Google Is Now Indexing CSV Files for Better Search Results

In a subtle update to their Google Search Central documentation, Google has announced that they are now indexing .csv files. 

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Indexing CSV Files

This Indexing csv files introduces a novel avenue for website crawling. However, for publishers who prefer their .csv files to remain uncrawled, modifications to their robots.txt may be necessary to exclude these files.

What is Comma-Separated Values (CSV)

Comma-separated values (CSV) files are essentially text files that save data in a tabular format that can be shown as a spreadsheet.

CSV files, being a repository of data in an unembellished text format, do not encase style elements such as fonts. Furthermore, they lack the capacity to incorporate images or active links. This simplicity contributes to their versatility and widespread use.

CSV files serve many practical purposes, such as enabling the upload of URL lists for crawling by software applications like Screaming Frog.

Comma-Separated Values (Csv)

Moreover, they serve as an effective tool for arranging data systematically in a spreadsheet.

The Benefits of CSV File Indexing for Website Owners

Google’s recent update to now index CSV files brings a series of advantages for website owners. These benefits are significant in terms of search visibility and data organization. 

The primary advantage of CSV file indexing is the enhancement of online visibility. Through this new feature, Google can access, crawl, and index the data presented in CSV files on a website. Now, any information contained within these files is searchable and can help to improve a site’s SEO ranking.

Similarly, CSV file indexing allows website owners to better organize data on their site. With Google’s ability to crawl CSV files, the search engine can more effectively understand the structure and content of the data presented. 

  • Enhanced search visibility: Google’s ability to index CSV files means that any data within these files can be crawled and indexed. This can lead to increased search visibility and potentially higher SEO rankings.
  • Improved data organization: CSV file indexing allows Google to better understand the structure and content of the data on a website. This can lead to a more accurate representation of the site in search results, which can improve user experience and potentially drive more traffic to the site.

CSV File Indexing Is New

The latest addition to Google’s indexing capabilities is the ability to index CSV files. This is a fresh feature, as a “filetype” search on Google for CSV files has not previously yielded any CSV results.

Currently, the following searches do not return CSV files:

  • filetype:csv
  • filetype:csv
  • filetype:csv

Google Has Already Indirectly Used CSV Files

Google’s Dataset search appearance previously utilized CSV files, but only when accompanied by structured data.

Google’s previous Developer documentation (viewable on  states that CSV files are an acceptable standard for appearing in dataset search features.

Google started displaying tabular data in search results in 2018, provided it comes with structured data.

As per the original documentation:

“Datasets are easier to find when you provide supporting information such as their name, description, creator and distribution formats are provided as structured data…

Here are some examples of what can qualify as a dataset:

  • Data in a table or CSV file
  • Organized collection of tables
  • A proprietary format file with data
  • A set of files that form a significant dataset
  • An object with data for processing in a specific tool
  • Images capturing data
  • Machine learning files like trained parameters or neural network structures
  • Anything that looks like a dataset to you”

Google redirected the 2022 updated documentation to the new Search Central Documentation.

Google’s updated documentation confirms its reliance on structured data for CSV file usage in dataset search appearance.

Will this change lead to Google crawling CSV files for search appearances, along with structured data’s tabular data?

Refer to the current documentation

“Datasets are easier to find when you provide supporting information such as their name, description, creator and distribution formats as structured data.

Google’s approach to dataset discovery makes use of and other metadata standards that can be added to pages that describe datasets…

Here are some examples of what can qualify as a dataset:

A table or a CSV file with some data…”

Top Tips for Optimizing CSV Files for Better Search Engine Rankings

Google’s recent development in indexing CSV files opens new possibilities for website owners. Here are top tips to optimize CSV files for better search engine rankings: 

  • Ensure Clean Data: The CSV files should be free of errors. Unnecessary spaces, incorrect data, and missing values can affect how Google indexes the file.
  • Maintain Consistent Format: Consistency in data values and formats helps in seamless indexing. Date and time values, for instance, should follow a uniform format across your CSV files.
  • Utilize Descriptive Headers: Use clear and descriptive headers for each column. This enhances Google’s understanding of the data in the file.
  • Optimize File Size: Large CSV files can slow down Google’s indexing process. It’s advisable to keep the file size within manageable limits for efficient indexing.

Following these tips can significantly increase the visibility and rankings of your CSV files in Google’s search results. It’s a step forward in taking full advantage of Google’s extended indexing capabilities.

A core algorithm update refers to Google’s “significant” and “broad changes” to their main algorithm.

The indexing of CSV files and the core algorithm update may have occurred simultaneously by chance.

Consider if Google has enhanced their crawling engine to index CSV or if this feature was pre-existing.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does Google indexing CSV files benefit website owners? 

Google indexing CSV files can benefit website owners in several ways. First, it can improve search visibility by allowing Google to index and display relevant data from CSV files in search results. Second, it can help with data organization by making it easier to manage and update large amounts of data in a structured format. Finally, it can provide website owners with insights into how their data is being used and accessed by users.

How can website owners optimize their CSV files for better indexing and search engine rankings?

Website owners can optimize their CSV files for better indexing and search engine rankings by following a few best practices. First, they should ensure that their CSV files are properly formatted and contain accurate and relevant data. Second, they should include relevant keywords in the file name and file content to improve search visibility. Finally, they should ensure that their CSV files are accessible to search engines by including them in their sitemap and submitting them to Google Search Console.

Can any type of data be included in a CSV file?

Yes, any type of data can be included in a CSV file as long as it is properly formatted and separated by commas. This includes text, numbers, dates, and even images or links. However, it is important to ensure that the data is accurate and relevant to the website and its users.

Are there any limitations to Google indexing CSV files?

Yes, there are some limitations to Google indexing CSV files. First, Google may not index all the data in a CSV file if it is not relevant or useful to users. Second, Google may not index CSV files that are too large or contain too much data. Finally, Google may not index CSV files that are not properly formatted or contain errors or inconsistencies.

See the updated list of indexable file types:

File types indexable by Google

Review Google’s Dataset Documentation:

Dataset (Dataset, DataCatalog, DataDownload) structured data

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