How Does Google Crawl, Index, and Rank Websites?

a tablet with the Google search page open on the screen

If you run a small to medium-sized business, you should have a robust digital marketing plan in place. And not just that. You should also have an in-depth understanding of how Google Search works.

  • How does Google crawl, index, and rank websites?
  • Which ranking criteria does it use?
  • How can you bump your webpages to the top Google search results?

Once you answer the first question, you’ll develop a better understanding of how Googlebot and human quality raters work together to maintain streamlined, relevant, and useful search results.

In this blog, we’ll offer a closer look at the Google crawling, indexing, and ranking process. Let’s begin!

1. What Is Crawling, Indexing, and Ranking?

Google is a fully automated search engine. While Google’s human quality raters manually check the quality of content, the bulk of the work is done by Googlebot.

The crawling process is pivotal. Google carefully downloads media from webpages using automated programs known as “crawlers”. Everything from text to images to video is downloaded.

Once this is done, the indexing process begins. Google analyses all the media on a webpage and stores the data in its index (a large, large database). This is followed by ranking. Any time a web user runs a Google search, Google fetches relevant information from its index.

It’s important to note that all webpages don’t make it through each stage. You can increase your chances of making it through all three stages by ensuring that your webpages by following the Google Search Essentials. However, even then, nothing is guaranteed.

Important to Note: Google doesn’t complete the three-step crawling, indexing, and ranking process for businesses that offer payments; this is a common misconception.

2. A Closer Look at the Crawling Process

Google search results displayed on a laptop screen

The first task Google has to check off the list is to figure out which webpages exist. Google shoulders this task on its own; there’s no central registry that offers this information.

Google is constantly on the hunt for new and updated pages. These are systematically added to the list of known pages. Google recognises some pages because it has already visited them. Some pages are followed via links, while others are discovered when a sitemap is submitted. This entire process is known as “URL discovery”.

Once Google discovers a page, it crawls it. Googlebot does all the heavy lifting. It figures out which webpages should be crawled, when, and how. The crawlers are programmed to complete their task at an even pace, not too fast (this can leave room for overloading).

The mechanism ultimately depends on the responses of the website. Certain pages are never crawled because they may require users to log in before the site is accessible. It’s also possible that the site owner has disallowed their website for crawling.

Recommended Read: Why Is My Website Not Showing Up on Google SERPs? How Can I Fix This?

3. A Closer Look at the Indexing Process

SEO experts going over strategies for a client

Once a page has been successfully crawled, Google tries to understand what it’s about. This is the indexing process. Google processes and analyses content, including all tags, attributes, and media (images, videos, infographics, GIFs, concept illustrations, etc.).

As this is happening, Google also figured out whether a page is a duplicate of another webpage. All the information is collected and stored in Google’s impressive index.

As we mentioned earlier, indexing isn’t guaranteed, either. If your webpage is low in quality or the design makes the indexing process tricky, indexing may never occur.

4. A Closer Look at the Ranking Process

After indexing webpages, Google starts serving search results. When a web user looks for something on Google, Google’s clever machines search their index for webpages that are relevant to the search query.

Google considers dozens of unique factors, including the user’s language, location, device (smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop computer, etc.), and so on. If a web user looks for “laptop repair services” in Los Angeles, they’ll receive very different results than a web user who runs the same query in Hong Kong.

The more relevant, authoritative, trustworthy, and credible your content, the higher your rankings.

5. How Can I Get My Webpages Crawled, Indexed, and Ranked by Google?

an SEO specialist and a business founder having a meeting 

Every business wants Google to check all three boxes off the list for their website. However, as discussed earlier, this isn’t a given. If you want to enjoy crawling, indexing, and ranking, put all your eggs in the quality basket.

Quality takes precedence over anything else. Write masterful content that provides value to your audience. Use correct grammar, punctuation, spelling, and syntax. Your vocabulary should also be excellent and user-centric. Avoid using too much jargon and making things unnecessarily complex and complicated. At the same time, avoid writing simplistic content. Master the right balance.

We also recommend optimising your content like a seasoned pro. Use high-ranking keywords, add image filename and alt text to images, use title tags and meta descriptions, use a custom URL, add internal and external links to your content, and so on.

Your content should demonstrate a high level of E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness). Once a web user is done exploring your content, they should have clear and correct answers to their original search query.

Avoid black-hat search engine optimisation practices. While keyword stuffing, content automation, and link schemes may sound like a good idea on paper, they’ll pan out horribly in practice. You’ll end up getting penalised or, worse, banned. Use white-hat SEO strategies to make it to (and stay in) Google’s good books.

Recommended Read: White-Hat SEO: How to Improve Your Rankings Without Displeasing Google

Start Dominating Google SERPs with TocToc!

If you want to rank higher on Google SERPs, turn to search engine optimisation (SEO).

At TocToc, we craft actionable, power-packed, and tailored SEO plans for clients across Canberra and Sydney. Once your campaign is up and running, you’ll start noticing an improvement in your rankings, a steady rise in traffic, and higher conversions.

Explore our SEO services to get started! We also specialise in content marketing(article writing, blog writing, eBook writing, and web copywriting), email marketing, web design and development, app development, and social media marketing.

Contact our team to take the first few steps towards a stellar online presence.

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Get in touch with us with your ideas and needs. We will come up with a web copywriting strategy that works for you.
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