Web crawling has a wide range of applications that businesses can leverage to gain a competitive advantage. Most notably, it is integral to the functionality of search engines as well as the results displayed for every query. It is also worth noting that as a business, you can independently use web crawler tools to collect data or verify that your website and the pages therein are crawlable. This article will analyze web crawling from the latter perspective and detail how web crawlers can generally benefit your business. Firstly, though, let’s discuss what is a web crawler.
What is a web crawler?
A web crawler/spider/spiderbot is a program that follows links embedded in web pages to discover new web pages and content. This act of following links is what is referred to as web crawling. At the same time, however, the spiders also collect and store the content found in the crawled web pages for future retrieval. The process of storing the data in databases is known as indexing.
Importance of web crawlers for businesses
Search engine bots discover web pages and, through the process, facilitate the eventual ranking of websites on search engine results pages (SERP). Typically, the ranking is subject to the fulfillment of certain preconditions that, together, inform sites’ search engine optimization (SEO) strategies.
It is worth noting that some elements of SEO, such as the use of links, regular content, and use of keywords, are meant to increase the crawlability of websites. And these elements are important for businesses in many ways. For example, ranking high on SERPs is linked with greater visibility. Furthermore, statistics show that a majority of search engine users do not go beyond the third page. At the same time, 60% of users usually click on one of the top three results.
Appearing on the first few pages, therefore, leads to more clicks, and this can lead to greater revenue upon conversion. Simply, SEO promotes organic marketing.
It is also worth pointing out that you can use web crawlers to guide data collection initiatives via the internet. At the same time, you can use SEO crawlers to optimize your site’s crawlability.
Top 3 web crawler tools to use in 2022
The top 3 web crawler tools include:
- NinjaSEO Web Crawler
- Netpeak Spider
- Norconex Open-Source Crawlers
NinjaSEO web crawler
NinjaSEO web crawler helps optimize your site in order to make it more crawlable. As the name suggests, this crawler is SEO-oriented. As such, it crawls your website and analyzes its structure and architecture. Next, it displays the analyzed data in a tabular format to enable you to establish the number of pages and content that comprise your website. This data also includes markers that let you verify the performance. Importantly, it does all these in less than a minute.
Additionally, you can also crawl other websites using NinjaSEO. Based on the crawled data, this spider offers page recommendations that ensure your website fulfills the requirements of search engines.
Pros of NinjaSEO:
- It is a cloud-hosted crawler – you do not have to worry about the capacity of your computers
- It is fast
- Free to install
- Provides elaborate information about the crawled URLs
- Reporting features advanced data presentation
- Is multilingual
Cons of NinjaSEO:
- It is oriented toward SEO, meaning it is less useful in other cases
Netpeak Spider is an SEO crawler that crawls your website to identify broken images and links, check for duplicate pages, texts, titles, and meta descriptions. It looks through more than 80 crucial on-page SEO parameters, from the website structure and crawling and indexing instructions in the robots.txt files to redirects and status codes (server responses to requests).
It also helps users determine the distribution of links on the website. Notably, the spider has a built-in scraping solution to extract data from websites. In addition, the pro version of the crawler can crawl multiple websites simultaneously.
Pros of Netpeak Spider:
- It offers a freemium plan
- It can be integrated with search engine analytics tools
- It helps users spot more than 100 web optimization issues
Cons of NinjaSEO:
- It is oriented toward SEO, meaning it might not be applicable in other cases
- Its pro package is limited to only a single user
Norconex is an open-source enterprise spider that enables users to embed the application on their own programs. It is primarily aimed at helping companies that need to crawl and index websites in order to create search engines or data repositories.
The crawler offers numerous features, including the ability to crawl millions of web pages using a single server of average capacity. It can detect the language, supports deduplication of crawled content, and more.
Pros of Norconex crawler:
- It eliminates the need to create a web crawler
- It is multilingual and detects languages
- Can crawl millions of web pages
- Can extract text from different file formats
Cons of Norconex crawler:
- Uses your server’s resources, meaning its speed may be limited
Web crawling is important in many ways. Most notably, it helps businesses implement successful SEO strategies as well as ensure their websites are crawlable. Companies can use web crawlers to optimize their sites for efficiency, thereby ensuring the search engine bots successfully discover and index the pages therein.