|Why Can't I Get Indexed by the Search Engines? |
Unfortunately, this is an all too common question. If it makes you feel any better, you're not the only one frustrated about the length of time it takes to be indexed, or the many pitfalls involved. It often takes anywhere from two days to as much as six months to be listed on a search engine. For example, last month Excite finally updated its index for the first time since last August! Luckily, Excite is the most extreme case lately, but waiting several weeks to a month can also be extremely frustrating.
The WebPosition Submitter report will give you current time estimates for each engine so you'll know what to expect. However, an engine at any time could choose to delay their indexing beyond the "norm" for maintenance or other reasons. On the flip side, you could get lucky and submit just a couple days before an engine does a complete refresh of their database. Therefore, submission times can never be an exact science since we're all ultimately at the mercy of the engine.
If you've submitted your site and have waited the estimated time to be indexed and there's still no listing, what do you do now?
Here are 16 tips that should help you solve this problem:
1. First, be sure you're not already indexed but just don't know it. Unfortunately, none of the major engines are kind enough to e-mail or notify you as to if and when you've been indexed.
The method to determine if a page or domain has been indexed varies from one engine to another, and in many cases, it's difficult to tell for sure. Never assume that you're not indexed just because you searched for a bunch of keywords and you never came up in the first few pages of results. You could be in there but buried near the bottom.
In addition, it's not very practical to check the status of a number of pages on each major engine each week. Fortunately, WebPosition has a URL verification feature in the Reporter that makes this process much easier. Each time you run a mission, it will report which URLs exist and do not exist in each engine.
2. Make sure you have uploaded the pages to your site before submitting them. This one seems obvious, but submitting a page that does not exist or submitting with a subtle typo in the URL is a goof we might all make at one time or another. If you're using WebPosition's Submitter, there's a checkbox on tab 2 that forces WebPosition to verify that all your URLs are valid before submitting them.
3. If you have information inside frames, that can cause problems with submissions. It's best if you can create non-framed versions of your pages. You should then submit the non-frames versions of your pages which can of course point to your framed Web site. Alternatively, you can enter your relevant text within the NOFRAMES area of a framed page which most search engine spiders will read.
4. Search engine spiders cannot index sites that require any kind of registration or password. A spider cannot fill out a form of any kind. The same rule applies regarding indexing of content from a searchable database, because the spider cannot fill out a form to query that database. The solution is to create static pages that the engines will be able to find.
5. Dynamic pages often block spiders. In fact, any URL containing special symbols like a question mark (?) or an ampersand (&) will be ignored by many engines.
6. Most engines cannot index text that is embedded in graphics. Text that appears in multimedia files (audio and video) cannot be indexed by most engines. Information that is generated by Java applets or in XML coding cannot be indexed by most engines.
7. If your site has a slow connection or the pages are very complex and take a long time to load, it might time out before the spider can index all the text. For the benefit of your visitors and the search engines, limit your page size to less than 60K. In fact, most Webmasters recommend that your page size plus the size of all your graphics should not exceed 50K-70K. If it does, many people on dial up connections will leave before the page fully loads.
8. If you submit just your home page, don't expect a search engine to travel more than one or two links away from the home page or the page that you submitted. Over time they may venture deeper into your site, but don't count on it. You'll often need to submit pages individually that appear further down into your site or have no link from the home page.
9. If your Web site fails to respond when the search engine spider pays a visit, you will not be indexed. Even worse, if you are indexed and they pay a visit when your site is down, you'll often be removed from their database! Therefore, it pays to have a reliable hosting service that is up 99.5% of the time. However, at some point a spider is going to hit that other 0.5% and end up yanking your pages by mistake. Therefore, it pays to keep a close eye on your listings.
10. If you have ever used any questionable techniques that might be considered an overt attempt at spamming (i.e., excessive repetition of keywords, same color text as background, or other things that the WebPosition Page Critic warns you about), an engine may ignore or reject your submissions. If you're having trouble getting indexed in the expected amount of time, make sure your site is spam-free.
11. If your site contains redirects or meta refresh tags these things can sometimes cause the engines to have trouble indexing your site. Generally they will index the page that it is redirecting TO, but if it thinks you are trying to "trick" the engine by using "cloaking" or IP redirection technology, there's a chance that it may not index the site at all.
12. If you're submitting to a directory site like Yahoo, Open Directory, NBCi, Looksmart, or others, then a human being will review your site. They must decide the site is of sufficient "quality" before they will list it. I recommend you read the submission guide on the directory tab of the WebPosition Submitter. It contains tips to improve your chances of obtaining a good listing on these directories.
13. A number of engines no longer index pages residing on many common free web hosting services. The common complaint from the engines is that they get too many "junk" or low-quality submissions from free web site domains. Therefore, they often choose not to index anyone from those domains or they limit submissions from them. It's always best to buy your own domain name (very important) and place it on a respected, paid hosting service to avoid being discriminated against.
14. Some engines have been known to drop pages that cannot be traveled to from the home page. HotBot has been rumored to do this. You may want to consider submitting your home page that links either directly or indirectly to your doorway pages.
15. Make sure you're submitting within the recommended limits. Some engines do not like more than a certain number of submissions per day for the same domain. If you exceed the limit, you may find that all your submissions are ignored. Fortunately, WebPosition's submitter will warn you regarding current limits and recommend you stay within them. Some submission consultants feel it is dangerous to submit more than ONE page a day to a engine for a given Web site. For those who wish to be ultra-conservative in their approach, the WebPosition Submitter includes a checkbox to limit submissions to one URL per day per engine.
16. Last but not least, sometimes the engines just lose submissions at random through technical errors and bugs. Therefore, some people like to resubmit once or twice a month for good merit in case they do lose a submission. Certainly if you've followed all the "rules" and are still not listed, re-submit! Sometimes a little persistence is all that's needed.
If any of the above scenarios apply to your submission, you should make the necessary adjustments and re-submit. If that still does not work, you should consider e-mailing or calling the search engine and asking them politely why you have not been indexed yet. Sometimes they will reply back with "Sorry, there was a problem with our system and I've now made sure you'll be indexed within the next couple days." Or, sometimes they'll tell you why you were not indexed. In other cases, they will ignore your e-mail and you'll have to keep e-mailing or calling them until they respond. Still, it's definitely worth the effort to get your site listed with the major engines assuming you also take the time to optimize your pages so you'll achieve top rankings.
I hope this helps in your future marketing decisions.
About the Author
David Bell is Manager, Online Marketing, at
http://www.wspromotion.com/ , a leading Search Engine Optimization services firm and Advertising Agency.
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