What does Crawler mean in marketing terminology?


Search engine crawlers – commonly referred to as ‘spiders’ – are used by search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo to discover new webpages and websites, and to assess the existing content of the existing webpages within a given website. They operate by using automated programmes (also known as ‘web crawlers’) that are designed specifically to ‘crawl’ the web, indexing websites, pages, content and several other related assets as they visit and revisit pages. As a result of this process, the information they crawl and index is then used to improve the accuracy of search engine results – ensuring that users are provided with the most relevant content that is reflective of their intended information and is consistent with the principles of quality content.

Because of this, search engine crawlers are sometimes referred to as ‘Google bots’ or ‘Google spiders’ – as Google is one of (if not the) largest search engines in use today. However, the principles and processes of crawling apply to all search engines and their respective crawlers.

To provide a comprehensive overview of search engine crawlers, it is essential to consider the primary objectives of search engines and their crawlers – of which there are two:

- Firstly, search engines and their respective crawlers need to ‘crawl’ the web – visiting, indexing and collecting data from new websites, webpages, content and other related assets;

- Secondly, search engine crawlers need to re-visit previously indexed websites and webpages to assess any changes and updates that may have been made.

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Additionally, there are several other objectives and considerations associated with general search engine crawling and indexing – such as being aware of the relevant search engine guidelines and optimisation best practices. This will ensure that you are following the search engine guidelines and are taking into account those guidelines that relate to the quality and content of your website.

To begin, it is essential to ensure that you understand the search engine crawling process, and the purposes of indexing webpages and websites. Indexing is the process whereby a search engine crawler visits and discovers a website or webpage, and ‘reads’ the content, internal links, and page structure to determine relevance and assign a ranking. As a result of being indexed, the relevant website or webpage will then be returned in the organic search results for a given query, if relevant.

To improve your website’s visibility and potential to be returned in organic search results, it is essential to understand and follow the best practices for search engine crawling and indexing. These best practices begin with ensuring that the website or webpage contains the correct structure and features – for example, the correct HTML elements, automation of reading content (such as META tags, header tags and other structured data) and accurate link structures – as well as other website elements such as ALT text, anchor text and sitemaps.

Aside from this technical aspect, it is also important to ensure that the content contained within the webpages is relevant, in-depth and of a valid quality. This includes writing thoughtful and well-structured articles, providing interesting and accurate information, and using appropriate keywords within the content. Additionally, it is important to ensure that the content structure is consistent and basic copywriting principles (such as using concise language, avoiding cliches and ensuring accuracy) have been followed.

It is also worthwhile noting that search engine crawlers can typically detect if a website is up-to-date and valid through their visits and indexing of the website. As such, ensuring that the website is frequently updated – by introducing new content, updating existing content and carefully managing the website’s structure – is a great way to reinforce the website’s relevancy, as well as demonstrating to search engine crawlers that the website is actively managed and of a high standard.