Understanding Web Crawlers/Spiders: Meaning, Types, Benefits and How They Work to Keep the Internet Alive

web crawlers and bots


Introducing Web Crawlers/Spiders

What are web crawlers?

Web crawlers also known as spiders, web robots, spiderbots or bots are computer programs that automatically browse the world wide web to get information either for indexing, storage or data analysis.

These digital explorers tirelessly journey through the internet’s vast network in search of data and information. Businesses, therefore, rely on web crawlers to collect and analyze large amounts of data for their online business objectives.

Though web crawlers are often seen as just tools for harvesting data, they are also at the forefront of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Without them, research and development in these fields would be severely hindered, as scientists and researchers rely on the data collected by crawlers to train and test their models as part of scraping process.

Types of Web Crawlers

Web crawlers can be classified into different groups based on activities and functions as follows:
  • Search engine crawlers: They browse the internet to index pages for search engines and query responses. Examples are Googlebot, Bingbot, Yahoobot, Yandex, Baidu and Duckduckgo.

  • Constant crawlers: These bots browse the internet non-stop to gather information, especially for search indexing. Examples are Googlebot and Bingbot.

  • On-demand Crawlers: These are web spiders that access specific pages on demand. Examples of these bots are ones used by SEO tools likes like SEObility, Hrefs, etc.

  • In-house web crawlers: These crawlers are developed by organizations to solve their internal web issues and gather data for their business growth. Example is Googlebot that as well helps the organization.

  • Open source web crawlers: These are free crawlers provided for businesses to use for free online solutions. Example is Scrapy.

  • Commercial web crawlers: These spiders are run mostly by Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and web solution companies for commercial purposes, where organizations pay to access their services for their business solutions.

Benefits of Web Crawlers to Businesses

Benefits of web crawlers

Web crawlers can make web navigation a breeze, and they power several useful functions. Here are a few benefits of using web crawlers:

  • Search engines Functionality: Web crawlers help search engines identify and index content – improving search query accuracy. Example of such crawlers is the popular Googlebot. Others are Bingbot and Yandex.

  • Web Archives and Bookmarks: Web crawlers are essential to web archives because they are programmed to find and copy content from websites, so that it can be stored for future generations. Wikipedia and some bookmarking platforms and archives employs these forms of crawlers.

  • Data Collection (Web Scraping): Web crawlers also known as web scrapers provide a convenient way to quickly and efficiently collect large amounts of data from the internet. This data can be used for a range of purposes, from research projects to making informed business decisions.

  • Competitive Intelligence: Web crawlers allow businesses to track their competitors’ websites and stay abreast of product pricing, marketing strategies, and other key information. This data can be used to make adjustments to the company’s strategy to stay ahead of the competition.

  • Popular website SEO platforms employ these crawlers for competitors analysis and performance comparison.

  • Copyright tracking: Web crawlers help writers determine the ownership of their work by collecting information about when and where works were first posted.

  • Analytical and Qualitative Alerts: For site administrators, web crawlers can be a life-saver. They scan webpages for broken links and notify site administrators so the broken links can be removed. They also enhance detection of changes on web pages which are vital for SEO and website functionality.

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Web crawlers are beneficial for search engine optimization (SEO) because they can gather data on a website’s structure, content, and keywords.
These data can be used to improve the website’s search engine ranking, resulting in increased visibility and traffic. This is how SEObility, Semrush, Hrefs, and other SEO tools are able to function.

  • Content Monitoring: Web crawlers are also useful for content monitoring, providing alerts to users whenever changes are made or new content is added. This helps ensure businesses and individuals are always up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in their industry.

  • E-Commerce survey: For e-commerce websites, web crawlers can give businesses an edge in product pricing by gathering pricing information from competitors. This information can be used to analyze product offerings and adjust pricing.

  • Research and general analytical techniques: Finally, web crawlers can be used for research purposes. By gathering data on topics like public opinion, societal trends, and social media, businesses and researchers alike can gain valuable insights to inform decision-making.
Overall, web crawlers offer numerous advantages to businesses. By harvesting data, providing competitive intelligence, assisting with SEO, monitoring content, and gathering information for research, web crawlers help businesses to make informed decisions.

How Web Crawlers Boost Site's SEO and Ranking

How web crawlers work to boost SEO and internet Experience
If your website has crawlability issues, it could be hurting your page's rank in SERPs and frustrate your effort. If you want to make your website content rank good and be seen by visitors, it's important to know how to detect and fix any issues and it all bounds back to crawlers.

Crawling technologies, such as SEObility, Hrefs, Semrush, Small SEO Tools, Screaming Frog and Deepcrawl, can help you assess the health of your website. With the help of these tools, you can detect broken links, duplicate content and incorrectly sized page titles.

Broken Links:
Broken links are backlinks which do not exist again, either removed by the third party website or by other factors which are mostly external.

Broken links can create a bad user experience and lower your SERP ranking. Using a crawling tool can help you detect when links point to a page that no longer exists and take steps to fix the issue.

Duplicate Content:
When content appears multiple times on separate URLs, it can be difficult for search engines to determine which version is relevant to a user's search query.

Crawlers will help you detect double content on your site which you can then resolved either through a 301 redirect or other means.

Page Titles:
Improperly sized page titles can have an effect on how your pages get ranked.

Crawling technologies powered by the functionality of crawlers can help you identify if titles are duplicated, missing, too long or too short and will offer you a crew on how to to fix the problem.

Image and videos optimization:
The quality of an image or video is vital for the optimization of a website content. When the image or video is not properly sized, labeled or titled, it can pose a risk of content not getting indexed.

Through the numerous SEO and crawler tools, you can sort out this issue by offering your image in correct format, size and quality.

There are numerous benefits of web crawlers but it all lies on the fact that they are the unsung heroes of the internet, one of the reasons the world wide web is what it is. So, the next time you're surfing the web, pause to take a moment to appreciate the work of web crawlers. They may be behind the scenes, but their impact on the internet and humanity as a whole is remarkable indeed.

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