The Difference Between Indexing & Ranking For SEO – Lyrical Host

One of the most important things in blogging is to make sure your website is indexed and ranking. As search engines are one of the top ways to drive lots of traffic to your website, you want to show up high for your keywords.

This post looks at how to check if your website is indexed in Google, how to fix that if not, and why you may not be seeing your website come up when you search.

“My site isn’t showing up in Google/Bing/another search engine! How do I fix it?” is a very common question with bloggers and small business owners.

What’s the difference between indexing and ranking?

The first thing to determine is if you’re talking about your site being indexed or your site being ranked.

Indexed (or indexing): Your website and its pages are listed in the search engines. The search engines know about your website and can access and link to your content.

Ranked (or ranking): Your website shows up as one of the results when you search specific keywords in Google or another search engine. Search engine optimization helps your website show up for people searching.

When people say “how long does it take to rank in Google,” they might mean: “How long is it before I see my website name in Google?” or “When can I expect to see all my pages in Google?” or “How long is it before I rank for my chosen keywords in Google?” or “How long is it before I rank in the top three positions for my chosen keywords in Google?”

Your goal is to have your website both indexed and ranking well. Getting your website indexed is straightforward and doesn’t take very long. Getting your website ranking for the keywords you want to target and have typed in to a search engine requires a lot more time and ongoing work, as some keywords are easier to rank for than others. For some basics on that and other SEO tips, see our post SEO For Bloggers.

How to check if your website is indexed

To check if your website is indexed (listed) in a search engine:

1. Go to the search engine in your browser, for example https://www.google.com.
2. Type the full URL (e.g. lyricalhost.com) into the search box and hit enter.

If your site is indexed, it will be shown at the top of the organic results (there may still be ads above it, depending on your name and niche).

If it’s not there yet, don’t worry – the good news is that getting search engines to find and crawl your website is very easy as it’s what they’re designed for! We look at how to do that next.

Search engines are independent, so just because your site is indexed in Google doesn’t necessarily mean it’s indexed in Bing. You have to check each.

How to get your website indexed

If you followed the two steps above and your website didn’t show up, chances are the search engine hasn’t discovered it yet (or if your website has been indexed previously, it could have a penalty. Check Google Search Console to see).

If your website isn’t indexed, you can help search engines discover it much faster than they would on their own by submitting a sitemap. There are different ways to do this.

Option 1: A plugin

One of the easiest options if you’re a WordPress user is to do it through an SEO plugin such as Yoast or Rank Math. Each plugin will have its own tutorial for submitting; just have a look at the tutorials on their website.

Option 2: Manually

An alternative, more techy way is to do it manually by using an online sitemap generator, which will generate a .xml file for you.

Once you’ve created your sitemap.xml file, you’ll need to add it to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. You can also submit it to Yandex Webmaster.

If you don’t already have Google Search Console set up for your website, here’s a tutorial on how to do it.

How long does it take to get my site found by Google?

If your website has a good foundation, you have at least a few quality posts/pages up, and you’ve submitted your sitemap to the search engines, there’s no reason why your website shouldn’t be indexed in 24-48 hours (ranking for any meaningful keywords, however, is a totally different story! We’re going to take a quick look at that next).

Getting your site ranking well

A website being indexed (listed) in a search engine doesn’t mean that it will automatically start ranking well for keywords that you or other people are searching for. You can be listed in a search engine without being found for anything other than your website URL if you don’t work on search engine optimization.

For example, ranking for “mybeautifulhomeandgarden.com” is a lot easier than ranking for “home renovation projects.” Ranking for “best homemade chili recipe” is easier than ranking for “car insurance.” Choosing the right keywords and doing proper keyword research (not guessing!) is crucial.

We have a blog post with some more info on that and the other key areas of search engine optimization here: SEO For Bloggers. Or if you want to learn everything about SEO, we have an evergreen course for that called Navigating SEO.

Want to learn more about SEO?

If you liked this post, you’ll love Navigating SEO! Navigating SEO is a comprehensive text-based course with over 100 lessons, 15 downloads, and plenty of tasks to help you stay on track. It’s designed for bloggers and digital business owners, is very budget-friendly, and you get lifetime, evergreen access. Plus, you can start any time!

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