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BroadVision Marketing Blog

Unlocking the Mystery of Search Engine Indexing

Posted by Dean Sander on Mon, Feb 06, 2023 @ 01:59 PM

Uncover the mysteries of search engine indexing and its impact on website ranking. Gain insights on how to boost your site's search engine visibility.

Search Engine Indexing


When it comes to driving organic traffic to your website, one of the most important steps is search engine indexing. Unfortunately, the process of getting indexed is often shrouded in mystery, making it difficult to understand what’s involved and how best to proceed. 

Here at BroadVision Marketing, our goal is to help explain what exactly search engine indexing is and how it works. We will also discuss the different tools you can use to make sure your website gets properly indexed by search engines. For a better understanding of indexing and be able to confidently move forward with your SEO strategy, contact the marketing professionals here at BroadVision Marketing today.



Why Do Search Engines Need to Index Websites?

Search engines need to index websites in order to be able to provide relevant results to users who perform a search. Indexing is the process that search engines use to discover and analyze the content of websites so they can determine whether or not it is relevant to a particular search query.

There are billions of websites on the Internet, and new ones are being created every day. In order for a search engine to be able to provide relevant results to its users, it must constantly crawl the web in order to discover and index new websites.

Indexing is a complex process, but at a high level, it works like this:

  1. The search engine's crawlers visit websites and follow links between them.
  2. As they crawl, they collect information about the content of each page they visit.
  3. This information is stored in the search engine's index, which is basically a giant database of all the web pages that have been crawled.
  4. When a user performs a search, the search engine looks through its index for pages that are relevant to the query and displays them in the search results.

Without indexing, search engines would not be able to provide any useful results to their users. Indexing is essential for making the Internet navigable and accessible.


What is the Magic Behind an Inverted Index?

An inverted index is a data structure that allows for fast full-text searches. It is used by search engines to index large collections of text, such as websites.

In a traditional index, such as a library catalog, each word is associated with the items (books) in which it appears. In an inverted index, each word is associated with the items (documents) in which it appears. The advantage of an inverted index is that it requires less space than a traditional index.

To create an inverted index, a search engine first scans all the documents in its collection and extracts all of the words. It then sorts the words alphabetically and creates a list of all the documents in which each word appears. Finally, the search engine stores this information in an inverted index.

When a user enters a query, the search engine looks up the query terms in its inverted index and returns a list of documents that contain those terms. This process is much faster than searching through all the documents one by one because the search engine can quickly narrow down the list of documents to those that are most relevant to the user's query.


A Hands-On Explanation of Inverted Indexing

Inverted indexing is the process of indexing a document so that its contents can be quickly searched. This is done by creating a list of all the words in the document, and then finding all the documents that contain each word.

This process can be used to index anything, but it is most commonly used to index text documents. When you search for a word in a text document, the search engine will use an inverted index to find all the documents that contain that word. 

It will then rank the results based on how many times the word appears in each document. Inverted indexing is a very efficient way of indexing documents, and it is used by all major search engines. 


Your Website's Behind-the-Scenes Look with Cached Pages

Your website's cached pages are a snapshot of what the search engine saw when it last visited your site. This behind-the-scenes look can be helpful in understanding how the search engine views your site and can be used to improve your site's ranking.

When you view a cached page, you'll see the same content that the search engine saw when it last visited your site. However, you may also see some additional information, such as:

  • The date that the cache was created
  • The URL of the cached page
  • A link to the live version of the page (if available)

The cached page may also include links to other cached pages on your site.

Cached pages are important to understand because they provide insight into how search engines perceive your site. If there are any discrepancies between the content of the cached page and the live version of your page, it could indicate a problem with your SEO strategy.

By viewing the cached pages of your site, you can spot potential issues and take steps to improve them. Additionally, if you have a large website, cached pages can help you quickly identify which pages are indexed, which ones have been updated recently and which ones may be missing from the index altogether.


How Search Engines Navigate Through Your Pages

Search engines are constantly crawling the web, looking for new pages to add to their index. But how do they actually navigate through your pages?

There are a few different ways that search engines can navigate through your pages. The most common is by following links. When a search engine crawls a page, it will follow any links that are on that page. That means that if you have a link from one of your pages to another page on your site, the search engine will eventually find and crawl that second page.

Another way that search engines can navigate through your pages is by looking at the sitemap. A sitemap is a file that contains a list of all the pages on your site. Many times, the sitemap is automatically generated by your Content Management System (CMS) or eCommerce platform. If you don't have a sitemap, you can create one yourself or use a tool like XML-Sitemaps.com to generate one for you.

The last way that search engines can navigate through your pages is through what's called "breadcrumbs." Breadcrumbs are basically just links back to previous pages in the hierarchy of your site. For example, if you have a product page with multiple sub-categories, each sub-category would be its own breadcrumb. This helps the search engine understand the structure of your site and makes it easier to crawl all the pages on your site.


Making Sure Search Engines Can Find Your Pages

Search engine indexing can be a mystery, but it's important to make sure your pages are being found and ranked by the major search engines. Here are some tips:

  • Use keyword-rich titles and descriptions: Make sure your title tags and meta descriptions contain relevant keywords for your page. This will help search engines understand what your page is about and index it accordingly.
  • Optimize your website for crawling and indexing: Ensure that your website is crawlable by search engine bots by using a sitemap and robots.txt file. You can also use Google Search Console to submit your sitemap and request that your pages be indexed.
  • Promote your content with social media and other channels: Share your content on social media, in forums, and on other websites to get people talking about it and help spread the word. The more links you have pointing to your pages, the better their chances of being indexed by search engines.

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Guiding Search Engines to Crawl Your Site

As a website owner, it's important to understand how search engines like Google index and crawl your site. This process can seem like a mystery, but it's not too complicated. Here are some tips for guiding search engines to crawl your site:

  • Use a sitemap.xml file. This file helps search engines understand the structure of your website and which pages are most important. You can generate a sitemap.xml file using a tool like XML-Sitemaps.com.
  • Make sure your website is well-linked. Internal linking (linking between pages on your own website) helps search engines understand which pages are most important. Make sure all your main pages are linked to from other areas of your site.
  • Use descriptive title tags and meta descriptions. These elements help search engines understand what each page on your site is about. Include keywords that you want to rank for in these tags and descriptions.
  • Submit your website to directories and search engines. This helps get the ball rolling in terms of getting your site indexed and crawled by search engines.
  • Monitor your index status and crawl rate. Use Google Search Console to monitor how often your site is being crawled by Google's bots, and which pages are being indexed. This can help you identify any problems that could be preventing your pages from being properly indexed.


The Power of Robots.txt

Robots.txt is a file used to instruct search engine crawlers which pages on your website they should index and which they should ignore. By properly configuring your robots.txt file, you can help ensure that the search engines index only the pages that you want them to.

This can be particularly helpful if you have pages on your website that are not intended for public consumption, such as pages that are only accessible after logging in. By excluding these pages from the search engines, you can help prevent them from being discovered and indexed by accident.

Robots.txt can also be used to improve the performance of the search engines when crawling your website. If you have a large website with many thousands of pages, it can be helpful to use robots.txt to exclude some of the less important pages from the search engines. This will help them focus their resources on crawling and indexing the most important pages on your site.

Overall, robots.txt is a powerful tool that can be used to influence how the search engines index your website. By carefully configuring your robots.txt file, you can help ensure that only the most important and relevant pages on your site are indexed by the search engines.


Googlebot's Interaction with Robots.txt Files

When it comes to search engine indexing, there is no shortage of mystery and confusion. One of the most common questions asked is: "What is Googlebot's interaction with robots.txt files?"

In short, Googlebot uses robots.txt files as a guideline for what pages on your website it should and shouldn't crawl. However, it's important to keep in mind that these files are only a guideline - not a hard and fast rule.

There are situations where Googlebot will ignore your robots.txt file altogether. For example, if your website is blocking all crawling via robots.txt but there are links to your website from other websites, Googlebot will still crawl your site in order to follow those links and index the linked-to pages.

The bottom line is this: while robots.txt files are an important part of the puzzle when it comes to search engine indexing, they shouldn't be treated as the be-all, end-all solution. If you're serious about getting your website indexed by Google (and who isn't?), you need to take a comprehensive approach that includes optimizing your website for both search engines and users alike.


Setting URL Parameters with Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a free tool that enables you to view your website's search traffic and performance. You can use it to see how Google crawls and indexes your site, as well as to set URL parameters.

URL parameters are settings that can be added to the end of a URL in order to control how Google crawls and indexes your site. For instance, you can use a URL parameter to tell Google not to index a certain page on your site.

To set a URL parameter, you'll need to add it to the "Crawl" section of your Google Search Console account. From there, you can specify which URLs should be affected by the parameter.

URL parameters can be very useful for managing your website's search traffic and performance. However, they can also be confusing and difficult to manage if you're not familiar with them. If you need help understanding or setting URL parameters, we suggest reaching out to a qualified SEO professional like those of us here at BroadVision Marketing.


Monitoring Your Website's Coverage with GSC Report

Google Search Console (GSC) is a free web service that helps you monitor your website's search engine coverage. With GSC, you can see how often your site appears in Google search results, as well as which keywords are being used to find your site. You can also use GSC to submit your sitemap to Google, request re-indexing of your website, and view other important information about your website's presence on the web.

To get started with GSC, first create a free account. Once you have an account, you can add your website and verify ownership using one of the methods described on their website.

Once you've verified ownership of your website, you'll be able to access the GSC report for your site by clicking on the "Search Traffic" tab and then selecting "Search Analytics" from the drop-down menu. Here, you'll be able to see how often your site appears in Google search results, as well as which keywords are being used to find your site. You can also use this report to submit your sitemap to Google or request re-indexing of your website.


The Importance of XML Sitemaps

As a website owner, you likely want your site to show up in search engine results pages (SERPs) when someone enters relevant keywords. Unfortunately, there's no guaranteed way to achieve this – search engines use complex algorithms to determine which websites to rank for which keywords, and these algorithms are constantly changing. However, there are some things you can do to increase your chances of ranking well in SERPs, and one of these is creating an XML sitemap.

An XML sitemap is a file that lists all the URLs on your website, along with additional information about each URL (such as when it was last updated, how often it changes, etc.). This information helps search engines understand your website better, which can lead to improved indexing and ranking.

There are several benefits of having an XML sitemap:

  • Increased visibility: A well-structured sitemap makes it easier for search engines to find and crawl all the pages on your website. This is especially important if your website has a large number of pages, or if some of your pages are not easily accessible from the home page (for example, if they're buried several clicks deep in your site's navigation).
  • Better organization: An XML sitemap can help search engines understand the organization of your website. This is particularly useful if your website uses dynamic content or doesn't have a clear hierarchy.
  • Greater control: With an XML sitemap, you can tell search engines which pages are important and should be indexed first. You can also specify how often pages are updated, so that search engines only crawl them when necessary.

An XML sitemap is an invaluable tool for website owners who want to improve their chances of ranking well in SERPs. By providing additional information about your website, an XML sitemap helps search engines understand your site better and increases the chances of it being found and indexed.


The Benefits of Using NoIndex Pages

There are a number of benefits to using noindex pages on your website. By doing so, you can prevent certain pages from being indexed by search engines, which can help improve your website's overall ranking. 

Additionally, noindex pages can help keep your website's structure clean and organized, making it easier for visitors to find the information they're looking for. Finally, using noindex pages can also help reduce the amount of duplicate content on your website, which can further improve your ranking.


Resolving Duplicate Content with Canonicals

The first step in resolving duplicate content is to identify the pages that are being indexed multiple times. You can do this by using a search engine like Google to search for your site's URL. If you see multiple results for the same page, then you know that you have duplicate content.

You would put these tags on each of the pages that have duplicate content, and point them all to the same URL. That way, when the search engines crawl your site, they will know which version of the page to index, and all the other versions will be ignored.

If you don't want to use canonical tags, another option is to redirect all the other versions of the page to the one that you want indexed. This can be done with a 301 redirect, which tells the search engines that the page has been permanently moved to a new location.

Once you've resolved your duplicate content issue, it's important to keep an eye on it and make sure that it doesn't happen again in the future. Duplicate content can be caused by many different things, so it's important to be aware of what might be causing it on your site and take steps to prevent it.


Redirecting Search Engines to the Right Page

When you make changes to your website, it's important to ensure that search engines are directed to the right pages. This can be accomplished by redirecting search engine crawlers to the appropriate pages. Redirecting is a process of sending a visitor or search engine from one URL to another. There are several types of redirects, each with their own benefits and drawbacks.

The most common type of redirection is a 301 redirect. A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect that tells search engines that a page has been moved permanently. This is the preferred method for redirecting search engines because it passes along the majority of link equity (ranking power) to the redirected page.

A 302 redirect is a temporary redirect that tells search engines that a page has been moved temporarily. This type of redirect should be used sparingly as it does not pass along any link equity to the redirected page.

A meta refresh is a type of redirection that is often used on websites that are under construction or undergoing maintenance. A meta refresh will send visitors to another page after a specified amount of time. Meta refreshes do not pass along any link equity and can actually hurt your website's ranking if used excessively.

Redirects are an important part of website management and should be used carefully to ensure that visitors and search engines are directed to the correct pages.

Other considerations when redirecting search engines include ensuring that the new page is optimized for SEO, setting up 301 redirects properly to ensure that link equity is passed along, and avoiding duplicate content. All these elements play an important role in directing search engines to the right pages and ensuring that your website is properly indexed.


Let BroadVision Marketing Help You Get Your Website Properly Indexed By Search Engines

We hope that this article has helped to unlock the mystery of search engine indexing, providing you with a better understanding of how it works and why it’s so important for your website. By implementing strategies such as keeping up-to-date content, optimizing keywords, and submitting sitemaps to search engines, you can help ensure that your website is properly indexed by major search engines like Google. This will open the door to many opportunities and bolster your online presence in no time!
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Topics: Google Search, Search Engine Optimization, Content Marketing Strategy

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