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A crash course SEO indexing and crawling (that you can understand!)

11 Feb

You’re going to hear a lot of jargon and technical terms as you start talking to an SEO agency in Melbourne or looking into improving your website’s search engine optimisation.

There are two in particular that you’re going to hear a lot of in the beginning: crawling and indexing.

Both of these are essential first steps in anyone’s search engine optimisation efforts, whether it’s with an agency that specialises in SEO or as part of your own DIY efforts.

But what’s the difference between the two?

Why are they so important in the beginning (as well as afterwards?)

And most importantly, what do they mean, anyway?

A good understanding of the mechanics of SEO is crucial, even if you’re partnering with an agency. At the very least, it’ll help you understand what they’re doing to improve your website’s performance.

Luckily, you don’t have to spend ages scouring the web looking for something that summarises it all while still making sense – that’s what our SEO consultants in Melbourne are here to talk about today!

SEO indexing and crawling

Let’s start with the basics: what are crawling, indexing and ranking in SEO?

What does indexing mean in SEO?

In order for a search engine to rank different webpages, it first needs to take stock of what’s out there.

And that’s what the indexing process is all about – the name should be a dead giveaway!

By default, most webpages will be set as indexable. However, in our opinion, it’s best to manually set certain pages as non-indexed so that they don’t end up cannibalising other pages’ rankings – specifically, unnecessary pages such as 404 redirects and archives.

Once a page is indexed, it will show up in search results.

Just to be clear, indexing doesn’t mean that your pages will automatically rank for the searches you want them to – all it means is that they’re now on Google’s radar. Whether or not it ranks for relevant searches all depends on whether or not you take action to boost it.

Specifically, the only way to ensure that happens is with ongoing SEO strategy!

What is crawling in digital marketing?

Once all the pages on your site have been identified, it’s time to figure out what they’re about and how they relate to the rest of your site.

This is crucial to ranking – and it’s what the crawling process is all about.

When crawling your webpages, Google uses their advanced systems to “read” the page and understand what it’s about and how it relates to the rest of your website. This goes beyond looking at just the text – it involves looking at a host of different things:

  • Images
  • Multimedia
  • Metadata
  • Internal links
  • And more

All of these tell search engines what your pages are about, and are essential in helping your site to rank (which is why so much initial SEO work focuses on ensuring that all of these factors are in order and working as they should).

And speaking of ranking…

Explaining what ranking really means

SEO ranking is pretty straightforward: it simply refers to what position your webpages are appearing in when people perform Google searches.

Based on the conclusions Google comes up with during the crawling phase, their algorithm will compare webpages against similar pages from other sites, ranking them for users based on which ones the system decides are the most:

  • Relevant
  • Useful
  • Informative
  • Credible

Key word there: webpages.

A lot of people assume that SEO will help their entire site rank better, and that their website will be what shows up, no matter what.

While that’s the end goal, your SEO company in Melbourne does that by improving how individual pages rank – the focus is on optimising specific pages. Each page of your site will rank differently, and for different searches.

That’s why it’s so important that your SEO efforts are backed up by a strategy that takes into consideration which pages you should be pushing, as well as what searches and keywords each of your pages should be targeted at.

What you can to to improve the indexing and crawling process for your site

Indexing and crawling are essential first steps you get your site up and running for the first time, or embark on a major revamp.

However, it’s also important whenever you make updates, no matter how small.

That’s because a good SEO strategy will involve frequent and ongoing modifications and additions to your site, whether that be in the form of ongoing content like blogs or frequent tweaking underneath the hood.

And it isn’t just for SEO, either – what if you’re adding a new product or service?

Each of these changes, tweaks, updates needs to be indexed and crawled if it’s to pop up in Google’s search engine results.

And you can make that process run more smoothly!

What is a backlink in SEO, and how does it affect crawling?

Backlinks are links from external sites to yours. They play a key role in SEO, helping search engines evaluate your page’s credibility using a sort of “credibility by association”.

On top of that however, it also helps with crawling.

In addition to helping establish credibility, backlinks also help Google’s crawl bots understand what your pages are about. Using their knowledge of the sites linking to you, Google can get a decent idea of what your page is all about.


Think of a sitemap as a map of your website, not just listing all the pages on your site but also how they relate to each other by telling Google about which ones are “parent” pages, as well as which ones are subpages.

All of which is information that Google can use when crawling your site to better understand what your pages are all about.

Avoid duplicate content to ensure everything gets indexed properly

Not only does copy+pasted content affect SEO, but it can also affect indexing as well!

In some cases, if Google’s crawl bots detect duplicate content, they’ll just ignore the second one, meaning that it doesn’t get indexed at all.

All the manual indexing requests in the world won’t change this!

And while we’re on the topic of manual indexing requests…

Submit a request for your new pages to be indexed

Luckily for you, both indexing and crawling are ongoing processes, so if you update your site or Google misses something, it’s likely to be picked up sooner or later.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that you need to wait – if you’re in a rush, you can speed things up by manually requesting Google re-index and re-crawl your web pages.

Unsure if your new content has been indexed at all? There are plenty of SEO tools for indexing like Index Coverage Reports, or URL inspection tools you can use.

Find out what SEO means for you

Why is SEO important? What does an effective SEO strategy look like? And most importantly, how can it help your business?

These are important questions – and they’re questions our SEO experts in Melbourne are happy to answer for you!

Our team are specialists in all things SEO, and that extends to the indexing and crawling processes too. When working with clients, the first thing we do is take a look under the hood, beginning with checking whether your site has been indexed and crawled.

Throughout your relationship with us, we’re constantly checking that our work is having an impact, and making ongoing adjustments. That includes constantly checking for crawling and indexing errors on your site.

Managing and implementing an SEO strategy is a lot of work, and usually requires a lot of specialised tools – and that’s on top of all your regular commitments.

Since we opened our doors, we’ve been helping businesses both big and small, optimising their sites and helping them get more phone calls and leads.

Don’t have the time or know-how to do it on your own? That’s what we’re here for – find out how our team can help by giving us a ring on 1300 88 64 50, or by clicking here to get in touch online.