In terms of SEO, “crawling” refers to the process by which search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo dispatch automated robots, often referred to as “crawlers” or “spiders,” to visit websites across the internet. These crawlers traverse the web to gather and index content for search engine results.
Here’s a breakdown of the crawling process:
Crawlers start with a list of known URLs from previous crawls and sitemaps provided by website owners. When they visit a webpage, they identify all the links on that page and add them to a list of pages to be crawled next.
As crawlers visit each page, they download its content, including text, images, videos, and any other media. They also look for metadata and specific tags, like the canonical tag or noindex directive.
After analyzing the page, the crawler sends the parsed information back to the search engine, which adds it to the search index. This indexed content is what search engines use to display results for specific search queries.
Search engines periodically revisit websites to update their index based on new content or changes to existing content.
In essence, crawling is the first step in the process of a webpage becoming visible in search engine results. By understanding and optimizing for crawling, website owners can ensure their content is accessible and correctly represented by search engines.