If your website is brand new, on a never-before-used domain name, no-one will know it exists, not even search engines. Submitting your site directly to the search engines is a fast way to make sure as much of your content gets discovered as quickly as possible. The theory goes: If you build it, they won’t come – unless you tell them it’s here and invite them to visit!
- Essential for websites not already in search.
- Gives search engines a map to your site.
- Speeds up the discovery of your website.
Search Engine Submissions
If no links exist on the internet to your website, then you won’t get found. You will only eventually get found after other sites begin to build links of references to you, and you can speed up the process of telling Search Engines that you exist by submitting your Sitemap, verifying ownership, and adding Search Engine driven tools like Google Analytics.
Sitemap submission or site verifications have no effect on ranking, only on the speed at which your ranking (good or bad) will be established.
Via Google Search Console, it’s possible to have your new website crawled and indexed on Google within hours of launch. This won’t give you much ranking though! That takes time. If you forget to have your website crawled, don’t submit a sitemap to Google, and don’t yet have any links to your site from anywhere else, how will Google know your site is even there? And if Google can’t find it, then people searching for what you offer will not find you either.
Search Engine Submissions How-To
To help kick off your website into search results, you have to tell the search engines that your site is there! Search engines will not find your website by themselves until such a time as there’s a link to your site from somewhere else, so the fastest way to get your site into search results is by submitting a sitemap to the search engine.
Sitemaps are basically a diagram of how to find all the pages in your site that you want indexed. They tell the search engine that your pages exist, and how to find them all. Some website CMSs come with Sitemap generators, while others you need to generate yourself using code. This is not so easy to describe, so best left for your webmaster or SEO specialist, but there are some easier ways to submit a sitemap, like via a text file. The important thing to note is that Sitemaps are the fastest way to get your website and all its pages found by search engines.
The Google Search Console site provides information on how to submit sitemaps and verify ownership of the site.
You can do this with all the major search engines, but considering that Google and Yahoo / Bing represent most searches between them, probably you needn’t bother with submitting sitemaps to others. You need to verify your site ownership first.
The easiest way to submit a sitemap to Google is via an XML file with all your page URLs listed in it. You will however have to have FTP access to be able to upload this file into your site’s root directory. You then tell Google to examine the file, and the process is started. This is not instant, so be patient. The file should be called something like “sitemap.xml”. This is easy for small websites like this one, that only have 10-50 pages or so, but large websites with hundreds or even thousands of pages should get their sitemaps generated automatically by additional software.
Some website systems automatically create a sitemap for you, and it’s contents are based on what pages you wish to share on Google. They are set to “follow” and “index”. Pages that are set to “no index” are not shown in the sitemap. Pages that are set to “follow” and also “no-index” will not show in sitemaps, but pages subsequent in their structure (child links) will be. The “no-follow” setting disallows search engines from following any links the page links to, however those pages might be linked from elsewhere in your site if allowed. Dynamically created sitemap files have the XML extension. You may be able to find it by typing in your web address followed by /sitemap.xml to see it’s contents. Not all XML sitemaps are at this URL so check with your website designer.
Things to Note
Publishing your website or setting it “live” onto the web does not make it appear in Google.
Submitting a sitemap does not guarantee ranking. It has nothing to do with getting good or bad ranking. It only speeds up the process of establishing whatever ranking you get. Only effective SEO can get you better ranking.
Before you can submit a sitemap, you need to verify ownership of the website. This is done with a snippet of code that is issued by the search engine, called a verification code. It’s either placed into your site as a hidden page, or as a tag inside all pages. If you are the owner of the website, it’s assumed that because you can show that you can edit the website, the search engine presumes you must also own it.
If there are links to your website or web pages already through social media sites, other website, web directories etc, then search engines will eventually find your pages anyway. However, this can take months.
Search engines do not examine your whole website each time they pass through their robots and spiders. An impression of your site is built up over weeks, if not months. It’s possible that there is up to 6 weeks between crawls. If you make dramatic changes to your website content, the new content will not be found instantly. search engines will still think the old content is there.
If you make dramatic changes to your website structure, by changing or renaming pages or categories for example, you need to add redirects. These are like postal redirects for mail. The old address points to the new address, so the mail still gets delivered, although in this case, it’s your visitors. (sorry about the analogy – it has nothing to do with “email”). This is needed in the timeframe between when you make the changes, and when search engines naturally discover your new pages and content. If you don’t do redirects, it’s not the end of the world. Usually the traffic still lands on your site on a special page called the 404 (page not found) page.