Google’s John Mueller Explains How Sites Without Backlinks Are Discovered

John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, recently explained how Googlebot finds sites when there are no links pointing to them.

This topic was covered in a Reddit threadthan mueller replied at. The thread asks:

“How does Googlebot find a site if no one is linking to the site and it hasn’t been submitted to Search Console?”

In response, Mueller says it’s “difficult” to determine exactly how these sites are found.

Some possibilities include:

  • Third parties that track domain registrations (with links)
  • Accidental backlinks caused by typos in the URL
  • Toolbars that point to related content
  • The CMS may have generated a sitemap or an RSS/Atom feed

If you absolutely don’t want a site to be found, Mueller advises using the noindex tag. Don’t assume that search engines won’t find a site just because it hasn’t been promoted or linked to.

Mueller also provided recommendations for site owners who want to do the opposite by launching a new site with maximum impact:

“If you want to kick off something new with a bang (assuming that’s what you’re trying to do with a new, unfamiliar domain), one idea might be to use the Site Removal Tool to hide the site in search and then cancel that request when you go live – this allows Google to crawl and index the content in advance, but prevents it from showing up in search.

The above method is faster than going from non-indexed content to indexable content for search, but there is no guarantee that it will not be found by search engines other than Google.

Your only option to guarantee that a site will not be found by robots is to use a noindex tag.

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