Crawling is a process where a software known as the web crawler is used to scan the World Wide Web. The web crawler follows every URL to discover and scan websites automatically.
Major search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, and others use web crawlers to scan, detect, and index new websites or webpages.
Here are the different names given to crawlers of various search engines:
Slurp Bot (Yahoo)
In this guide, we will learn what SEO crawling is, how an SEO crawler works, and discuss the ways to scrape Google search results by creating your own crawler.
Ready? Let’s start!
What is a crawler?
A web crawler, spider, or spider bot is a computer program that browses the World Wide Web and indexes the web content.
Search engines use the web-crawling software to update their database by automating identifying and storing newly found web content. Crawling and indexing are two necessary components of a search engine.
Web crawler follows the guidelines mentioned in the robots.txt file of the websites. However, some crawlers do not follow the instructions and continue to crawl the website. In such cases, sophisticated programs are used to stop the web crawlers from accessing the web content.
What is SEO crawling?
SEO crawling is the process of getting your website crawled and indexed by search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, and others.
Here is how SEO crawling works for Google:
The Google web crawling software, which is also known by the name Googlebot visits your website and crawls all the URLs. From one URL, it moves to another URL, and gradually it identifies all the URLs on your website that are not restricted via robots.txt.
After the crawling is done, Google stores the newly crawled URL in a scheduler to index the contents of every new URL. Now, the scheduler runs, and gradually every accessible URL of the website is indexed.
When the users search on Google, they are able to find the contents of your website.
Crawling and indexing are different. Crawling is just the identification of URL while indexing is storing the contents of the web page in the search engine database.
Sitemaps play an essential role in enabling search engines to crawl all the important pages of your website so that they remain in the search engine index.
Just as robots.txt restrict the crawler access, sitemaps guide the crawlers to crawl newly added URLs on the site.
Hence, you should always use an XML sitemap and submit it via the Google Search Console to allow Googlebot to access your website.
You must also make it a habit to update the sitemap as and when new pages are added to your website. This will ensure that Google is able to store the essential pages of your site in their index, resulting in faster organic rankings, increased traffic, and higher sales.
How does SEO crawler work?
SEO crawler works by extracting links from webpages. There are four ways for search engines to discover new content:
- Crawlers or Spiders recrawl the pages in the search engine index to discover new URLs. The new URLs are added to the scheduler crawl queue, and all the new pages are crawled.
- Sitemaps are crawled to discover new pages that are added to the crawling queue.
- Newly launched website owners submit the URL of their website directly to the search engines.
- Search engine crawlers continue to crawl the social media platforms and several new URLs are identified which are stored in the search engine index.
How to create your own SEO crawler?
If you are good at coding, then you can create your own SEO crawler using high-level programming languages such as Python. The Python community offers useful resources for web scraping.
A crawler and a scraper work in a similar fashion but their purpose are different. A crawler indexes the entire content of a webpage and continues to crawl every new URL it finds on the page. However, the scraper is a software that extracts only specific pieces of information from a webpage instead of storing the entire contents. Here are the differences between web scraping and web crawling.
The commonly used library for building a crawler in Python is Scrapy. Here is an example code to crawl the URL amazon.com:
name = ‘Amazon’
start_urls = [‘https://amazon.com’]
def parse(self, response):
This is a basic crawler that will fetch all the contents of the home page of Amazon. Content includes all the text and links.
Similarly, you can create different crawlers for conducting various SEO tasks like scraping the Google search results or scraping the page title and content of your competitors.
How to scrape Google search results?
Yes, it is possible to scrape Google search results for your SEO work. You can use a readymade tool like Apify to export organic search results, paid ads, snippets, reviews, and other search results. The scraped data can be stored as a CSV, Excel, XML file, or other formats as per your choice. If you are good at coding, then you can also create your own Google scraper with the help of Python.
Crawling is an integral part of the World Wide Web. Crawling helps the search engines to find and store new content to present them before the searcher based on a robust ranking algorithm. It is easy to scrape the organic search results by creating your own web crawler with Python. A crawler will help you to stay ahead of your competitors and let you plan a better SEO strategy. It all depends on the data. When you make data-driven decisions, you increase your chances of ranking higher in the search results.