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Getting indexed on Search & Browse

This guide is to help you understand how games & other projects appear on our Search and Browse pages. If you're not seeing your project where you expect it to be, then this guide may help you.

We'll answer some common questions like:

  • Why can’t I find my page on search?
  • Why don’t I see my project in Most Recent?

Please read through this guide before reaching out for help.

Publishing vs Indexing

Publishing is making your project publicly visible.

Indexing is when itch.io makes your project available on our Search and Browse pages. A quick way to check if your project is indexed is to search for it directly by the full title.

Note: Projects that use generic or very short titles may be difficult to search for due to how generic their name is. If you want to ensure your project can easily be found by name try a more more unique name. Titles that are a single letter or a single common English word are examples potentially bad project names.

Publishing

Publishing a project is simple and can be done by the project creator (or anyone who has permission to edit the page). From the project’s edit page, scroll to the Visibility & access section located on the bottom and select the Public option. After saving your page, your project is published. Published projects can be accessed by anyone from your profile page, directly by URL, and your followers can find the project in their feeds & email notifications.

Getting Indexed

Indexing is generally available to all developers, assuming your account is in good standing and you aren’t abusing or creating low quality pages. In order to be indexed there are a few baseline requirements:

  • Your project must be published by selecting the Public option mentioned above.
  • You haven’t limited access to the page via the Public access settings. If you select either “Disable new downloads & purchases” or “Unlisted in search & browse” then you are opting out of being eligible for indexing.
  • You have a cover image uploaded on your page
  • Your project is available for purchase, download, or is playable in the browser. Empty or placeholder pages will not be indexed. (Although, if you create devlog entries then those will be indexed if the page is public)

Additionally, please review our Quality Guidelines for specific rules about how you should and shouldn’t use your itch.io page. Creating spammy pages, using disruptive imagery, purposefully being obnoxious, faking comments/views/downloads, abusing tags, or having confusing or misleading instructions/content may result in a moderator deindexing your page. This type of moderation is rare and happens at the discretion of our team for very clear offenses. Please be respectful of the people who may be visiting your page and you shouldn’t have any issues. If you feel like you may have been affected please contact us through our support page.

There are also some scenarios where your page must be viewed by a moderator before it can be indexed. The most common case is for new sellers: If you've just created an account and you're selling your first project, then your published page is placed in a queue for review. We generally review these the same day projects are published. Although your page may not be indexed indexed during this time, it is still published and fully functional via your profile and URL. We appreciate your patience for this step. Established sellers with no history of issues will skip this review step and will be indexed immediately. If you have any questions or need to be expedited then please contact us through our support page.

There are a few other automated checks (eg. our spam detector) which may delay your page from being indexed, but are generally pretty rare. If you find your page isn’t immediately indexed, then we ask that you wait a bit before reporting it. As always, a published page is fully functional and accessible directly by URL and from your profile. We recommend immediately telling your people about your page as soon as it’s published, even if it may not be indexed yet. This will help you surface in our browse pages when it does become indexed.

Why isn’t my project showing up?

Here’s a quick list of things to review if you're having trouble finding your project.

  • First verify that your project is indeed unindexed: Search for it directly by full name. If it appears then your project is indexed.
    • If you have a very generic or very short project name (eg. 1 letter, or single common english word) it may make it difficult or impossible to search for. You may want to consider changing the name of your project to something more specific.
    • If your project does appear in search by direct title search, but you're not happy with where it appears on browse or other queries then see ‘Maximizing the visibility of your project’
  • Ensure that your project is published: From the edit page, in the Visibility & access section, select the Public option
    • If you use any of the Public access settings to limit availability then you are opting out of being indexed.
  • Ensure you have a cover image uploaded.
  • Ensure you have files uploaded to the project page. Your page must be purchasable, downloadable, or playable in the browser to be indexed. Empty placeholder pages will not be indexed
    • If you want to make your up-and-coming project discoverable through itch.io then use our Devlogs feature. Those are indexed even if no files are uploaded
  • If your project is marked NSFW, it will only appear to people who have NSFW browsing enabled.
    • People who don’t have accounts on itch.io default to having NSFW off. Someone must be logged in and enable NSFW to discover that content through search & browse.
  • If you're selling your first page then your project may be in our review queue. New sellers are reviewed before their projects are indexed. It should show up within a day. Please contact us only after you've waited at least 1 day.
  • Your page may be marked for review by one of our internal checks. If you just published the page, please wait at least a day before contacting us.

If you've gone through all the following and you believe your project still isn’t indexed then please contact us through our support page.

Maximizing the visibility of your project

The best way to maximize the discoverability of your project is to accurately provide information for all the sections on your project dashboard, including the Metadata tab. The more ways you classify your project, the more opportunities your project will have to appear in front of someone. The primary way of doing this is through our free-form tagging system, but you can also specify things like multiplayer support, languages available, and accessibility options. It’s important to be accurate. Abusing the tagging system may result in your page being deindexed entirely.

Using our devlogs system is another good way to get more people to know about your project. Post about updates, new features, and other things you're working on. Devlog posts are distributed to our users through email digests and more. It may help you get new followers and people interested in your project.

Encourage people to follow you, and add your project to collections. These activities can boost your reach on itch.io, giving you instant visibility when you launch something new or put out an update.

Tell people about your itch.io page as well! Getting real people to visit your page and interact with it can help your page rise up on our browse pages. This can lead to even more people discovering your project and it growing even more.

As platform, getting search right can be challenging. We have to optimize between all developers wanting their projects to appear versus showing relevant results to people looking for something.

Based on understanding how our search engine is used, there are generally two types of searches on itch.io:

  • Direct title search: Someone is looking for something specific and type in the name of the project
  • Topic search: Someone wants to browse games by topic to find something new to play

Our search engine is optimized for Direct title search since that is how the majority of people use search. For users who are browsing for new games, we try to push them into our browse pages with tags which are surfaced on the top of the search results. Text in the body of your project page will not be used for search.

We know every developer would want to have their game show up on top when something related to their project is typed in, but there are too many projects to give that to everyone. To handle this we try to give a more organized way for people to get their games discovered through our tags system. That said, our search results algorithm is constantly evolving and changing. If you feel there’s something about our search that is broken then please reach out, but please be understanding if your game isn’t appearing for a phrase or word that isn’t the exact title of your game.