What is a Web Crawler? (In 50 Words or Less)
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t consider myself a “technical” person.
In fact, the technical aspects of marketing are usually the hardest for me to master.
For example, when it comes to technical SEO it can be difficult to understand how the process works.
However, it is important to gain as much knowledge as possible in order to do our job more effectively.
To do this, we’ll learn what web crawlers are and how they work.
What is a web crawler?
A web crawler is a bot that searches for and indexes content on the Internet. Essentially, web crawlers are responsible for understanding the content of a web page so that they can pull it up when a request is made.
You may be wondering “Who runs these web crawlers?”
Usually, web crawlers are operated by search engines with their own algorithms. The algorithm tells the web crawler how relevant information should be found in response to a search query.
A web crawler searches and categorizes all the web pages on the internet that it can find and is instructed to index them.
This means that you can tell a web crawler not to crawl your webpage if you don’t want it to be found in search engines.
To do this, upload a robots.txt file. Essentially, a robots.txt file tells a search engine how to crawl and index your website’s pages.
How does a web crawler do its job? Let’s check out how web crawlers work below.
How do web crawlers work?
A web crawler detects URLs, scans and categorizes web pages, and then adds hyperlinks on any web page to the list of web sites to be crawled. However, web crawlers are intelligent and determine the importance of any website.
This means that a search engine’s web crawler is most likely not crawling the entire internet. Rather, the importance of each web page is decided based on factors such as the number of other pages linking to that page, page views, and even brand authority.
A web crawler thus determines which pages should be crawled, in which order they should be crawled and how often they should be crawled after updates.
For example, if you have a new web page or changes have been made to an existing page, the web crawler takes note of the index and updates it.
Interestingly, when you have a new webpage, you can ask search engines to crawl your website.
When the web crawler is on your page, it will check the copy and meta tags, store this information and index it so that Google can sort it by keywords.
Before starting this whole process on your website, the web crawler checks your robots.txt file to see which pages need to be crawled. This is why this is so important for technical search engine optimization.
When a web crawler crawls your page, it ultimately decides whether your page will appear on the search results page for a query. This means that understanding this process is essential if you are to increase your organic traffic.
It is interesting to note that all web crawlers may behave differently. For example, they may use different factors to decide which web pages are most important to crawl.
If the technical aspect is confusing, I understand. That’s why HubSpot offers a website optimization course that translates technical topics into simple language and teaches you how to implement your own solutions or discuss them with your web expert.
Simply put, web crawlers are responsible for searching and indexing content online for search engines. They sort and filter web pages so search engines understand what each web page is about.