I help small businesses with their websites every day. One of the most common questions we hear when someone launches a new website is “How long will it take for my website to show up in Google listings?” It’s a great question, with a not so easy answer: “I don’t know exactly. It depends.”
Not quite the answer you were looking for, huh? The good news however is that there are four steps you can follow to help your website show up in searches on Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines as quickly as possible. By following these steps, you can expect your new website to show up in four days to four weeks (but it can always vary a bit).
First off, let’s talk about Spiders and Creepy Crawlies…
The Basics of Search Engine Indexing
Let’s define a few terms so you can talk the talk and walk the walk when it comes to search engines and your website.
- Bots – Software programs used by the search engines to find information on the web. Google’s bot is called Googlebot, Bing’s bot is called Bingbot.
- Crawling or Spidering – This is the process that bots use to move from webpage to webpage and website to website. A bot moves around by following links on webpages.
- Indexing – This is the process the search engines use to take all the information gathered by the bots via crawling and prepare it so it can be quickly retrieved and displayed on their results pages (SERPs). Part of this process is to determine the quality/relevance of the webpages found. Lower scoring pages might not be suitable for display at all.
Now that you’re familiar with some of the jargon you might be thinking, “How does the bot find my site in order to crawl it and index it?” Great question! Here are our four must-follow steps to increase the odds that your new website will be crawled and indexed quickly.
Four Easy Steps to Ensure a Rapid Search Engine Listing
Submit your website URL to Google and Bing. This is the fastest of the four steps. For Google, sign into your Google Account (or click the Sign Up button at the top right if you don’t have one) and then submit your website URL in the field provided. Submitting your site to Bing is even easier. No sign-in required.
Create and submit a sitemap. A sitemap is an XML document on your website that lists all the pages on your website. It’s basically a map for bots to quickly and easily crawl your entire site. A sitemap also gives the search engines direction on how often the website is updated, so bots know how often they need to come back and re-crawl the site.
If you use WordPress, you can create a sitemap with this Google XML Sitemaps plugin. Similar plugins are available if your site is built in Joomla or Drupal. Once you’ve created your XML sitemap, you can submit it to the search engines so that you don’t have to wait for them to find your website.
For Google, you need to create a Webmaster Tools account, add your site to Webmaster Tools, and then go to Optimization → Sitemaps → Add/Test Sitemap. For Bing, sign up for Bing Webmaster Tools, add a new website, and you’ll be prompted to add the URL of your sitemap. For both Google and Bing, you may need to verify you own your site (instructions are provided on-screen) before you can complete the process.
Create relevant content. When a search engine indexes your site, it takes into account the quality of the content on your site. Search engines give far better rankings to websites with content that is relevant to what the website is supposed to be about. For example, if you own a bakery and have webpages or blog articles on different cakes, cookies, breads etc, the search engine will consider your site much more relevant than another bakery site that has articles on car repair, get rich quick schemes and other non-relevant content.
Search engines also care about content quantity. So be sure to add and update content on your website regularly. If you don’t have a blog, consider starting one and blogging on a regular basis (at a minimum at least a few times a month). This will not only add new content to your site, but also keep your site fresh in the eye’s of the search engines which keeps your site higher on the search engine result pages.
Get quality incoming links. Search bots find new pages and websites by following links on other pages and other websites. The more links there are on other high quality sites that point to your site, the more likely it is for the search engines to index your site faster.
In addition, if you can get links from sites with quality content that is similar to yours, then your site is considered higher quality as well and this can boost your position on the search result pages. You can easily generate links to your website by submitting guest blog posts on other websites that are in the same industry or area of interest, submitting articles to article directories and creating press releases and distributing them through services like prweb.com.
Reminder: Don’t create links on sites that look like they only exist to link back to other sites. Sites like these are considered spammy and all they do is make your site look spammy to the search engines (increasing the chance of not being indexed or receiving a low ranking).
Another quick way to get links is to create social profiles for your business. Get a business Facebook page, Twitter account, Google+ profile, LinkedIn company page, Pinterest profile and YouTube channel. All of these social platforms allow you to offer links back to your primary website.
Sit Back and Wait – Be Patient
Follow these steps and your website should show up in Bing and Google listings in just a few short days or weeks. One way to quickly see if your site has been indexed and what pages have been discovered is to go to any search engine and type “site: www.yourdomain.com” in the search box.
The results you see will be everything that the search engine knows about your website. If you don’t see anything, your site has not been indexed yet.
Once your site is indexed, it’s time to start concentrating on improving your place in the rankings to drive more traffic to your website. It’s important to spend time increasing your rankings for keywords that actually matter, which helps you avoid getting high keyword rankings for keywords that your target customers don’t actually search for.
Is your site in Google listings already? Did you find these instructions useful? Share with us in the comments below.
If you need some help with your current website, Boostsuite can assist you in identifying issues, finding the biggest opportunities for content creation, and help you optimize the visitor experience so that you can turn more tire-kickers into new customers for your business.