What Is Indexing And Crawling In SEO? The Ultimate Guide

what is indexing in seo

Table of Contents

To make your web pages visible, search engines need to find them.

For this, you need to know how a search engine works, and the processes involved like indexing and crawling in SEO. 

This guide will help you understand all about the process of crawling, what is indexing in SEO, and search engine ranking.

Let’s dive in.

Understanding How Search Engines Work

Have you ever wondered how any search engine like Google answers your queries?

How does it bring in the exact answers?

Well, it is this simple yet tricky three-step process:

  • Crawling
  • Indexing
  • Ranking

Now, let’s learn about each process in detail.

What is Crawling in SEO?

Crawling is how search engines discover new web pages. They use automated programs called crawlers, also known as spiders or bots to find new or updated pages.

These crawlers follow links on existing web pages and thus find new web pages. Crawlers go through the content on each web page and then sort it down for indexing. 

Crawling is an unending process as new or updated web pages emerge every minute and it can cater to audience queries better. 

This is why search engines like Google prefer pages that are frequently updated and produce fresh quality content.

How Do Crawlers Work?

Crawlers use a “Seed List” of URLs, which is the initial set of URLs to discover new pages. Following the already indexed pages, the crawlers find new web pages to index.

This process continues and that’s how crawlers find new web pages from existing ones. 

Why Crawling is Important for SEO?

Crawling is vital for SEO because if a search engine can’t find your web pages, they can’t index them and display them in search results. 

This means potential visitors won’t be able to find your website organically.

What is Indexing in SEO?

Let’s explore what is indexing in SEO.

Once the information is gathered, it is then stored in the search engines using indexing. It is analyzed and sorted to provide the answers for any search queries.

Each search engine has its own algorithm to compare these web pages with similar pages and rank them. Mostly, search engines look for credible, authentic, and relevant content and rank them first in the results pages. 

This process requires a lot of resources like servers to store and retrieve data when needed.

Why is Indexing Important for SEO?

To gain more visibility and nurture organic traffic, it is key to rank your web pages in the first Search Engine Results Page (SERP). And to get there, the first step is indexing.

Note that indexing doesn’t promise a higher ranking potential. But if your site is not indexed, you can’t even be part of the ranking game! Therefore, you need to be aware of what is indexing in SEO.

Also, if you need to build authority, a well-indexed credible site optimized for SEO is mandatory.

Difference Between Crawling and Indexing

Now, let’s analyze the key differences between crawling and indexing in SEO.

Search Engine Ranking

When a user enters a search query, search engines look for the answers from the indexed results. It considers various factors and then ranks web pages according to the search intent. 

The process of generating search results according to search queries is called ranking. Web pages that have a higher rank tend to drive more organic traffic as it is seen by most users.  

The only way to rank higher is to build authority through relevant content and optimize according to the search engine’s algorithm updates.

Factors Affecting Your Search Engine Ranking

More than understanding what is crawling in SEO and optimization, certain criteria affect your ranking.

Some of the most important factors that affect your ranking are:

Relevance

To increase organic traffic, you need to provide what users are looking for. This involves adding relevant keywords, following a content theme, and overall content quality.

On-Page SEO

Optimizing web pages for SEO is crucial for ranking. Make sure you add title tags, meta descriptions, and alt texts for images along with relevant keywords.

Backlinks

Backlinks are links from other websites to your web pages. Search engines like Google consider this as a trustworthy factor. Also, the credibility of linking websites is important.

User Experience

Search engines prefer user-friendly websites. You need to check the page loading speed, mobile responsiveness, and overall design to ensure a smooth user experience.

Technical SEO

Factors like having a clean and mobile-responsive website code, a secure connection (HTTPS), and a well-structured sitemap are pivotal for ranking.

Ways To Improve Crawling and Indexing for SEO

Crawling and indexing are the foundation for SEO success. Hence, knowing what is indexing in SEO and SEO optimization is significant.

 If search engines can’t find and understand your content, it won’t rank well in search results. 

Here are some key ways to improve crawling and indexing for SEO:

Optimize for Crawlability

  • Clear Site Structure: Make sure your website has a clear and logical navigation structure. This allows search engine crawlers and users to navigate easily from one page to another.
  • Internal Linking: Create a strong network of internal links that connect your web pages together. Link to relevant pages within your content to guide crawlers and users to important information. 
  • Sitemap Creation and Submission: A sitemap is a file that lists all the important pages on your website. Submitting your sitemap to search engines like Google Search Console helps them discover your content more easily and efficiently. There are different sitemap formats, so ensure yours is compatible with search engines.
  • Mobile-Friendliness: Ensure your website has a responsive design that displays well on all devices, including mobiles and tablets. Many search engines prioritize mobile responsiveness when crawling and indexing websites.

Minimize Crawl Budget Drain

Crawl budget is the number of pages that a search engine can crawl within a given timeframe. If you use too many search engine resources, potentially your web pages may not be indexed. This situation is called crawl budget drain. 

To avoid this ensure the following:

  • Technical SEO: Address technical SEO issues that can hinder crawling. This can include fixing broken links, reducing server response times, and avoiding excessive redirects. A bloated website with technical issues can consume a search engine’s crawl budget, limiting how many of your pages get crawled.
  • Prioritize Valuable Content: Focus on optimizing the most important and valuable pages on your website for crawling. This ensures search engines prioritize crawling and indexing your key content.

Strategic Indexing

  • High-Quality Content: Fresh, informative, and valuable content that users find engaging is naturally more attractive to crawlers. This encourages them to spend more time on your site and index more of your pages.
  • Robots.txt File: The robots.txt file allows you to instruct search engine crawlers on which pages they can and cannot access. Use it strategically to prevent the crawling of irrelevant content or areas under development, but be mindful not to accidentally block important pages.
  • Freshness Signal: Regularly update your website with new content. Search engines prioritize fresh content, and this can encourage them to revisit your site more often and update your indexing.

Regularly Monitor and Analyze

  • Search Console Reports: Utilize Search Console reports to monitor crawl errors and indexing issues. This can help you identify problems and take corrective actions to improve crawlability and indexing.
  • Analytics Tools: Use website analytics tools to track which pages are getting indexed and how organic traffic flows through your website. This can help you identify any indexing issues that might be affecting your traffic.

Winding Up! 

If you want to drive organic traffic to your website, it is mandatory to ensure its crawlablity and indexability. Learn more about what is indexing in SEO and how to optimize for SEO with the most practical digital marketing course today!

Founder of Haris&co | HACA | + posts

He is Kerala's favourite digital marketer with a strength of 100+ team members and 100+ clients from Asia and the middle east.

Cross-functional experience in Paid Advertising, Content Marketing, CRO, Social media Marketing, Automation & E-commerce.

Also Featured in TEDx, The New Indian Express , Malayala Manorama, Startup Story Media, Josh talks, and more.

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