used. Any sub-domains will work. Secure and non-secure URLs will work. Your address with or without the "www" on the front will work. The process for verifying you own the site will require DNS verification. It is a wee bit geekier, but not too difficult.
The "URL Prefix" option is an easier setup. It provides more options to verify you own the site. The tradeoff is that it is pretty picky in how it will match your domain. For instance, if your blog is accessible both using "www" or not, it will mess things up. If you have both secure and non-secure URLs, it could present issues.
For the simple "URL Prefix" option to work best for you, I recommend that you have your blog set up to be consistent with URLs. If you're going to use secure ("https") URLs (which is better for SEO anyway), then do so for your entire site. Often, your web host will help you enforce secure URLs even if not directly specified. Likewise, I recommend you enforce "www" in your URL. It is a cleaner footprint for SEO, anyway.
For the sake of simplicity and flexibility, I recommend you use the "Domain" option. It will require adding a simple record to your domain to verify you own your own site.
Enter your domain name without any prefix, then hit Continue.
For our next step, we need to "Verify" that you own the domain. Obviously, Google doesn't want you to be able to mess with the SEO of sites you don't own.
Using our chosen method of verification, we will need to add what is called a TXT record to our domain. It is actually pretty simple. You will need to log into wherever you manage your domain.
I run some of my domains through CloudFlare. Others through Namecheap. Any domain registrar will provide the same options, however.
In this instance, I have decided to verify domain ownership for a domain that I own, but do not currently use: GradeYourBlog.com. Here's the screen I get:
This domain is sitting on Namecheap.com. When I log into my Namecheap account, go to manage this domain, then click on "Advanced DNS".
Under the section "Host Records", you will see a list of whatever records are currently on your domain listing. Hit the button to "Add New Record" and then choose the "TXT Record" option.
Next, enter "@" as your "Host". This basically tells it that this TXT record applies to your domain root. Essentially, your whole domain and all versions of it.
For the "Value", just copy/paste the big long string that Google gives you inside of Search Console.
Then, click VERIFY.
Now, if the verification fails, don't freak out. Often, changes to the domain record can take a bit to show up. Sometimes it is really fast... other times it can take an hour or two or more. So, just check again later. Or you can hit "VERIFY LATER" to come back to it.
This process will be pretty much the same on other domain registrars. The interface may be different, but it is exactly the same process.
How To Submit Your Sitemap
Now that you've got your site set up in Search Console, it is time to submit your Sitemap file URL to them. This is a core component of how Google will index your site and ultimately get you noticed.
Basically, your sitemap is an XML file which sits behind the scenes of your blog and delivers information about your pages and posts to search engines. You don't need to know what XML is. It isn't important. 🙂
Almost all decent SEO plugins for WordPress will auto-generate a sitemap for you. I recommend Yoast SEO for most everybody and Yoast will do this for you. Your sitemap URL will be:
That's it. Now, that XML file might end up pointing to other XML files. You don't need to worry about it. Point is, Google understands it.
Now, back to Search Console...
In the left menu, click on "Sitemaps". Then, in the box to "Add A New Sitemap", you copy/paste your sitemap URL and click submit.
Now that Google will be watching your sitemap, it is going to notice when it changes. Essentially, whenever you post something new or update something, Google is going to notice.
If you use something like Yoast SEO, it will automatically ping Google whenever a post is updated or published. That pulls Google in to index you.
I know this post is primarily about Google. But, don't forget you can also add your sitemap to other search engines (Bing, for example). Yoast has a full writeup.
The process of letting Google know you exist has now been completed. Now you have to give Google stuff that's worth indexing.
You will be able to monitor the performance of your site via Search Console moving forward. You can also tell when Google last scanned your sitemap by simply going to your Sitemap screen again.
Tracking your site on the Performance screen can provide some interesting data, too. You can actually see the search queries where your site is showing up. Your can track both impressions and clicks, therefore getting your CTR (or click-through rate). Just like any ad, you can tweak your listing by adjusting how your content looks in Google. Make it more enticing and increase your CTR.
I'm not going to repeat a bunch of stuff which I've covered elsewhere, so here's some further reading for you:
An ultimate SEO guide for bloggers and content creators. How relevant is keyword research? What are the factors Google looks at? How exactly do we go about attracting organic traffic from the world’s most popular search engine? This guide covers it all.
The Redwood Strategy is a content creation strategy for bloggers where you circle back and update previously published content, turning them into major pillar posts for your niche. Here’s exactly how to do it.
How do you get blog traffic? How do you generate traffic when you’re first starting out? Which strategies are more effective than others? This guide goes into it – in detail.
The ultimate guide to promoting your new blog. We cover 10 specific (and smart) strategies you should use immediately to promote your new blog effectively.