How to Make Your Website More Crawlable?

Over 95% of internet users use a search engine at least once a month. Given the search engine usage statistics by internet users as a fraction of the 4.93 billion approximate total as of 2021, it goes without saying that search engines improve a brand’s visibility. At the same time, ranking high on search engines is associated with more page clicks, which could lead to revenue if the visitors purchase or subscribe to your services.

This is why search engine optimization (SEO), a practice that focuses on improving how websites or web pages rank on search engines, has grown in popularity. But success after deploying SEO techniques is only possible if you make your website more crawlable. A less crawlable website means that search engines may not easily discover the web pages therein. For a site to be crawlable, it must allow search engine bots (crawlers) to access the various pages in a process known as crawling. So, what is a web crawler, and what is crawling?

What is a web crawler?

Oxylabs wrote in a blog post explaining that a web crawler is a program that follows links included in web pages to identify/discover new pages. It simultaneously collects data stored in each of these pages and stores it for future retrieval in a process known as indexing. The crawler, also known as a spider or spiderbot, executes what we refer to as web crawling.

While this explanation describes a simple crawler, search engine bots follow a more sophisticated approach to crawling and indexing. First, these bots send HTTP requests to a list of known websites (URLs gathered from previous crawls or those stipulated in a sitemap). They then parse the HTML responses to identify links. The bots add these links to a queue of URLs that will immediately thereafter. At the same time, it collects the data, organizes it, and indexes it. 

However, not all websites use 100% HTML. Instead, some use JavaScript (JS). For such websites, the crawler executes the JS code and subsequently parses the data to identify links and store the content.

It is noteworthy that search engine bots ignore some pages – they do not crawl everything on the internet. For instance, if a web page has low perceived importance, it will not be crawled. Spiderbots judge the utility of web pages based on the number of links terminating therein. Secondly, the bot avoids pages hidden behind login pages or those listed in the robots.txt file. 

How to make your website crawlable

As we have established earlier, you can integrate as many SEO techniques into your website. However, they will not achieve the desired results if the site is not crawlable in the first place. Based on the definitions of what is a web crawler as well as what web scraping entails, crawlability simply means the level of accessibility of your website in relation to search engine bots. 

In this regard, crawlability relates to how easy search engine spiders can reach your website or web pages therein. Similarly, it alludes to the smoothness with which the crawling process proceeds. 

Factors that impact a website’s crawlability

For instance, if, upon going through the robots.txt file, the spider discovers it cannot crawl many of the web pages on your website, it will not be able to map out your website. This also applies to pages hidden behind a login page. Moreover, if the links included on your web pages are broken or lead to non-existent pages, the crawler will also have a hard time crawling your website. 

Eventually, these factors combine to limit your site’s crawlability. But it is also worth noting that each of them can singularly impact how well a spider can map out your website. This means that you should work on each of these elements to make your website crawlable.

How to increase your site’s crawlability

You can make your website more crawlable by doing the following:

  • Include links and also ensure the links are not broken
  • Make sure you have easy-to-read URLs
  • Have a good site structure that will ease the crawler’s navigation. A good site structure features top-down hierarchical navigation that begins with broad pages such as the home page, followed by category pages, and, lastly, individual web pages
  • Use sitemaps – sitemap files contain a list of indexable web pages, thereby offering guidance to the search engine bots
  • Upload good and authoritative content. Content offers an excellent opportunity to include SEO techniques such as keywords. This enables the spiderbot to easily interpret and organize what is contained in every web page. Typically, videos, PDFs, images, and pages with text-based content should be crawlable and indexable. 
  • Include written content on pages with multimedia components such as audio and java programs. Notably, search engine bots cannot index multimedia, but the written content makes crawling and indexing possible.

Conclusion

Search engine optimization helps web pages rank favorably on search engine results pages (SERPs). This leads to higher visibility and revenue. However, the SEO techniques can only succeed if the website is crawlable. Crawlability depends on the use of links, easy-to-read URLs, a good website structure, authoritative content, and more.

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