What You’ll Need to Know about Web Crawling

basics of web crawling

With the rise of popular search engines like Google, Yahoo, Baidu, etc, many rising entrepreneurs are also discovering how they can make search engines work for them. If you are interested in SEO, web crawling is just one of the many things you should be aware of. While web crawling can be an incredibly complex and confusing topic, it can also be very helpful especially if you spend a great deal of time getting your website to appear at the top of people’s searches. This article will explore commonly asked questions and help break down the basics of web crawling.

What is Website Crawling?

Website crawling essentially utilizes software in order to pull up websites according to searches. It works by downloading and indexing content from all over the Internet. When it picks up on a hyperlink, it automatically adds those linked URLs to its list. Crawlers don’t exactly crawl every page throughout the whole Internet. They first pick up important details such as the number of site visitors, number of links, etc. These factors do give each page its competitive edge and are more likely to be picked up by crawlers. Crawlers follow the general assumption that pages containing links from other pages have more authoritative information and therefore should be pushed up to the top of the search list should someone search for keywords.

How Many Different Types of Crawlers are There?

Major search engines use different web crawlers. For example, search giant Google uses Googlebot Desktop & Mobile (depending on which device you are searching on) while Baidu uses Baidu Spider. Some crawlers aren’t tied down to any search engines and work independently.

There are two main types of crawlers that help us sieve data.

  1. Site Crawls – Commonly known as spidering, it scans every inch of a site and gathers all links – from the home page to every nook and cranny. The word spidering came about in relation to the World Wide Web which is commonly associated with spiders.
  2. Page Crawls – Crawlers focus on one particular page or blogpost to crawl. Relative to site crawls, page crawls are less intense.
page site crawling

Are Crawlers Always Allowed on My Site?

Crawlers enter a site based on the site properties configured by the site developer. In order to increase site visitors, you would want to find out the trick to encourage site crawlers to visit your site. If you find some difficulty in doing so, it is often due to a fault in the site itself. You might want to explore some of these issues that could stop a crawler from exploring your site.

  1. Check if your site denies indexing. If it does, crawlers that use robots.txt files will be unable to access it. With all these meta tags, crawlers will receive the information that those webpages are uncharted territory and thus will not interact with it.
  2. You might have blocked a specific IP address.

While you might have adopted these to make your life easier by sieving out unwanted parties from accessing information that can potentially harm your site, it also does keep out crawlers. We recommend thinking seriously about what works best for your site. If your site is more of a personal one, you might choose to keep crawlers out to prevent others from reading your personal blog. Some web developers might also choose to keep web crawlers out and only let a specific group of people access the page through a link. For example, if you or your company are planning to roll out a new marketing campaign targeted at a very specific group of people. In this situation, web developers can tweak the site’s settings to have a “no-index” function on the landing page, to keep out unwanted guests.

How Do I Encourage Crawlers to Crawl my Site?

If you’re running a public website and would love more site clicks, do check your site settings to make sure that crawlers are free to explore your page. To help your webpage be ready for web crawlers, having good Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) techniques can encourage crawlers to index your page and push it up on search results. To optimize your chances of attracting a crawler, you can explore additional steps to enable search engines to better pick up on your site. By following these steps, you can expect higher site traffic.

  1. Having an RSS feed can help speed up the crawling process. RSS feed combines information sources This works through the detection of new content on your site. With new content posted, the crawler will register new information and index it accordingly.
  2. If you want to be selective on which search engines your site appears on, you can customize search directives to give crawlers specific information
  3. Having a structured content section on your webpage can be beneficial to crawlers. With a standard HTML code, the content that you would like to have crawled can be regulated. Furthermore, it allows the crawler to know where to search for important information.
  4. A balanced mix of images and text. Search engines usually struggle to pull up purely photos unless you type in the specific link. However, with text, your site has a higher chance of getting picked up by crawlers.
  5. Having hyperlinks or an archive page can help boost crawlers visiting your site.
web crawlers

In conclusion, web crawling is not all that complex a phenomenon and is fairly easy to understand even if you lack the background on tech or IT. If you would like to know more in-depth information about how you can use crawlers to help with your website, there are many other articles and books available with information that will help boost your site properties, such as this guide to the robots file. It is also important to note that the presence of bad bots can result in information theft. Be careful when changing your site settings. Ideally, you’ll want good bots to visit your site while keeping out bad bots. We recommend using Bot Management applications to help you with this. If you design your website in a way that is appealing to crawlers, you’ll be well on your way to increasing your chances of having your website appear higher in searches.

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