BUGGING OUT: WHY SPIDERS, WEBANTS AND WEBWORMS MATTER TO SEO
The Internet is constantly growing and changing. Due to the size and volume of information available online, it is virtually impossible for an individual, or group of individuals, to scour the Internet and catalogue all available information. This task is best left to spiders, web ants and webworms.
Robots can offer substantial benefits to website owners; however, they can cause significant issues with overburdening servers and artificially increasing Internet traffic levels. The trick to using robots effectively is to know how and when to take advantage of their services.
Robots have been traversing the web since 1993. Website owners and designers should understand how data collecting companies and search engines utilize robots to find and explore websites. Once the basics are clear, it is easy to master these robots and determine who is visiting your site. Additionally, a better understanding of robots and their roles can assist in creating and optimizing meta data to keep the right robots coming back to re-index a site.
Spiders, Web Ants, and Webworms, Oh My!
The term robot is a generic, catch-all term used for programs and automated scripts designed to traverse the web and collect information. Some of the most common robots are:
Spiders: The term spider is interchangeable with the term robot. Either term is acceptable for use.
Webcrawlers: Webcrawlers are robots created specifically for indexing sites. Usually these programs are created to be used once, but they can be used indefinitely.
Webworms: Webworms are also robots, but they can be distinguished from Spiders because they are replicating programs. Other robots don’t replicate.
Web Ants: Web Ants are like ants; they are cooperative robots that distribute and share information. The information retrieved is shared in order to avoid duplicating tasks.
Unleashing Spiders, Webcrawlers, Webworms and Web Ants
Robots can be utilized for positive or negative purposes. Some of the following groups and programs use robots:
Webmasters: Webmasters use robots to study their own sites, as well as other competing sites. Webmasters can also study their website logs to determine how to fine tune SEO efforts and robot.txt files.
Search Engines: Search engines use robots to crawl websites in order to collect and index data. These robots use meta data and content for accurate categorization. Once information gathering is completed, spiders list the information they gathered.
Hackers: Hackers can unleash robots to discover the most effective methods to attack or vandalize a website. Most hackers use Webworms to carry out their dirty deeds.
Spammers: Spammers and mass marketers use spiders to sort through email addresses on blogs, forums, websites and social networks. These harvested addresses are then bombarded with massive amounts of spam.
Using Spiders, Webcrawlers, Webworms and Web Ants Wisely
There are numerous positive uses for robots. Some of the most common uses are:
Statistical Analysis: The first spider, developed to document the expanding growth of the World Wide Web, was deployed in 1993 to perform a census count of web servers. Somewhat more recently, a spider dubbed RBSE has been sent out to retrieve documents and collect statistical information.
Maintenance: Robots can assist in the maintenance of websites and for updating content. Sometimes it is not practical for individual pages to be edited. The MOMspider is a prime example of a robot designed to assist in routine maintenance tasks.
Mirroring: FTP archives commonly use mirroring as a technique for serving files. Mirrors are copies of an entire directory tree. Robots regularly retrieve and update hyperlinks to mirror sites.
Search & Discovery: The most common application for spiders is resource discovery. Spiders search and index the web in order to collect and list data on the resources they discover.
Attracting Spiders, Webcrawlers, Webworms and Web Ants
SEO is the new buzz-word. Many people have heard it in passing, and it’s a frequently discussed topic online, but few people know how to implement search engine optimization techniques properly. SEO is an involved process, but essentially, it is the process of optimizing and ensuring a website is visible to search engines. Search engine optimization ranking is important for websites, at least if a website needs regular traffic to exist.
Google search engine optimization and SEO software were terms that were relatively unheard of a decade ago. Now terms like natural search engine optimization guide and other similar titles are thrown around as if they have always existed. In fact, getting a website listed on a search engine used to involve simply submitting your site to the search engine, and nothing more. However, times have changed. Simply submitting a website isn’t good enough. There are a few important steps that must be taken to perform organic search engine optimization techniques:
<title>Insert Killer Title Tag Here</title>
A website’s title tag is the most prominent piece of information visible to visitors and spiders. It should contain relevant keywords and describe the page’s content accurately in order to increase the likelihood of a higher search engine ranking.
Use Search-Engine-Friendly URLs
Using a static URL instead of a dynamic URL can provide advantages for a website. Some search engine spiders cannot parse or index dynamic URLs. If spiders cannot sniff out a site, they can’t find it. If the site can’t be found, it won’t be indexed or displayed in search engine results.
Use Semantic Code
Using semantic code involves ensuring that the HTML elements presenting on the webpage are used appropriately. HTML headings should be used for titles and headings. Additionally paragraphs should be enclosed in the appropriate paragraph tags. Using semantic code can make websites more visible to spiders and improve ranking.
Don’t Neglect the Sitemap
Sitemaps can assist search engines in rapidly indexing content. Without a sitemap, it can take more time for spiders to notice updated content. Sitemaps are easily created and worth the small amount of time and effort involved in their creation.
Cultivate Inbound & Outbound Links
Sites with relevant inbound links rank higher than sites without them. Since spiders don’t view web pages like humans, the appearance of links and certain other relevant information conveyed within HTML tags are important to ranking highly on search engine results.
Spiders, webcrawlers, webworms and web ants have provided an invaluable service to Internet users, even though certain irresponsible implementations have produced some problems. However, most robots provide a valuable service that human users couldn’t possibly provide. Without them, we wouldn’t have some of the valuable Internet sites and resources available today. Consequently, it’s safe to assume these tools are here to stay.