I have a client site with a unique name (not just the FQDN, but the company name that the site is for) that simply will not appear for Google searches using the company name. It's a very simple and small site with only 10 pages, and it has been live for over six months, albeit with no backlinks until the last couple of weeks. In this case we aren't concerned with competitive SEO, but simply to come up when users search Google for the company name. It has no competition for the same phrase, so it's not an optimization or competitive issue as far as we can tell.

What we've tried

  1. The name of the company is in the title tag on the home page, and many subpages.
  2. The name of the company is in the body copy on several pages.
  3. We've verified the site in Webmaster Tools, and submitted a sitemap, and requested that Google reindex the site after we've tried various content changes.
  4. We've verified that Google does have the pages in the index by querying with site:domain.com, which returns a list of all the pages we expect.
  5. We've verified that our robots.txt file is fine, which is just a stock Drupal robots.txt file. It's not excluding any meaningful content.
  6. We've verified that the site appears as expected when searching for the company name on other engines, such as Bing.
  7. We've gone through Webmaster tools looking for noted issues, such as HTML improvements. Nothing is suggested.
  8. We've backlinked the site from our agency portfolio, in the form of <a href="domain.com">Company Name</a>.

What we've seen

  1. Webmaster tools consistently reports 0 indexed pages. I'm aware that this can have a significant delay component, but the site has been live for some time, and indexed for some time.
  2. When searching Google for an exact match (with quotes) on the company name, i.e. "company name", we only get three results, all of which are pages on our agency portfolio site that refer to the company site and project, but not the site itself.
  3. When I try an exact match search in Google for another phrase that appears in the body content on the site, the page appears as expected in results (as the only result, actually), confirming that the site is indeed indexed and that it does appear for other searches.
  4. Webmaster tools lists the components of the company name in the keywords list for the site.
  5. Webmaster Tools reports that the sitemap.xml file has been processed, with no reported issues. It also reports that all 10 pages referenced in the file have been indexed.

I've never seen this happen before, Google "just works" when it's a uniquely named site and you search for the unique name. The fact that an exact match only returns three results and not the site itself, which contains the same phrase in higher frequency, is very odd.

The domain is www.silverstarrm.com. The company name is in the title tag on the home page. Of course we could "just wait longer", but it seems very odd that Google quickly picks up other changes we make to the content but it still won't list the site when you search for the most common phrase in the site, especially given that there is essentially zero competition for that phrase in Google's entire index.

Sorry for the wall of text, but I wanted to give as much useful context as I possibly could. Thank you!

3 Answers 3


So after banging our heads off the wall on this one for several more days, we posted in the Google Product forums: https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/webmasters/crawling-indexing--ranking/fFo28LFajWo. Within 24 hours the site was appearing in results as expected, so it appears that Google must have manually intervened somehow, because we had taken every action that we could think of up until that point.

This site was a temp page for quite a while prior to the main site being launched, so I'm wondering if it somehow was affected by the domain temp page issue that Matt Cutts acknowledged several months ago.

In any case, if you have an issue like this and you have tried every tool available (sitemap.xml, requested reindexing, no issues reported in Webmaster Tools, robots.txt looks good, etc) then consider asking Google, apparently it does work sometimes!


You are talking about branding. This is difficult to do with a non-competitive site and a brand name (company name in this case) that is not recognizable. Ten pages on a site that is 6 months old and only back links from one site until recently is not a good recipe for success. As well, if the brand name is something nonsensical such as wizywerx, it will require a huge impression count and CTR before it will get recognized as a search term.

There are a few things you need to do to build a brand:

  • Use the brand name or domain name in the title tag preferably at the end of the tag. Make sure you tune your title tag(s) so that they are accepted in the SERPs as you present then with the brand.
  • Use the brand in the description meta-tag.
  • Make sure that your site logo is an image with an alt text that includes the brand.
  • Use the brand name in the home page h1 tag.
  • Use mark-up for the company in the footer of each page with the brand name as the company with full address, phone number, etc.
  • Create content. 10 pages is not enough.
  • Create compelling content that will be shared. Just product or service pages will not work.
  • Use social media especially Twitter to promote your brand and content.
  • Create back links where some of the links use the brand name in the link text.
  • Create a genuine buzz for your brand and it's products or services. Do not PR sites that are junk. Go for actual newspaper and magazine articles as much as possible.
  • If your product or service has a tie to blogger topics, e-mail them to consider writing about your product. There is a sleazy side to this. Stay with reputable bloggers with authority in their field.

This is a SEM IM 101 topic. To get brand name (site name) recognition requires a lot of work and activity before search engines begin to return searches regardless of how unique the term. This is because search engines do not index keywords that are not recognized terms or brand names easily without some standardization of use. Yes there are cases where this will work. But not likely for a site with 10 pages and little back links and activity. You need to get search impressions that contain the brand name other than the ones you make.

  • Whilst this is good general advice, I think there is a specific problem here. It's not that the OP's site isn't ranking highly for the brand name, it's that it doesn't rank at all, despite Google apparently having indexed multiple pages with that name on. Oct 29, 2014 at 17:46
  • Thanks Tim, that's how we see it as well. Given that adding the same phrase on another site gets near-instant indexing and appearance in Google (less than 24 hours), and that the site appears in the index for other keyword phrases, it seems like something more specific is wrong.
    – stockli
    Oct 30, 2014 at 2:52
  • @stockli Sorry I was gone so long. The original question was about search for the domain name less tld which is what I addressed, however, Tim is likely also very right. I was without the luxury of having a domain name when the question is posted so I could not address it specifically. It is really hard to get a 10 page site to rank especially with limited back links and so on. There are things to do and the list above still gives you some ideas of what can help. If you want something more specific given the changes, I will be glad to modify/append the answer. Just let me know.
    – closetnoc
    Oct 30, 2014 at 19:13

Our website is having the same issue. When doing a google search using our brand keywords, only 1 or 2 relevant results are generated. Other search engines such as Bing, Ask.com, and Webcrawler all produce relevant results. Based on my own research, it seems that Google's algorithm may have an issue, misinterpreting our brand name as nonsensical or a misspelling.

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