What Is Search Engine Indexing? | How Search Engine Indexing Works

What Is Search Engine Indexing?

What Is Search Engine Indexing?

What Is Search Engine Indexing? Search engine indexing refers to the process where a search engine (such as Google) organizes and stores online content in a central database (its index). The search engine can then analyze and understand the content, and serve it to readers in ranked lists on its Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

Before indexing a website, a search engine uses “crawlers” to investigate links and content. Then, the search engine takes the crawled content and organizes it in its database:

Search Engine Indexing?

What Is Search Engine Indexing? Search engine optimization (SEO) is a crucial method for increasing the visibility of your website and attracting more organic visitors. It is, however, a difficult method that requires a mastery of algorithms and the use of a wide range of ranking elements. You’ll need to grasp search engine indexing if you want to become an SEO professional.

We’ll go through how search engines index web pages and how you may improve your rankings in this post. We’ll also address some of the most frequently asked topics concerning SEO. Let’s get this party started!

In the following part, we’ll take a deeper look at how this procedure works. Indexing can be thought of as an online filing system for website posts and pages, videos, photos, and other content for the time being. When it comes to Google, the system is based on the Google index, which is a massive database.

Image source: Seobility – License: CC BY-SA 4.0

How Does a Search Engine Index a Site?

Crawlers are used by search engines like Google to discover and categorize web content. Crawlers are software bots that follow links, scan webpages and gather as much information as possible about a website. The information is then delivered to the search engine’s servers to be indexed:

When new or updated content is published, search engines crawl and index it to add it to their databases. This procedure can be automated, but uploading sitemaps to search engines can help speed it up. These documents lay out your website’s infrastructure, including links, to make it easier for search engines to crawl and interpret your content.

Crawlers for search engines have a “crawl budget.” This budget sets a limit on how many pages the bots can crawl and index on your site in a given time frame. (They do, however, return.)

Crawlers collect data on keywords, publication dates, photos, and video files, among other things. By following and analyzing internal links and external URLs, search engines may also assess the relationship between different pages and websites.

It’s worth noting that search engine crawlers won’t follow all of a website’s URLs. Dofollow links will be crawled automatically, whereas nofollow links will be ignored. As a result, you should concentrate your link-building efforts on do-follow links. These are hyperlinks to your content from other websites.

External links from high-quality sources will convey their “link juice” to your site when crawlers follow them from another site. As a result, these URLs can help you climb the SERPs:

Also, keep in mind that certain content isn’t search engine crawlable. Search engines will be unable to access and index your pages if they are protected by login forms, passwords, or text contained in images. (Alt text can be used to have these images appear in searches on their own.)

4 Tools for Search Engine Indexing

You can use several tools to guide how Google and other search engines crawl and index your content. Let’s look at a few of the most helpful options!

1. Sitemaps

Keep in mind that there are two kinds of sitemaps: XML and HTML. It can be easy to confuse these two concepts since they’re both types of sitemaps that end in -ML, but they serve different purposes.

HTML sitemaps are user-friendly files that list all the content on your website. For example, you’ll typically find one of these sitemaps in a site’s footer. Scroll all the way down on w3techniques.com, and you will find this, an HTML sitemap:

This sitemap enables visitors to navigate your website easily. It acts as a general directory, and it can positively influence your SEO and provide a solid user experience (UX).

In contrast, an XML sitemap contains a list of all the essential pages on your website. You submit this document to search engines so they can crawl and index your content more effectively:


Keep in mind that we’ll be referring to XML documents when we talk about sitemaps in this article. We also recommend checking out our guide to creating an XML sitemap, so you have the document ready for different search engines.

2. Google Search Console

If you’d like to focus your SEO efforts on Google, the Google Search Console is an essential tool to master:


An Index Coverage report is available in the console, and it shows you which sites have been indexed by Google as well as any faults discovered during the process. You can use this tool to assess and resolve problematic URLs in order to make them “indexable.”

You can also use Google Search Console to submit your XML sitemap. This page serves as a “roadmap” for Google to better index your content. Furthermore, you can ask Google to recrawl specific URLs and areas of your site so that your audience always has access to the most up-to-date information without having to wait for Google’s crawlers to return to your site.

3. Alternative Search Engine Consoles Bing

Despite the fact that Google is the most used search engine, it is not the only one available. Limiting oneself to Google may prevent your site from receiving visitors from other sources, such as Bing:

Check out our tips on submitting XML sitemaps to Bing Webmaster Tools and Yandex Webmaster Tools for more information. Other search engines, such as Yahoo and DuckDuckGo, do not allow sitemaps to be submitted.

Keep in mind that each of these consoles has its own set of capabilities for tracking your site’s crawling and SERP ranks. As a result, if you want to broaden your SEO strategy, we recommend giving them a try.

4. Robots.txt

We’ve already covered how you can use a sitemap to tell search engines to index specific pages on your website. Additionally, you can exclude certain content by using a robots.txt file.

robots.txt file includes indexation information about your site. It’s stored within your root directory and has two lines: a user-agent line that specifies a search engine crawler, and a disallow directive that blocks particular files.

For example, a robots.txt file might look something like this:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /example_page/
Disallow: /example_page_2/

In this example, the covers all search engine crawlers. Then, the disallow lines specify particular files or URL paths.

You simply need to create a simple text file and name it robots.txt. Then, add your disallow data and upload the file to your root directory with a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) client.


So far, we’ve covered the basics of search engine indexing. If you still have questions about this SEO concept, we’ll answer them here! (And if you still have one, let us know in the comments so we can answer it there!)

How Can I Get Indexed Better by Search Engines?

You can get indexed better by search engines by creating sitemaps, auditing them for crawling errors, and submitting them to multiple search engines. Additionally, you should consider optimizing your content for mobile devices and reducing your loading times to speed up crawling and indexing.

Frequently updating your content can also alert search engines to crawl and index your “new” pages. Finally, we recommend preventing search engines from crawling duplicate content by using a robots.txt file or deleting it.

Do I Have to Request Search Engines to Crawl My Site?

Search engines will crawl new publicly-available content on the internet, but this process can take weeks or months. Therefore, you might prefer to speed things up by submitting a sitemap to the search engines of your choice.

Do I Have to Alert Search Engines if I Publish New Content?

We recommend updating your sitemap when you publish new content. This approach ensures that your posts will be crawled and indexed more quickly. We recommend using a plugin such as Yoast SEO to generate sitemaps easily.

Is My Content Ever Removed From Google or Other Search Engines?

Google might remove a post or page from its index if the content violates its terms of service. This means the content breaks privacy, defamation, copyright, or other laws in many cases. Google also removes personal data from its index, such as identifiable financial or medical information. Finally, Google may penalize pages that use black hat SEO techniques.

How Can I Get My Content Re-Indexed if It’s Been Removed?

You can ask Google to re-index your content by modifying it to meet the search engine’s Webmaster quality guidelines. Then, you can submit a reconsideration request and wait to see Google’s response.

How Can I Prevent Search Engines From Indexing Certain Pages?

You can prevent search engines from indexing certain pages by adding a noindex metatag to the page’s <head> section. Alternatively, if your content is a media file, you can add it to a robots.txt file. Finally, Google Webmaster Tools enables you to hide a page using the Remove URLs tool.

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