In my tenure at Oneupweb I have talked to nearly 3,000 different companies about their natural/organic search engine marketing situation. Some of the conversations bloomed and turned into multi year business engagements. Other conversations were a mere 5 minutes of hellos and thank yous. The latter group and I quickly established that we weren’t a good fit at the time.
In any case, during these thousands of calls I tried to assess what the company actually knew about search marketing and their current standings in the search engines. I have discovered that few of the folks that reach out to us know more than whether or not they show up for their top keyword. It is very rare for them to even know how many pages of their site are indexed by each major search engine.
Today I want to share a very simple technique that can empower anyone concerned with their site’s status in the natural search results. It’s often referred to as a site search. At Google, type and search the following:
(Substitute mydomain with your own site’s name)
The results that appear are Google’s knowledge of your website. Does Google say you have 9,000 pages? How about 10 pages? Maybe one or none? This is it folks. These pages are the sum total of your hope at ranking well in Google.
Let us take a look at an example: DetroitLions.com.
At Google we type: site:detroitlions.com (Note that there is no space between the word site, the colon, and the domain name. If you ad spaces you will not get the right results).
At the time of this posting, Google tells us that it has 9,960 pages indexed for the Lion’s official site. Only the Lion’s webmaster knows if the site is really this size. Perhaps it is much larger but Google can’t spider the whole thing because of technical road blocks. Perhaps it is right on with regard to size, but is the site similar in size to its competition? Hey, wait, you can do the same search at Google and learn about the size of your competitor’s site? Yes. Yes, you can. Now you are getting the picture.
Google can tell you what it knows about your site and what it knows about your competitors’ sites. Here is how all of the NFC North websites fare on the Google site search:
Packers.com – 47,600 pages
DetroitLions.com – 9,960 pages
ChicagoBears.com – 7,250 pages
Vikings.com – 911 pages
Wow, it looks like the Packers ran away with this one, at least on overall site size in Google. How does your site stack up against the competition?
I should note that the next major step is to start digging through the long list of results to pull more information about how thoroughly the site is optimized to perform well in the search engines. These results tell us SEO folks a great deal, but the whole story can’t possible fit into one blog post.
For the purposes of brevity I’ve used Google as my single search engine to demonstrate this simple technique. I’ll inform you that each search engine has a similar way of revealing its knowledge of your website. I encourage you to go to the other major search engines and learn how they display similar results to those we’ve discussed above. I bet you’ll be surprised at what you find.
Yes, this is a bit of SEO 101, but as I mentioned, most people outside of our industry have no idea they can get this information so easily.