Ensure Your Site is Indexed

The whole point of having a website for your business is so that customers using the internet can find your business.

Customers can find your business one of a few ways:

  • ethey put your address into their browser (i.e. they already known your site address and want to go there)
  • they click on a link from another site to your site
  • they click on an ad you have paid for to your site
  • they put your business name or a keyword related to your business into a search engine.

In order for customers to find your website through the last option, your site must be in the directory of the search engines, i.e. indexed.

In order for you go get links from other sites, usually those other sites have to find you and think your site is valuable, and so your site must be indexed for this method as well.

In order for someone who has never been to your physical business to put your url into their browser, it’s a safe assumption to think that they may have already heard about you some way, so you want your site to be indexed for this reason as well.


How to Get Indexed

DO NOT listen to those scam emails you are going to get from various scammers, asking for money to index you. That’s not how this works. You do not have to pay to get your site indexed. Ever.

If you are using an out-of-the-box site creator, the act of publishing your site will usually get it indexed.

If you are using WordPress, you can turn indexing on or off (though this is just a suggestion).

If you are using a larger CMS, they also have options to turn indexing on or off.

If you are unsure, just ask your developer to make sure your site is indexable or, if you are feeling tech savvy, check your robots.txt file.


Is My Site Indexed?

Especially with brand new sites, or small sites, it’s going to take some time for your site to appear for the keywords you want it to. (Depending upon the quality of your SEO, this might never happen.)

You can check to see whether or not your site is indexed in a couple of different ways:

  • Check using google search
  • Check using Google Site Manager (formerly Webmaster Tools)


Check Index Using Google Search

To search to see to what extent your site is indexed, go to google.ca or google.com and type in the following: “site:yourdomain.ca” The results will show all the pages Google has indexed.


Check Your Site Using Site Manage

If you have a site manager account (and you should) you can check whether your site is indexed or not based upon your sitemap or just by manually “fetching as google.”

How to Create a Sitemap

Before you let the search engines index your website, you should be sure to create not one but two sitemaps. A sitemap is essentially a directory of pages on your website. However not all sitemaps are created equal: you need both a sitemap for the search engine and a sitemap for the user.



Sitemaps for Search Engines (XML)

The most important site map you need is for the “bots” which “crawl” your website: Google and the other search engines send robots around the internet indexing websites so that they can appear in the search results. When you go click on a link in google, that page has been “indexed,” i.e. put in Google’s giant directory. It makes it a lot easier for Google to index your site (put it in Google’s directory) if you provide Google your own website directory. This is called a sitemap.

Sitemaps for the search engine robots use a language called XML so these sitemaps are called “XML sitemaps.” Depending upon what type of site builder you are using, there are different ways of creating one such xml sitemap:

  • If you are using an out-of-the-box site creator, such as Jimdo, Squarespace, Weebly or Wix, the sitemap should be created for you
  • If you are using WordPress, there are lots of plugin options! Just type “plugin” into the “Add New” search feature
  • If you are using Drupal, there are lots of modules
  • If you have had your site built from scratch, you will need to pay your webmaster to do it or you can use a sitemap generator such as this one.

If you have a particularly large website, you will need sub-sitemaps (i.e. sub-directories) so that the sitemap itself isn’t too large.

Once you have an xml sitemap, this is only half the battle. Users need a sitemap too.


User Sitemaps

The average person does not want to read an xml sitemap. Here’s my highest level sitemap. It’s not exactly user-friendly. You should have one for your visitors. It’s unlikely many people will use this sitemap these days, as Google does such a good job of indexing, but it’s considered a basic courtesy. If you don’t have a user sitemap, all other things being equal the search engines will treat your site worse. At this point, having a user sitemap is just standard practice.

To create one,

  • Just open up your XML sitemap and make a list of all the pages.
  • Create a new webpage with this list on it
  • Link each page on your site to your list.

That’s it! You’re done. Now you have sitemaps for the indexing robots and your users. You’re one step closer to launching your website.