Crawling, indexing, and ranking your website is a complex process that happens on the backend of Google search engine.
Understanding that process will also help you understand how to improve your website search rankings.
Although there are over 200 ranking factors, how your site gets ranked in Google is a journey through three big steps: Crawling, Indexing, and Ranking.
Crawling Your Website
To crawl your website Google uses so-called web crawlers or web spiders. Basically their job is to follow the clickable links (hyperlinks) to find new content.
For example, a spider finds out about new pages on your website by first crawling your homepage. That’s why as a general rule you need to have all your content accessible from the homepage itself.
The common practice to achieve that is by creating a navigation menu with categories and subcategories to all your posts and pages.
Having a good navigation menu on your homepage will actually tick two big boxes for you:
- Google successfully indexes all your pages
- You provide an overall good user experience for your website visitors.
Another good practice is to hyperlink your posts within posts. Feed web crawlers with links that go back and forth between pages on your site. They are not happy when they reach a dead end and there is nowhere to go.
Indexing Your Website
Indexing your website is quite straightforward.
Usually, this happens automatically over time. But you can use Google’s Search Console to help facilitate the crawling and indexing of your new pages.
To help Google keep track of your website over time is also important to create and submit a sitemap of your website.
Ranking Your Website
After your site is indexed the real journey starts. There are over 200 factors that decide how your site gets ranked. These factors are not fully disclosed by Google, they are researched, analyzed, and published on specialized blogs like this one from Backlinko.
Even though a lot of effort and money is being spent on discovering how to rank websites, this is still not an exact science and maybe that’s how it should be.
There are two big aspects that will influence your website ranking the most: your content marketing strategy and external backlinks.
Here we will briefly have a look at backlinks. As for the content on your website, the idea is to create valuable content for your target audience.
What are Backlinks
When other websites are linking to your website – in Google’s eyes that is a good signal. This suggests that your content or your website is recommended by someone else.
That builds reputation and trust for your website. The process of building backlinks to your site is called off-site optimization or SEO. There are many things to discuss in terms of SEO, but here we will only focus on backlinks.
Just as I linked above an external link to another website, that page has now a new backlink from this page (if this page will be crawled and indexed by google).
Think of it as recommendations from other people. If I found something valuable somewhere, linking to it is a form of recommendation.
Backlinks can also have a negative impact on your website. If you buy cheap backlinking services you might end up with links from spammy sites that can bring down your site’s reputation and hurt your rankings.
NOFOLLOW AND DOFOLLOW
The last concept you need to know about backlink are the nofollow and dofollow link attributes.
Writing a simple HTML value you can tag the clickable link as nofollow. Marking the link as nofollow tells Google that you don’t want to pass link juice (or trust) from your website to that website. On their own, without any changes, the links are always dofollow.
However, this does not mean that there is no value in nofollow backlinks. Even if it is a nofollow link real people will click it and website visitors positively impact your rankings.
Think of dofollow links as links for google and for people, whilst nofollow links are just links for real people.
In a nutshell, that’s how Google search rankings work. You build trust and reputation by having other trustworthy websites linking to pages on your website. This suggests to Google that your site might benefit other people too. As a consequence of that, they will prioritize your site above others in the search results.
Whilst crawling and indexing are important the hardest aspect of your website rankings is the off-page optimization. It can take months and sometimes even years if you try to rank in highly competitive niches such as health and fitness.
Crawling and indexing your website is pretty straightforward, it happens in a matter of days sometimes.
If your content is valuable and helps the users solve their problems, the word will spread. Other bloggers will recommend your content and you will generate organic backlinks that will help your site boost its rankings.