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Glossary keyword - Index

Index

An index is a list of all files in a database and is used to speed up the search. In Google’s case, indexing is the process of ‘summarizing’ the contents of webpages and putting them in specific orders. This way, when a user searches for a specific keyword or question, a search engine provides the results based on the indexes.

Therefore, it is not needed to crawl webpages individually every time someone searches as it reflects metadata or keywords of files in itself. By being in plain text format, it allows search algorithms to analyze a piece of data very quickly. In this way, an index speeds up the searching and categorizing files for improved user experience. Thanks to indexing, search engines use them to store all the web pages and retrieve related ones under a second.

Considering the massive size of the world wide web, it may take several hours, if not days, for search engine bots to index a particular webpage, especially if the website has a low crawl budget and authority. Google and other search engine crawlers are fully automated and free, meaning once your website is up and running, there is no need to act in order to get the website indexed.

Other Usage Areas of an Index

Mac OS speeds up Apple’s Spotlight search utility by using the same indexing technique. Similar to search engines, it indexes files on the hard disk, thus eliminating the need to scan the whole storage for every simple search. It does not only improve the user experience, but also saves energy and processing power that can be effectively harnessed later.

Another usage area can be in Microsoft Access, a database program for indexing tables. Every item in these tables has a unique index. When a user utilizes SQL query to retrieve data, the software scans all the entries with indexes to find the ones that fit for search results.

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