Encouraging links to your website takes time. Search engines discover your website through links. This creates a quandary: how do you make Google aware of your website before anyone else knows it exists?

This could be compared to being trapped on the island in the first season of Lost: no-one knows you are there, and no-one can find you. Ships and airplanes may pass, but you have to gain their attention to have any hope of rescue.

The simplest way to achieve this is to list your site with the three major search engines: Google, and Yahoo, as well as what Microsoft is, as of this writing, calling “Bing” (formerly MSN Search, likely to be something else in the near future).

Preemptively listing your site with “the big three” is the equivalent to firing up a flare on the island – it lets the search engines know where you are and what kind of content you have. Note that the response of the search engines will not be immediate – it will likely take several days for your site to be added to a search database index after you submit it.

Google has a number of further steps you can take to enhance your site’s searchability and ranking, including submitting a site map and using Google Analytics (all free, although some features require a Google account).

As of this writing, Google holds approximately 80% of the search engine market share in Canada, with Yahoo and Microsoft taking the majority of the remainder. (Ask.com is ranked a distant fourth). Keep in mind that if your site has a particular cultural, commercial or academic interest, you will want to list with more specific search engines – Baidu for searches originating in China, for example.

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