SEO: What is a Search Engine Spider?

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SEO: What is a Search Engine Spider?

A search engine spider, also known as a web crawler or a web spider, is an automated program used by search engines to crawl web pages on the internet. These spiders follow hyperlinks from page to page, gathering information and indexing them for search engine results. Search engine spiders use various algorithms to decide what content to collect, which can include links, text, orphan pages, important key terms and images. Spiders understand how pages and sites are constructed and also, how they’re tied to other sites or internal pages. All of this information is used to help search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and Yandex determine where pages should be ranked in the SERPs.

How does a search engine spider work?

Schema markup is used to tell spiders exactly what a page is about. If your company is a hotel or airline, you can use schema to tell search engine spiders that you are a hotel, what accommodations you offer and the rooms you have available. 

When a bot crawls your site and finds your schema markup, sitemaps, robots.txt protocol or noindex, it will detect this information and update its index to continue crawling in order to better understand your site.

What are the different search engine spiders?

Some of the most important search engine spiders you should know about:

  1. Googlebot – Google
  2. Bingbot – Bing
  3. Slurp – Yahoo
  4. Baiduspider – for the Chinese search engine Baidu
  5. Yandex Bot – for the Russian search engine Yandex

The most commonly used spider is Google’s own crawler, Googlebot. Googlebot visits websites in search of content, gathers relevant data, and adds it to its search engine index. Additionally, it collects information to optimize website pages for ranking in search results.

Other search engine spiders include Bingbot, the spider used by Bing. Yahoo has its own set of spiders called Slurp. The Slurp crawler traverses through websites to find content, then ranks and classifies the content for Yahoo’s search engine index.

Some search engine spiders specialize in a specific industry or platform. For example, there is Twitterbot, the spider used by Twitter, which is specifically designed to find content within the social media platform. Other specialty spiders can be used for industries such as e-commerce and technology, where a higher level of accuracy and complexity is needed.

What can search engine spiders see?

Spiders see what humans would see when they look at a page. They can determine if the page has enough quality content, which will impact the page’s ranking. The spiders also evaluate meta-tags, images, ALT tags, blogs, videos and PDF files.

Common SEO Mistakes

Some common mistakes that could keep search engine spiders from seeing your entire site include the following:

  1. Disallowing search engines from crawling your website. You can do this if you don’t want search engines bots to crawl your site but if you do want them to crawl it again at some point, be sure to remove coding that tells them to avoid crawling.
  2. Placing navigation in JavaScript rather than HTML. If you place navigation types in your JavaScript, you should also place them in your HTML as search engine spiders don’t fully understand JavaScript yet.
  3. Having orphan pages could prevent spiders from crawling all of your pages. Be sure to link important pages throughout one another internally to create a path for search spiders.

By avoiding these common SEO mistakes, you can help ensure that your website remains highly visible and attractive to visitors, helping you boost your search rankings and generate organic traffic.

Related: JavaScript, HTML and CSS
Related: Orphan pages