What is Search Engine Crawling?Search engines crawl websites to find out what they contain, so that they can provide relevant results in response to users’ queries. Crawlers crawl the web looking for new and updated information. Once the crawler finds something interesting, it sends back a list of URLs to the server. These URL’s point to different pages on your website.
How to Help Search Engines Crawl Your Website?
There are two main ways to tell Google how to crawl and index your pages. One option is through the robots.txt file — a text file that gives the crawlers instructions on how to crawl the page and what to index. The second method is to use canonical and noindex tags.
Canonicalization is finds its use on domains that have a large number of pages with similar content. eCommerce stores, for example, may have several product pages that display the variants of a single item. As such, most of the content is likely to be identical, causing duplicate content issues. By implementing canonicalization, you can avoid this and direct search engine bots to the canonical page – the one you want crawled, indexed, and appearing in Google search results.
In simple terms, a canonical tag tells crawlers they should disregard the content of a URL, as it is a variation of the canonical one. Keep in mind that search engines see each URL that leads to a page on your website as different (for example: https://www.yourwebsite.com and http://www.yourwebsite.com).
Hence, the use of canonical tags isn’t limited to product and similar pages – you can (and should) implement it on each page.
Search engine crawlers reach each page on your website through links, so if your website structure is solid, they should be able to understand your site hierarchy. In addition, using internal links to connect different pages and their content ensures they are all visible to the crawlers by providing a path of links they can follow.
Including external links to domains with high authority is a good practice, as long as you are linking to a relevant page that provides additional value to the reader, since can help crawlers understand what the page is about.
Sitemaps and Why to Use Them
A sitemap is a list of all the pages on your website. It helps search engines find new content on your site easier, especially if it’s not linked from another page. If you’re using WordPress, you can set up a free plugin called Yoast SEO which will generate a sitemap automatically.
Using both an HTML and XML sitemap can help crawlers understand all the content on your pages and crawl them more efficiently.