scratch-head.jpgMy wife sent me an email from one of her friends asking why a website didn’t show up in a search engine.

It was kind of a fun exercise to see if I could explain to someone the “why” knowing they didn’t know anything about why. Here’s what I came up with. Anything you would have added? Anything you would have said differently knowing the person had zero knowledge of how a search engine works?

Name Withheld:

The site is probably not showing up because of a couple of reasons.

Your site may be too new.
(Google, Yahoo!, MSN) don’t actually scour the Internet when you type something into Google for example. A company like Google uses mathematic algorithms to look for web pages, but those algorithms (called spiders or bots) only visit a site every so often. When the spider visits the site, that information is then stored on a Google server that then points to the servers that your web site is hosted on. So when you type something into Google, Google shows you what its search engine spiders found the last time it visited your site.

The Site is Made of Images
Search engine spiders are also not very good at determining what is in an image. Spiders are excellent at identifying text. Your site is mostly images. I was able to look at the code to see, and you can look too. Every browser (Internet Explorer, FireFox, etc..) only shows a website because it goes to your site and pulls up the code that the programmer wrote and then displays the site in the browser for you to see. You should be able to look at the code by right clicking on the page and then viewing the source code. The code and the text are what the search engine spiders actually read so people know what’s on a site when they look for it in a search engine.

No Sites Link to Website.com (removed)
One way search engines determine how to “rank” sites when you search for something like “Shoes” or “Toys” is by the number of other websites that link to www.shoes.com or www.toys.com. A link is like a vote. 1,000 links to Shoes.com with a link that says “shoes” is like 1,000 sites saying to the search engine “this site is about shoes.” Sounds simple, but remember the second paragraph I wrote. Search engines are reading text, not images. This “voting” system allows Google to decide what site comes up first, second third, or thirtieth etc… when you search for shoes. I didn’t see any other websites linking to your site. One way to check this is to go to Google and type link:www.russpage.net(example). You can also do this at Yahoo! using linkdomain:www.russpage.net (example)

One thing you can start doing (instead of waiting for the search engines to show up) is to tell them your site is online.
https://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/submit (Yahoo!)
http://www.google.com/addurl/ (Google)