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Crawler. What is it, what are its tasks and how does it influence the SEO strategy?

6 minutes of reading
Crawler. What is it, what are its tasks and how does it influence the SEO strategy?
Category SEO

Crawlers are the behind-the-scenes workers in the world of search engine optimization. But what are they, exactly? And how can they improve your site’s performance in the SERPs? You’ll learn the answers to these questions and more in this guide to crawlers and their roles in the world of optimization.


Search Engine Optimization

SEO is the process of increasing visibility in search engine results pages by improving the rank of a website or a web page in the organic search results. Put simply, it’s all about making your content more visible in search engines. And there are many tools that you can use to do this. One way is using crawlers that index your site with new content automatically, which means Google and other sites will be able to find them much faster than they would without this tool.

Spider, robot, bot. What is a crawler?

Web crawler is a program which accesses the World Wide Web (WWW) in a methodical manner. It starts at one specific point on the web and follows every hyperlink, making note of where it’s going. The crawler then revisits each page every few days or weeks. This process is known as crawling because the program is basically moving from site to site like an insect would crawl across the ground. It’s important to know that search engine crawlers do not get all the information they need from links alone. That’s why they also index content found in images, video files, PDFs and other formats.

Types of web crawlers

It is important to understand the three main types of web crawlers: in-house web crawlers, commercial web crawlers, and open-source web crawlers.

  • There are also in-house crawlers which a company uses for its own purposes, for example generating sitemaps and crawling the website for broken links.
  • A commercial web crawler is one that can be purchased from companies that develop such software. Some large companies may also have custom-built spiders to crawl websites.
  • Open-source crawlers can be both free of charge or free and open-source. With many of these coming short of features and abilities found on commercially available programs, one must find an outlet that suits their needs best.

How many crawlers are there?

There are around 100 billion crawlers on the internet at any given time, but the most well-known are Googlebot, Bingbot, Yahoo Slurp, and Baidu.

Why do you need web crawlers?

Without crawlers, it would be difficult if not impossible for users to find content on the web. Web crawlers then index this information so that it can be searched more easily than what humans could do manually by themselves. If something doesn’t get indexed, it won’t take place on the web, and you won’t be able to access the content.

The main tasks of web crawlers

The primary purpose of a website crawler is to crawl websites to collect data to ensure its correct indexing and monitor changes. Therefore, bots review the website’s code, analyze its structure, and gather information on the website’s content. The Google Crawler conducts two types of scans, which are:

  • deep crawl – an in-depth, full site study,
  • fresh crawl – a study of pages that are frequently updated.

How do crawlers affect your strategy?

Essentially, they make your job as a marketer easier. What does that mean for you? It means that with the help of crawlers you can more easily identify issues on your website that may be affecting its ranking in Google’s search engine results page. The use of this tool gives them access to many statistical measures important from the point of view of the website’s positioning. Important features include finding duplicates, empty pages, pages with low content, identifying error pages, and analyzing redirects.

Is your website crawling friendly?

Optimizing content for crawlers

  1. Check your webiste for duplicate content. When a crawler visits your website and sees duplicate content, it might not index all of your pages. This will make it difficult for future crawlers (and visitors) to find everything on your site.
  2. Create robots.txt file. By creating a robots.txt file where you can specify which files should not be crawled by the crawler. The best time to do this is when you first set up your site. However, even if it’s been awhile, creating a robots.txt file is still recommended because it will help make sure that all your content is accessible to crawlers for an accurate indexing.
  3. Create a sitemap.xml. A sitemap.xml is a text file that lists all the pages on your website, along with additional information about each page such as a link to the page’s URL, a short description of what the page offers, and a list of words or phrases that are important for search engines to know about the page. The sitemap.xml is used by crawlers like Googlebot so it knows which pages are available on your site and how often they change.
  4. Optimize your website’s source code. The first step in optimizing content for crawlers is making sure that the source code of your website matches the content that you want the crawler to index. Secondly, you should make sure that there are no duplicate pages on your site because a crawler will only be able to index one page from your site at a time.
  5. Use meta tags. These tags provide information about the content of your website, as well as details about what you want crawlers to do on the site.
  6. Use ALT tags for images. That provide a description of the photo or graphic. These tags help crawlers understand the content of your page, which can help them better index your site.
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Crawlers are crucial for search engine indexing, which is why it’s important for you to have an understanding of what a crawler does. With that knowledge, you’ll be in a better position to either optimize your content for crawling or make sure the crawler can find it. It all starts with knowing how crawlers work.

Aleksandra Pietrzak
Curator at the National Museum in Poznań, graduate of Art History at the Jagiellonian University and Contemporary Art at the Pedagogical University of Krakow, curator of exhibitions and author of scientific and popular texts. A lover of contemporary art, literature and travel.
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