How Do Search Engines Crawl & Index

In this section, you'll uncover how search engines obtain and sort information from websites.

You'll also learn how you can help search engines prioritize your new content faster than your competitors.

It's important that you understand some of the theories behind search engine functioning before optimizing your website. This way, you'll work efficiently and have a better shot at doing things right the first time.

While you can slap your keyboard for months until something useful reveals itself, I think the "think first cut once" approach is more effective.

Because you must understand how the game works before you can build a strategy to win.

While my work focuses on organic search, we'll briefly touch on paid search.

Results From Paid Search

Google (and the other search engine companies) don't care about organic listings.

No one at these companies sits down and says "How can we focus 100% of our time and effort on organic search results?".

This is because organic search is supplementary to paid advertising.

Why?

Paid advertising provides Google with the bulk of its revenues.

If only paid search existed, users would be obliterated by ads (more than they already are) and be turned off from ever using that engine again.

Instead, these organic search results draw users into properties where they can be advertised to.

It's an exchange.

You get information about a subject, and in return, Google gets to blast you with targeted advertising.

With that being said, Google does work to optimize the layout and features of organic search results to drive higher click-through rates and on-page time for those paid advertising properties.

Think about it.

Google didn't add featured snippets because they love you. They added them because the longer you stay on their search engine, the more paid ads you'll see.

And they're banking on the fact that you're more likely to convert with the more ads that you encounter.

How Search Engines Work Today: The Series

Now that you have a broad understanding of the purpose of providing organic search results, let's look at the specifics.

Over the next few posts, we're going to cover:

Crawling and indexing

Algorithms

Machine learning

User intent

Indexing

The beginning of it all.

Indexing is the act of putting a webpage's content into Google's knowledge graph.

When you create new content on your webpage, there are several different ways to get Google to find it.

The majority of people just publish their new pages and do nothing afterward. Eventually, Google will come to find it.

However, some of you might want Google to find your pages faster.

This might be because you have time-sensitive topics or you've made changes to a critical page that you need Google to understand ASAP.

Here are a few of those methods:

1. XML Sitemaps

This is the thing you submit to Google Search Console.

This is a roadmap of your site that helps Google understand what's on your site, how it's designed, and the freshness of the content.

It's better than nothing but won't get your content indexed instantly.

2. Request Indexing

In the Google Search Console, click the button that says "Request Indexing"

Go to the top search field that has "Inspect a URL in domain.com" in it.

Type in the URL you need indexed and hit Enter.

If Google is familiar with the page, it will present you with data about that page.

The "Request Indexing" button appears regardless of whether the page has been indexed before or not. This means that it can also be used for Google to find a recent update on that page.

3. Host Your Content On Google

An often overlooked method.

This means giving Google direct access to your content.

It could use APIs, XML feeds, and other channels to decouple your content from your design.

You can see this in Firebase, Google's mobile app platform. This system gives Google direct access to your app's content, which means little energy is expended in crawling it.

Having this instant access is the future of SEO content delivery.

4. Bing Works The Same Way

To get quick content indexing in Bing, go grab a Bing Webmaster Tools account.

It's the equivalent of a Google Search Console account and will give you data on improving your rankings in Bing.

Crawl Budget

The famous words that every SEO mumbles during their sleep at night.

This term means the number of resources that Google will use to crawl your website.

How many resources you get depends on two primary components:

How fast is your server?

How important is your site?

If you have a high domain authority website with new content updated every day, you'll get more resources.

If you're on the other end of this spectrum, you'll receive fewer resources.