AT FATJOE, we’re all about creating quality content for web pages and securing powerful links to those pages.
But how do search engines like Google find those pages? The answer is crawling.
Google crawlers go to websites, follow links, and analyze the content on each page to add the URL to its index.
Crawl budget is the resources search engines allocate to crawl web pages within a specific time frame. It determines how many pages on your site the bots will crawl and how often they’ll come back.
Managing crawl budget is really important for website owners and SEO teams, particularly those with large sites.
By optimizing crawl budget, you can ensure search engines index your site’s important pages. This can improve your visibility in search results and help ensure search engines see your content.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
- What crawl budget is
- How it works
- Why it matters for SEO
- How to increase crawl budget
What Is Crawl Budget?
Crawl budget is the resources that search engines give to a website for crawling and indexing its web pages.
It’s a big deal in search engine optimization (SEO) as it determines how effectively Google and other search engines can find and include your pages in search results.
Why Do Search Engines Assign Crawl Budgets?
Google has its own crawler called GoogleBot, which goes around exploring and indexing web pages.
But the internet is huge.
There’s no way for Google to crawl and index every page on every website.
So to make sure it reaches the pages that are most relevant for search users, Google assigns crawl budgets to websites.
This is the same for non-Google search engines too, but we’ll focus on Google given, well, it’s Google.
What Are the Different Types of Google Crawlers?
Search engines have different types of crawlers to gather information about web pages. We’ve summarized the main types of crawlers and fetchers here:
This is the main crawler used by Google for discovering and indexing web pages. It looks at all the HTML content, follows links, and analyzes the content of web pages.
These crawlers are used for specific tasks, such as collecting accessibility information. Special-case crawlers may or may not respect robots.txt rules.
This type of crawler is used when an end-user triggers a fetch. For example, some Google Search Console tools will send fetch requests based on user actions. User-triggered fetchers generally ignore robots.txt rules.
Google News Crawler
This one is focused on crawling news-related content. It gathers the latest news information and ensures it appears in Google’s search results and the Google News platform.
Google Image Crawler
As the name suggests, this crawler is all about images. It scours the web to find images and analyzes things like alt text, captions, and file names to understand the context.
Google Video Crawler
Similar to the image crawler, this one is dedicated to discovering and indexing video content. It looks at video metadata, captions, and other info.
For a more comprehensive summary of every Google crawler and fetcher (including the user agent token and the use case), skip ahead to the end for our helpful table!
Since more and more people are using mobile devices to browse the internet, Google has shifted to mobile-first indexing.
Google uses a smartphone agent to crawl and index the mobile version of websites, ahead of the desktop version. Ensuring that your website is mobile-responsive is essential for your site’s crawlability and optimizing your crawl budget.
The search engine recently completed the final bulk switch to mobile-first indexing in May 2023:
Google Does Another Bulk Mobile First Indexing Batch On May 22, 2023 — finalizing a transition to Search crawling as if a mobile browser, 6 years in the making! https://t.co/9CxsrRFkcE
— Michael Stricker (@RadioMS) May 22, 2023
How Does Google Assign Crawl Budget?
Crawl budget is based on two factors: crawl capacity limit and crawl demand.
Crawl Capacity Limit
Search engines monitor how a website’s server performs and how quickly it responds. They adjust the crawl capacity limit based on the server’s performance.
The limit is also affected by the available crawling resources at any given time and the website owner’s preferences.
You can manually adjust your crawl rate limit from the Crawl Rate Settings page in Google Search Console.
If you’re having availability issues, you can reduce crawl frequency.
But manually increasing it is not going to make Google come and crawl your website faster. You also can’t influence which pages Google will crawl.
Crawl demand helps search engines decide which pages to crawl more often.
It considers things like site size, how often a page is updated, and perceived page value.
Technical SEO issues can also impact crawl demand.
Does Crawl Budget Only Include Web Pages?
No, crawl budget isn’t just about pages.
How Does Crawl Limit Work?
Crawl limit is about maintaining a balance between crawling and server resources.
When crawling a website, search engines monitor how the server responds. If the server quickly responds, the crawl rate may increase.
If the server shows signs of strain, the search engine may reduce the crawl rate to lighten the server load.
Website owners can also implement crawl delays in the site’s robots.txt file. This instructs crawlers to pause for a certain duration between consecutive requests to the website.
How Does Crawl Demand Work?
Crawl demand is a measure of how important a page is to GoogleBot.
Search engines pay attention to the internal linking structure, external links, and user engagement signals to determine which pages have a higher demand for crawling.
Here’s how it’s described on Google Search Central:
Backlinks are a signal that a web page is trusted, popular, and worth crawling.
Websites with lots of high-quality backlinks from authoritative sources are given a larger crawl budget.
Google also wants to provide users with up-to-date search results, so it prioritizes crawling and indexing fresh content.
Why Is Crawl Budget Important For SEO?
Crawl budget directly affects how search engines discover and index your website’s pages.
But it’s worth noting that crawl budget alone is not a ranking factor.
It’s also something that doesn’t typically affect smaller sites.
In a recent video, Google Search Advocate Daniel Waisberg revealed:
“It’s more relevant if you work with a large website. If you have a site with fewer than a few thousand pages, you do not need to worry about it.”
You only really have to worry about crawl budget if you have a large website or ecommerce store with a high number of pages.
Crawl budget can affect, or be affected by, the following:
Visibility in Search Results
When crawl budget is limited, it may take longer for Google to crawl and rank new pages and content. If Google doesn’t find a page due to crawl budget issues, it won’t appear in search results.
If you’re wasting crawl budget by having an array of duplicated or low-value pages, Google will struggle to understand which pages are important. GoogleBot will spend time crawling parts of your site that won’t help you rank for your target keywords.
A good site structure helps search engines determine the relationships between your pages, which can, in turn, build your semantic SEO.
Prioritizing the crawling of important pages and focusing on high-quality content can boost your topical authority.
It increases your chances of ranking higher for relevant search terms.
Keyword cannibalization is when two pages on a website compete for the same keywords in search results.
Crawl budget optimization helps you avoid this.
Organizing your site structure and avoiding duplicate content makes it easier for Google to crawl your site and understand your content while ensuring that your pages are unique and avoid competing with one another in search results.
How Do You Optimize Crawl Budget For SEO?
So, how can you optimize crawl budget for better SEO results?
Here are six strategies you can implement:
Strategy 1: Take a Look at Your Server Logs and Crawl Stats Report
Start by analyzing your server log files.
These logs contain valuable information about how search engine crawlers interact with your website. You can learn which pages are being crawled, how often they’re accessed, and if any crawl errors occur.
The Crawl Stats report in Google Search Console can also provide useful insights.
You can see the crawling trends chart, host status details, and a crawl request breakdown.
Strategy 2: Increase Your Crawl Budget
While you can’t have direct control over the crawl budget assigned by search engines, you can still influence it.
The key is to enhance the overall quality and relevance of your website.
Here’s a breakdown by Peter Nikolow, CEO of Mobilo:
“Crawl budget” & your site:
– Crawl budget – crawl demand vs capacity vs necessity
Increase demand – make an awesome site
Increase capacity – make fast site
Reduce necessity – fewer URLs are better#WMCZRH
— Peter Nikolow (@PeterNikolow) December 11, 2019
Here’s how you can put this advice into practice:
Regularly Publish Fresh and High-Quality Content
Keeping your website updated with fresh content shows search engines that your site is active.
It signals to search engines that your content offers valuable information, potentially increasing your website’s crawl budget.
Improve Page Load Time
Slow-loading pages can hinder the crawling and indexing process.
Here’s how Google describes it:
If your pages load quickly, Google can explore more of your site and index more of your pages.
Work on compressing images and using caching techniques to improve site speed.
Google uses the mobile version of your site for indexing and ranking.
So having a mobile-friendly website is crucial.
Here are a few tips from the Google Search Central blog:
Strategy 3: Website Maintenance: Reduce Errors
Broken links, 404 pages, and server errors can slow down search engine crawlers and eat away at your crawl budget.
This could include broken links that lead to nowhere, pages that can’t be found, or server issues that cause disruptions.
Conduct routine website audits to identify any pages not being crawled properly or causing errors.
Strategy 4: Block Crawlers From Accessing Parts of Your Site
Sometimes, you might have parts of your website that aren’t really relevant for search engines to crawl or index.
Think admin pages and duplicate content.
You can use the “robots.txt” file to tell search engine crawlers to avoid these sections.
This way, GoogleBot can focus on exploring and indexing the important pages of your website.
Strategy 5: Reduce Redirect Chains
Redirect chains can use up your crawl budget.
GoogleBot must navigate multiple redirects in a row before finally landing on the destination URL.
All those unnecessary redirects take up crawl budget without giving any extra value.
Technical SEO Tip: Every redirect you add slows down your website.
Adding too many redirects can have a negative impact on your site’s Time To First Byte: pic.twitter.com/hzW8ehgRMg
— Chris Long (@gofishchris) June 1, 2023
Minimizing redirect chains can help search engines reach destination pages faster. It makes the journey from point A to point B easier for both crawlers and users.
Strategy 6: Get More Internal and External Links
Getting more backlinks from trustworthy websites can boost your site’s visibility and authority.
As search engines recognize you as an authoritative source, they’ll be more likely to allocate a larger chunk of crawl budget to your website.
Internal linking is also important.
One of the biggest wastes of crawl budget is orphan pages.
These are web pages that don’t have any internal links or external links pointing to them.
According to a recent study by Botify, pages that are not linked to consume 26% of Google’s crawl budget:
Contextual internal links help GoogleBot to find and index all the pages on your website.
You can make more efficient use of your crawl budget by ensuring that every page you want to index has at least one internal link pointing to it.
Make The Most Of Your Site’s Crawl Budget
Crawl budget optimization is an important part of a successful SEO strategy.
It’s about making it as easy as possible for GoogleBot. By understanding how crawl budget works and how to optimize it, you can make sure Google crawls and indexes your pages as often as possible.
This will improve your visibility in search results and help you attract more organic traffic.
You put time, effort, and money into producing high-quality webpages with great content on them; make sure this isn’t wasted work by ensuring your pages can be crawled and seen by search engines.
Finally, are you after a full breakdown of all of Google crawlers and fetchers, including their user agent token and their use case? Check out our handy infographic below!