Crawl Optimization for Increased Crawl Efficiency
Budget for crawling is a vanity metric...
There is no guarantee that Googlebot will visit every URL on your website. The vast majority of websites, however, are lacking a large number of pages.
The truth is that Google lacks the resources necessary to crawl every page it discovers. A crawl queue is used to prioritize all of the URLs that Googlebot has found, but hasn't yet crawled, as well as URLs that it wants to recrawl.
This means Googlebot crawls only those that are assigned a high enough priority. And because the crawl queue is dynamic, it continuously changes as Google processes new URLs. And not all URLs join at the back of the queue.
So how do you ensure your site's URLs are VIPs and jump the line?
Crawling plays a crucial role in SEO
Googlebot needs to crawl the information before it becomes visible.
However, the advantages go beyond that because the quicker a website is crawled from when it is:
- The sooner new content is produced, the sooner it will surface on Google. This is crucial for content initiatives that are time-sensitive or first to market.
- The more frequently content is updated, the sooner it can begin to affect rankings. This is particularly crucial for technical SEO techniques as well as content republishing strategies.
Crawling is therefore necessary for all of your organic traffic. However, it is far too frequently claimed that crawl optimization is only useful for large websites.
However, it is unrelated to your website's size, how frequently the material is updated, or whether Google Search Console exclusions are marked as "Discovered - presently not indexed."
Each website benefits from crawl optimization. The misunderstanding of its worth appears to be the result of useless measurements, particularly the crawl budget.
The crawl budget is irrelevant
Crawling evaluations too frequently depend on the crawl budget. This is the total number of URLs on a specific website that Googlebot will crawl in a specific amount of time.
According to Google, it depends on two things:
- Crawl rate limit: The fastest Googlebot can retrieve a website's resources without degrading the performance of the website. A responsive server essentially results in a faster crawl rate.
- Demand for crawling, or what Googlebot seeks to crawl: The number of URLs Googlebot visits during a single crawl based on the demand for (re)indexing, impacted by the popularity and staleness of the site's content.
Googlebot stops crawling a website once it has "spent" all of its crawl budgets.
Google doesn't give a crawl budget number. The Google Search Console crawl metrics report, which displays the total number of crawl queries, comes the closest.
In the past, I went to tremendous lengths to try to infer the crawl budget, as have many other SEOs.
The steps that are frequently presented go something like this:
- Establish the number of crawlable pages on your website. It's frequently advised to look at the number of URLs in your XML sitemap or to run an infinite crawler.
- By exporting the Google Search Console Crawl Stats report or using Googlebot requests in log files, you can determine the average number of crawls per day.
- Subtract the average daily crawls from the total number of pages. Focus on crawl budget optimization if the result is above 10, it is frequently advised.
But there are issues with this procedure.
Not only that, but certain URLs are actually crawled more than once, while others aren't even crawled at all.
Not only that, but it also presumes that a crawl is equivalent to a page. When in fact retrieving the resources (JS, CSS, etc.) needed to load a website may involve many URL crawls.
Most significantly, the crawl budget is nothing more than a vanity metric when reduced to a calculated metric like average crawls per day.
Any strategy that aims to maximize the quantity of crawling (also known as continuously increasing the amount of crawling) is a waste of time.
Why bother raising the total number of crawls if they are just being used on irrelevant URLs or pages that haven't changed since the last crawl? Such crawls won't improve SEO results.
Additionally, everyone who has ever looked at crawl data is aware that they change from day to day, often rather dramatically, based on a variety of reasons. These variations may or may not be related to the quick (re)indexing of pages with SEO-relevant content.
A change in the number of URLs crawled is neither always positive nor negative.
The efficacy of crawls is an SEO KPI
Instead of focusing on whether a page was crawled, you should consider how quickly it was crawled after being published or significantly altered for the page(s) you want to be indexed.
In essence, the objective is to shorten the interval between the creation or updating of an SEO-relevant website and the subsequent Googlebot crawl. I refer to this delay in time as the crawl effectiveness.
Calculating the time difference between the database's creation or update and the subsequent Googlebot crawl of the URL using the server log files is the optimal technique to gauge the effectiveness of the crawl.
If it's difficult to acquire these data points, you can alternatively use the XML sitemap lastmod date as a proxy and check the last crawl status of URLs using the Google Search Console URL Inspection API (to a limit of 2,000 queries per day).
Additionally, you may monitor when the indexing status changes by utilizing the URL Inspection API to estimate the indexing efficacy of newly formed URLs, which is what separates unsuccessful indexing from publication.
Because processing a page content refresh or performing a crawl without it having an impact on indexing status is just a waste.
As it falls, more SEO-critical information may be surfaced to your audience across Google, making crawl efficacy an actionable statistic.
It can also be used to identify SEO problems. Analyze URL patterns in detail to see how quickly the content in different parts of your site is being indexed and whether this is hindering organic performance.
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