Crawling vs. Indexing: What’s the Difference Between These 2 Common Search Engine Processes?
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When researching search engine optimization (SEO), you’ll probably encounter the terms “crawling” and “indexing.” Search engines use complex algorithms to calculate the keywords and positions for which websites rank. Whether it’s Google, Bing or a lower-tiered search engine, though, they all rely on crawling and indexing.
What Is Crawling?
Also referred to as spidering, crawling is a search engine process that involves reading a web page’s code and, subsequently, its content. To determine where and how a web page should rank, search engines must crawl it. Crawling allows search engines to analyze all visible elements, as well as hidden elements ,such as meta tags, on a web page. Using this information, search engines can determine appropriate search rankings for
Search engines crawl web pages by visiting them with bots. Google, for example, uses Googlebot, whereas Bing uses Bingbot. There are typically two variations of each crawling bot: desktop and mobile. The desktop version of simulates a desktop user, whereas the mobile version simulates a mobile user. Regardless, all search engine bots are designed to crawl web pages.
What Is Indexing?
Indexing, on the other hand, involves adding a web page to the search results. Indexing comes after crawling. Only after Google or Bing has crawled a website will they index it.
Search engines have massive and ever-changing databases, known as an index, that consists of organic listings. When search engines index a web page, they create one or more organic listings for it. The organic listings are added to the search results, allowing users to find the web page when searching for relevant keywords.
How to Encourage Search Engines to Crawl Your Website
Search engines will typically begin crawling your website immediately after discovering it. Once Google and Bing become aware of your website, they’ll visit with bots — Googlebot and Bingbot, respectively — to read its code. The frequency at which search engines crawl your website, however, may fluctuate.
You may notice frequent crawling during the first few months after launching your website, followed by a steep decline in which your website is rarely crawled. As Google and Bing crawl your website less frequently, it may result in changes going unnoticed. For instance, if you modify a web page’s title tag on Monday but Google doesn’t crawl the page until Friday, the old title tag will remain in effect for four additional days.
To encourage search engines to crawl your website more frequently, follow these tips:
• Publish new web pages and update existing web pages regularly.
• Use a pinging service like pingomatic to notify search engines about changes made to your website.
• Build internal links connecting your website’s pages.
• Choose a reliable web hosting service.
• Use a meaningful URL structure that describes your web pages’ content.
• Optimize your website to load quickly.
• Find and fix 404 errors. When search engines follow a link to a 404 error, they’ll spend less time crawling other web pages on your website.
You can view the frequency at which the two major search engines crawl your website by using Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. For Google, log in to your Google Search Console account and visit google.com/webmasters/tools/crawl-stats. For Bing, log in your Bing Webmaster Tools account and select “Crawl Information” under the “Reports & Data” drop-down menu.
How to Encourage Search Engines to Index Your Website
Even if Google and Bing regularly crawls your website, they may not index all of its web pages. Search engines may crawl your entire website several times per day but only index three-quarters of its pages. Any web pages omitted from Google’s or Bing’s index won’t generate any organic traffic.
Keep in mind, not all web pages will benefit from being indexed. Web pages with duplicate content, for instance, don’t need to be indexed. If two web pages contain the same content, only one of them will rank high in the search results. Search engines may index the other web page, but because it contains duplicate content, it will rank significantly lower and for far fewer keywords. With that said, you should strive to get most of your website’s pages, except for duplicate content pages, indexed by Google and Bing.
To encourage search engines to index your website and all its pages, follow these tips:
• Avoid publishing the same content on multiple web pages. Each web page should feature unique content that’s not found elsewhere on your website.
• Build backlinks, preferably from relevant and authoritative sources, to your website.
• Promote your website on social media. When you publish new content on your website, share a link to it with your Facebook and Twitter followers.
• Create and use a sitemap. A sitemap encourages search engines to both crawl and index your website.
You can see which web pages on your website Google and Bing have indexed by using the “site” search operator. Just search for your website’s domain proceeded by “site:” The site operator tells Google and Bing to filter all listings except those from the specified domain from the search results. Assuming you don’t include any other words in your search, the “site” operator will reveal all web pages on your website that Google and Bing have indexed.
Search engine optimization (SEO) requires an understanding of how search engines operate. If you don’t know how Google or Bing works, you’ll struggle to optimize your website for their search results. Crawling occurs when search engines visit a web page to read its code and analyze code. In comparison, indexing occurs when search engines add a web page to their search results.
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Last Updated in January 2022 by Lukasz Zelezny