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An Introduction to Search Engines, Spiders & Web Crawlers

Getting your website listed in a major search engine is critical to the success of the site. Once your site is listed, people will be able to find it from all over the world when they search using keywords and phrases relevant to the topic of your site.

Web crawlers and search engine spiders are the automated part of a search engine. These are scripts and software programs which venture out onto websites automatically, finding new content and links as they go. You can try and force a web crawler to notice your new website by submitting that site directly to the search engine itself, but the best way to get listed is to have a link to your new site from an existing one.

Once a search engine spider has found a new website, it will continue to visit that site regularly. It looks for changes to existing pages, and it looks for new pages on the site as well. Since the search engine spider regularly revisits websites it knows about, anytime you add a link to an existing or new page on a site that has already been spidered, the search engine spider will notice the new link the next time it visits.

When a search engine spider notices new links it automatically follows them to see what is on the end of the link. If the link leads to a site the search engine has never spidered before, then it will pick up that new information and add it to its database. Once it is added to the database, also known as indexed, other software will categorize and list it in the search engine results pages (SERPs), and the spider will start visiting that new site regularly as well.

Since search engine spiders and web crawlers follow links, having a link to your new website from an existing one is the fastest way to get it indexed and ranked in search engine results pages.

Most modern search engine spiders and web crawlers will revisit websites based on how often new content appears to be added. When the site is a new discovery the spider will follow a default revisit schedule, but over time it will "learn" how often you add or change content. If it finds the content is changed rarely, it will revisit to check for updates much less often. If on the other hand, the site is regularly updated, then the spider will "learn" what the most common update schedule is and adjust its visiting schedule based on that.

Therefore if you tend to update your website monthly, the search engine spiders will eventually have you scheduled to check about once each month. However, if you add new content several times each day, then the search engine spiders will be more likely to start visiting your site at least once a day to index the new content you have added.

Aside from your website updating schedule, search engine spiders will also come to see what is new when they discover new links on other websites which point to yours. Links pointing to your website from other places on the Internet are known as backlinks.

This is why breaking news stories are discovered so quickly. Many other websites will link to the news story, thus the search engine spider discovers them and hurries over to see what is so good or important to have caused all these new links from other websites.

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