Why does my WordPress site not show up in search engines?


Understanding Search Engines

Your WordPress site is one of a huge number of websites on the Internet, all indexed by search engines like Google, Bing, or DuckDuckGo. These search engines have "web crawlers" that scan the Internet for sites and then index them in a library for the search engine to use. Based on the search term(s) the user enters into the search bar, the search engine's algorithm will then rank indexed pages and display them in order for the user. Each search engine has its own algorithm and criteria for determining the ranking of pages, and that specific information is usually proprietary to each company.

Search engine rankings are complex, and unless you are able to pay for ad space, there is no "quick fix" or WordPress plugin that will make your website immediately rank highly and show up in search results.

What is SEO and how does it impact my website?

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is a strategy for how your website interacts with search engines and the internet to make it more findable. Typically the goal is for a site to be one of the first results in search engines when someone searches for your topic.

There are many strategies for improving SEO so that your website is ranked highly, including changes to the design and structure of your site and marketing techniques outside of your website.

What are things I can do to improve SEO?

Unfortunately, there is no "quick fix" for increasing your WordPress page's visibility in search engines. There are a few strategies that you can try that may help with your site's SEO.

Check your site visibility

In WordPress, you can change your privacy settings to determine who can view your site, including search engines. Follow these steps to change your settings to make your site searchable:

  1. Log in to blogs.bucknell.edu and choose your site.
  2. In your WordPress dashboard, navigate to the "Settings" tab on the left of the screen.
  3. Within settings, choose "Reading" from the submenu on the left of the screen.
  4. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the section called "Site visibility"
  5. To make your site searchable in search engines like Google, choose the option "Allow search engines to index this site"
    • Note: This will make your site public to anyone on the internet who wants to view it.

Create content that people are interested in

This is the most important part of making your website findable! Searches are partially based on the keywords that people enter when they search. If your content is relevant or answers the question they were searching for, it is more likely to be found.

Increase visitors

Search results are also a popularity contest. If your site has more visitors and more people interested in clicking on it, it is more likely to be at the top of the search results. 

It is not always easy for a new site to appear at the top of search results, because search engines work in a cycle that can be difficult to break into. Popular sites appear at the top of search results, and so get more visitors; if you have more visitors, you are more likely to appear at the top of search results. When getting started, you may need to send your link directly to people to gain interest and visitors.

Create backlinks 

Backlinks are links to your site from other places on the internet. The number and quality of your backlinks directly influences your rankings in searches and makes your site more interconnected to the rest of the internet.

Here are some examples of backlinks:

  • A social media post that links to your website
  • A link to your website from your department's page on bucknell.edu
  • An article or blog post about your topic that links to your website
  • Links on your website to other pages within your website (Tip: make sure you use a descriptive link, as outlined in the section below on accessibility)

Make your site organized and accessible

If you are using a Bucknell WordPress site, most of your site's organization is already built in. Templates in WordPress are already organized and created to be responsive to different types and sizes of devices.

However, there are still two best practices for web accessibility that will also help make your site more findable:

  1. Use descriptive links, especially when you are linking to other pages on your site. Learn more about creating better links in our Digital Accessibility Basics article.
  2. Use built-in headings in your pages, using the headings in order. Learn more about using headings in our Digital Accessibility Basics article.
    • Don't use headings for emphasis or to make text stand out. They should only be used to organize your pages.
    • Do use built-in headings. If you don't like the way they look, you can almost always  change the styling in the settings. Homemade headings don't add any structure in the code of the site.
    • Do use headings in order without skipping levels, like moving from heading 2 to heading 4 without using a heading 3.
    • Example:

Heading 1

Heading 2

Heading 3

Heading 2

Heading 4 (don't use heading 4 here! Use heading 3 instead.)

Finding Help

For general WordPress questions, email techdesk@bucknell.edu or stop by the Tech Desk on the first floor of Bertrand Library.

From there, Digital Pedagogy & Scholarship can help you with your WordPress site. We offer consultations to help you get started with a WordPress site, discuss site structure and usability, offer plugin options, or troubleshoot with the WordPress interface. We can also talk through SEO strategies and the tips mentioned in this article for you to implement. Contact our department directly using our main email: dps@bucknell.edu


Article ID: 592
Tue 10/25/22 10:23 AM
Tue 4/25/23 1:48 PM