What is Crawling?

Table of Contents

Are you curious about what is crawling and how crawling helps search engines discover new pages on the internet?

Or, have you ever wondered about the processes behind crawling in search engines?

Look no further! In this blog post, we’ll dive deep into the world of crawling and how it impacts search engine optimization.

From understanding the role of sitemaps and robots.txt files to learning tips for improving your crawl budget, this post will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the crawling process.

So, sit tight and get ready to expand your knowledge of the inner workings of search engines.

What is Crawling in Search Engine?

Crawling is the process by which search engines discover new pages on the internet. It is the first step in the process of search engine optimization (SEO). Search engine crawlers, also known as spiders or bots, scan the internet for new and updated content by following the links on a webpage.

They then analyze the content of the pages they find and index them in the search engine’s database.

Some of the most popular search engines and their crawlers include:

  1. Google: Google’s crawler, also known as Googlebot, is one of the most widely used crawlers. Googlebot is responsible for discovering new pages and updating the Google index. Googlebot uses a complex algorithm to determine the relevance and importance of a webpage, and it also uses a mobile-first indexing approach, which means it indexes the mobile version of a website first.
  2. Bing: Bing’s crawler is known as Bingbot.
  3. Yahoo: Yahoo’s crawler is known as Yahoo Slurp.
  4. Baidu: Baidu is the leading search engine in China. Its crawler is known as Baidu Spider.
  5. Yandex: Yandex is the leading search engine in Russia. Its crawler is known as Yandex Bot.
  6. YouTube: YouTube’s crawler, also known as the YouTube Bot, is used to discover, index, and rank the videos on the platform. It uses an algorithm similar to the search engines to determine the relevance and importance of a video and its ranking.

These are some of the most popular search engines and their crawlers.

Why Crawling Is Important For Search Engine Optimization

Crawling is an important part of search engine optimization because it lets search engines figure out how a website is put together, what it’s about, and how relevant it is.

Without crawling, search engines wouldn’t be able to find new pages or update their index. This would make it hard for people to find relevant information when using a search engine.

Additionally, crawling also helps search engines to detect and penalize websites that engage in spamming or other black hat SEO techniques. This ensures that the search results are relevant and of high quality for users.

Different Types Of Crawlers And Their Function

There are several different types of crawlers that search engines use to discover and index new pages on the internet. The most common types of crawlers are:

  1. General web crawlers: These crawlers scan the entire internet for new and updated content. They are the most common type of crawler and are used by search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
  2. Specialized crawlers: These crawlers are designed to focus on specific types of content, such as images, videos, or news articles. They are used by search engines to index specialized content and improve the accuracy and relevance of search results.
  3. Deep web crawlers: These crawlers are designed to scan the “deep web,” which is the portion of the internet that is not indexed by general web crawlers. This includes content that is behind login pages, forms, or scripts.
  4. Internal crawlers: These crawlers are used by websites to scan and index their own pages. They are used to improve the organization and navigation of a website and to detect broken links.

Each type of crawler serves a different purpose and has its own specific function. General web crawlers are used to discover and index new pages on the internet, specialized web crawlers are used to improve the accuracy and relevance of search results, deep web crawlers are used to discover hidden content, and internal web crawlers are used to improve the organization and navigation of a website.

How Does Crawling Work In Search Engines?

The process of crawling begins when a search engine’s crawler, also known as a spider or bot, starts with a seed list of URLs.

Seed List

The first step in the crawling process is the creation of a seed list. A seed list is a set of URLs that the search engine has determined to be important or relevant.

These URLs are typically submitted to the search engine by webmasters, but can also be found by the search engine’s own crawlers.

Discovery New Pages

Once the seed list has been created, the search engine’s crawler, also known as a spider or bot, begins to follow the links on these pages. As the crawler follows the links, it discovers new pages on the internet.

Requesting Content

As the crawler discovers new pages, it requests the content of each page from the web server. The web server responds with the HTML code of the page, which the crawler then analyzes.

Analyzing Content

The crawler looks at the content of the page, such as the text and images, as well as the structure of the page, such as the headings and links. It also looks at the metadata of the page, such as the title and description tags, as well as the robots.txt file and the sitemap.

Indexing

Once the crawler has analyzed the page, it indexes the information in the search engine’s database. The index is a collection of all the pages that the search engine has discovered and analyzed. It is used to generate the search results that users see when they enter a query.

Relevance and Importance

When determining the relevance and importance of a webpage, the crawler uses a complex algorithm based on many factors such as keywords, backlinks, social media shares, relevance, user engagement, and many other factors that are used to determine the quality of the website.

These factors are used to assign a relevance score to each webpage, which helps the search engine to determine how relevant and useful the page is for a specific search query.

Here are a few examples and images that can help readers visualize the crawling process:

Example 1:

  • Let’s say a search engine’s crawler starts with a seed list of URLs that includes the homepage of a popular news website.
  • The crawler follows the links on the homepage, discovering new pages such as articles, category pages, and author pages.
  • As the crawler discovers these new pages, it requests the content of each page from the web server.
  • The crawler analyzes the content, looking at things like the text, images, headings, and links. It also looks at the metadata, such as the title and description tags.
  • Once the crawler has analyzed the pages, it indexes the information in the search engine’s database. This information can be used to generate relevant search results for users.

Example 2:

  • Let’s say a search engine’s crawler starts with a seed list of URLs that includes the homepage of an online store.
  • The crawler follows the links on the homepage, discovering new pages such as product pages, category pages, and reviews pages.
  • As the crawler discovers these new pages, it requests the content of each page from the web server.
  • The crawler analyzes the content, looking at things like product descriptions, images, prices, and reviews. It also looks at the metadata, such as the title and description tags.
  • Once the crawler has analyzed the pages, it indexes the information in the search engine’s database. This information can be used to generate relevant search results for users looking for products.

To visualize the process, one can imagine a spider moving through the web, following links from one page to another, gathering information, and then returning to the search engine’s database to store that information.

The spider can be imagined as a small computer program designed to follow links, extract data, and return to the search engine’s database.

The process is continuous and the spider keeps on repeating the process as new pages are added to the internet.

Role of Sitemaps and Robots.txt

Sitemaps and robots.txt files play an important role in the crawling process as they provide information to search engine crawlers about how a website should be crawled.

Sitemap

A sitemap is an XML file that lists all the URLs of a website. It is used to inform the search engine crawler about the structure of the website and the pages that should be crawled.

A sitemap can be submitted to a search engine through the webmaster tools, and it can also be accessed by the crawler when it visits the website.

A sitemap can be useful in situations where a website’s structure is not easily discoverable by a crawler, or if a website has a large number of pages.

Robots.txt

Robots.txt is a file that webmasters can use to instruct search engine crawlers which pages or sections of the site should not be crawled.

This file is located in the root directory of a website and is called “robots.txt”. The file contains a set of rules that tell the search engine crawler which pages or sections of the site should be accessed and indexed, and which should not.

Both Sitemaps and robots.txt files can be used to help crawlers find and index a site’s pages more effectively by providing information about the website’s structure and content.

With a sitemap, a search engine can discover new pages quickly and efficiently, while a robots.txt file can be used to prevent the crawling of pages that are not meant to be indexed or that are duplicates.

Here are examples of how to create and use sitemaps and robots.txt files:

Creating a Sitemap:

  • One way to create a sitemap is to use a sitemap generator tool. There are several online tools available that can automatically create a sitemap for a website.
  • Another way to create a sitemap is manually by writing an XML file. This file should list all the URLs of a website, and it should be structured in a way that the search engine can understand. You can use sitemap.org as a reference to create a sitemap manually.

Using a Sitemap:

  • Once the sitemap has been created, it can be submitted to the search engine through the webmaster tools. This will allow the search engine to discover new pages on the website quickly and efficiently.
  • The sitemap can also be made available on the website by placing it in the root directory and naming it “sitemap.xml”. This way, when the search engine crawler visits the website, it will automatically find the sitemap and use it to discover new pages.

Creating a robots.txt file:

  • Creating a robots.txt file is relatively simple, you just need to create a new text file and name it “robots.txt”, then place it in the root directory of your website.
  • You can use any text editor to create a robots.txt file, and it should include a set of rules that tell the search engine crawler which pages or sections of the site should be accessed and indexed, and which should not.

Using a robots.txt file:

  • Once the robots.txt file has been created, it can be accessed by the search engine crawler when it visits the website.
  • The search engine crawler will check the robots.txt file to see which pages or sections of the site should be accessed and indexed, and which should not.

It’s important to note that search engines will obey the rules specified in the robots.txt file, but it’s not a guarantee that it will not be indexed. Some malicious crawlers might ignore the rules, so it’s important to ensure that sensitive information is protected through other means.

What Is Crawl Budget and Why it’s Important?

Crawl budget refers to the number of resources that a search engine is willing to devote to crawling a website. It is the number of pages a search engine will crawl on a website over a certain period of time.

Crawl budget is important because it affects how often a search engine crawls a website, and subsequently how quickly new or updated pages are indexed.

A search engine’s crawl budget is limited, and it has to divide it among all the websites it crawls. If a website has a lot of pages, or if it updates frequently, it will likely require more crawl budget.

If a website has fewer pages, or if it’s not updated frequently, it will likely require a less crawl budget.

When a search engine’s crawler visits a website, it evaluates the number of pages on the site, the rate of change, and the relevance of the website.

Based on this evaluation, the search engine will determine how frequently it will crawl the website, and how many pages it will crawl each time.

It’s important for website owners to understand how to crawl budget works, so they can optimize their website to take advantage of it.

By optimizing a website for a crawl budget, website owners can help ensure that their website is crawled and indexed as often as possible.

Here are some tips and best practices for improving a site’s crawl budget:

  1. Reduce the number of duplicate pages: Having multiple pages with similar or identical content can lead to a wasted crawl budget. Use tools like Google Search Console to identify and remove duplicate pages on your site, or use canonical tags to indicate the preferred version of a page.
  2. Fix broken links: Broken links can cause crawlers to waste time trying to access pages that no longer exist. Use tools like Google Search Console or a broken link checker to identify and fix broken links on your site.
  3. Use a sitemap: Submitting a sitemap to the search engine can help ensure that important pages on your site are crawled and indexed. It also helps search engines to understand the structure of your site and identify new pages.
  4. Use robots.txt file: Use the robots.txt file to prevent search engines from crawling pages that are not important or that you do not want to be indexed.
  5. Improve website’s load time: Speed is a ranking factor for SEO, slow-loading pages can lead to a wasted crawl budget, as the crawler may move on to other pages before the slow page is fully loaded.
  6. Make sure the website is mobile-friendly: With more people using mobile devices to access the internet, it is important to make sure your site is mobile-friendly. Google prioritizes mobile-friendly sites in its search results, so a mobile-friendly site can help increase your crawl budget.
  7. Use structured data: Structured data, such as schema markup, can help search engines understand the content of your site, making it easier for them to crawl and index your pages.
  8. Use a CDN: Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) can help distribute your content across multiple servers, making it faster and easier for search engine crawlers to access your pages.
  9. Monitor your crawl budget: Use tools like Google Search Console to monitor your crawl budget and identify any issues that may be affecting it.
  10. Limit the number of redirects: Having too many redirects on your site can cause crawlers to waste time trying to follow them, reducing the amount of crawl budget available for other pages. Keep redirects to a minimum, and avoid using multiple redirects in a chain.
  11. Optimize your images: Large images can slow down your site, making it harder for crawlers to access your pages quickly. Optimize your images by compressing them and using appropriate file formats.
  12. Limit the use of AJAX and JavaScript: While AJAX and JavaScript can be useful for creating dynamic websites, they can also make it harder for crawlers to access your pages. Limit their use and make sure that your pages can still be accessed and understood by crawlers without them.
  13. Use social media to promote your site: Having more links pointing to your site can help increase your crawl budget by making it more popular and relevant. Use social media to promote your site and encourage others to link to it.
  14. Avoid using too many ads: Having too many ads on your site can make it harder for crawlers to access your pages and understand their content. Limit the number of ads on your site, and make sure they do not take up too much space on the page.

By following these tips and best practices, you can help improve your site’s crawl budget and make it easier for search engines to find, crawl, and index your pages. Remember that the crawl budget is a limited resource, so it’s important to use it wisely and make sure that it’s being used to crawl the most important pages on your site.

How To Monitor A Site’s Crawl Rate And Why It’s Important?

Monitoring a site’s crawl rate is important because it helps website owners understand how often their site is being crawled by search engines, and how quickly new or updated pages are indexed.

What is Crawl Rate

Crawl rate refers to the frequency at which a search engine crawls a website. It is the number of pages that a search engine crawls on a website over a certain period of time. The crawl rate is important because it affects how often a search engine crawls a website and how quickly new or updated pages are indexed.

A website’s crawl rate is determined by several factors, including the number of pages on the site, the rate of change, and the relevance of the website. Based on this evaluation, the search engine will determine how frequently it will crawl the website, and how many pages it will crawl each time.

If a website is updated frequently, or if it has a lot of pages, it will likely require a higher crawl rate. If a website is not updated frequently or has fewer pages, it will likely require a lower crawl rate.

It’s important for website owners to monitor their website’s crawl rate, so they can identify any issues that may be affecting it, and take steps to resolve them.

By monitoring a site’s crawl rate, website owners can identify any issues that may be affecting it, and take steps to resolve them.

There are several ways to monitor a site’s crawl rate:

  1. Google Search Console: Google Search Console is a free tool offered by Google that provides website owners with a wealth of information about their site, including the crawl rate. You can see the number of pages crawled per day and the time spent downloading a page.
  2. Server Logs: Server logs can also provide information about the crawl rate. These logs will show you the number of requests made by the search engine crawler and the pages that were accessed.
  3. Third-party tools: There are also third-party tools available that can help you monitor your site’s crawl rate, such as SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Majestic. These tools provide detailed information about your site’s crawl rate and can also provide information about backlinks, keywords, and other important metrics.

It’s important to monitor a site’s crawl rate on regular basis and look for patterns over time. If you notice that the crawl rate has decreased, it could be an indication that there are technical issues on the site that need to be addressed.

Conclusion

In conclusion, crawling is an important process for search engines to understand the content of websites and make it available for users searching for that content. Search engines use crawlers to discover new pages and update their indexes with new information. Crawling is also important for website owners because it helps ensure that their site is indexed and appears in search results.

By understanding how crawling works, website owners can take steps to optimize their site and improve its visibility in search results. Website owners can help make sure that search engines find, index, and rank their sites by using the right strategy and optimization techniques.

References

  1. How Search Engines Work: Crawling, Indexing, and Ranking – https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo/how-search-engines-operate
  2. Google Crawling and Indexing | Google Search Central – https://developers.google.com/search/docs/crawling-indexing
  3. What is Crawling in Search Engine in Hindi – https://youtu.be/K_L9zpM2uBc
Suraj Rana
Suraj Rana

Suraj Rana is a highly skilled SEO specialist with a deep understanding of technical SEO and extensive experience in on-page optimization. He is known for his ability to analyze and optimize websites for search engines, ensuring that they are fully optimized for maximum visibility and traffic.

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Hi, My name is Suraj Rana and I share my knowledge and experience as an SEO specialist. I provide valuable information and insights on all things related to SEO, including technical SEO, backlink analysis, competitor analysis, and on-page SEO.

 

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