Not really a SEO question but more a newbie question about search engines and websites in general. If I add a site to my host, publish it and then I don’t do anything else such as linking it to google (is that what you do?!?) can people still stumble onto the site accidently via a search engine or any other method (other than randomly typing in the actual web address).
To put it in context, I am producing a site for my sister as a surprise and I don’t know if she will want her business putting onto the internet. But I am happy to publish the site online whilst I work on it if I am confident people won’t go onto it until I want them to. Thanks
Short answer: To keep search engines from accidentally finding your site, add a text file named robots.txt at the root of your site and put the following text in it:
Whether or not search engines would actually find you without the file is difficult to determine; normally Google, for instance, finds new sites through links to them from other sites or through the new sites being manually added to google.com/addurl. However, I have had some unpleasant surprises with sites I thought had not been submitted, so better safe than sorry.
Just be sure to get rid of robots.txt if your sister likes the site and wants the world to see it.