What is Indexing in SEO? Difference between Crawling and Indexing in Search Engine

The notion of “Build it and they will come” doesn’t hold true for brick-and-mortar businesses, and it’s equally applicable to your online storefront — your website.

Online visibility relies on search engines like Google and Bing. These platforms sift through the vast internet pages, presenting users with search results from high-quality websites. Acting as efficient filters, they ensure users quickly find information that aligns with their searches.

Crucial for SEO, search engines employ indexing to organize and rank websites. Without indexing, content or webpages stand no chance of ranking for search results.

This article aims to shed light on the intricacies of Indexing, differentiating it from another crucial SEO process—Crawling. As we get to learn the mechanisms that drive search engines and understand the significant role that Indexing plays in enhancing online visibility.

What is Indexing?

A webpage can be added to search engines indexes (such as Google) if it is indexable.

“Indexing” is the act of adding a webpage to an index. This indicates that Google crawled the page and its contents before adding them to a database containing billions of pages (known as the Google index).

The Google index is similar to an index in a library, which lists information about all the books the library has available. However, instead of books, the Google index lists all of the web pages that Google knows about. When Google visits your site, it detects new and updated pages and updates the Google index.

Source: Google

Google’s Indexing Process Unveiled

Google Crawling, Indexing, Ranking


  • Google initiates the process by discovering a URL. This involves creating an SEO-friendly URL for the article.
  • The discovery phase includes extracting links from newly found web pages. This can happen through various means, such as following links on other internet pages, exploring sitemaps, or analyzing inbound link sources.


  • Once identified, Google prioritizes URLs using sophisticated algorithms. Googlebot then visits pages that meet the established priority threshold, a step known as crawling.
  • The crawling phase is crucial in traversing the web and ensuring that Google examines pages that align with its prioritization criteria.


  • In the final step, Google extracts the content of the page and evaluates its quality. Unique content is emphasized during this phase.
  • Google also renders pages to assess layout, structure, and various elements. If all criteria are met, the page is indexed, signifying its successful inclusion in Google’s database.

This breakdown, while somewhat simplified, encompasses critical stages within each step of the indexing pipeline. After a page successfully completes these phases and is indexed, it becomes eligible for ranking in response to relevant queries. This visibility allows it to attract organic traffic, enhancing the website’s online presence.

Difference between Crawling and Indexing

Crawling is how indexing obtains data for its index. The search engine determines which websites to display for a given query based on the expanding list of available options. 

To proceed to the indexing phases, crawlers need to be able to reach a website without encountering any obstacles. Some websites lose out on important traffic because they are not appropriate for crawling and indexing. Even if your website is fantastic and has loads of information, you are losing out on chances since no one is seeing your material if it isn’t crawled and indexed.

What is the typical duration for Google to index a page? 

A Considerable number of pages fail to undergo indexing by Google, and a more substantial portion remains uncrawlable.

Compounding this issue, there is a prevalent occurrence of significant delays in the indexing process. Our monitoring activities encompass the tracking of indexing events for numerous prominent websites. This enables us to analyze the average duration Google takes to index new pages, excluding instances where pages are never indexed.

The following statistical insights illustrate the frequency of indexing delays:

 Crawling and Indexing
  • Google achieves the indexing of only 56% of indexable URLs within one day of publication.
  • After a span of two weeks, the indexing rate increases to 87% of URLs.

It is noteworthy that Google employs a sophisticated system for managing its website crawling operations. Certain websites undergo more frequent crawls, while others are visited less often. In the short term, manipulating this frequency is beyond immediate influence. However, various strategies can be employed to positively impact long-term indexing outcomes, which will be discussed in subsequent sections.

Best Practices for Indexing

To optimize the indexing process for your website, consider implementing the following best practices:

  • Quality Content: Craft high-quality, relevant content that adds substantial value to users.
  • Sitemap Submission: Submit a sitemap to search engines, providing a comprehensive list of all your pages for efficient crawling and indexing.
  • Robot.txt: Utilize a robots.txt file to guide crawlers on which pages to crawl and index, providing a level of control over the process.
  • Mobile-Friendly Design: Ensure your website is optimized for mobile devices, as search engines prioritize mobile indexing, considering the growing number of mobile users.

Final Say

Now that you’ve gained a deeper understanding of search engine indexing, it becomes apparent how pivotal it is in determining your page’s ranking. Despite the potential evolution of index practices in the future, its central role in SEO remains unchanged. Effective indexing continues to be the linchpin for achieving improved rankings and cultivating a user-friendly website adorned with quality content. Cultivating a habit of consistently maintaining your website ensures it aligns with SEO ranking standards and is optimally positioned for index.

Crafting a robust SEO and content strategy is paramount, serving as your beacon to stand out in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). This strategic approach not only positions you favorably in the current SEO landscape but also equips you to seamlessly adapt to future changes. Establishing a plan, adhering to it consistently, and staying abreast of SEO industry shifts empowers you to not only maximize your existing content but also seize growth opportunities on the horizon.

FAQs on Crawling and Indexing

How frequently do search engines crawl websites?

Search engines conduct periodic crawls to keep their index updated. The frequency depends on factors such as the website’s update frequency, content relevance, and authority.

Can a page be indexed without undergoing crawling?

No, for a page to be indexed, it must first undergo the crawling process. Crawling serves as the gateway for search engines to discover and gather information about the page.

Are all pages on a website guaranteed to be indexed?

Not necessarily. Search engines prioritize pages with high-quality content, relevance, and user engagement. Pages with thin or duplicate content may not find their place in the index.

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