What Is Crawling?

Jake Sheridan
Oct 7, 2021

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Search engines are automatic response devices. They exist to discover, interpret, and organize online content in order to offer the most relevant answers to searchers’ questions.

Your content must first be exposed to search engines in order to appear in search results. It’s perhaps the most crucial aspect of SEO: if your site can’t be found, you’ll never appear in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page).

Crawling, indexing and ranking are the three basic operations of search engines.

When it comes to technical SEO, it can be tough to comprehend how search engines like Google and Bing acquire all of the information that appears in their search results. But it’s important to gain as much knowledge as you can as a website owner in order to optimize your websites and reach larger audiences.

The web crawler is one tool that plays an important part in search engine optimization.

In this post, you’ll learn what crawling is, why crawling is important, what an SEO crawler is, and what crawl budget is in SEO.

Ready? Let’s get started.

What Is Crawling?

Crawling is the process through which Google or other search engines dispatch a group of robots (known as crawlers or spiders) to search for and index — new and updated content.

Content may take several forms — it could be an image, a webpage, a video, a PDF, or anything else on your site’s homepage and other pages. — but regardless of the format, content is discovered through links.

Web crawlers are often operated by search engines using their own algorithms. In response to a search query, the algorithm will instruct the web crawler on how to locate relevant content.

A web spider will crawl (search for) and classify any web pages on the internet that it is instructed to index. So, if you don’t want your web page to be seen by search engines, you may instruct a web crawler not to crawl it. These are known as meta directives (or “meta tags”), which are instructions you may offer to search engines about how your web page should be processed.

Analyzing which web pages a web spider crawls might help you determine whether they are crawling your most important pages. To examine how much crawl time is spent on each page type, arrange pages by type.

When web crawlers begin crawling a page, they find new pages through links. These crawlers add newly found URLs to the crawl queue in order for them to be crawled later. Web crawlers can index any page that is linked to others using these approaches.

You can tell search engine crawlers either “not index this page in search results” or “not pass any link equity to any on-page links.” These instructions are carried out through the use of Robots Meta Tags in the <head> of your HTML pages (the most common way) or the X-Robots-Tag with an HTTP header.

The x-robots tag is utilized within your URL’s HTTP header to provide additional functionality and flexibility. The most frequent meta directives are shown here, along with the contexts in which they could be used.

index/noindex notifies search engines whether a page should be crawled and stored in their index for retrieval. If you use “noindex,” you’re telling crawlers that you don’t want the page to appear in search results. Because search engines presume that they can index all sites by default, using the “index” parameter is unnecessary.

When you may use it: If you want to remove thin pages from Google’s index of your site (for example, user-generated profile pages), but you still want visitors to be able to access them, you can mark them as “noindex.”

follow/nofollow informs search engines whether or not to follow links on a page. “Follow” causes bots to follow the links on your website and pass link equity to those URLs. Alternatively, if you use “nofollow,” search engines will not follow or pass any link equity through to links on the page. All pages are presumed to have the “follow” property by default.

When you might use it: nofollow is frequently used in conjunction with noindex when attempting to prevent a page from being indexed as well as preventing the crawler from following links on the page.

noarchive attribute prohibits search engines from storing a cached copy of the page. Search engines often store accessible versions of all web pages that they have indexed by nature, which searchers can access via cached links in the search results.

When to use it: If you have an e-commerce site with regularly changing prices, you should consider utilizing the noarchive tag to prevent customers from seeing old prices.

You would accomplish this by uploading a robots.txt file. A robots.txt file, in essence, instructs a search engine on how to crawl and index the pages on your website.

Why Is Crawling Important?

The most relevant pages are selected by the search engine, with the best pages appearing at the top of the search. Website crawling is the primary method by which search engines learn about each website, allowing them to link to millions of search results at once. Every second, over 40,000 Google searches are conducted throughout the world, amounting to 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year.

You must be indexed if you want to rank in search results. Bots must be able to crawl your site properly and frequently if you want to get indexed. If a website hasn’t been indexed, you won’t be able to discover it in Google. For instance, Google is used by 49 % of users to discover or find a new item or product.

There are simple ways to get your site crawled once or twice, but all functioning websites have the structure in place to be crawled regularly. If you update your page, it will not rank higher in search results until it is indexed again. It is extremely useful for websites to have page updates reflect fast in search engines, especially since content freshness and date of post are important ranking factors.

Creating a site structure that allows search engines to crawl your site data efficiently is a crucial success factor for on-page SEO. The first step in creating a solid SEO strategy is to ensure that your site can even be indexed.

Crawling FAQ

What is an SEO crawler?

An SEO web crawler is a web bot that crawls websites on the internet to learn about them and their content to deliver this information to online searchers when they enter a search engine.

Because the internet is also known as the World Wide Web, a bot is called a crawler — although other terms for a bot include SEO spider, web crawlers, or website crawler.

They collect information and add it to their index when they browse the internet and its websites. It also saves all of the website’s external and internal links.

The index is a database of web pages identified by the crawler. This database is where search engines like Google get their search results. When you search for anything on Google, the results you see aren’t created in real-time; instead, the search engine is sorting through its existing index.

Google, for example, is an excellent example of a crawler. Googlebot is the name of the bot that Google employs.

What is the difference between crawling and indexing in SEO?

Crawling and indexing are two different concepts that are frequently misunderstood in the SEO business. Crawling implies that Googlebot examines and analyzes all of the content/code on the page. After a particular page is crawled and successfully appears in Google’s index, this means it is eligible to appear in Google’s search results.

Here’s what happens during the crawl:

When Google and other search engines crawl your website, it means they’re examining all of your pages, including metadata and content. During this procedure, search engine bots will either accept and index or reject any sites that provide crawling permission, based on whether your website looks like spam.

You should utilize XML sitemaps to speed up the crawling process.

How does indexing work?
When Google and other search engines index your pages, it indicates that they are ready to appear in search results. It does not, however, ensure that your website will rank well. Even if you have indexed pages, you may be well below page one in search results. This is why it is critical to ensure that all of your content is of good quality and employs white-hat SEO methods.

Google, in particular, is quite strict about SEO techniques, and if you want to rank well, you must devote a significant amount of time and effort to optimization and content creation.

Keep in mind that Google and other search engines do not crawl websites just once, so you may change your content to improve your results. However, they will not crawl your website every day, so you must be patient while waiting for the next crawl.

What is crawl budget in SEO?

Crawl budget is a phrase used by the SEO industry to describe a group of similar ideas and methods used by search engines to determine how many and which pages to crawl. It is essentially the amount of attention that search engines will give your website.

Crawl budget refers to the number of pages crawled and indexed by Googlebot on a website during a given timeframe.

Google determines how many subpages it crawls for each URL. This is not the same for all websites, but according to Matt Cutts, it is largely decided by a page’s PageRank. The larger the crawl budget, the better the PageRank.

Nothing beats server logs when it comes to learning how Googlebot does web crawling. A web server may be set up to keep log files containing every request or hit made by any user agent. This covers users requesting online pages through their browsers as well as web crawlers such as Googlebot.

How do I increase Google crawl rate?

The frequency with which Googlebot accesses your page is referred to as the crawl rate. It will differ depending on the nature of your website and the information you post. If Googlebot is unable to effectively crawl your website, your pages and articles will not be indexed.

Remember that you can’t make Googlebot like you. Instead, extend an invitation to demonstrate how incredible you are. Without further ado, here are some strategies for increasing Google’s crawl rate:

  1. Consistently provide new content to your website.

Content is an essential criterion for search engines. Websites that update their content frequently are more likely to get crawled often. It is advised that you upload content three times each week to boost your Google crawl rate.

Rather than creating new web pages, you may give fresh content using a blog. It is one of the simplest and most cost-effective methods of creating content regularly. You may also add fresh video and audio streams to provide diversity.

  1. Use sitemaps to improve Google crawl rate.

Every piece of information on the website should be crawled, but it might take a long time or, worse, never be crawled. One of the most crucial things you can do to make your site discoverable by Googlebot is to submit XML sitemaps.

A sitemap allows a website to be crawled swiftly and effectively. They will also assist you in categorizing and prioritizing your web pages. As a result, the pages with the most important content will be crawled and indexed faster than the ones with less significant content.

  1. Shorten the time it takes for your website to load.

Crawlers only have a limited amount of time to index your website.
It will not have time to check out other pages if it takes too much time to access your photos or PDFs. Smaller pages with fewer graphics and images will help your website load faster.
Take note that crawlers might have issues with embedding video or audio.

  1. Avoid using duplicate content.

Because search engines can readily recognize duplicate content, copied content will reduce Google crawl rate. Duplicate content demonstrates a lack of purpose and uniqueness.

If your pages contain more than a specific amount of duplicate content, search engines may prohibit your website or lower your search engine results.

  1. Increase the server response time.

‘You should keep your server response time under 200ms,’ says Google. If Google is experiencing slow load times, your visitors are likely to experience the same.
It makes no difference if your web pages are optimized for speed. Your pages will load slowly if your server response time is sluggish.

If this is the case, Google will highlight it on the Google Search Console’s ‘crawl rate’ page. You may change it to ‘Faster.’ Additionally, make effective use of your hosting and optimize your site’s cache.

  1. Optimize videos and images.

Images will only be displayed in search results if they are optimized. Crawlers, unlike humans, will not be able to interpret images directly. When using images, be sure you utilize alt tags and offer descriptions so that a search engine can index them.

The same concept applies to videos. Google dislikes ‘flash’ because it cannot index it.
If you’re having difficulties optimizing certain elements, it’s best to utilize them sparingly or eliminate them.

  1. Use Robots.txt to block unwanted pages.

You may have information on your website that you do not want search engines to crawl. As an example, consider the admin page and the backend folders. Robots.txt can prevent Googlebot from crawling certain undesirable pages.

The basic purpose of Robots.txt is straightforward. However, employing them may be complicated, and if you make a mistake, it might result in your website being removed from the search engine index. So, before uploading, always test your robots.txt file using Google Webmaster tools. In other cases use site audit tools like Screaming Frog SEO spider.

  1. Create high-quality links.

High-quality backlinks will increase your website’s crawl rate and indexation speed. It is also the most efficient approach to improve your ranking and drive more visitors.

Even in this case, white-hat link-building is a dependable approach. Avoid borrowing, stealing, or purchasing links. Guest blogging, broken link-building repairs, and resource links are the greatest ways to acquire them.

  1. Eliminate black hat SEO outcomes

If you used any black hat SEO methods, you must eliminate all of the associated results.
Keyword stuffing, the use of irrelevant keywords, content spam, link manipulation, and other methods are examples of this. The use of black hat SEO tactics results in a low-quality website for crawlers. To boost Google crawl rate, only employ white hat tactics.

Don’t forget: check out the other definitions (over 200) in our growing SEO glossary.


Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of crawling.

Most webmasters understand that to rank a website, they must have powerful and relevant content as well as backlinks that improve the authority of their website.

What they don’t realize is that their efforts will be futile if search engine crawlers are unable to crawl and index their sites.

As a result, in addition to working on building links adding and optimizing pages for relevant keywords, you should continually verify whether web crawlers can reach your site and report what they discover to the search engine.

You don’t have to fully comprehend ins and outs of Google’s algorithm (that remains a mystery! ), but you should have a good understanding of how the search engine finds, analyzes, saves, and ranks content by now.

At Loganix, we are here to crack the technical bit of your website in your SEO efforts, so that you can focus on other core areas of your business.

Reach out to us today!

Hand off the toughest tasks in SEO, PPC, and content without compromising quality

Explore Services

Written by Jake Sheridan on October 7, 2021

Founder of Sheets for Marketers, I nerd out on automating parts of my work using Google Sheets. At Loganix I build products, and content marketing. There’s nothing like a well deserved drink after a busy day spreadsheeting.