Google has to crawl and index your website before its pages are ranked on its search engine result pages. A page is said to have been indexed if it has been visited by a Googlebot (Google Crawler), analyzed for content and meaning, and then stored in Google’s index. Indexed pages are then eligible to be ranked and shown on result pages if they meet additional requirements and Google webmaster guidelines. In this article, we will look at indexing and how it is achieved so you know what to do for your website.
Understanding Indexing and Crawling
Crawling is the initial first step of getting your website ranked. A Googlebot will visit your website searching for content to index. It will follow all the links it can on your website to discover more content so that this additional content can be indexed too.
Indexing is a process where all the discovered content is organized in a database and then added to Google’s index for display on its result pages. Indexed pages become a part of search engine results and can appear on any page (be ranked) when a user searches for a keyword or phrase.
Much of your traffic will come from Google because it is the largest search engine. Getting your content to appear on search result pages is therefore critical. A successful index can lead to an increase in traffic to your website. Another reason why indexing faster is so important is so that Google can discover your new content quickly. Faster indexing means your page is highlighted above any stolen or duplicate content.
Google will typically deliver results to your website’s homepage if it has not indexed all the pages on your website. To prevent this from happening, Google bots should be directed to index all the pages on your website.
There are several ways through which websites are indexed. You can leave the page as is and Google will discover the content on its own. It will then crawl and index it. The second is prompting Google to index the page faster. You can ping Google ping to let it know you have published new content that should be crawled. You can also tell Google about your new pages by requesting a crawl through your Google Search Console and their URL inspection tool.
However, you do not need to do the above if you use content management systems like WordPress or Blogger because these submit new content to search engines automatically. However, it is still a good idea to check that Google knows about your new pages and content.
Third, you can optimize a page and Google will take note of the changes. For example, you can change the title and descriptions to better fit the content. You can also update content with new information and Google will pick this up too.
There are several things you need to do to ensure your website is indexed correctly.
One of the first SEO actions all website owners should take is to ensure they have connected their website to the Google Search Console. Doing so will help you see the status of your web pages. This tool will display configuration errors and data that can help you identify issues hampering indexing and potential optimizations that can help. This is a critical step because subsequent steps will have little effect if you do not take care of any potential issues at this stage.
Google Search Console will ask for a sitemap when linking your account. This is a hierarchical map that shows all the content on your website including additional details such as its type and when it was created. A sitemap guides Google’s crawlers, directing them to the content you need indexed. You can also use it to stop some of your content from being crawled, but it will still be if there is other content linking to it from your front end.
Many content management systems will create a robots.txt file for you. However, you can create one or edit an existing one to tell Google bots which content to index and which to leave alone. It is a critical tool for preventing certain pages, such as internal landing pages, from appearing in search results. Be careful when editing the robots.txt file because you might end up blocking crawlers from indexing pages you need them to. To ensure this is not happening, use the URL inspection tool to check.
As mentioned above, new content can help trigger a recrawl that leads to the indexing of new pages. The first thing you need to do is ensure you are using the right keywords in your content. These might not necessarily be the keywords with the biggest volume, but those that fit well within your content.
Next, use these keywords as a basis for creating new content regularly. Doing so lets Google know your website is up to date with the latest information — something that can help it rank higher. An alternative is updating old content and freshening up. This will trigger a recrawl just like when adding new content.
Google’s crawlers index as many pages as they can find, and they find these pages by following your internal links. Add some internal links as you add new content or update existing content. Remember to use contextual anchors so Google can better understand the relationship between different pieces of content.
Using external links can also help your content be indexed faster and better. Ensure the links are genuine and relevant to avoid penalties. Lastly, do not hamper crawling and indexing by having broken links in your content. Use the various tools available to use, including Google Search Console, to find and remove them.
Getting your website indexed properly means you can have more pages ranked favorably. Make things as easy as possible for search engine bits by understanding how they crawl and index your website, and what you can do to ensure your website is indexed faster.