edit Kristina Weis on August 17, 2010
edit Being indexed is the first step to good SEO
The sooner a website gets indexed, the sooner the webmaster can begin applying SEO strategies (see SEO) to boost the site higher in search engine results. Appearing in the top 10 to 20 search results can, in turn, attract more visitors to the site.
If a site owner doesn't do anything to help search engines find a new website, it can take a long time for it to be indexed and show up in search results, let alone rank high for relevant search terms.
You can speed up getting more of your pages indexed. But first, let's see where your site stands now.
edit Are Your Web Pages in the Google Index?
- You can use the information on AboutUs.org pages to learn how many pages of a website have been indexed by the three major search engines, and when the search engines last crawled and indexed your website's home page. You can find it by clicking "Web Presence" in the left-hand navigation on a website's page here on AboutUs.org.
- A zero beside one of the search engine names indicates that the engine has not yet indexed any of the pages in this website. If you see question marks instead of numbers, or if you want to make sure the numbers are up-to-date, click "Refresh these numbers".
- Reminder: To find a website's page on AboutUs.org, enter www.aboutus.org/MyWebsite.com in your web browser's navigation bar. You can also find the page by entering the domain name - MyWebsite.com or MyWebsite.org - in the search bar at the top right of any AboutUs.org page.
- Search in Google for "site:YourWebsite.com" and see what turns up.
- This isn't 100 percent accurate, but the search will tell you how many pages are certainly indexed. Normally if the number is wrong, Google is showing fewer pages of your site than are actually in its index.
- Note that you don't insert a space between the colon and the site's domain name when you search.
- If you've submitted an XML sitemap via Google Webmaster Tools, you can use these tools to find the most accurate count of pages that Google has indexed.
- This will tell you how many pages in your sitemap are in Google's index, but it won't tell you which pages are indexed.
edit Get Your Website Indexed Faster
- Your website should have unique and valuable content.
- I hope this is obvious. Look at your website from the perspective of someone managing a search engine. Is the content so valuable that a search engine professional would want to send people to your site? Keep in mind that a website without quality content, or with low-quality content that's available elsewhere on the web, is unlikely ever to be indexed, no matter how hard you push indexing tactics.
- Get people to create inbound links to your site.
- The primary way that search engines find new sites and web pages is by following links from other websites. To the right is a video of Matt Cutts (of Google) explaining how search engines use links to evaluate a web page's usefulness.
- It's best to get links that don't have the NoFollow attribute -- often called "DoFollow" links. But even links with the NoFollow tag may be helpful.
- Ideas for getting more links to your website:
- Ask a friend or someone at a related website to link to your site from their site, or in a blog post.
- Get a DoFollow link from AboutUs.org.
- Create additional web presences for your site. You can find suggestions for where to do this in my article about Reputation Management.
- Submit a press release with a link to your website. Christian Bullock suggests using at least one paid wire service (he likes PRLeap.com) in addition to free services.
- If your site is brand new and hasn't yet been indexed by the search engines, submitting it to search engines can help.
- Use the website submission forms for Google, Yahoo and Bing, which are the largest search engines. Don't waste your time and/or money on so-called search engine submission services.
- Creating an HTML sitemap can help search engines crawlers find and index more pages on your site, once they've found your site and its "sitemap" link.
- An XML sitemap can also help search engines find and index more of your web pages. This kind of sitemap has the advantage of allowing you to tell the search engines which pages on your site are most important, so Google will crawl them more often.
- Setting a custom crawl rate in Google Webmaster Tools allows you to ask Google to crawl pages more quickly. This is especially helpful for very large websites. If you do this, watch your site's performance carefully. If your site slows down or becomes difficult to use, dial down the crawl speed.
edit Make Sure You're Not Telling Search Engines to Ignore Your Site
If none of your website's pages are showing up in search engines, make sure you aren't accidentally telling the search engines not to index them.
- Look at the page source for one of your web pages and make sure that something like <meta name="ROBOTS" content="NOINDEX" /> doesn't show up. If there's a "NOINDEX" tag, you will need to remove it. That tag tells a search engine not to place that page in its index.
- You can check the page source by pressing the "ctrl" key and the "U" key simultaneously if you're using a Windows computer. If you're using an Apple, press "command" and "U."
- Enter YourWebsite.com/robots.txt in the navigation bar of your browser, and check for text in your robots.txt file that includes the word "Disallow." For example, text reading "User-Agent: * Disallow: /" would tell all search engines to refrain from indexing any pages on that website.
- Crawl errors can slow down the rate at which search engines are able to crawl and index a website. You can find information about crawl errors in Google Webmaster Tools. If a search engine gets lots of crawl errors while it's trying to index a very large website, the crawler may simply stop indexing partway through the site.
- There's no good way to know for sure if Google or another search engine has penalized or banned your site. But if you have an established website -- one that's been around for a while and has some decent inbound links -- and you notice a drop in traffic from a search engine, or a site:example.com search shows you no results, it's possible that your site has been penalized for some reason. Check Google's quality guidelines to learn what actions can cause the company to penalize a website.