Search Engine Optimization — making sure that it’s easy for search engines like google to find your site — is a complicated and ever-changing field that often starts with some basic indexing.
What is indexing and how does it work?
Google has a program called a crawler that reads through the sitemaps, keywords, and content of publicly available websites. Then, the crawlers sort that information into a long list which Google describes as an index in the back of a book — there’s an entry for every word on every webpage. All up, it’s over a million gigs of data!
When someone types a query into the search bar, google looks through its index to find pages that match the query. It checks the quality of the results by looking at stats like how recent the page is, how many dead and/or external links there are, how the page is ranked in google rankings, etc and returns results to the searcher. The more relevant a page seems to be, the higher it appears on the list of results. Of course, if someone types a query and your site isn’t part of the index for their search, your site won’t come up in the results. Therefore, you want to be sure that your site is actively and appropriately indexed, or people searching the internet may not be able to find you.
So how do you get Google to index your site?
You request for your site to be indexed through the Google Search Console. This feature within Google allows you to (among other things) work on your SEO; one of the features is “Fetch as Google” which lets you see what the crawlers see when they look at your site. More information about the Fetch as Google feature can be found here. Requesting that Google index your site can inform the crawlers that your site exists, which can jumpstart the indexing process. According to Google, Indexing can take a week or two — other sources say Google indexing can take up to 6 months. Getting your page indexed is an unfortunately not an exact science, but Google tends to look favorably at recent updates (so things like blogs and RSS feeds can help) and links to and from other websites (especially trusted, influential sites).
If a site is indexed incorrectly, it won’t show up in the right search situations. If this is the case, you can use the Fetch feature in the Search Console to see where the error is and address it. You can also use other features of the Google Search Console to inspect your indexing, which will allow you to see if there are errors and how to address them.
Google is not the only search engine on the planet
Ok, so what if 75% of internet traffic (90% if you look at mobile devices) goes through Google? You still don’t want to lose out on clients who aren’t using Google. For this reason, we recommend indexing your site on other browsers like Bing and Yahoo, plus Baidu if you want customers in China. You can easily do this via plugins like Yoast. Just about every browser has some version of a webmaster tools portal. Making accounts there will allow you to submit your site to their crawlers, and ensure it appears in searches done on non-google search engines as well.
In short, it’s a lot easier for clients to find your site if it’s been indexed by the search engine they use. And, from a site owner’s perspective, getting your site indexed isn’t actually all that hard (though there may be a wait after submitting). It starts by making a webmaster account with the browser(s) you think your clients are using, and following the instructions from there. And, as always, we’re happy to help guide you through this and support with other steps you can take to reach your ideal customers.