In the vast landscape of the internet, search engines play a role similar to explorers, continuously mapping out new territories. The methods they use are known as crawling and indexing, two foundational concepts in Technical SEO.
However, understanding what these terms mean and how they impact your site’s visibility can seem like a daunting task. This guide aims to demystify these concepts, providing you with a clear understanding and actionable strategies to ensure your website is easily discoverable by search engines.
Understanding the Basics: Crawling and Indexing
Crawling is the process by which search engines discover updated content on the web, such as new sites or pages, changes to existing sites, and dead links. This is carried out by software robots known as ‘crawlers’ or ‘spiders’.
On the other hand, indexing is the process of storing and organizing the content found during the crawl. Once a page is in the index, it’s in the running to be displayed as a result to relevant queries.
Why Are Crawling and Indexing Important for SEO?
Your website can’t rank in search results if search engines can’t find it. It’s as simple as that. If your site is not properly crawled and indexed, you’re essentially invisible to your potential visitors.
Create a Sitemap
A sitemap is essentially a blueprint of your website that helps search engines find, crawl and index all of your content. It lists all of the URLs for a site, including details about each URL like when it was updated, how important it is in relation to other URLs, and whether there are any other versions of the URL created in other languages. You can create a sitemap manually or use an online tool or plugin specific to your website platform (like WordPress).
Once created, you should submit your sitemap to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools to ensure the search engines are aware of it. A sitemap is a file where you provide information about the pages, videos, and other files on your site, and the relationships between them. It’s like creating a roadmap of your website for search engines.
The robots.txt file is a simple text file in your website’s root directory that instructs search engines on which pages or files they should or shouldn’t crawl. For example, you might not want search engines to crawl and index certain pages if they are not useful to users in search results, like thank you pages or private directories.
It’s important to note that misuse of the robots.txt file could accidentally block search engines from crawling your site, so be careful when editing this file.
Optimise Your Site’s Structure
The structure of your website plays a critical role in both its usability and findability. A well-structured website is organized in a logical way that makes it easy for users to navigate and find the content they’re looking for. It also makes it easier for search engine crawlers to understand the content and context of your site.
To optimise your site’s structure, make sure you use a logical hierarchy for your pages with clear and simple navigation. Avoid burying important pages deep within your site where they might be harder for both users and search engines to find.
Use Internal Linking Wisely
Internal links are links that go from one page on a domain to a different page on the same domain. They are useful for three reasons: they allow users to navigate a website, they help establish information hierarchy for the given website, and they help spread link equity (ranking power) around websites.
When you link to other pages on your website within your content, you’re not only improving navigation for your users but also helping search engines understand the context and relationship between the pages. Make sure you use descriptive anchor text for your links that gives an indication of the linked page’s content.
Ensure Your Site Loads Quickly
Site speed is a crucial part of web search ranking algorithms. If your website takes too long to load, it can lead to high bounce rates as users are likely to leave rather than wait. Moreover, search engine crawlers also have a crawl budget for each website – a limit on the number of pages they crawl during a certain period. If your website loads slowly, crawlers might leave before they’ve crawled all your pages.
Mastering the concepts of crawling and indexing is essential for anyone serious about SEO. By making your website easy to crawl and index, you’re setting the foundation for higher visibility in search results. Remember, SEO is a marathon, not a sprint – but with patience, persistence, and the right knowledge, you’re sure to see results.
Remember to use your targeted keywords and variations throughout your content to optimize it for SEO. This includes your title, headings, meta description, and within the body of your content. This article focuses on the concepts of “crawling” and “indexing” and how they relate to “technical SEO,” so these should be the primary keywords targeted in this piece.
Next in our series, we’ll dive into the specific topic of XML Sitemaps and how to optimise them for better indexing. Stay Tuned!