Many of us are familiar with the famous line “Build it and they will come.” While this might be true in the movies, finding an audience for your website requires a few more practical steps.
First and foremost is to create a sitemap, which is like a “roadmap” that search engines use to find your best content. Next, you’ll need to tell the search engines that your website exists and that it’s ready for visitors. Follow the steps below to submit your website to the some of the most popular and effective search engines on the web.
Start With Google
Google is by far the most powerful search engine in terms of the number of users and the amount of traffic it can potentially bring to your site. If you only have time to submit your site to one search engine, it should definitely be Google. Before you can submit your site to Google, however, you’ll need to either create or login to your Google Account.
Set Up Your Website in Google Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools is an entire suite of useful links to information about your website. To add your site to Webmaster Tools, you’ll be asked to either copy a piece of code or upload a file to your site to verify that you are the site owner. You can then upload your sitemap, which lets Google know all of the pages on your website that you’d like indexed.
One area of Webmaster Tools that you should check frequently is “sitelinks”. It allows you to choose which links you want to show up underneath your main listing. It also shows you search queries that drive traffic to your site, incoming links, crawl errors, and much more.
Add Your URL to Google
Google makes it easy to submit your site to its index. For pretty much any website, use the “Add your URL to Google” form for your top level page, which is generally http://www.yourdomain.com/ or http://yourdomain.com/.
Add Your Business to Google Places
Does your business have a local headquarters or store locations? If so, you can list your business and its website in Google Places.
Google Places is a free business listing that displays a description of your business, its location on a map, photos, videos, hours of operation, specials, and much more. An added bonus of Google Places is that it was designed to cater to searches from people in your local community. You will need to sign into your Google Account first and then sign up for Google Places listing.
Add Your Site to Google News
If your website or blog contains timely articles on hot topics that people are searching for, you may qualify to have it listed on Google News. You can find out more about Google News and submit your site for review here.
More Submission Options
There are many more ways to submit your content to Google or one of its properties. Be sure to visit the “Submit your content” page, bookmark it, and regularly check to see if you have content that fits into one of the many categories available.
Submit Your Site to Yahoo
Once you’re logged in, go to the Yahoo Site Explorer. Enter your website URL or enter your site’s RSS feed or sitemap file. You can then visit the My Sites area to see when your sites have been authenticated by Yahoo. Use the “Explore Site” option to see how many pages Yahoo has indexed and how many incoming links your site has.
Submit Your Site to Bing
You can simply submit your site to Bing without even logging in. However, if you sign in or create a Windows Live account or sign in to Bing via Facebook, you can submit your site to Bing’s Webmaster Center.
Bing’s Webmaster Center has features similar to Google’s Webmaster Tools — you can submit sitemaps, see crawl errors, view search queries, and more with each of your sites. It’s a great way to see how your site is performing in Bing searches.
Submit Your Site to Search.com
According to Google, Search.com is the fourth highest traffic generating search engine.
However, this search engine doesn’t allow you to submit your URL directly. Instead, it crawls other popular search engines and directories such as Google, Blekko, DMOZ, and Bing. If you have submitted your site to one or more of these — which you have just done if you have been following the steps above — then you should receive visibility in Search.com’s engine as well.
That said, it probably wouldn’t hurt to submit your site directly to DMOZ. Although it’s perhaps the hardest directory to get listed in, a link from DMOZ is one of the best endorsements of your website’s authority.
Submit Your Site to AOL
AOL’s search engine is similar to Search.com in that it pulls its information from Google and DMOZ, so having your site in one or both will help it appear more often in AOL search queries.
Submit Your Site to Ask
Ask.com does not have a direct submission form. To suggest your site for their index, copy and paste the following URL in your browser: “http://submissions.ask.com/ping?sitemap=http://yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml” where “http://yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml” represents the exact location of your sitemap.
Focus on Search Engines That Generate the Most Traffic
There are literally hundreds of search engines and directories where you can get your website listed. However, it’s likely that the majority of your search engine traffic will come from a combination of the search engines listed above. If you follow the steps and submit your site to these search engines, you’ll be well on your way to increasing the number of visitors who will find and visit your website.
What search engines bring you the most traffic? How did you submit your website to them? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Image Credit: phill.d]