In order to start utilizing bots for your own ends, you need to understand how they work. Every website owner should know what crawler bots are, they are responsible for indexing your site so that it’s available via Google. Without bots crawling the internet and cataloging what they find, there would be no realistic way of producing the kind of databases needed to underpin search engines like Google. Crawlers are an integral part of the internet’s infrastructure; we would literally be lost without them.
Part of this indexing process involves creating a copy of your page, known as ‘caching’, and then mining the underlying code in order to understand exactly what the page is, what it’s purpose is, and what it contains. Optimizing your website for these crawlers lets them index your site more accurately and helps you to drive more traffic via search results as a consequence. The techniques outlined below can enable you to do just that.
Create A Sitemap
A sitemap is the single most important thing that you can do to enhance how crawlable your website is. As the name suggests, your sitemap will provide bots with a complete guide to your website’s layout and how to navigate it. The bots will then be able to crawl from page to page and build a picture of your website and ensure that they cover the most important pages.
You can manually create your own sitemap as a simple list of links, but this is very rarely done. These are time-consuming and labor-intensive to produce, so the vast majority of websites will use a special tool that produces an XML sitemap for them. The resulting file is automatically structured in such a way that it is easy for search engines to read. Once the crawlers have your XML sitemap, they don’t need to map out your website for themselves – you have already done it for them.
If you want to further enhance the efficiency gains you get from your sitemap then you can use your robots.txt file to specify the location of your sitemap for crawlers.
Don’t Duplicate Content
When it comes to duplicating content, you often hear conflicting advice. Some people advise you to repost popular content periodically, while others tell you to avoid duplicate content altogether. In our view, the latter option is the better one. There was a time when you could just keep reusing the same keyword-stuffed content in order to inflate an SEO score, but Google has long since gotten wise to these tactics. Google’s algorithms have been increasingly penalizing this kind of behavior and every indication we have is that it is only going to be stricter as time goes on.
Equally, it is important that you aren’t uploading content that, intentionally or otherwise, has been copied from an existing source. You can quote existing sources, but make sure that the bulk of your content is original. If you do have a legitimate reason to post duplicated content, instead of telling crawlers to ignore it altogether, Google recommends that you instead mark it as duplicated content by using HTML.
Know When A Page Is Unsuitable For Crawling
If a page on your website isn’t going to help boost your SEO score and is useless to your efforts to boost your ranking, it is better to tell crawlers to ignore them altogether. This includes pages that are only accessible to the site administrator and any other files or folders that are for behind the scenes use. The easiest way of blocking a crawler from accessing these pages is to add an exception to your robots.txt file.
Keep An Eye On Your Crawl Rate
A lot of website owners are completely unaware that they have control over how often Google crawls their website. Some people find that Google’s frequent crawling is a serious drain on their bandwidth. Others are feeling neglected as crawlers rarely seem to take an interest. However, by using the Google Search Console, you can set the crawl rate however you like.
There is a recommended rate setting and you should be aware that Google is normally pretty smart about figuring out how often to crawl your site. But the option to set your own rate is there if you want to take advantage of it.
You Can Grab Their Attention If You Wish
Another useful feature that a lot of admins don’t know about is the ability to signal to Google’s crawlers that you want their attention. If you have just made a significant update to your website, for example, and you have a bunch of new, high-quality content that you want to be promoted now, not when your site is next crawled, you can let Google now.
CMS systems like WordPress will automatically send out pings that bots know means the website has been updated. But Google also has its own pinging system that is accessible through the Google Search Console.
Don’t Forget About Your Internal Links
Most website owners today are good about including citations and outbound links to authoritative sources. But many are overlooking the importance of their internal links. Internal links ensure that your old content remains fresh in the eyes of Google and won’t be excluded from search results.
With a few backend tweaks, you can easily optimize your website for Google’s crawlers and start making bots work for you. You need bots in order to make your site visible in search engine results pages, so there is no sense fighting against their existence. Instead, embrace them and use them to your advantage. A bot-friendly website will be able to get much more traffic from Google.