I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t describe myself as a “technical” person.
In fact, the technical aspects of marketing are usually the hardest ones for me to conquer.
For example, when it comes to technical SEO, it can be difficult to understand how the process works.
But it’s important to gain as much knowledge as we can to do our jobs more effectively.
To that end, let’s learn what web crawlers are and how they work.
What is a web crawler?
A web crawler is a bot that searches and indexes content on the Internet. Essentially, web crawlers are responsible for understanding the content on a web page so they can retrieve it when an inquiry is made.
You might be wondering, “Who runs these web crawlers?”
Well, usually web crawlers are operated by search engines with their own algorithms. The algorithm will tell the web crawler how to find relevant information in response to a search query.
A web crawler will search and categorize all web pages on the Internet that it can find and is told to index.
This means that you can tell a web crawler not to crawl your web page if you don’t want it to be found on search engines.
To do this, you’d upload a robots.txt file. Essentially, a robots.txt file will tell a search engine how to crawl and index the pages on your site.
So, how does a web crawler do its job? Below, let’s review how web crawlers work.
How do web crawlers work?
A web crawler works by discovering URLs, reviewing and categorizing web pages, and then adding hyperlinks on any webpage to the list of sites to crawl. However, web crawlers are smart and determine the importance of each web page.
This means that a search engine’s web crawler most likely won’t crawl the entire Internet. Rather, it will decide the importance of each web page based on factors including how many other pages link to that page, page views, and even brand authority.
So a web crawler will determine which pages to crawl, what order to crawl them in, and how often they should crawl for updates.
For example, if you have a new web page, or changes were made on an existing page, then the web crawler will take note and update the index.
Interestingly, if you have a new web page, you can ask search engines to crawl your site.
When the web crawler is on your page, it looks at the copy and meta tags, stores that information, and indexes it for Google to sort through for keywords.
Before this entire process is started on your site, specifically, the web crawler will look to your robots.txt file to see which pages to crawl, which is why it’s so important for technical SEO.
Ultimately, when a web crawler crawls your page, it decides whether your page will show up in the search results page for a query. This means that if you want to increase your organic traffic, it’s important to understand this process.
It’s interesting to note that all web crawlers might behave differently. For example, perhaps they’ll use different factors when deciding which web pages are most important to crawl.
If the technical aspect of this is confusing, I understand. That’s why HubSpot has a Website Optimization Course that puts technical topics into simple language and instructs you on how to implement your own solutions or discuss with your web expert.
Simply put, web crawlers are responsible for searching and indexing content online for search engines. They work by sorting and filtering through web pages so search engines understand what every web page is about.