-Search engines pump website traffic around the Internet. If you want your website to get traffic from search engines, your site needs to be recognized and listed in them.
If you run your own website for your business, submitting your website to search engines is something you can easily do yourself for free. Here are the most common questions and answers to get you started.
Question #1: Which search engines matter?
About 7 out of 10 searches are done using Google (as of October 2010). Yahoo and Bing are merging and plan to use the same engine.
According to Hitwise, a data collection service, the vast majority of searches occur on 5 different engines. These are: Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask and AOL search.
Want details? Here are the numbers. Hitwise reports as of October 23, 2010:
- Google gets just over 71% of all searches done using search engines
- Yahoo gets about 15%
- Bing gets about 10%
- Ask and AOL get about 4% combined
To compete better, in April 2010 Yahoo and Bing agreed to merge. Yahoo claims it will use Bing’s search engine. While some people report you still see different results for the same search in Yahoo.com and Bing.com, the plan is for both companies to use the same program eventually.
Question #2: How Do I submit my website to Google?
Tthere are 2 things you can do yourself.
#1 Easiest way to submit your site to Google: Add your URL to Google using the “Add URL” page.
This is a simple, fast, free and easy process to lead the #1 engine to your website. Just send your URL. Do this search “URL submission – Google”. The top result (or near the top) is a result titled “Add your URL to Google.”
Go there, and you’ll find a very simple blank in which to enter your URL.
A good way to do this without a typo is:
1) View your site’s home page in a browser
2) Copy the URL as you see it in the address window. Start with the http:// and end with the last character
3) Paste the URL into the input form on the “Add Your URL to Google” page
Once Google finds your home page, its indexing robot will be able to find the rest of your pages. That’s why it’s important to make sure your pages are coded correctly. If the index robot can not track the links within your site from one page to another, those pages are not likely to get indexed.
You may not get all your pages indexed with this process. Google openly claims it will not index all URLS submitted. It does not promise to index every page of your site either.
Fortunately, there is another way to submit your site to Google to make your pages more visible in this search engine. You send it a map of every page of your site, called a sitemap.
#2 Create a and submit it to Google. This increases the likelihood more pages getting indexed.
Plus you will be able to keep better track of how much of your site it crawls and recognizes. Google gives you the tools to track your indexing when you submit a site map correctly.
To submit a sitemap, you need to do 2 things:
1) Create a Google Webmaster Tools account. Google gives you step-by-step instructions at http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools.
2) Create a sitemap. This is a specially formatted.xml file. Unless you are very determined, or you enjoy a technical challenge, this is a job for a professional webmaster.
To create a sitemap.xml file, it is strongly recommended that you use a software tool to write one for you. Computers can generate correctly tagged code where humans are much more prone to typos.
Several online tools are available for you to choose from. Many are free. Site map services change over time. You may find one to best suit your needs by doing a search for “sitemap.xml generator” and choosing from the results.
Remember, that when you add a new page, you will need to update your sitemap. You should re-submit your sitemap if you want re-indexing to happen promptly.
(One of the reasons I like to use WordPress for website publishing is how easily it manages site maps for you. Special plugins to the software will keep your sitemap up to date and will re-submit it to Google for you, automatically.)
Question #3: How Do I submit my website to Yahoo, Bing and Ask and AOL?
The Easy Way to Submit your site to Yahoo
Yahoo claims it is not necessary to add your site in order to for Yahoo to discover your content. However, you can tell Yahoo where your site is to “suggest your site for inclusion” in this engine.
You will need a Yahoo.com account, which is free.
The Easy Way to Submit your site to Bing
Searh “url submissin – bing”. The top (or near-top) result is a page at Bing.com called “URL Submission – Bing” Go there and enter your URL.
You do not need an account with Microsoft (which owns Bing).
The Easy Way to Submit your site to AOL and Ask
Sorry, there isn’t.
To date, there seems to be no easy way to submit your site to Ask or AOL.
AOL claims to have a URL submission form like Google and Yahoo.
You can find an AOL site address ending in aol/add (search Google for “add url AOL). But currently, landing there results in error message (“An error occurred while serving your request”), and you may be re-directed to an AOL search page.
ASK recommends you create an xml site map and let the auto-discovery directive do the rest.
If you only care to do one thing, make sure your site is indexed in Google
The first step in getting traffic is to make sure you get indexed in Search engines. And the most important search engine of the day is Google. If you’re searching for your website and you don’t see your pages in the results, even doing very specific searches, it may be time to call a professional webmaster.
A good webmaster will know how to use the search engines themselves to find problems, and fix them so you get more traffic.