Whenever people build new websites, they hope to find themselves on Google, Yahoo!®, and Bing™ as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, having a site on the Internet does not guarantee search engine placement, even though the engines are very good at finding new sites and indexing them.
As a new site owner, it’s easy to get impatient while you’re waiting for Google to discover the website you’ve spent your good money on. It’s also understandable to be concerned when search engine discovery seems to take so much longer than other activities on the Internet.
One of the most commonly asked questions posed by our clients is about when their website is going to show up on a search engine. The search engines themselves don’t provide an answer, and the major ones use a secret set of rules to decide whether, how, and when a site is going to be indexed. Based on current search engine speeds, on the low end it can take as little as three days to get found, while on the high end it can sometimes take as long as a month.
So let’s take a look at some of the ways you can encourage the search engines to find and index your website quickly:
- Submit your website to the search engines. Google, Yahoo!, and Bing all have pages where you can enter your website address. They will then add your submission to a list that tells a program—known as a search engine spider—to go and look at your site. It’s important to note that a search engine won’t visit your site right away, and even after it does visit, there may still be a delay before you see your site listed.
- Set up a webmaster tools account. With a Google Webmaster Tools account, you can share information about your website, which includes submitting a special site map with your page addresses. Although Google usually reads the site map within a day, this does not guarantee page indexing.
- Get links to your website. Back when search engines took even more time to find sites, we advised our clients to get other websites to link to theirs. Search engines consider links from other sites as endorsements, and for some reason a “followed” link gets pages found faster than a search engine submission.
- Make sure there’s nothing on your website that’s keeping the search engines out. Sometimes there are settings in your source code or the robots.txt file that tell search engine spiders not to read any of the pages on your website. Ask your webmaster to review those settings.
Even though search engines could theoretically index your page within a few seconds of your search engine submission, they have reasons to hold back for a few days. Most of these reasons stem from ways that unscrupulous companies have abused search engines in the past. For instance, some people have put up thousands of nearly identical websites and then made money off the advertising. Alternatively, other people have purchased blocks of domain names, put sites on them, and then “returned” them within a couple of days for a full refund.
Because of such behavior, search engines might hold back and make sure that any given website has a certain amount of credibility before it gets indexed. Even when a search engine finally does find your site and list it, it may take time before you get seen for top keywords that customers are using when they’re looking to buy what you have to offer.
So what can you do while you’re waiting for search engines to find you?
- For new site owners, we usually recommend that you buy some paid traffic. Google, Yahoo!, and Bing can usually show an ad for your site within a few hours after signing up, which can help you generate traffic for your site right away. Even if you have a modest budget, it’s possible to buy traffic for many different keywords that people type in when they’re looking for your products or services, and you can even restrict ads to connect with people who live within a few miles of your shop.
- If you don’t have the budget to cover paid advertising, it’s important to remain patient while you’re waiting for search engines to display your site in their listings. People who submit their sites too often, or too aggressively (such as several times a day with automated tools), may find that their site doesn’t show up at all—or even gets blacklisted.
Once you find your site on a search engine, it’s always helpful to make improvements until you achieve the rankings you want. Web.com offers a variety of services and tools for rankings enhancement, which can go a long way toward turning your new site into a profit center.
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