SEO Basics: What Does Indexing Mean?
The Internet as we know it relies in large part on the work of search engines. Thanks to Google, Bing, and Co. we can not only visit websites that we already know but also discover completely new content. But before the search engines can provide us with high-quality content, they have to index all websites. In this article, we explain what exactly that means and how you can get your own website into the search results.
Indexing: The basis of search engine work
An index is generally a directory, the contents of which are sorted by name or keyword. Google also has an index in which websites are categorized according to a topic. This is essential in order to be able to assign search queries the right results. Without the index, search engines would not work as we are used to.
The process of adding websites to the Google directory is called indexing. It starts with so-called crawlers: These are kind of small robots that constantly search the Internet.
The crawlers use links to move from page to page and deliver their results to Google. There, the content is sorted into the index using relevant keywords – similar to a library.
If a user enters a term in the search mask, the query is compared with the index. The Google algorithm then shows results that match the topic and the search intention.
How long does it take to index on Google?
The time it takes to index your website on Google can vary – from a few seconds to more than a month. This depends, among other things, on whether the crawlers have to find your website organically via links or whether you are directly informed about it.
How to make your website visible to Google crawlers
How do you initiate indexing of your page?
If you’re not in a hurry, you can just wait for the crawlers to find your site on their own. For this to work, the following requirements must be met:
- There must be links to the page in question: the more there are, the sooner Google will find them.
- The content must not be blocked for crawlers.
- The content must be readable for the crawler. This means, for example, that images and videos should be provided with text because Google currently only understands and can classify this.
This passive variant is less time-consuming for you, but it also takes the longest time to achieve the desired result – successful indexing. In addition, if the conditions are not optimal, there is a risk that Google will overlook pages.
It’s faster if you actively take care of indexing. You can do this by creating an XML sitemap and submitting it using the Google Search Console. Google gets a list of all relevant pages and can index them in a targeted manner. Many content management systems and WordPress plugins offer you to create or update the sitemap with one click.
You can easily determine whether the indexing was successful. Enter “site: URL” into Google search, replacing the abbreviation “URL” with the web address that interests you. If Google has listed the page in its index, it will now be displayed to you.
In some cases, it can be useful not to have web pages indexed. For example, many webmasters block their websites from crawlers while they are doing a revision. This ensures that no unfinished pages end up in the index. After editing, however, you must definitely remember to unlock it again. Otherwise, Google will not be able to access the content.
If you have duplicate content on your website, you can work with canonical tags. They refer to the original from duplicate content. Since Google prefers unique content and penalizes duplication, you can also improve your ranking this way.
If a page should not appear in the search results because the content is not relevant enough, simply exclude it from indexing with a robots.txt file.
Relevant content brings you up in the ranking
Unfortunately, successful indexing does not mean that your website will be easily found on Google. The ranking of the many indexed pages is based on a number of factors. Above all, this includes relevant content that interests your target group and provides added value.
These influence the behavior of visitors to your website. Readers who feel comfortable with you stay longer, look at more pages, interact more with your content and recommend it to others – for example by posting a link on their own blog. All of this and much more flows into the algorithm’s decision as to which pages are on the first page of results and which are further back.
Therefore, always align your content with the search intent of your target group and ensure the best possible user experience.
Conclusion: Without indexing, no traffic from search engines
The indexing of websites by search engines is a complicated but very important process. It enables Google to correctly classify the topics and content of a page and output them in accordance with the search intent of the user.
If you want to make sure that your website can be found on Google, you should therefore check that all-important pages have been indexed. You can submit missing pages and updates via a sitemap in the Google Search Console.