How to Find Out if Search Engines Have Indexed Your Website

If you’re concerned about search engine optimization (SEO), it's important to find out whether your site is actually in a search engine or directory. Your site doesn't come up when someone searches at Google? Can't find it in Bing? Have you ever thought that perhaps it simply isn’t there? Read on to discover how to find out whether your site is indexed in a few different systems.

SEO: Google indexing

Let’s start with the behemoth: Google. Here’s the quickest and easiest way to see what Google has in its index. Search Google, either at the site or through the Google toolbar for the following:

site:domain.com

Don’t type the www. piece, just the domain name. For instance, say your site’s domain name is RodentRacing.com. You’d search for this:

site:rodentracing.com

Google returns a list of pages it’s found on your site; at the top, underneath the search box (or perhaps somewhere else; it moves around occasionally), you see something like this:

2 results (0.16) seconds

That’s it — quick and easy. You know how many pages Google has indexed on your site and can even see which pages.

Well, you may know. This number is not always accurate; Google will show different numbers in different places. The number you see in the first page of search results may not be the same as the number it shows you on, say, the tenth page of search results, nor the same as the number it shows you in the Google Webmasters Console. Still, it gives you a general idea (usually reasonably accurate) of your indexing in Google.

Here’s another way to see what’s in the index — in this case, a particular page in your site. Use the following method if you’re using the Google toolbar, available for Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, and some early versions of Firefox. Open your browser and load a page at your site. Then follow these steps:

  1. Click the PageRank button on the Google toolbar.

    A little drop-down menu appears.

  2. Choose Cached Snapshot of Page from the drop-down list that appears.

    If you're lucky, Google loads a page showing you what it has in its cache, so you know Google has indexed the page, as shown in the figure. If you're unlucky, Google tells you that it has nothing in the cache for that page. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Google hasn’t indexed the page, though.

    image0.jpg

A cache is a temporary storage area in which a copy of something is placed. In the context of the Web, a cache stores a Web page. Google, Bing, and Yahoo! keep a copy of many of the pages they index, and they all also tell you the date that they indexed the cached pages.

If you don't have the Google toolbar, you can instead go to Google and type the following into the Google search box:

cache:http://yourdomain.com/page.htm

Replace yourdomain.com with your actual domain name, and page.htm with the actual page name, of course. When you click Search, Google checks to see whether it has the page in its cache.

What if Google doesn't have the page? Does that mean your page isn’t in Google? No, not necessarily. Google may not have gotten around to caching it. Sometimes Google grabs a little information from a page but not the entire page.

By the way, you can open a cached page saved by Google and Yahoo! (and sometimes Bing) directly from the results page when searching; look for the Cached or Cached Page link after a search result. (At the time of writing, Google places the Cached link at the top of the image of the site that appears when you mouse over a search result and point at the chevron button [>>] to the right of the result.)

You can search for a website at Google another way, too. Simply type the domain name into the Google search box and click Search. Google returns that site’s home page at the top of the results. (Searching like this through the Google toolbar currently redirects your browser to the specified domain name rather than displaying search results.)

SEO: Yahoo! and Bing indexing

And now, here’s a bonus. The search syntax you used to see what Google had in its index for RodentRacing.com — site:rodentracing.com — not only works on Google but also Yahoo! and Bing. That’s right, type the same thing into any of these search sites and you see how many pages on the website are in the index (though doing this at Yahoo!, of course, gets you the Bing results because they share the same index).

There’s one caveat: The results are a little flaky. For instance, it may initially show, say, 750 results, but as you move through the results pages, in either Yahoo! or Bing, you’ll see a different number — 546, perhaps. Sometimes that number increases, sometimes it decreases. Bing has been acting like this for years (and Yahoo! started doing the same when it began using Bing results), so it may — or may not — be fixed at some point. (Yes, Google has the same problem, but not as bad.)

SEO: Yahoo! Directory indexing

You should check whether your site is listed in the Yahoo! Directory. You have to pay to get a commercial site into the Yahoo! Directory, so you may already know whether you're listed there. Perhaps you work in a large company and suspect that another employee may have registered the site with Yahoo! Here's how to find out:

  1. Point your browser to the Yahoo! Directory.

    This takes you directly to the directory’s search page.

  2. Type your site's domain name into the Search text box.

    All you need is yourdomain.com, not http://www. or anything else.

  3. Ensure that the Directory option button is selected and then click Search.

    If your site is in the Yahoo! Directory, your site's information appears on the results page. You may see several pages, one for each category in which the site has been placed (although in most cases, a site is placed into only one category).

SEO: Open Directory Project indexing

You should also know whether your site is listed in the Open Directory Project. This is a large directory of websites, actually owned by AOL although volunteer run; it’s important, because its data is “syndicated” to many different websites, providing you with many links back to your site. If your site isn’t in the directory, it should be.

Just type the domain name, without the www. piece. If your site is in the index, the Open Directory Project will tell you. If it isn’t, you should try to list it.

Various browser add-ons, such as SEOQuake, automatically tell you the number of indexed pages when you visit a site.

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