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How to Submit Your Website to Search Engines (Hint: You Don’t Always Need To)

Joshua Hardwick
Head of Content @ Ahrefs (or, in plain English, I'm the guy responsible for ensuring that every blog post we publish is EPIC). Founder @ The SEO Project.

Article stats

  • Referring domains 58
  • Organic traffic 11028
Data from Content Explorer tool.
    If search engines don’t know your website or webpage exists, your chance of ranking isn’t just an improbability, it’s an impossibility.

    But here’s the thing: it takes time for search engines to discover (and index) new websites.

    That means if you search for your two-day-old website in Google, chances are you’ll be disappointed. In fact, 9 times out of 10, you’ll find nothing.

    However, even a few weeks after going live, you may still not see your website in Google, Bing and Yahoo, which have a combined market share of ~96%.

    If this applies to you, and you now want to know the fastest way to submit your website to the search engines, then you’re in the right place.

    Here’s what we’ll be discussing in this article:

    But first, you might be wondering…

    Do you really need to submit your website to search engines?

    Google and other search engines weren’t built to rely on manual submissions. That’s why they crawl the web.

    Not familiar with crawling? It’s when search engines look for new links on websites and subsequently “follow” them. If a newly-discovered link leads to something useful, that page is then added to the index.

    Matt Cutts explains more about crawling and how it works in this video.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNHR6IQJGZs

    It’s also theorized that Google looks to many other data sources, such as Chrome browser usage statistics and domain registration data to aid in their never-ending pursuit of new websites and webpages.

    Sidenote.
     SEOs sometimes get a bit paranoid about this kind of stuff, which leads to studies like this and this.

    To summarise, this means that search engines are pretty good at discovering new websites and webpages on their own, providing that they’re linked to from somewhere on the web.

    Why you should still submit your website to search engines

    Here are just a few reasons why manual submissions are still a “thing”:

    1. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Let’s face it, search engines will probably be able to find your website regardless of whether or not you choose to manually submit it. But is “probably” good enough? I mean, submitting your website only takes a minute-or-two. So why risk it?
    2. Search engines can’t figure out everything via crawling. If you submit your website via the methods discussed below, you’ll have the opportunity to supply Google and Bing with some useful information about your website. For example, you can tell them how important you deem each of your pages to be. They couldn’t obtain this information from crawling alone.
    3. It helps to improve your website. Google and Bing each offer some insights as to how they view your website in their respective “management dashboards” (more on this later!). There are also various tools for testing your web pages, and they’ll even alert you if potential problems or errors occur on your site.

    Having said that, be aware that submitting your website to, and getting indexed by Google is only part of the battle. The real difficulty often lies in ranking for your desired search terms.

    Don’t worry though, we’ve included some advice on how to do that in this very article.

    But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

    It’s very easy to submit websites to Google (and other search engines).

    Just watch our quick video tutorial or follow the written steps below.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2a6H5vOKOk

    Google discontinued their URL submission tool in July 2018. Now, the only way to submit your website is by adding your sitemap in Search Console.

    What is a sitemap? It’s a file that lists all the pages on a website. It’s most commonly an XML file and looks something like this:

    xml sitemap example 1

    Recommended reading: How to Create an XML Sitemap (and Submit It to Google)

    This particular sitemap lists all the blog posts on my personal blog.

    Your sitemap is usually located at yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml. If you don’t see it there, check your robots.txt file by visiting yourdomain.com/robots.txt; this will usually list the sitemap URL.

    sitemap 1

    an example of the sitemap URL listed in a robots.txt file.

    Found your sitemap? Good. You now need to submit it via Search Console.

    Search Console > select your property > Sitemaps > paste in your sitemap URL > hit “submit”

    search console sitemap 1

    Sidenote.
     You will need to have added and verified your website in Google Search Console to do this. If you haven’t done so yet, follow this tutorial then come back to this guide.

    For those with multiple sitemaps (this may be the case when using a plugin like Yoast, or if you have a large site), just rinse and repeat this process.

    What if I just want to submit an individual webpage to Google?

    To do that, paste the URL into the URL Inspection tool in Google Search Console.

    If Google hasn’t already indexed the page, you’ll see the “URL is not on Google” warning. Click the “Request indexing” button to request that Google crawl and index the page.

    index new url search console 1

    You can also do this for URLs that are already indexed.

    reindexing search console 1

    This is good practice if you’ve recently updated or republished your content and want Google to recrawl the page to index those changes.  

    How to submit your website to Bing and Yahoo

    Bing previously had a public URL submission tool for submitting individual URLs. But that tool was retired in September 2018.

    You now have to submit a sitemap in Bing Webmaster Tools.

    Webmaster Tools > “add your site” > fill in the form > hit “submit”

    Add a Site   Bing Webmaster Tools 1

    To submit your site to Yahoo, you don’t need to do anything.

    Yahoo is powered by Bing’s index, so by submitting to Bing, your site will automatically be submitted to Yahoo.

    Sidenote.
     Does your website target people in China? You should also submit to Baidu (76%+ market share). If not, however, Google, Bing and Yahoo are your only priorities. We, therefore, won’t be focussing on Baidu in this article, Here’s a good guide to Baidu submission in case you need it.

    Go to the Coverage report in Google Search Console. Look at the “Valid” tab.

    valid pages search console 1

    This shows you the number of pages on your site that Google has indexed.

    You can see what these pages are by clicking the “Submitted and indexed” or “Indexed, not submitted in sitemap” links under the Details section.

    valid pages search console details 1

    If you quickly want to check whether a particular web page is indexed, there are two ways to do this.

    The first is to use the URL Inspection tool in Search Console. The second is to search in Google for site:yourdomain.com/page-to-check/

    site search one page 1

    If there are no results, the page isn’t indexed.

    Sidenote.
     This search operator works in Google and Bing. 

    Before you can solve the issue, you need to figure out why it’s not indexed.

    To do this, paste the URL into Google’s URL Inspection tool in Search Console. Look at the Coverage error.

    excluded by noindex 1

    You can see that this page is excluded because of a noindex tag on the page.

    Here, it’s because the page isn’t the canonical:

    index coverage 1

    Sidenote.
     You can find a full list of error status types that Google may show here.

    Recommended reading: 10 Ways to Get Google to Index Your Site (That Actually Work)

    Most Google searches return thousands, if not millions of results.

    youtube seo google 1

    25M+ results for the term “youtube SEO” in Google.

    But most people never click beyond the first page, which means that those ranking beyond position #10 receive little to no traffic. For this reason, being indexed doesn’t necessarily mean that people will be able to find your website.

    If you want organic traffic, you need to rank on the first page for your target terms (ideally in the top 3 results).

    How do you do this? It’s complicated, but one thing you almost certainly need is backlinks.

    Google counts links from other websites as votes. So when they’re presented with two or more pages on the same topic, the page with the most links (i.e., votes) will usually rank higher than the pages with fewer links.

    EDITOR’S NOTE

    This is not an exact science. We’re absolutely not saying that pages with more backlinks ALWAYS beat those with fewer backlinks. This isn’t true.

    Having said that, when we studied almost one billion web pages, we found that the number of referring domains pointing to a web page correlates nicely with the amount of Google search traffic it receives on the whole.

    referring domains vs organic search traffic ahrefs content explorer 3

    Joshua Hardwick
    Joshua Hardwick
    Head of Content

    You can use the SERP overview in Ahrefs Keywords Explorer to see how many links each of the current top 10 ranking pages for your target keyword has.

    Keywords Explorer > enter the keyword you want to rank for > SERP overview

    keywords explorer youtube seo backlinks 1

    The top 10 ranking pages for the keyphrase “YouTube SEO” via Ahrefs Keywords Explorer.

    This will give you a rough sense of how many backlinks you may need in order to compete in the SERP. (You can also look at our Keyword Difficulty score to get an indication of this.)

    But it’s not all about links. You also need to make sure your on-page optimization is up to scratch and that your keyword targeting is on-point.

    Here are some resources to help with each of these things.

    Final Thoughts

    Google will probably be able to find your website, even if you don’t tell them about it. Same goes for Bing and other search engines.

    Having said that, we still recommend manually submitting your site using the sitemap method described above. Why? Because it gives Google and Bing extra information about your website, and they give you more data in return.

    It’s also worth re-submitting web pages that you update or change.

    But remember, getting indexed is only part of the battle. You won’t rank without investing in SEO.

    Shows how many different websites are linking to this piece of content. As a general rule, the more websites link to you, the higher you rank in Google.

    Shows estimated monthly search traffic to this article according to Ahrefs data. The actual search traffic (as reported in Google Analytics) is usually 3-5 times bigger.



    Article stats

    • Referring domains 58
    • Organic traffic 11028
    Data from Content Explorer tool.