UPDATE: Since writing this blog both Bing and Google have made it trickier to easily submit a website URL (particularly anonymously). For Google you'll now need to submit a site map or use the Fetch as Google Tool in your Google Search Console. For Bing, you'll need to sign up to their Webmaster Tools. Regardless, below is a bit of a record of how easy it used to be - so we'll leave it here for the historic reference!
One of the questions we get asked quite regularly when we put a brand new site live is "I've just typed the name into google and it isn't showing up - why not?" It is a fair question, when someone creates a website for a new company there is an expectation that if they search for themselves, they'll be able to find themselves. Unfortunately it is not quite as straight forward as that.
We often use the phonebook as a great analogy for search engines. In this case, if it was twenty years ago and you had just set up shop with a new company, you'd have organised a new landline, with a new phone number on it. Now, even though that phone number exists, the phone book may have already been printed, and your number obviously wouldn't appear until a new print of the phone book was put out. That was a fairly established logic, but in a world where we expect instant search results, and incredibly fast feedback, there is also often the impression that your website will automatically appear on the internet.
To put it simply, search engines need to first find your site, then look through it, before they put the site into search results. This will eventually happen, google as an example is constantly crawling the net, but there is ALOT of information out there for it's algorithms to work their way through, so it can take time to find your site, and register it on search engines. There are ways to shortcut this process however; you can submit your website address to be crawled through google or bing, and it's definitely advisable to make sure you have a google my business profile established.
You'll find that the first time your site appears you are likely to only find it if you search specifically for your company name/website name, even if you have submitted the site for a crawl and got your google my business profile up and running. The challenge then really starts - figuring out how your site can start to appear in searches for products/services that are relevant to your business and knowing what those relevant searches are.
Just like getting a phone number into a phone book, having your website appear immediately in search results is not something that is likely to happen overnight, but if you do the right things you might just be able to shortcut the wait, and eventually start to appear in search results that will be hugely beneficial to your business.
Submitting your site to search engines