Over the years there has been a lot of confusion about SEO and how search engines work. One of the things that comes up all the time is the subject of search engine spiders or as they are sometimes called, search engine robots.

When a search engine robot visits your site, it’s important to understand a few things if you’re hoping to get your page indexed. Search engine robots are simply software programs that come out to your web pages, capture certain data and then return that data to the search engine from where it came.

Do search engines “see” your entire website as a whole collection of pages or do you think they only see the whole world as a collection of individual pages?  Actually, the truth is neither “if you are thinking” based on how a search engine robot sees the world.

Think about this now.

  • A search engine robot does not see a world of pages or a world of websites.
  • A search engine sees its world made up only of URLs or (uniform resource locators).

This is one reason why search engine spiders cannot sometimes find their way out of what is called a spider trap. For example, in some dynamic sites, you will often have variable strings at the end of a URL that are session identifiers and while the URL may be unique, the search engine does not realise it may be on exactly the same page over and over in a loop and may not be able to get out.

Do search engine spiders help determine what your rankings are? This is another wrong idea that some people have. The search engine spider has one sole job and that is just to crawl content and capture certain information and links and take it back to the main search engine.

How smart are search engine spiders?  The answer is they just are not very smart at all. They cannot think.

In fact most search engine spiders are rarely updated with new features. The reason why is because as most technology advances, the demands on a search engine robot remains the same basically. They still only do exactly the same job they have always done. There are some spiders that are a little better than others at being more thorough and crawling more complexly.

But all things considered, why keep rebuilding something if what you have now works great?

Tips you should be aware of with spiders, crawlers and SEO and search engine optimisation:

A spider is designed to crawl the web. The smartest way to keep spiders consistently coming back to visit, is to focus on content freshness. Add new articles, pages, FAQs, good useful information to your website on a consistent basis – instead of doing major updates. Instead of adding 20 new articles all at once, try adding only 1 article a day (everyday) and watch what happens.

You do not need to include a robots revisit tag to your HTML. It does not work and the robot will come back more consistently with you adding fresh content, you may see it stay longer and actually dig deeper into your website.

Do you want to know one reason why blogs are so busy and actively crawled by the spiders? It’s because blogs often have very fresh content, sometimes being updated several times per day.

Remember that spiders and crawlers do NOT need to be submitted to for them to find you. There are actually good reasons not to use submission software and you are wiser to link to a new site from a blog or another site that you know is already being indexed. Remember that you will still need to submit to directories though because there, you are dealing with human editors and not robots.

Make sure your website has a nice site map and then have at least one link to your site map on every page. Matt Cutts has said for example that this is one of the things that people most often forget. Remember, you have no idea whether a search engine spider will come in on your home page, or on your about us page or maybe even a policy page. But regardless of which entry point it uses, it will be able to crawl ALL of your pages if you’ve created a good site map.

Do you think that it’s best to get into Google immediately as quickly as you can? Think about it for a minute. With Google, off page factors are VERY important. Suppose Google’s search engine robot visits you right away. But unfortunately, none of the other search engines have visited your page so even if you have some good links, nobody really knows it. Perhaps you need to think of a reverse approach and first submit to a few free or paid directories. Then you could begin getting your page indexed by some of the other spiders first, then finally when Google comes in it sees some nice off page factors and link reputation for which it will reward you for.