Web indexing refers to various methods for indexing the contents of a website or of the Internet as a whole. Individual websites or intranets may use a back-of-the-book index, while search engines usually use keywords and metadata to provide a more useful vocabulary for Internet or onsite searching. With the increase in the number of periodicals that have articles online, web indexing is also becoming important for periodical websites.
Back-of-the-book-style web indexes may be called “web site A-Z indexes”. The implication with “A-Z” is that there is an alphabetical browse view or interface. This interface differs from that of a browse through layers of hierarchical categories (also known as a taxonomy) which are not necessarily alphabetical but are also found on some websites. Although an A-Z index could be used to index multiple sites, rather than the multiple pages of a single site, this is unusual.
Metadata web indexing involves assigning keywords or phrases to web pages or websites within a metadata tag (or “meta-tag”) field so that the web page or website can be retrieved with a search engine that is customized to search the keywords field. This may or may not involve using keywords restricted to a controlled vocabulary list. This method is commonly used by search engine indexing.