The search engines use programs called “spiders” to discover new pages on the Internet. The spiders simply scan every page they know about, and find links to new pages. As they find them, new pages are added to the search engine’s database, or “index”.
It stands to reason, then, that in order to appear in the search engine results, your web pages must be in the index of each of the search engines.
How do you find out if your pages appear in the index? Just typing the URL of a page won’t necessarily tell you – you might just end up with a list of all your competitors sites. You need to use one of the search engine operators.
Here’a cheat sheet listing some of the operators you can use with Google: Google Cheatsheet.
The other search engines generally use similar operators.
The one we need to use to find out if a site is in Google’s index is “info:”. You would type info:yourwebsite.com to find out what Google knows about the site. (Make sure there’s no space between the colon and the first letter of the domain name.)
If Google tells you, “Sorry, no information is available for the URL yourwebsite.com”, it means that the site is not yet indexed.
It used to take a couple of months to get a site indexed. Fortunately, these days, it’s a lot quicker. It’s possible to get a new site indexed in a few hours, using the immense power of social media networks.
In fact, all you need to do is submit a single link to Digg.com and your site should be indexed within a few hours.
If you update your website regularly, as you should, you’ll find that the search engines come back and index your new pages within a few hours.