Search Engine Submission 101, Part 2

One of the downsides for pushing out a 2 part article is that sometimes you need to read both parts to get the full effect. I am not advocating that the methods in Part 1 are the best way to communicate with search engines, but attempted to help you understand how basic site submission works, and to build a foundation to introduce new methods and tools.

As I stated previously, manual and automated search engine submissions are still around, but are of little to no value. Some would maintain they are a complete waste of time. So what's the alternative?

Google Sitemaps

Back in 2005, Google launched an initiative called Google Sitemaps, which provided webmasters with a better tool to keep Google informed of new web pages and updates. This was a much better process than having webmasters submitting their site manually or in some automated way.

Later, Yahoo, MSN and Ask united around the XML sitemap protocol and they are all supporting it through Sitemaps.org. So if you are considering any type of submission, then this is the way to do it.

Benefits of XML Sitemaps

If you don't bother with any kind of submission, then you are relying on being discovered by the search engine spiders. This is not a bad thing. If you have good content, site structure and links from directories, blogs, etc you will be found. One of the benefits to using XML Sitemaps as opposed to just waiting to be discovered is potentially better response time.

A recent study on sitemap usage states that 78 percent of URLs were seen by sitemaps first, compared to 22 percent that were seen through discovery first. The study also found that for most domains, sitemaps achieved a higher percent of URLs in the search engine index.

If you are interested in using sitemaps with the 4 major engines, then take a look at the links below which will guide you through the process of generating and submitting an xml sitemap.

XML Sitemap Tools

There are other tools out there that will help you build your XML Sitemap. Some are available on the web like XML-Sitemaps or Google Sitemap Generator and some are software applications like Xenu's Link Sleuth, which is also a great link checking and general site analysis tool. One advantage to using these tools is that they will also detect broken links and other potential problems that will help you fix problems with your site.

Google Webmaster Tools

The Google Webmaster team has done a great job in listening to the needs of Webmasters and providing very powerful tools that you can use to address any indexing issues that Google may have with your site.

It also provides a way to submit your XML sitemap, along other nifty things like your site interlinking structure and other key statistics about your site. It is also a great tool for reports and diagnostics pertaining to the management of your site's pages in the Google index. If you are not using this tool, you should.

Mobile Search Engines and Mobile Directories

With the growth of mobile devices there are many .mobi sites that are popping up. You can upload your mobile sitemap to Google mobile sitemaps and Yahoo mobile submit to view how many of your mobile website pages are indexed.

In addition there are some mobile directories that you can get listed on:

Search Engine Submission – Not a Silver Bullet

In closing, I would like to point out again that if you design and build your site correctly, adhering to SEO-friendly best practices, the search engines will find your site naturally and submissions and/or xml sitemaps will only provide marginal value. Having an XML sitemap is certainly not going to hurt you, but I wouldn't spend a lot of time or money on site submission or xml sitemaps.

Contrary to many of the advertisements about submitting your site for quick results, search engine submission is not a silver bullet that will instantly launch you into higher rankings. Your time is always best spent on developing solid content that your visitors are craving. Ultimately, this is what will get you better traffic and higher visibility.

About the author

Ron was President/CEO of Symetri Internet Marketing, which provides strategic SEM consulting and training. Ron was actively involved in the SEM community and spoke at conferences and seminars, as well as hosting regional SEM events where he provided participants SEM training and education best practices. Ron also served on the Board of Directors for SEMPO and was also one of the authors for the SEMPO Institute Fundamentals and Advanced courses.

Read more of Ron Jones's columns at ClickZ.

Ron passed away on June 30, 2012.