Crawl budget often stands in the shadow of other SEO metrics. While novices may not fully understand the importance of this parameter, every experienced optimizer is bound to keep it on their radar. Continue reading to find out why.
What Is Crawl Budget?
With certain frequency, Google’s robots scan your pages for updates and collect information that is used to determine your position in search rankings.
Your CB directly influences crawl frequency and affects how quickly your updated content gets to the index. This metric was initially designed to keep Google from going to two extremes: overcrowding your server and crawling it less frequently than necessary.
Why Should You Optimize Your Crawl Budget for SEO?
Since Google assesses this parameter to decide which of your pages should be featured in search rankings and how fast, you should closely monitor and optimize it to achieve upscale online visibility.
The number of pages your domain accommodates should not exceed your CB. Otherwise, all pages beyond that limit will go unnoticed in search, diminishing your SEO results.
Such situations are common for websites that auto-generate new URLs, and have a large number of pages and redirects. As a rule, small websites with less than a few thousand URLs have their pages crawled within a day of publication, and need to be less concerned about CB optimization.
However, if you plan to expand your online platform in the foreseeable future, be sure to study the ways in which you can manage your crawl budget, to prepare for upcoming changes.
Crawl Rate Limit
A robot called Googlebot checks whether content published on the web delivers value to users and deserves to be included in the index. Being crawled means that Googlebot visits your pages and reads them, giving your site a chance to appear in search results.
Googlebot is busy. It has thousands of websites to scan and can process only a limited number of pages on your online platform. Its scanning capacity for a particular website is called the crawl rate limit. If you have too many pages, Googlebot will not be able to scan all of them.
Let’s consider some factors that can affect this parameter:
- Promptness of response on your website. You have to be a good host to entice Googlebot to frequently visit your online platform. Make sure internal connections are rapidly displayed upon the robot’s request. Do not force it to wait, and do not irritate it with server errors. Otherwise, Googlebot will become only an occasional guest.
- Search Console settings. Website owners can reduce bot’s scanning capacity on their own. Some deem this step to be suicide, and consider a high limit to be a prerequisite for better crawling, which is a misconception.
Even if you have a high crawl limit, your CB can still remain low. The fact that you are ready for crawling does not always mean that Googlebot is willing to crawl. It may have other websites with higher indexing demands ahead of you in the queue.
Here are some factors that search robots take into account in determining indexing priority:
- Popularity. If your pages have rich traffic, Google deems them to be of great value to users and takes care to recheck them, to include the latest changes in the index.
- Staleness. Google does not allow unattended URLs with obsolete data, and it distributes crawling resources fairly: stale pages are served first.
- Scale. Googlebot is more likely to pay attention to a site-wide event than to an update on a single page, since large-scale changes have a greater impact on user experience.
Your CB is made up of a mix of factors attributed to either crawl rate or crawl demand. In general, this metric represents the number of pages search robots are able and willing to scan.
Crawl Budget Boosting Tips that Work in Today’s Web Environment
Every experienced SEO knows that Google policies change over time. Some metrics that played a critical role in scoring high rankings a few years ago are absolutely useless today. Constant research is needed to stay up-to-date with SEO trends.
We invite you to consider some key optimization tips that will help your website soar in search dropdown.
1. Leave no Room for HTTP Errors
404 and 410 errors, as well as all other 4xx and 5xx errors, impair the shopping experience of your visitors and diminish your CB. Be quick to fix them. The task can be automated with helpful audit tools like SE Ranking or Screaming Frog, minimizing your efforts and time spent on research and optimization.
2. Allow the Crawling of Important Pages in Robots.Txt
Using robots.txt, you can explicitly point checkers to the pages you want and do not want to be crawled. Then, even with an insufficient crawl limit, you will have all your most important content exposed to indexing.
All necessary changes can be implemented manually or with an automated tool. Here at Clever Solution, we prefer the latter option, since we respect the time and money our clients spend on SEO projects, and we strive for greater accuracy, especially when optimizing large websites that need frequent updates.
Upload your robots.txt to a chosen program and implement simple crawl settings for your pages. The operation will take mere seconds. Then return the file to its place. It’s ready!
3. Give Preference to HTML
Over recent years, Googlebot has become much better at reading JS, XML, and Flash. However, we cannot say the same about crawlers of other search engines.
You definitely do not want your website to be featured exclusively in Google and lose high positions in Bing, Baidu, Yahoo and others. To avoid this, you should mainly rely on universally adopted HTML when creating code for your pages, to optimize their chances of being crawled and indexed.
4. Update Your Sitemap
XML sitemap shows robots which parts of your website you want to be scanned and included in the index, and also reflects the content organization and internal links between pages. Be sure to include exclusively canonical URLs in your sitemap and check whether they correspond to the latest version of robots.txt.
5. Minimize the Number of Redirect Chains
Even though you can re-route users from your old pages and send them directly to new ones, checkers crawl both versions. A couple of redirects are unlikely to affect your CB. But if you lose control over duplicate pages and let their numbers run wild, your website will reach its crawl limit, and part of your content will be hidden from indexing.
The ideal situation is to completely avoid redirects. However, in practice this is impossible, especially if you run a large website. The best thing you can do is to use them only when absolutely necessary.
6. Use Hreflang Tags
By setting geographical and lingual targeting, hreflang tags help crawlers better analyze your localized pages.
Be sure to incorporate in your headers. Indicate a supported language, for example, “en-US”, in the place of “lang_code”.
Also, use elements for each local URL version.
7. Use Helpful URL Parameters in Google Search Console
Open your GSC panel and use special URL parameters. They will spare you from wasting your CB on duplicate pages.
Crawl budget is an important SEO metric that directly influences your chances of being indexed and of reaching the top of search dropdown. Be sure to regularly check which content on your website is available to crawlers, and monitor the accuracy of your robots.txt file and XML sitemap. Then your most important pages will always be exposed to crawling, promoting a boost in your SEO performance.