Crawling and indexing are how Google analyzes and interprets your site’s content and can affect your website’s SEO.
This post shared by the SEO company in Mumbai will help you understand the difference between crawling and indexing, the effects on your website’s indexability and crawlability, and how you can increase both.
What’s the matter with crawling?
Crawling is a method that allows search engines to find new content on the internet. To accomplish this, they utilize crawling bots that follow hyperlinks to websites that have been indexed to new ones.
As thousands of websites are created or updated daily, crawling is a continuous process repeated repeatedly. Martin Splitt, Google Webmaster Trend Analyst, describes the process of crawling very simply:
“We start with some URLs and take a link from there. This is crawling through the web (one) page at a time and more or less.”
Crawling is just the beginning stage of the process. The next step is indexing as well as ranking (pages that go through different ranking algorithms) and then serving the results of the search.
Let’s dive a bit deep here and examine the process of crawling.
What is a “search engine crawler”?
The search engine crawler (also known as a crawling bot or web spider) is a program that crawls through websites through their contents, scans them for content, and then collects the information to index the content.
Google is a web search engine that utilizes the Googlebot web crawler, which is its very own known as Googlebot. There are two primary kinds of crawlers.
- Googlebot smartphone – the main crawler
- Googlebot Desktop – second crawler
Googlebot is a web crawler that prefers to use as a mobile browser, but it could also crawl every website using its desktop crawler to see how the website functions and behaves in both ways.
The budget for crawling can determine the frequency of crawling of newly added pages.
What is a crawl budget?
The crawl budget is the sum of money and frequency of crawling carried out by web crawlers. Also, it specifies the number of pages to be crawled and the frequency at which those pages are re-crawled by Googlebot.
Two major factors establish the crawler budget:
- Limit on crawl rate: The number of pages that can be simultaneously crawled by the site without overloading the server.
- Demand for crawls: The number of web pages that have to be crawled, or recrawled, by Googlebot.
Crawl budgets are the primary concern for huge websites that have millions of pages but not for websites with just hundreds of pages. Furthermore, the fact that a huge budget for crawling doesn’t guarantee any advantages for a site as it’s not a sign of quality to search engines.
How do you define indexing?
According to the experts at the best SEO company, Indexing is the process that involves analyzing and storing web pages crawled in the database (also known as index). Only pages that are indexed are ranked and utilized to search for the appropriate keywords.
When a web browser discovers an undiscovered website, Googlebot passes its content (e.g., text, images, videos, meta-tags, attributes, etc.) in the indexing phase, which is where the information is analyzed to gain a better understanding of the context, and then put into the index.
Martin Splitt explains the function of the indexing stage. Is:
“Once you have the pages, we must be able to understand the information on them. It is important to determine the purpose of this content and what purpose it is supposed to serve. This is the second step which includes indexing.”
For the above, Google uses the so-called Caffeine indexing system, which was first introduced in the year 2010. The database of the Caffeine index can store millions and millions of gigabytes of pages.
The pages are processed systematically and indexed (and crawled again) by Googlebot by the content they hold. Googlebot is not the only one to visit websites through mobile crawlers first. However, it also likes to index content on mobile versions of its websites following the so-called Mobile-First Indexing update.
What exactly is Mobile-First Indexing?
The mobile-first indexing feature was first launched in 2016 after Google announced that it would predominantly index and use the content on its mobile version.
Google’s official announcement clarifies:
“In the mobile-first indexing process, we’ll obtain the information about your site’s mobile version. So ensure that Googlebot can see all the contents and all the resources available there.”
Because most people use smartphones to browse the web is logical that Google would like to view web pages “in similar ways” as users do. This is also an explicit demand to website owners to ensure that their websites are mobile-friendly and responsive.
Notice: It is important to understand the fact that mobile-first indexing doesn’t always mean Google cannot crawl websites with their desktop agents (Googlebot Desktop) to check the content of both versions.
This section discusses the concept that crawling is indexing from a theoretical point of view.
Let’s examine the practical steps you can take in your site’s crawling and/or indexing process.
How do you make Google search and index your site?
In the case of the actual process of crawling or indexing your website, it is not possible to provide a “direct instruction” to cause search engines to crawl your site.
The experts at the best SEO agency in Singapore share various methods to control if, when, or how your site is crawled or indexed.
Let’s look at what options you have in terms of “telling Google about your existence.”
1. Do nothing and remain a passive approach.
From a technological point of perspective, you don’t need to do anything to have your site crawled and indexed by Google. All you require is a hyperlink from the external site, and Googlebot will soon begin crawling and indexing all websites available.
But, an “do nothing” method can result in inefficiency with indexing and crawling your site’s pages as it could take a while for a web crawler to locate your website.
2. Submit websites using the URL Inspect tool
One way to “secure” indexing and crawling your websites is to directly request Google for permission to index (or index or re-index) your pages using the URL Inspector tool within Google Search Console.
This tool is useful when you’ve got a brand-new website or have made significant changes to your existing site and want to get it indexed as quickly as possible.
The procedure is very easy:
- Go to Google Search Console and paste your URL into the search bar located at the top. Click enter.
- Search Console will display the state of your page. If it’s not listed, you can ask for indexing. If it’s already indexed, there’s no need to make an indexing request again (if you made larger modifications in the content).
- URL inspection tool will be able to determine if it is possible to determine whether the current URL can be indexable (it may take minutes or seconds).
- Once the testing is completed successfully and the test is completed, a message will be displayed to confirm that your website was added to a prioritized crawl queue to be indexed. The process of indexing can be anywhere in some minutes or several days.
3. Submit an online map
A sitemap is an information file in XML format that lists the pages you wish to crawl and index to search engines. The primary advantage of sitemaps is that it makes it easier for an engine to crawl your site.
You can submit an enormous number of URLs in one go and thus accelerate the overall indexing process for your site.
- To inform Google to know about your sitemap, you’ll need to use Google Search Console to do it again.
- Go on to Google Search Console > Sitemaps and copy the link to your page map. Create a new sitemap:
- Following your submission, Googlebot may eventually search through your sitemap and crawl all the websites you have supplied (assuming they aren’t hindered from crawling or indexing by any means).
4. Do you have proper internal linking?
Crawling and IndexingA well-constructed link structure within your site is a good long-term strategy to make your web pages easy to navigate. What can you do?
The answer is using a flat website structure. That is, having every page that is with less than 3 hyperlinks from one another:
A well-designed linking structure can ensure the crawling of every webpage you wish to be indexed since web crawlers will have quick access to them all. This is crucial when it comes to large websites (e.g., E-commerce) with thousands of pages of products.
How can you stop Google from crawling and indexing your site?
There are many reasons to stop Googlebot from indexing or crawling certain areas of your site.
- Private content: (e.g., information about the user which is not supposed to be displayed in results from a search)
- Duplicate pages: (e.g., pages that have the same content that should not be crawled to conserve budget and/or appear in search results more than once)
- Pages that are empty or in error: (e.g., work-in-progress sites that are not ready to be indexed or displayed on search pages)
- Pages with little or no value: (e.g., pages created by users that don’t provide any relevant content for searches).
It must be evident that Googlebot is extremely efficient when it comes to locating new websites, even if it wasn’t your intent. As Google declares: “It’s almost impossible to keep a website server from being revealed by not sharing hyperlinks that point to the server.”
Let’s look at the options available to prevent crawling or indexing.
Make use of robots.txt (to keep crawlers out)
Robots.txt is a text file that includes direct instructions for web spiders on how to browse your site. When web crawlers visit your site, they determine if it includes a robots.txt file and then what the instructions are.
After they have read the instructions from this file, the crawlers begin the process of crawling your site according to what they were directed to do.
Utilizing the “allow” and the “disallow” directives within the robots.txt file, you can inform web crawlers which parts of your website should be crawled and viewed and which webpages should be left unattended.
Here’s an example from the New York Times’s site robots.txt file that contains many disallow commands:
- You can, for instance, block Googlebot by preventing it from crawling
- Pages with duplicate content
- private pages
- URLs that contain query parameters
- pages that have thin content
- test pages
Without the directives from this file, the web crawler will browse every page it could discover, including URLs you wish to keep from being crawled.
While robots.txt could be a useful method to block Googlebot from crawling on your website, you should not depend on this method as means to conceal content.
Google can find websites that are not allowed to be indexed if other websites link to the URLs. To stop websites from being found, there is a second alternative, which is more effective that is called Robots Meta directives.
Make use of to use the “noindex” instruction (to stop indexing)
Robot meta directives (sometimes called meta tags) are tiny pieces of HTML code that are embedded in the A section of a web page that tells search engines how to crawl the page.
A very commonly used directive is known as the “index” directive (a robot meta directive that has an attribute with the “index” value included in the content attribute). It blocks search engines from indexing your website and showing your site’s page in SERPs. It’s like this:
- The “Robots” attribute “robots” attribute signifies that the command applies to all web crawlers.
- This “no-index” directive is particularly helpful when you want your pages to be visited by people but don’t want to be indexable or to appear in the results of a search.
- The index attribute is often coupled together with the following and unfollows attributes to inform search engines whether or not they should be able to crawl the hyperlinks on the page.
What can you do to determine if the page has been indexed?
There are several choices when determining whether the pages are crawled and indexed or the website is experiencing certain issues.
1. Verify it by hand
The most efficient way to determine whether your website is indexable or not is to check it manually using the following method: the website: operator:
If your site was crawled and indexed, you’d see all indexed pages and the approximate number of pages that were indexed under the “About XY Results” section.
If you want to verify whether an individual URL is indexed, you can use this URL in place of the name. If your website was indexed, then you should be able to see it listed in the search results.
2. Check Index Status of Coverage
For a more thorough analysis of your index (or pages that are not indexed) pages, utilize this Index coverage report within Google’s Search Console.
Charts that include details in The Index Coverage Report can provide important information regarding the status of URLs and the types of issues affecting crawled or indexed pages.
3. Make use of this URL Inspection tool.
This URL Inspection tool can provide details about specific web pages on your website from the time they last crawled.
Check to see if your website:
- Has some issues (with specific details on the way it was found out)
- was crawled. Then, the last time crawling was in the middle.
- Whether or not the page has been indexed and appears in search results
If you wish to avoid all the trouble to get your website crawled, indexed by google, and ranked check out our search engine optimization packages in Mumbai,
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