Make sure the search engines know about your site

search engines

I’ll start this section with one very big caveat: technically, you don’t actually need to submit your site to the search engines. After all, their purpose in life is to find websites!

Google actually states,

…you don’t even need to submit your site to Google. Google is a fully automated search engine that uses software known as “spiders” to crawl the web on a regular basis and find sites to add to our index. In    fact, the vast majority of sites listed in our results aren’t manually submitted for inclusion, but found and added automatically when our spiders crawl the web.” (Google Information for Webmasters)

That said, I’d rather be safe than sorry. Google also admits that it can take quite a while (possibly months) for its bots to find your site. I’m not guaranteeing that submitting your site to Google will speed up this process, but it certainly won’t slow it down!

How to submit your site to Google

Don’t waste money by paying someone else to submit your site to Google. It’s easy, and it’s free!

Simply go to http://www.google.com.au/addurl.html, enter your URL (domain name) and a few comments or keywords to describe your site. Then click ‘Submit’. That’s all there is to it. You only have to do it once, and only for your top level page (i.e. Home page).

Google’s bots will then come out to start crawling your website… eventually.

IMPORTANT: Once you’ve submitted your site to Google, there’s no need to do it again. Ever. Once is enough.

How to submit your site to other search engines

Studies suggest that the top 11 search engines account for about 90% of web traffic. In other words, if you have the top 11 covered, there’s no need to submit to the rest.

However, most of the top 11 didn’t actually accept submissions. The only ones that do are Google (described above), Yahoo, and MSN. Here’s a list of the available submit pages.

TIP: You should also consider creating an open format sitemap, and submitting this sitemap to the search engines that accept sitemap submissions (e.g. Google and Ask).

For more information…

“But someone offered to submit my site to 75,000 search engines, for just $100!”

Don’t do it! Firstly, there’s no need. As mentioned above, the search engines can actually find you on their own. And even if you want to submit your site to them, just to be sure, there are really only three you need to worry about: Google, Yahoo & MSN.

Also, if you take up one of those sorts of offers, you’ll be inundated with email spam.

Similarly, don’t submit your site to the same search engines thousands for times. This is another form of search engine spamming.

Submit your site to the search engines’ local business centers

More and more people are narrowing their searches to the local area. What’s more, Google is starting to tailor its search results based on where the searcher is located. So if local search traffic is important to your site, you should definitely register your business with:

  • Google Local Business Center (Google Maps) – Google now displays Google Maps listings as part of its regular search results
  • Microsoft Local Listing Center
  • Yahoo Local

You should also use the geographic targeting tool in Google Webmaster Tools to tell Google what geographic location your business targets. This won’t affect your ranking in the normal results, but it will help ensure your listing displays appropriately for searchers who use Advanced Search.

TIP: The sorts of businesses that are likely to benefit from local search traffic include: restaurants, shop-fronts, cinemas & theater, theme parks, tourist attractions, car rentals, dry cleaners and lawyers.

Submit your products to Google Product Search (if you sell products)

If you’re a vendor of products, you should definitely submit your products to Google Product Search. They’ll then be directly indexed and served in Google’s regular SERPs.

Submit news, images or video

If your site offers news, images or video, you can let Google know:

  • News – Submit your site to Google News then Submit a News Sitemap.
  • Images – Opt in to enhanced image search within Google Webmaster Tools.
  • Video – Submit your videos to YouTube or Google Video (both are owned by Google). (Theoretically, you can submit your videos to other video hosting services without impacting your results.)