Don’t Let the Spiders and Web Crawlers Scare You Away!
Does the thought of spiders and web crawlers give you the heebie-jeebies? At eMedia, we make it our job to understand the ins and outs of spiders and web crawlers, but don’t worry, we’re not talking about actual bugs. We’re going to explain the importance of spiders and web crawlers in website optimization, and how they make it possible for people to find the information they need on search engines.
We recently discussed the process of search engine optimization, which is a term that describes procedures used to make a website rank well in search engines. Website optimization involves fixing components of a website to ensure that it is “crawlable” by search engine spiders to improve the overall chances that search engines will index the site.
A search engine spider (also known as a web crawler, web robot, bot, crawler or automatic indexer) is just a program that crawls through links on the internet. They grab content from websites one page at a time and add it to search engine indexes. Spiders follow links from one page to another, and from one website to another which is why links to your site, known as inbound links or backlinks, are so important. Links to your site from other websites will give the search engine spiders more “food” to chew on. The more often they find links to your site, the more likely they are to stop by and visit. Google, especially, relies on spiders to create their large index of web page listings.
How Do Search Engine Spiders Choose Which Webpages to Visit?
Web crawlers comb through websites by looking at the keywords contained on the page, the relevancy of the content and all of the links on the page. They then return that information to the search engine’s server for indexing. Web programmers can also instruct a spider to ignore, and therefore not index, a particular page. When a user enters a search query, the search engine will scour its index, and return the most relevant web pages based on:
- Content: Is your website content relevant with keyword optimized copy, titles, and descriptions?
- Authority: Does your site have valuable content to link to, or do any authoritative websites use your content as a reference/citation?
- Performance: Is your website optimized for fast loading time?
Since search engine spiders find web pages by following links from other pages, the best practice is to earn links from other sites, which will expose your content to search engines naturally. A common misconception is that you must use a submission service to index your website. This used to be the case; however, spammy submissions became problematic, and now are virtually pointless to the practice of modern SEO.
What Search Engine Spiders are NOT Looking for:
If you’re performing dangerous techniques or trying to trick the search engines, red flags are triggered, and you’ll hurt the rankings and visibility of your site. A website can be penalized, and rankings will be negatively affected if search engine algorithms detect these techniques. Items that search engines don’t approve of are:
- Keyword Stuffing: Repeating keywords or trying to hide keywords on your pages.
- Purchasing Inbound Links: Be warned- buying links won’t get you anywhere.
- Bad User Experience: Allowing people to find the content they’re looking for will keep your bounce rate low. Make it as easy as possible for the user to navigate your site.
New websites become available every day, constantly changing the information that is available. Spiders allow search engines and other users to be ensured that their databases are up-to-date. Web crawling is an important method of keeping up with the continuously growing internet.