The Google index is the enormous database in which Google keeps information about each web page on the internet. Google documents all site information by “crawling” the web to find new pages and websites. The search engine analyzes each web page and catalogs its content to understand what the page is about. Where Google indexes a page can determine its rank on the search engine results pages (SERP).
Website owners have a say in how Google indexes their pages. It’s possible to improve your Google search index by optimizing the content on your website. The more you know about how Google indexes sites, the better your chances of improving your position. Google indexing and search engine optimization (SEO) aren’t exactly the same concepts, but they have many similarities. Tackling SEO will improve your Google index by extension. Here’s what you need to know.
What Does Google Look for When It Crawls?
Google is constantly searching for new pages to add to the Google search index (“crawling”) using spiders, or bots. Crawling often starts on one web page and leads to another by following links to new pages. In other cases, website owners submit sitemaps to help Google index sites. It’s wise to let Google know if you add new pages or update pages it has crawled before – especially if you’re making changes to optimize your position in the SERP. The following aspects are things Google considers when crawling web pages:
- Grammar and spelling
- Freshness of the website
- Page title, title tag, and subtitles
- Meta descriptions and tags
- Image captions/alt tags
- Page content
While it’s important to have high-quality images on your website for SEO purposes, make sure to accompany imagery with relevant alt tags. Google’s “Spider” crawlers can’t see images, but they can see the content connected to images. Use keywords to describe your photos and videos for the best web crawling. If there’s anything you don’t want Google to crawl, attach a “robots.txt” text file onto your server. List pages you don’t want Google to crawl under the command, “Disallow.”
How to Make Sure Google Crawls Your Pages
When you first create a new website, build and submit a sitemap to Google. This will speed up the crawling process and ensure that Google has seen your new site. Make sure you adhere to the expected standard sitemap protocol to facilitate crawling. If you’re only adding one page or if you make changes to a single page, submit just one URL to Google. You can also attach your new web page to existing pages that Google has already crawled, although you must follow Google Webmaster Guidelines for the search engine to follow your link.
It is within your power as a site owner to provide detailed instructions about how to crawl a site, to request a recrawl of an updated page, or to opt out of Google crawling entirely. Note that Google will not accept payment to crawl sites more frequently than others. Google crawls all web pages with the same frequency to maintain a positive user experience. It’s your responsibility to make sure Google crawls new pages you add to your website. Otherwise, your pages might not appear in the web search results.
By default, websites on servers such as Wix and WordPress automatically make it onto the Google search index. Site owners can change their crawl settings to not crawl or to only crawl vital aspects of their websites. Common practice for improving a site’s SERP ranking is to only let Google index vital parts of the website. Archives like blog categories, for instance, don’t necessarily need crawling. Pick and choose what you want Google to crawl to help improve your rank.
How to Improve Your Rank on the Google Index
If you’re cranking out content but users aren’t seeing any of it, you could have a crawling problem. Google might not have added your page to the index, making it all-but-invisible to searching users. You must take steps to optimize your content, enhance the user experience, and join the Google search index to improve your website’s visibility. In other words, you must engage in search engine optimization best practices to change where you are in the Google index. The following tips can help:
- Optimize your domain name. Whenever possible, make sure a web page’s domain name includes your chosen keywords for your audience. Domains with positive SERP ranks see higher crawling rates.
- Earn quality backlinks. Backlinks to your website from reputable, trustworthy, authoritative sites can show Google that your site is among the same ranks as established sites. Earning good backlinks can prove that you have high-quality content.
- Only use original content. Never duplicate content, even if you’re taking it from one of your web pages to another. Duplicate content, even if not technically plagiarized from another writer or business, can seriously hurt your Google index ranking.
- Take advantage of all page elements. Do the best you can with the web page elements Google will crawl. In other words, don’t leave the title tag, meta description, or other vital parts of your website blank. Come up with great content that includes keywords.
- Stay consistently relevant. Google uses search algorithms to sort through the Google index and find the most relevant pages to match a user’s search. Continuously update your website, post new blogs, and keep your content relevant to appear on the first page of the SERP.
As you can see, SEO and Google indexing have a lot in common. If you succeed at one, you generally achieve the other. Don’t let Google index a site on its own. There is no guarantee that Google’s crawlers will ever even see your site unless you submit a sitemap. Stay proactive about site crawling and indexing to rank as high as you can on the SERP. Only then can you achieve maximum brand visibility during user searches.
Get Professional SEO Assistance
If you don’t want the burden of site-mapping, Google search index optimization, website updates, keyword research, and other key aspects of SEO on your plate as a business owner, trust these processes to the professionals at Vizion Interactive. Our proven SEO services can help you master Google crawlers and earn a top spot in the index and on the SERP – organically. We use the best technologies, processes, and practices to improve and maintain brand visibility. Contact us to explore the full extent of our SEO services.