Have you ever wondered how search engines get to know when new content is published on a website? The answer lies in two simple terms – crawling and indexing. So, what is Google crawling and indexing? Read along and learn more.
What Is Google Crawling?
Google crawling is a process where Google’s automated programs or spiders or bots follow hyperlinks on a website to discover new pages. In short, Google crawling is where Google visits websites for tracking purposes.
What Is Google Indexing?
Indexing is the process of storing every discovered webpage in a vast database. After the Google spiders crawl and find different webpages, they put the results in the Google search index, where there are billions of other web pages for people to discover when searching.
Factors That Affect Crawling
Just like your website, there are a million other websites on the internet. So, why doesn’t your website appear in Google’s search results? The unfortunate thing is Google may not be crawling and indexing it at all. Below are the factors that affect the crawling process.
1. Internal linking
How many times do you find yourself clicking on a hyperlink while reading skimming through a blog or a webpage? It is evident that your curiosity drove you to read the information in the connection, right? That is how internal links work. They lead to more clicks and stay on a website. It is a good SEO practice to have internal links in your web content. That is because it makes it easier for Google bot or spider to crawl through your content for analysis. It also makes visitors stay on your website longer.
Do you know having many backlinks for a site builds trust? Yes! The more you have links, the more your domain authority. With this, Google will more often crawl your website and make your web information available for users. It is also good to note that if you have a good ranking but no backlinks, you probably have low-quality content on your site.
3. XML sitemap
An XML sitemap is a map for web crawlers. It helps the crawlers to discover your web page quickly. That way, the bots can crawl your site and the backlinks for indexing. Like what SEO experts say, it is essential always to use the XML sitemap. You can auto-generate one with the help of plugins.
4. Meta tags
How well do you choose your meta tags? Are they unique, or do you pick non-competitive tags for your web content? For easier crawling and possible ranking in the search engine, you should have both the unique and non-competitive meta tags in your web content. Also, try to avoid keyword cannibalization as they may have a converse effect on your ranking.
5. URL canonicalization
Do you have two similar pages with somewhat identical content? That will confuse crawlers as they don’t recognize which page to index and which to leave. Using SEO friendly URLs is always a big plus in SEO. While creating one, you should look at the URLs canonicalization as well. That means making two separate, SEO-friendly URLs for both identical pages.
How to Check if You’re Indexed by Google?
If you have a website out there and you are getting zero traffic, there is a possibility that Google is not indexing your site. Before you take any action, it is better to be sure, right? Use the following two methods to check whether Google has indexed your website or not.
Method 1: use a simple Google search
By just conducting a simple Google search, you can identify whether the search engine is indexing your content or not. To do that, follow the below steps.
Step 1: Enter your website domain URL with “site” before it in the search engine.
Step 2. What you see is the result of all your indexed pages. It also shows the meta tag of the page. You can also opt to enter the URL of a specific page in the search engine box and see the results.
Step 3. Now, if you don’t see any results, know that your webpage is not indexed, and you should take action.
Method 2: use Google Search Console
You can also use this unique tool provided by Google. The coverage report provided by this tool gives you accurate results about your page indexing.
Step 1: Go to Google search console. Then head over to the index section. Lastly, check the coverage.
Step 2: While here, look for the number of valid pages with or without warning.
Step 3: If you get a number other than 0, your page has a possible crawling and indexing. If you get a zero, there is no indexing that has taken place, and you should take action.
Step 4: While still on Google console, you can also use the option of “URL inspection” for checking purposes. For that, copy-paste the URL of your page in this tool. If you get the result about the page saying that ‘URL is on Google,’ know that your page is already indexed. If it says ‘URL is not on Google,’ understand that no crawling and indexing is taking place on your website.
How to Get Indexed by Google?
What if you use the above steps and discover that there is no possible crawling and indexing happening for your page? It is indeed true that you want your content to be discoverable and ranking on Google search, how do you do that? Use the following tactics.
1. Check the Robots.txt file to remove crawl blocks
Robots.txt files give specific instructions to bots. If it provides the instruction of no indexing, there will be no crawling and indexing on your website, and that can be the cause of your page not being discoverable. Use the Google console tool’s “URL inspection” feature to check whether there are robots.txt instructions and remove them.
2. Look for ‘No Index Tags’ and remove them
Remember that crawlers are responsible for crawling through web content to see which information to index and which to leave. If you have a no-index tag, it hinders web spiders from crawling. So, what should you do?
If you have no reason to keep your page private, remove the “noindex” tag. Ensure your meta tags, and X-Robots-Tag does not have any instruction that could block crawling. You can detect the presence of “noindex” remark using any reliable SEO audit tool, such as Ahref. After identifying the pages, make sure you delete the noindex meta tag.
3. Make use of sitemap
You already know the importance of the sitemap, right? In simple words, a sitemap tells crawlers which page is essential than others and how often spiders should recrawl the site. The URL inspection tool on Google console can tell whether your particular page is available in the sitemap.
You can create an XML version, which WordPress recommends, or do it manually by using a sitemap generator. Having the site map makes it easier for crawlers to discover your site and crawl through your content for possible indexing.
4. Don’t include rogue Canonical Tags
Canonical tags inform Google about the preferred version of a specific page. By mistake, a page can have a rogue canonical tag that could point Google towards the preferred version that doesn’t even exist. As a result, your page won’t get indexed.
The solution to this is deleting the presence of the rogue tag. To know whether there is an existing canonical tag, you can use the Google console tool’s “URL inspection” feature. If you receive a warning telling you’ Alternate page with proper canonical tag,’ it means the tag exists. Go and remove it.
5. Mark orphaned pages and make improvements
What are orphaned pages? They are pages that don’t have internal links leading to them. You may have quality content but don’t have links to them, making the page alone on your site. So, how do you know an orphaned page exists on your website, and how do you make it discoverable?
First of all, you need to identify the page. You can use the Ahref tool to identify it. Once you do it, the last thing you need to do is put internal links pointing towards that page.
6. Modify ‘No follow’ internal links
If you see any link with rel= “nofollow” mark, it is a nofollow link. It is simple, if you don’t want crawlers to follow you, Google won’t discover your website, and that is what these nofollow tags are all about. If you want Google to crawl your content, you have to let spiders in by removing the nofollow tags from internal links.
7. Be selective with internal links
Do you have new web content, videos, pictures, or pdf that you want crawlers to discover? One easy way of making sure they are discoverable is by using internal links. They direct web spiders into new content that you have on your webpage. Since internal links from a powerful page are that important, you can add them by either using any other web page or using the same page.
8. Page’s uniqueness and value matter
When all other factors are in place, and you still don’t discover your website on Google, you should check your content’s uniqueness. How does your webpage stand out from the rest, and what value is it adding to users? Once you ask yourself these questions, you can develop useful content that Google can index since it adds value to users.
9. Identify low-quality pages and remove them
Do all your pages have high-quality? For possible crawling and indexing, consider removing all low-quality pages from your website. That is to increase the value and usefulness of the site. If it doesn’t make sense to you, most probably, it won’t appeal to users.
Strive to have high-quality content on your webpage. Use unique meta tags, keywords, and avoid replication of content from other sites. That way, you save the crawl budget and increase the chances of crawling and possible indexing of your website.
10. Earn high-quality backlinks
How often do you get backlinks to your site? You may ignore this, but it is a powerful tool when it comes to crawling and indexing. As mentioned above, having backlinks is a good SEO practice.
Backlinks make a site look important. It Makes sense. If people are referring back to your website, it is because it has useful information for users. That addresses crawlers to crawl through your website and inspect the content. Therefore, you should earn as many backlinks as you can.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
If you cannot find your webpages on the search engine result page, you must know how Google’s crawling and indexing work. The following are some of the common questions people ask:
In SEO, crawling is a search process whereby the Google algorithm sends automated program spiders to find newly added, updated content, irrespective of the format. It can be a webpage, image, PDF, or even a video. Once the crawlers scan and analyze info, they bring it in for indexing.
2. What does Google crawling do?
Google crawling uses unique crawlers called spiders to find web URLs. Once they do that, they crawl to see what is in it. They look at the text, non-text, and the visual layout. The easier it is for crawlers to crawl your site, the easier it is to match what people are searching for on search engines.
3. How often does Google crawl a site?
Usually, it takes three days to four weeks to crawl, but it also depends on several factors such as the crawlability of your website and its layout. Google crawls popular websites more frequently than new websites. Popular websites are those that have a well-established domain, many backlinks, and quality content.
4. How can I tell if Google is crawling?
One sure way that can tell this is by using the Google search console tool. The tool gives you crawl statistics like the last time Google spiders crawled your website. How do you use the Google console tool? You log into the search console tool then enter your URL. When you do that, the site gives you options to see the last crawl date, status, crawl errors, and URL canonical for the page.
5. What does indexing mean in SEO?
When a spider or Google bots finish crawling in a million webpages, it brings the info to the search engine for indexing. So, in SEO, this process of conveying information about a webpage to a search engine is called indexing. The index then organizes how the content appears on Google search when users search for information.
6. How can I get my website indexed?
It involves a few steps. The most crucial one is that of submitting your sitemap. That’s because it allows Google spiders to spot and crawls through your website. To be precise, you can use the URL inspection option in the console to request Google to index your site, especially if you have new posts or pages.
7. What is indexing a site?
Indexing a site is where you request Google search engine to add your web content to its index. After crawlers successfully crawl on your website and find useful information, they send your site to Google search for indexing. You do this when you want users to discover your content when they search on the search engine.
Understanding the basics of crawling and indexing can be useful for website owners. However, these factors should not supersede your primary goal i.e. to create good content. Remember that content is king and if you create useful content, Google will crawl and index your content sooner or later.