Crawl Budget Optimization: Invite GoogleBot to Crawl Important Pages
Still wondering how to get Google to crawl your site? Let me summarize all the basics that you want to know about Google crawl budget ahead of talking in-depth about how to optimize crawl budget of your website. This is to ensure that you understand the importance of crawl budget management as one of the key SEO strategies to rank your website on Google.
Another reason for summarizing the important aspects of the search engine’s crawl budget is because getting Google to crawl your site needs technical SEO expertise, and many SEOs skip this due to the cumbersome process of understanding it.
What does Crawl Budget Mean?
Google defines crawl budget as the number of pages Googlebot crawls and indexes each time it visits a website. Crawl budget of a website can be influenced by two significant factors, the popularity of the site and the freshness of the content.
Is Crawl Budget Optimization an Important for SEO Factor?
The answer is an emphatic YES! If your website has to feature in Google search, it has to be first crawled and later indexed. If Googlebot finds thousands of new pages on your site on a single, it may skip some of the pages due to the crawl rate limit.
Crawl rate limit may end up in pages remaining as not indexed until the Googlebot crawls the website again. There is a high chance that bulk URLs (thousands to millions) added to a new website may take months to get indexed due to the Crawl rate limit allocated by Google for a specific site. This is why crawl budget optimization must be considered as an important SEO factor.
Do large websites have to worry about the crawl budget?
This depends on how popular the website is and external links pointing the site may be one of the deciding factors. If Googlebot finds high Crawl demand for the pages on a large website, it may allocate more crawl budget. However, bigger websites need to give Googlebot enough information about which pages to crawl, what all resources must be crawled, and when to crawl.
As part of the Crawl Budget Optimization, webmasters of the large websites must prioritize which pages must be crawled. Adding to this, they should ensure that the server hosting the site has enough bandwidth for the Googlebot, which may try to crawl thousands of pages within a few milliseconds. The same has been confirmed by Google’s Gary Illyes in one of his Webmaster Blog Posts. When it comes to those websites that add new pages, especially auto-generate pages based on URL parameters, these factors become all the more important.
Do small websites have to worry about the crawl budget?
Generally, smaller websites need not worry too much about the crawl budget as Google has enough crawl budget to index all the pages of a smaller website. However, smaller websites have to ensure they have good internal linking structure, hierarchy, speed, and unique pages without duplication to ensure the crawl budget doesn’t get affected. Ensuring the presence of a site map will lead to a higher crawl rate as it makes easier for Googlebot to find the important pages.
Google’s John Mueller in a recent webmasters hangouts session confirmed that adding the updated date of the content on the XML sitemap will help Google to crawl important and recently added pages even faster.
In addition to this, webmasters should also ensure that only the Canonical URLs are added in the sitemap as Googlebot may waste its crawl budget on trying to index duplicate pages.
Does Site Speed Negatively Affect Site’s Crawl Budget?
Another thumping YES! The slow speed of a website will negatively affect the Crawl Budget. Googlebot uses the Chrome browser to crawl and index webpages. If it finds a website slow, it can crawl only fewer number of pages. Adding to this, a website with a lot of 404 errors, and soft error pages may deter Googlebot from further crawling the site. That’s why it’s important to fix all the errors notified in Google Console account.
Google Search Console also offers webmasters the option to check the crawl stats of the web property. Crawl stats can help in keeping track of the fluctuations in the crawl rate and come up with quick fixes.
Making site faster with a server that has significantly less response time, means faster crawling, indexing, and a better crawl budget. Google Search Console has added a new feature to check the load speed of individual pages of a website. This can be a handy tool to ensure your site speed doesn’t affect the crawl budget.
You can also check the server logs to do an in-depth analysis of how the Googlebot treats your website. The server log files also help webmasters to see where the crawl budget is getting wasted and come up with actionable solutions.
Importance of Internal Linking Structure for Crawl Budget Optimization?
Google has been quite vocal about the importance of internal linking structure and the hierarchy of the pages. A well-organized website with internal links pointing to important pages means a better crawl rate. It’s important for websites large or small to follow a pyramidical internal linking structure. This will ensure that important pages that are buried inside the website get crawled as they are linked from more important pages. An ideal internal linking structure of a website may look like:
Can orphan pages reduce the Crawl budget?
Ensuring that there are no orphan pages is a critical part of a website’s crawl budget optimization efforts. Orphan pages make it hard for Googlebot to crawl a complete website and this can lead to an abrupt rate limit stop.
Can Duplicate Content lead to a smaller crawl budget?
The crawl budget of your website will be affected by duplicate content as Google doesn’t want the same content on multiple pages to get indexed. Google has categorically stated that it doesn’t want to waste resources crawling copied pages, internal search result pages, and tag pages.
How to Get Google to Crawl Your Site Quickly
Google’s Algorithm is smart enough to crawl almost all pages of a small website; either in one go or within a few day’s time. However, things may not be as easy for websites that have thousands to millions of pages.
If you are running a website with a large database of pages, it becomes imperative to optimize the crawl budget to ensure that the important pages are not skipped by Google while it crawls the site.
Enabling Crawling of Important Pages
You may think this is a prerequisite for any site and how come this has become so important in deciding the crawl budget. In the analysis done over the last few years, I have come to an understanding that not all websites have the same crawl requirements. For a few websites, the tag pages may not serve much of a purpose but for a few, the tag pages may be important. There have been instances wherein the client has approached me with a page that has been completely made no-index.
This is where managing the robot.txt file comes to the picture. It’s easy for smaller websites to manage the robots file manually. However, when it comes to a website with thousands of pages you may require the help of third-party tools to understand whether the important pages are crawled. Some of the most popular tools include DeepCrawl and ScreamingFrog. For large websites, it’s highly recommended to do a thorough crawl check to keep crawling related issues at bay.
Avoid Long Redirect Chains
Google is patient enough to wait for page content despite a few 301 or 302 and this doesn’t affect the crawl rate of websites with very few pages. The search engine giant has confirmed that having long redirect chains makes its crawler spent more resources on a single page and this is not something that goes well with Google’s crawler.
The crawler may skip the site from the crawl or end up indexing fewer pages if it finds a large number of long redirect chains. Even though it is practically impossible for larger websites to live without redirects, Google suggests limiting it.
Promote HTML Above any Other Format
Fewer 5xx Errors Means Better Crawl Budget
One of the biggest technical glitches taking crawl rate of websites for a toss is 404, 410, 500 errors. If the Google crawler encounters 5xx status codes while crawling a website, it’s highly unlikely to skip and there is a chance that the crawl budget for the site is reduced considerably. By ensuring that pages are not turning error status, webmasters have to use tools such as Screaming Frog for doing a periodic website audit.