What Is Crawling In SEO And Why It Is Essential For Your Website Visibility

crawling in seo

Curious about how your website gets discovered by Google and other search engines?

It all starts with a crucial process known as ‘crawling’.

In this post, we’ll explore crawling in SEO, how crawlers work their magic, and why it’s vital for your website’s online visibility.

Understanding Crawling In SEO

In the world of SEO, “crawling” might sound a bit mysterious, but it’s actually a straightforward concept that plays a huge role in how your website gets discovered online.

It’s the process used by search engines to send out digital explorers that uncover content on the internet.

Web Crawling 101

Picture this: each search engine deploys specialized bots (software programs), often called spiders or crawlers, on a mission to discover new and updated content. 

Starting from a list of known web page URLs, these crawlers follow links on these pages to branch out and find more content.

As they move through these digital paths, they analyze the content on each page—text, images, and video alike. 

This data is then encoded and stored in massive databases. 

Web crawling is the behind-the-scenes process that makes search engines incredibly efficient at connecting you with the information you need.

crawlers explanation
Source: Google

Difference Between Crawling And Indexing

Let’s start with what indexing is and how it works before moving on to the difference.

Indexing is the next critical step, in which the search engine analyzes and stores the information gathered during crawling.

Think of it as a gigantic, highly organized digital library where every visited web page is cataloged.

During indexing, the content of each page is analyzed, and important elements like keywords, page structure, and content quality are assessed.

This helps the search engine understand what each page is about and how it should rank in response to specific search queries.

So, while crawling is about exploration and discovery, indexing is about analysis and organization.

Both processes are fundamental to SEO because they determine how content is identified, understood, and displayed in search results. 

Optimize Crawlability For Higher Ranking

By refining some key aspects, you’ll invite more crawlers to your site and ensure they understand and value what they find.

It’s all aimed to boost your chances for higher rankings…

And with just some expert and actionable SEO tips, crawlers can discover the pages on your websites without missing any.

Submit Your Sitemap To Google Search Console

Think of submitting a sitemap to a search engine as providing them with a detailed city map, where every street symbolizes a page on your website.

This map helps search engines navigate your site more efficiently, ensuring they find and index all your important pages.

Without it, some of your pages might be overlooked, causing potential traffic and conversion opportunities to be lost.

If your site is built with WordPress, submitting your sitemap becomes even simpler thanks to plugins like Yoast SEO, Google XML Sitemaps, or my favorite one, RankMath.

All you need to do is install one of the plugins, and they will automatically generate your sitemap.

Some of them also have the possibility to submit the sitemap automatically to Google.

But you can do it manually if you’re a control freak like me. It’s really easy!

After your sitemap is generated, you can submit the file to search engines like Google through their respective Webmaster Tools.

For Google, this means using Google Search Console.

You need to follow two simple steps:

  1. Click on the left menù to access the sitemap area.
  2. Insert the name of the sitemap file and click submit.
sitemap submitting to Google

Level Up Your Internal Linking Game

Creating and using internal links within a website is important for several reasons.

Firstly, they improve user navigation, guide visitors through your site, and help them discover more content, which means users are more engaged and the time spent on your site increases.

Secondly, internal links distribute page authority throughout your site, boosting the SEO performance of individual pages.

And finally, they help search engines crawl your site more effectively, ensuring all your pages are indexed and can appear in search results.

To check and fix common issues with internal links, you can follow these steps:

  1. Identify Broken Links: use tools like Screaming Frog SEO Spider, Ahrefs, or Google Search Console to scan your site for broken internal links.
    These links lead to non-existent pages (404 errors), harming user experience and SEO.
    To fix broken links, either update the link to the correct existing page or remove the link if no relevant page exists.
  2. Check for Orphan Pages: orphan pages are not linked to/from any other page on your site, making them hard for users and search engines to find.
    Again, Screaming Frog and Ahrefs can help identify these pages with a site audit process.
    To avoid this problem, identify relevant content within your site where linking to these pages makes sense. At worst, delete the pages.
  3. Review Link Relevance and Distribution: ensure that your internal links are relevant to the content they’re embedded in and that you’re not overloading any particular page with too many links.
    Each link should offer value and context to your users.
    Review your internal linking regularly to ensure it remains effective and aligned with your site’s content and SEO goals.
  4. Optimize Anchor Text: the clickable text in your internal links, known as anchor text, should be descriptive and relevant to the target page. Avoid overusing exact-match keywords, as this can be a spammy flag for search engines.

Consistently Update And Add Fresh Content

Consistently renewing and adding fresh content is vital for your website’s crawlability and indexability because search engines prioritize sites with new information. 

New content keeps search engine bots returning to your site more frequently to crawl and index new pages.

Consistent updates indicate to search engines that your site is alive and offers users valuable, up-to-date information.

To ensure your site remains crawlable and its content easily indexable, start with some of the following tactics:

  1. Maintain your Blog: commit to a posting schedule that’s realistic for you, whether that’s weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.
  2. User-Generated Content: encourage user comments, forums, or guest posts on your site. This can generate fresh content without heavy lifting on your part.
  3. Update Existing Content: revisit and update your older posts and pages with new information, statistics, or relevant links.
  4. Create an FAQ Section: add new questions and answers to this section, especially those currently trending or relevant to recent news in your industry.
  5. Leverage Content Themes: develop monthly or quarterly content themes based on user interest, seasonality, or industry trends. This approach can guide your content strategy and help you maintain related, fresh content flow.
  6. Automate Content Alerts: set up Google Alerts or use tools like BuzzSumo to notify you about trending topics. You can find inspiration for your content and stay ahead of the curve in your industry.
  7. Interactive Content: incorporate interactive elements like quizzes, polls, or surveys that change over time. People like this kind of stuff and they add dynamic content to your site that search engines can crawl and index.

Prevent Duplicate Content

We already know that search engines strive to provide unique, valuable content to users…

So please don’t be the one who tries to outsmart them by copying and pasting Wikipedia articles into your blog – they have PhDs in Spotting Plagiarism!

When multiple pages on your site (or across different sites) have similar or identical content, search engines might struggle to determine which version is most relevant to a search query. 

This can lead to several issues, such as the wrong page being indexed, diluted link equity (as inbound links might point to multiple versions of the same content), and in the worst case…

Drum roll…

Ranking penalties!

And trust me, recovering from one of them could be a nightmare.

So, let’s see how to solve duplicate content issues:

  1. Use 301 Redirects: in the case of pages with similar content, decide which one should be the “canonical” (main version). Then, use 301 redirects to point the other pages to it. This ensures search engines only index the main page.
  2. Implement Canonical Tags: place a rel=”canonical” link element in the HTML head of duplicate or similar pages. This will specify which version of the content should be indexed by search engines.
  3. Improve Content Uniqueness: revise content on pages that are too similar, ensuring each page provides unique value. This might involve expanding on topics, adding new insights, or targeting different keywords.
  4. Parameter Handling in Google Search Console: if URL parameters (like session IDs or tracking codes) create duplicate content, you can use Google Search Console’s URL Parameters tool to tell Google how to interpret these parameters and avoid indexing duplicate content.
  5. Meta Noindex: use a meta noindex tag to prevent specific pages from being indexed.

Leverage robots.txt File For Better Crawling Performance

A proper robots.txt file tells search engine bots what parts of your site they can or cannot access.

By effectively using this file, you let search engines spend their crawl budget wisely, focusing on important content and avoiding areas not meant for indexing (admin pages, duplicate content, or particular resources). 

Your robots.txt file is located in the root directory of your website (e.g., www.example.com/robots.txt), and if you want to modify it consider the following:

  1. User-agent: this line specifies which web crawler the rule applies to. The * symbol means the rules apply to all search engine bots.
  2. Disallow: tells a crawler not to access certain parts of your site. For example, “Disallow: /admin/” prevents crawlers from accessing anything in the admin directory.
  3. Allow: in contrast to Disallow this command can be used to specify exceptions, allowing crawlers to access parts of the site otherwise blocked by a Disallow rule.
  4. Sitemap: include a link to your sitemap in the robots.txt file (Sitemap: https://www.example.com/sitemap.xml) to help search engines crawl all of your content.

Here’s an example of my robots.txt file:

my robots.txt file

Turbocharge Your Online Visibility

You’ve now got the scoop on how search engines check out your site, which is a big win for making your website easier to find.

Think of what you’ve learned as your secret weapon for getting noticed online.

It’s time to use these tips to tidy up your site and show search engines the good stuff. 

Just start tweaking things bit by bit and monitor the results. Your site will start climbing up in search results.

Crawling is no longer a mystery and you’re ready to rock it!

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