Submitting your website to the search engines should be one of the first things you will want to do after building a website is to get visitors . Some time ago there were hundreds of Search Engines and Crawlers you needed to submit to but in these days it has become a lot less competitive and you only really need to submit to what I call “the big 5”.
Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask & DMOZ (not a search engine but if you get included it can do wonders for your traffic).
As a starting point you really should have a valid sitemap, it will ensure that the search engines find all the pages you want them to and will allow you to keep track of the indexing process. It also makes it possible to track errors on your website which could hurt your search engine rankings. Since your goal is to get listed in search engines and get more traffic from them you must make sure that you have a robots.txt (guide here) files as well allowing robots to crawl your website.
Step 1: Robots.txt – Sitemap
Make sure that your robots.txt file points to your valid sitemap, this tells all robots and crawlers that you have a sitemap and that they should use it. You can do this by adding the following in the first line of your robots.txt file.
Some search engines do not allow you to submit sitemaps but will detect sitemaps via robots.txt so it is important to complete this step if you want to maximize your exposure.
Step 2: Submitting to Google
Google is the king of search engines and for most of us the primary source of our traffic. There are some website types that receive more traffic from Yahoo or Bing but those are specific niche areas that attract a different profile of visitor. Perhaps that will change in the future but right now in 2010 Google is definitely the big daddy of search engines. Google offers a wide range of tools to manage your website, you can sign in with your Google account to submit your sitemap for indexing and track errors in your website as well.
You can submit your sitemap to google by visiting the webmaster tools page and visiting the sitemap section. You will also be able to confirm that your sitemap has been successfully downloaded.
Step 3: Submit to Yahoo
Yahoo supports XML sitemaps as well as RSS feeds for submission and both can be submitted via the Yahoo Site explorer for inclusion in the search engine. The Yahoo site explorer will also inform you of any errors it encounters.
Step 4: Submit to Bing
The last sitemap submission you should do is to Microsoft’s Bing, once again they have an interface available for you to submit your sitemap via which can be found here. The sitemap section can be found under the crawl pages for those of you that struggle to find it.
Step 5: Submit to DMOZ (Open Directory Project)
There is a lot of controversy around DMOZ these days, many people feel that the low chance of acceptance and slow turn around times make submission a waste of time. I disagree. I believe that the 5 minutes spent on a proper submission will be worthwhile if your entry is accepted and if you are serious about your website you have spent far more time on other parts of it already. Make sure that you follow the submission instructions carefully and sit back patiently waiting. I have had sites that were included 6 months later and some like this one which are still not included but there is no doubt that it is worth being included if you are accepted.
What about ask.com?
Well ask.com actually detects your sitemap from your robots.txt file so there is no need to submit a sitemap to ask.com.
Other big search engines:
There are some search engines which dominate local markets but those are usually language specific however it does not hurt to submit to them as well if you are able to. The most famous is Baidu which is the biggest search engine in China and can generate a fair amount of traffic back to your site. You can submit to Baidu here the page is in Chinese but it is pretty easy to follow regardless. In Russia Yandex dominates the search engine market and you can add your site via their webmaster tools The other big search engines you may not have heard of are Seznam and Naver but submitting to these is difficult unless you site is in a relevant language.
Once you have submitted your website and sitemaps you will need to sit back and relax for a while until the search engines have crawled and indexed your site. It won’t be too long before your site is listed in the search engines.