You’ve just bought a great domain name. You’ve worked hard on designing, organizing, and uploading your new website. It’s attractive and packed with useful information about golden geese and how to steal them from suspicious giants who live in the clouds. However, only you, your domain name registrar, and your Web hosting company know yet that your website exists.
Invisible Domain Names
You’re happy about your decision to buy a unique domain name rather than risk being lost in the clutter at a massive hosting company like WordPress.com that shares the same underlying domain name among tens of thousands of other websites. Still, the automated Web crawlers from Google, Bing, and other search engines that constantly poke around for new domain names might take a few days or even weeks to find your website. Until then, it’s effectively invisible. You want Google and Bing in particular to find your website sooner rather than later. You want your website to be indexed.
What’s Indexing Anyway?
Indexing means that a search-engine robot automatically reads the publicly viewable pages on your website and sends copies of them back to giant server farms to be evaluated for their relevancy to common searches. E-commerce businesses that sell exotic women’s shoes typically want to be associated with search keywords like “women’s shoes,” “buy fashionable shoes,” or perhaps “where are the best exotic fashion shoes for women.” A pet-care website might want to be known for its relevancy to search keywords like “healthy cat,” “making your hamster happy,” and “how to treat a sick dog.” You’ll likely want your own website to be strongly associated with keyword searches like “golden goose,” “how to climb a beanstalk,” and “escaping from an angry giant.”
Sitemap Magic for the Millions
A powerful and universal tool for grabbing the attention of search engines is an XML or plaintext sitemap. You can create your own sitemap manually, but almost all webmasters use freely available automated tools. You can find them with a simple keyword search like “sitemap generator.” A sitemap tells a search engine where to find all of the publicly viewable pages on your website. An XML sitemap may contain other information about those pages that helps search engines understand what they are seeing. An excellent sitemap ensures that the robots don’t miss anything important, such as a short page on feeding a stolen golden goose the right kind of goose kibble to keep it healthy.
Once your sitemap is ready, Google and Bing allow you to directly upload it to their webmaster tools. Their robots will then index your entire website as soon as possible. Depending on their workload, this might take a few minutes or a few days. You can find these webmaster tools with simple searches for “Google webmaster tools” and “Bing webmaster tools.” You can quickly test Google’s progress with indexing your website by searching for “site:your-website-domain-name.com,” where the text string “your-website-domain-name.com” is replaced with an actual domain name like “stealingthegoldengoose.com.”
A free Google account for telling the company about your website also offers many other tools for tweaking and promoting your website. A free Bing webmaster account is useful as well, especially for any additional organic traffic you hope to attract. Organic traffic arrives naturally without you having to run an advertising campaign.
Yahoo now uses search-engine results from Bing and Google, so you needn’t pay special attention to Yahoo. Other search engines such as DuckDuckGo exist, but Google and Bing are the 800-pound gorillas of the search-engine industry. Focusing on those two search giants will work fine for 90 percent of your desired traffic. The runners-up will eventually find your website without any help. If you’re focusing on China, Russia, South Korea, and other significant international marketplaces, then you might work on getting your website indexed at Baidu, Yandex, Naver, and others.
If you operate other websites that already have been indexed, then linking naturally to your new website will quickly bring it to the attention of the search-engine robots that regularly update their records of your existing website pages. This tactic works best with high-traffic websites loaded with pages that change daily. You can also ask a friend or business associate to link to your new website in a natural way that doesn’t try to flood robots with dozens of outgoing links.
Google and Bing hate manipulative tactics, so a simple, positively worded blog post that links out once to your new website works best. The blog post should also contain a few relevant keywords that describe the linked website, but easy does it. The old days of keyword spamming are long past.
Outbound links embedded in forum posts often are essentially ignored by search-engine robots because many forums render their comment pages with the “nofollow” HTML attribute. As expected, this attribute tells the robots to de-emphasize the impact of most or all of the outgoing hypertext links found on those pages. The same problem afflicts outgoing hyperlinks in personal profiles at many popular forums.
However, some forums waive the “nofollow” attribute for trusted, long-term members. Adding the domain name for your new website to your signature block at a popular forum with a permissive “nofollow” policy can quickly boost the public visibility of your website. Needless to say, forum operators and community members frown on frivolous posts that contribute nothing to a conversation. All of your forum posts should be meaningful and substantive, not least because future searchers might find your forum posts and judge your credibility by the quality of your commentary.
Taking Wing With Pinging
If you’re in a hurry, blog-pinging services like Ping-O-Matic and various commercial indexing services promise to yank your website into the public eye within hours or minutes. Few websites will benefit from such accelerated exposure, though, and costs can be significant. Your efforts are better directed at improving your website and building durable organic traffic. WordPress and many other major blogging platforms include pinging functionality without any further need to rely on outside services.
A successful website requires hard work. Initial public exposure is only the beginning. Once you start getting visitors, it’s up to you to make their experience as awesome as possible so that positive word of mouth and cheerful social-media mentions rocket your website into widespread acceptance and popularity.