by pat

If you are planning to start a company, there are a number of web related things that you need to do right away. Even if you don’t expect your great idea or product to be ready any time soon, you must do these things now if you want to get leads from your web site.

Why is this such a big deal, I can get a site up pretty fast?

Yes, getting a site up is pretty easy these days. The real issue is that for your site to be of value to you, it needs to be much more that an online data sheet. Your site is a crucial part of your branding, marketing and lead generation process and as you will see in the next few sections: Getting to critical mass takes time.

Google Sandbox: Age Before Beauty

All things being equal Google loves older sites. You can have a beautiful site with the latest graphics and video, the best content and all the latest social media do-dads, but in order for your new site to rank (show up in Google when someone searches for a related term), it takes time.

The reason for this is the so called “sandbox” effect in Google’s search algorithm.

The concept of a sandbox is not a literal penalty, it is simply the result of the many filters that Google uses to establish weather it can trust your site. The most notable of the filters is the age of the site. In general terms the older a site, the more Google trusts it.

Does Google Know That Your Site Exists?

In practice, the sandbox delay can be several months or more. The key thing to remember here is that the age is not when you purchased the URL name, it is when Google first learned about your site.

You can tell if Google knows about your site by typing the site command in your browser:

For example:

Will cause Google to report back the pages that is has in it’s index.

If Google returns:

Your search – site: – did not match any documents.

You are not indexed.

How to Get your Site Indexed in Google

If you find that you are not in Google’s index yet, how do you get in?

There are lots of ways to get in, but the one I would suggest is to get a link from another established (already in Google’s index) site. If you own such a site, you can do the link yourself. If you don’t have a site that is established to link from, you could ask someone else for a link.

As an alternative, you can simply pay to get listed in one of the human reviewed directories such as: yahoo,, etc.. Be sure to use one of these or another human edited and reviewed directory as Google tends to trust them more since a human editor is involved in the process.

Before you submit your site, make sure that all the pages are finished and that there are no under construction pages. These things can cause the editor of a directory to reject you.

Once you have been accepted by a directory, you should be listed in short order. Once you are listed in the directory, or have a link using one of the methods I described earlier, Google will pick up the location of your site from the link and follow it to your home page. Once Google has visited your site, it will index it in short order.

What to Do if You’re Not Sure When Google Learned About your Site

To get some idea of how long your site has been indexed in Google, you can also look at the internet archive or wayback machine ( to see historical entries for your sites pages by date.

If your site has pages in the archive, the earliest date in the list is a rough indicator of how long Google has been aware of your site.

Please note that this a rough indication only, your site may have been indexed before the first date indicated by the wayback machine. The one thing you can be sure of is that it was NOT indexed before the first date shown.

Come up with a Theme for Your Site’s Content

When Google looks at your web site, it tries to figure out what it is about. In the same way you read a document, Google looks at the words used, how often they are used, etc.. After you have read a page in a document you think things like:

  • That page was crucial to the message
  • That page was about small Blue widgets and how to buy them

When you have read all the pages you think things like:

  • Page 1, the Blue widgets page, is the key idea of the document
  • Page 3, the Small Blue Widgets page really helped me understand why I need them

The writer of the document wanted to reveal the information to you in a logical manner and a theme was the natural byproduct of the writing. Without a theme the document is harder to understand kind of like this one :>) !

You can help Google to understand what your site is about by organizing it into themes. Here is a simple example of a Blue Widget Theme:

In this picture, the top level represents your home page. The second tier is where you would put specific versions of the thing represented in the top or main theme.

The goal is to keep decomposing the topic into more and more detail.

Don’t Nest Too Deeply

One thing to keep in mind when creating a hierarchical theme, is that Google is more likely to look at pages (and count them as more important), if they are not nested too deeply in the site’s structure.

As a rule of thumb, important pages should not be more than 2 hops (2 levels below) your home page.

An average site might have anywhere from 3 to 5 themes or more. The goal here is to keep related topics together.

Support The Theme with Popular Keywords

Once you have your themes, you need to chose words and phrases to use in the content of each page. You can use tools like Google’s keyword research tool to help you decide which words and phrases are searched for most often. As you write each page, be sure to use the words and phrases that you found along with their common synonyms.

Web Savvy Names for your Site, Products and Services

I want to talk about naming conventions as they relate to ranking well in Google. What I am about to suggest, from a pure branding and marketing point of view, may repulse some people. That’s OK, my intent is to discuss names that will help you rank better in search engines like Google. You can take this advice combined with an excellent treatment of creative naming such as the book: POP! Stand Out in any Crowd by Sam Horn, and be well on your way to the naming hall of fame.

As I mentioned before, Google likes themes. Using the themes, keywords and phrases you came up with earlier, you have a starting point for web-savvy product and site names.

Google-Savvy Product Names

If you sell Blue Widgets (and who doesn’t) you could go with product names like: Blue Widget PRO or Blue Widget Ultra. The value here is that your product names will appear everywhere from articles to online press releases to the pages of your site. If your product names contain key words, it will help you rank better for those words.

Google-Savvy Site URL Names

Once again, themes are key here. You should try to get several of your most important keywords in your URL, and try to get them in order of importance. For best results, try to get them in the actual form that you expect people to type them in when they are searching. Lets take our Blue Widget example and try to come up with some good site names.

“blue widget planet”, might be a good one to try. Remember, URL s can’t have spaces, so you need to string the text together or use a separator character.

bluewidgetplanet or blue-widget-planet

Although the search engines are getting smarter and can probably disambiguate the bluewidgetplanet version, the blue-widget-planet is better since Google already treats the dash as a space.

That said, saying all those dashes on the phone can be confusing to your customers. As a work around, I would suggest purchasing both names and even a possible third short hand version (something like to make it easy to understand.

You can now use the best one for Google ranking as the location for your site (, then use a 301 redirect  for the other two, to point them to the same place. This would mean that typing in any of the three URLs would all take you to your site.

If you follow these simple steps, by the time you are ready to launch your start up, your site will be indexed and ready for you to start the lead generation process.

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