What Is Indexability? Crawling, Indexing, and Ranking Explained

Adam Steele
Jan 10, 2024
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Ready to deepen your knowledge of foundational search engine optimization (SEO) concepts? You’re in the right place.

By the end of this guide, you’ll know

  1. the answer to the question, “What is indexability?”
  2. the difference between crawling, indexing, and ranking,
  3. and how to optimize online content for indexing.

What Is Indexability?

Let’s start with the basics: what does indexable mean in SEO?

When a web page is indexable, search engines like Google or Bing can access, crawl, and add the page to their index, making it eligible to be displayed as a result for relevant search queries. Note: just because a web page is indexable doesn’t guarantee it will rank—just that it will be considered as a potential search result.

Learn more: Interested in broadening your SEO knowledge even further? Check out our SEO glossary, where we’ve explained over 250+ terms.

What is Crawling vs. Indexing vs. Ranking?

To help you grasp the concept of indexing, let’s differentiate it from crawling and ranking.

Crawling

Search engines deploy search engine bots, often called spiders or web crawlers, to follow external and internal links to discover new, freshly published content and updates to existing content. The efficiency and frequency of crawling are influenced by a website’s structure, quality of content, and server response time.

Indexing

As we touched on, once search engine crawlers discover a web page, the content undergoes processing to determine its relevance and value. If a search engine’s suite of search algorithms deems the page to be of sufficient quality and relevance, and if there are no directives (such as a “noindex” tag) instructing otherwise, the page is added to the search engine’s index.

Learn more: what is de-indexing?

Ranking

The final piece of the puzzle is ranking. When a user inputs a search query, Google’s suite of search algorithms spring into action, analyzing the query to grasp the user’s intent and the context of the search.

The search engine then delves into its extensive index, a vast repository of web page information, to retrieve pages pertinent to the query. This is not a simple one-to-one match. Instead, it’s a complex process where each page is evaluated and scored based on over 200 ranking factors. These factors include the page’s relevance to the search terms, the quality of the content, the user experience it provides, and how well it aligns with what the user is seeking.

The pages that excel across these criteria are then ranked, with the most valuable and relevant pages earning their spot at the top of the search results.

Why Is Indexability Important?

Let’s quickly check in with why indexability is important.

Increased Visibility and Traffic

When your pages are indexable, they become candidates for appearing in search results, significantly boosting your website’s visibility. Increased visibility is the first step towards attracting organic traffic, as users are more likely to click on one of the first few results they see, potentially leading to higher conversion rates.

Higher Potential for Rankings

Being indexable is a prerequisite for a page to be considered for rankings in search results. Only pages in a search engine’s index are eligible to rank for relevant queries. Ensuring your content is indexable puts your pages in the running to be ranked, which is a crucial step in any SEO strategy.

Foundational SEO Efforts

Indexability is a cornerstone of effective SEO. It lays the groundwork for other SEO efforts, such as on-page optimization, link building, and content marketing. When your pages are indexable, search engines can more easily understand and categorize your content, leading to more accurate and relevant search results.

Boosted Credibility and Trust

Websites consistently appearing in search results are often perceived as more credible and trustworthy by users. Ensuring your site is indexable and regularly appears in search results enhances your brand’s credibility and builds trust with your audience.

How Do You Optimize Indexibility?

Let’s use an example to demonstrate how to optimize for indexability. Something that hits close to home: this very blog post you are reading targets the keyword “what is indexability.”

When this guide was created, it wasn’t automatically visible in search results. The page needed to be indexable and relevant to search queries related to indexability. So, how did we go about that?

The content was crafted to match Google’s search algorithm preferences for indexability. We used natural language while sprinkling relevant keywords throughout the content relevant to the topic at hand and (hopefully) provided valuable information helpful to you, the reader. We also structured the guide with clear headings and subheadings in a format that makes it easy for search engine crawlers to understand exactly what we’ve covered.

We also linked to this post with supportive, related content on our website, aiding the crawling process.

After these steps, we used tools like Google Search Console to confirm that the page was indeed indexed. Now, when users search for “what is indexability” or related terms, this blog post has the potential to appear in their search results, providing them with the information they are looking for.

Learn more: how to index your website on Google.

Indexability FAQ

What Is the Difference Between Index and Sitemap?

A sitemap is a structured file that guides search engines to discover and crawl your website’s pages, while an index is the search engine’s database where these pages are stored. The sitemap facilitates efficient crawling, and the index ensures your content is retrievable during relevant search queries.

How Long Does It Take Google to Index a Web Page?

Google may take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to index a web page, influenced by factors like site structure, content quality, and server speed. To hasten indexing, maintain a well-structured site and request indexing for newly published content through Google Search Console.

Why Is My Page Non-Indexable?

A page might be non-indexable due to technical issues like a ‘noindex’ tag, poor website structure, or low-quality content that doesn’t meet search engine guidelines. To resolve this, check for and remove any “noindex” tags, improve your website’s structure and navigation, and ensure your content is high quality and provides users value.

Conclusion and Next Steps

Armed with your newfound knowledge, the next step is to put it into action.

This is where Loganix comes in. Our suite of SEO services is designed to take the heavy lifting off your shoulders, assuring your website not only meets but exceeds search engine standards.

🚀 Visit Loganix’s SEO Services to start your journey toward SEO excellence. 🚀

Written by Adam Steele on January 10, 2024

COO and Product Director at Loganix. Recovering SEO, now focused on the understanding how Loganix can make the work-lives of SEO and agency folks more enjoyable, and profitable. Writing from beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia.