What happens when Google crawls your website?

A crawler, or spider, is a piece of software that search engines use to look at the information contained in every site in the world wide web. Google has named theirs the Googlebot. It goes from link to link, and if everything goes well, it brings back an HTML copy of your site to a huge database called the index, for inclusion in Google’s search results. Crawlability, along with the right keywords , are crucial to improving your search engine results.

For Google to crawl your website, it must find it first. What usually happens is the spider discovers a link to your new site from somewhere else, then goes through your website and brings back its pages to be indexed for the first time. This marks your website’s debut on the search engine results page (usually further down than you’d like).

The Google search algorithm

Search engines determine a website’s position on the search results page using a complex, secret, and ever-changing formula called the search algorithm. It’s basically an automated way to determine how helpful your website would be in answering the searcher’s question.

It changes all the time because Google wants the results to be more targeted and helpful, and because people keep coming up with ways to exploit loopholes in the system. Then Google has to plug those holes, and will likely punish the people caught cheating.

How to help crawlers index your site faster

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – the best way to attain good long-term SEO is to provide good content, updated regularly, that is relevant to your target audience. It’s important to have links coming into your pages from other websites, but you should get these in an honest way, by having content that is interesting and helpful to their readers.

Get good inbound links

Buying links from shady websites is a very bad idea. You want links from quality websites. This tells Google your website is of high quality too. Some ways to get good inbound links are:

The best way to get inbound links is to establish yourself as an authority in your field. This process takes time and work, but one fan who re-tweets your articles because they sincerely love your work is worth more than all the fake spam links you can buy.

Make sure your website is technically functional and up-to-date

There are several technical reasons a crawler might have difficulty indexing your site. It’s a good idea to get these fixed as soon as you can – odds are, if the crawler is having problems browsing your site, so are your readers.

Check your website speed

Sometimes your website is slow to be crawled for the simple reason that your server can’t handle the traffic. You can go to the Google Search Console and tell Googlebot to index your site faster, but if your load times get too long it might be time to change your host.

Fix any errors in your code

No one likes to get an error message when they’re trying to use a website, not even a robot. You might also have too many URLs, which will slow the crawler down too. Make sure your webmaster is keeping your code clean and tight.

Make an XML sitemap

This is a page on your server that works like your table of contents 2.0 – it lists all the pages on your website, but also does more. It informs search engines when new pages are added, and gives them a schedule for when to come back and check for new content. Setting up and maintaining your sitemap is an important part of improving your SEO.

If this all seems like a lot of work – well, it is. It’s worth it for the results, though. If you have any questions, or would like our help in optimizing your technical SEO, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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