Understanding SEO Crawlers and How They Index Your Site

When you run any kind of website, among the most effective methods of earning traffic to your site is to perform search engine optimization. SEO is a popular technique that involves optimizing your website for search engines like Google and Bing. If your website is properly optimized, it becomes considerably easier to bring traffic to […]

Bryan Miller
Bryan Miller

Jan 31, 2022 | 9 min. read

seo crawling for your site

When you run any kind of website, among the most effective methods of earning traffic to your site is to perform search engine optimization. SEO is a popular technique that involves optimizing your website for search engines like Google and Bing. If your website is properly optimized, it becomes considerably easier to bring traffic to your site. By using the right keywords and phrases in the site content, your website should appear towards the top of relevant search results.

Since most users only click on the first few results, obtaining high rankings for your website is highly recommended if you want to substantially increase traffic and customer conversion rates. SEO is considered to be a pillar of marketing because of how beneficial it can be for every aspect of a company’s bottom line.

By optimizing your website for search engines, you should be able to increase site visibility. An increase in visibility typically results in an increase in site traffic. If your website is well-designed and easy to navigate, users who enter your website should become engaged with the site long enough to take any action, which could be anything from creating a membership to purchasing a product.

Once you have optimized your website, search engines like Google and Bing will perform SEO crawling to identify exactly how optimized your website is. An SEO crawler is a simple online bot that crawls through online web pages to learn more about the pages and the content within them. The purpose of these crawlers is to make sure that users who enter queries into search engines are provided with the relevant information. By crawling websites, Google and Bing can provide users with the exact types of websites that they’re looking for. This article goes into more detail about SEO crawlers and what purpose they have for search engine optimization.

Two Types of SEO Crawlers

types of seo crawlers

There are two types of SEO crawlers that search engines can use, which include desktop crawlers and cloud crawlers. The type that you choose depends on what your needs are.

Desktop Crawlers

Desktop crawlers are designed to be installed on desktop computers. Some of the more popular desktop crawlers include Screaming Frog, NetPeak Spider, and Sitebulb. In most cases, desktop crawlers are considerably cheaper than cloud crawlers, which is mainly caused by the drawbacks that come with using desktop crawlers.

When you crawl your website with a desktop crawler, you’ll notice that the process consumes an ample amount of your CPU and memory. It can also be difficult to send reports generated by a desktop crawler to your colleagues for further discussion, which limits the usefulness of these crawlers. Another clear drawback is that desktop crawlers almost always have fewer features when compared to cloud crawlers.

Despite the issues that arise when you use desktop crawlers, there are also some clear benefits of doing so. For one, it’s easier to perform a quick crawl with desktop crawlers. Certain desktop crawlers are also more effective at identifying redirect chains when compared to cloud crawlers.

Cloud Crawlers

Let’s say that your desktop computer has 32GB of RAM and an eight-core CPU. Even with a powerful desktop computer, you may find that using a desktop crawler will nearly deplete your memory while the crawler is still running, which would require you to stop the crawler for a period of time. Cloud crawlers are beneficial because of their use of cloud computing to crawl websites, which makes them flexible and versatile.

A clear benefit of using cloud crawlers is that most of them provide users with the ability to share any reports that are generated, which allows for enhanced collaboration. You should also be provided with live support that can assist you if ever you run into errors or have any questions about how to use the crawler you’ve selected. In most cases, cloud crawlers are more powerful than desktop crawlers, which allows for quicker and more reliable results.

Keep in mind that each cloud crawler offers different features and functionality. Try to find one that provides data visualization features. The main downside to using a cloud crawler is that these tools can be very expensive when compared to desktop crawlers.

The Importance of an SEO Crawler

importance of an seo crawler

Your website won’t be displayed in search results until the site has been accessed by crawlers from Google, Bing, and other search engines. Once a crawler accesses your website, it will be able to determine if any indexing issues currently exist. If these issues are present, your website may be ranked poorly or not ranked at all on relevant search results, which makes it impossible to gain traffic.

Along with identifying potential indexing issues, crawlers can also bolster your technical SEO, which will allow you to improve the experience that users have when they enter your website. The aspects of your website that may be hurting the user experience can be identified by completing an SEO audit, which is designed to assess how your website is performing. However, you won’t be able to complete an SEO audit until crawlers have accessed your website.

If crawlers didn’t search through websites, the internet wouldn’t be nearly as convenient or helpful. By indexing websites, crawlers are effectively sorting and categorizing information to ensure that users have a good experience. If websites weren’t indexed, users wouldn’t be given relevant results when they entered a query into a search engine, which means that it would be unlikely that your target audience would ever reach your website. Keep in mind that issues with your website could make it more difficult for SEO crawlers to gain access, which is why it’s highly recommended that you optimize your website and improve performance if needed.

How Does A Crawler Operate?

seo crawlers explained

When a crawler searches through your website, it is effectively looking for new web pages that can be indexed. The internal links that are situated on your website will be used by the bot to navigate your site. Internal links are hyperlinks that take users to other pages on your website when selected. As crawler bots navigate your website, they store information that can be indexed later on.

While it’s easy to have a crawler bot index new pages on your website if the site has been online for months or years, a new website won’t automatically be crawled unless internal links have been placed throughout the website. You can mitigate this issue by submitting the URL that you want to be indexed with the Google Search Console. Once you’ve submitted your URL, a Googlebot will visit your website. You’ll need to develop and submit a sitemap as well.

A sitemap is a basic XML file that’s comprised of a lengthy list of the most relevant content on your website. Keep in mind that not all content needs to be placed into the XML file. Instead, you should focus on listing the content that you would like to have displayed in search results. A sitemap is needed if you want Google to remember your website and the pages within when it comes time to display your site in relevant search results.

Limiting Access to Crawlers

While it’s important that crawlers have access to the most relevant pages on your website for SEO purposes, the crawler doesn’t need to access every page on your site. For instance, you don’t need a log-in page for your website to rank on SERPs. By limiting access to certain pages on your website, crawl bots should be able to get through your website more efficiently. Keep in mind that crawl bots have finite resources and are only able to crawl a certain number of pages in a set period of time. If you would like to limit access to crawlers, there are several optimization steps you can take, which include:

  • Robots.txt – This is a type of file that crawl bots will automatically read before looking through your website. When you create this file, you have the ability to set specific parameters detailing which pages bots are allowed to crawl and which ones they should skip.
  • “Noindex” tag – This tag tells bots which pages on your website shouldn’t be indexed. If you use this tag, pages will be removed from the index. However, crawl bots can still look through them.
  • Canonical tag – This type of tag tells Google that a collection of similar pages on your website has a specific version that you would like to be ranked on the Google search engine.

SEO crawlers are integral to every website that wants to show up in search results and gain web traffic. If bots don’t crawl your website, search engines like Google won’t even consider ranking your site. If your website is relatively new and has yet to be crawled by search bots, make sure that you integrate SEO techniques into your website before requesting crawl bots. By optimizing your website early on, there’s a good chance that pages on your website will rank well immediately.


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