The increasing use of SEO has seen an increase in crawl budget. It mainly goes through and analyses the content of a website checking its relevancy to its linked pages and the subject mentioned. The scary looking term has a quite easy meaning and is easily comprehensible when explained. The crawl budget is mainly decided by a crawler like the Googlebot. A crawler is nothing but a bot of the search engines which makes sure to search out a certain page’s meaning to find relevant information regarding enquires made by users. There are many different aspects to crawl budget. To understand it’s effect on SEO, it important to know about crawl budget and it affects to comprehend its meaning in totality.

What is Crawl Budget?

Having a proper understanding of crawl budget for SEO not only helps you to create a strategy better than your competitors but it also helps to index the pages on your website properly and easily. This makes searching more time saving and also the relevancy of a search is increased. To put it in simpler terms crawl budget is the total number of pages that a search engine will crawl through within a given amount of time any day. However, the crawling can take weeks as well as a page is not always spidered on a site instantly. The total budget is determined mostly by the number of errors encountered and the size of a site and the number of times that Googlebot crawls combing for pages through the website. It is an automated digital surfer which crawls through a website looking for relevant pages to add for indexing.

Crawl Budget Optimization

A crawl budget takes time to form and there are various versions that affect the crawl budget over time. The crawl rate limit and the crawl demand are all taken together to determine the crawl budget for a website. Also, the size of the website is taken into account as for smaller websites a crawl budget of a lesser value is allotted by Google than that of a bigger site.

  • Crawl Rate Limit is an important factor affecting crawl budget as this limit determines the pace of Google crawling through pages so as not to hurt the server by being too fast.
  • The next factor affecting crawl budget is Crawl Demand. It determines the number of times that Google wants to crawl depending on the popularity of the pages. It also depends on how old the content is in the Google
  • Each and every URL is unique although when an URL is added with parameters and crawled through, it goes back to the same page sometimes which can consequently cause an increase in crawl budget although all these URL’s might yield the same pages.
  • Duplicate content having unique URL’s but same resulting pages also affects the crawl budget adversely.
  • Although Soft 404 error pages are reported against in the Search Console, they too have an impact on the crawl budget.
  • The crawl budget is also found to be limited where the sites and pages have been hacked.
  • Pages which require infinite spaces and have unlimited links like a calendar makes Googlebot wastes its budget.
  • Also if the content quality of a page is poor then Googlebot will automatically limit its budget.

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The popularity of a page, quality of its content and preventing it from becoming stale in Google index are also two of the main determinants of crawl budget for SEO.

How to Increase Crawl Budget

There are several ways in which you can optimize your crawl budget now that you have a better understanding of crawl budget for SEO. You can use free tools to find out any SEO related problems on your site and fix them accordingly and also make sure that your pages are crawlable as sometimes using technology like AJAX makes it difficult for Googlebot to go through. Limiting redirects, avoiding the use of URL parameters and eliminating broken links also help to maintain a good crawl budget. The other factors that give a boost to crawl budget are internal linking of your pages, using external links, having a good server speed and having cached pages for faster loading of the page. Last but not least is a must check on the PageSpeed Insights Tool to know about your page speed to ensure optimization of page load speed.

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1. Ensure Your Pages Are Crawlable

Your page is crawlable if search engine spiders can find and follow links within your website, so you’ll have to configure your .htaccess and robots.txt so that they don’t block your site’s critical pages. You may also want to provide text versions of pages that rely heavily on rich media files, such as Flash and Silverlight.

Of course, the opposite is true if you do want to prevent a page from showing up in search results. However, it’s not enough to simply set your Robots.txt to “Disallow,” if you want to stop a page from being indexed. According to Google: “Robots.txt Disallow does not guarantee that a page will not appear in results.”

If external information (e.g. incoming links) continue to direct traffic to the page that you’ve disallowed, Google may decide the page is still relevant. In this case, you’ll need to manually block the page from being indexed by using the noindex robots meta tag or the X-Robots-Tag HTTP header.

  • noindex meta tag: Place the following meta tag in the <head> section of your page to prevent most web crawlers from indexing your page: noindex” />
  • X-Robots-Tag: Place the following in your HTTP header response to tell crawlers not to index a page: X-Robots-Tag: noindex

Note that if you use noindex meta tag or X-Robots-Tag, you should not disallow the page in robots.txt, The page must be crawled before the tag will be seen and obeyed.

2. Use Rich Media Files Cautiously

There was a time when Googlebot couldn’t crawl content like JavaScript, Flash, and HTML. Those times are mostly past (though Googlebot still struggles with Silverlight and some other files).

However, even if Google can read most of your rich media files, other search engines may not be able to, which means that you should use these files judiciously, and you probably want to avoid them entirely on the pages you want to be ranked.

You can find a full list of the files that Google can index here.

3. Avoid Redirect Chains

Each URL you redirect to wastes a little of your crawl budget. When your website has long redirect chains, i.e. a large number of 301 and 302 redirects in a row, spiders such as Googlebot may drop off before they reach your destination page, which means that page won’t be indexed. Best practice with redirects is to have as few as possible on your website, and no more than two in a row.

4. Fix Broken Links

When asked whether or not broken links affect web ranking, Google’s John Mueller once said:

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If what Mueller says is true, this is one of the fundamental differences between SEO and Googlebot optimization, because it would mean that broken links do not play a substantial role in rankings, even though they greatly impede Googlebot’s ability to index and rank your website.

That said, you should take Mueller’s advice with a grain of salt – Google’s algorithm has improved substantially over the years, and anything that affects user experience is likely to impact SERPs.

5. Set Parameters on Dynamic URLs

Spiders treat dynamic URLs that lead to the same page as separate pages, which means you may be unnecessarily squandering your crawl budget. You can manage your URL parameters by going to your Google Search Console and clicking Crawl > Search Parameters. From here, you can let Googlebot know if your CMS adds parameters to your URLs that doesn’t change a page’s content.

6. Clean Up Your Sitemap

XML sitemaps help both your users and spider bots alike, by making your content better organized and easier to find. Try to keep your sitemap up-to-date and purge it of any clutter that may harm your site’s usability, including 400-level pages, unnecessary redirects, non-canonical pages, and blocked pages.

The easiest way to clean up your sitemap is to use a tool like Website Auditor(disclaimer: my tool). You can use Website Auditor’s XML sitemap generator to create a clean sitemap that excludes all pages blocked from indexing. Plus, by going to Site Audit, you can easily find and fix all 4xx status pages, 301 and 302 redirects, and non-canonical pages.

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7. Make Use of Feeds

Feeds, such as RSS, XML, and Atom, allow websites to deliver content to users even when they’re not browsing your website. This allows users to subscribe to their favorite sites and receive regular updates whenever new content is published.

While RSS feeds have long been a good way to boost your readership and engagement, they’re also among the most visited sites by Googlebot. When your website receives an update (e.g. new products, blog post, website update, etc.) submit it to Google’s Feed Burner so that you’re sure it’s properly indexed.

8. Build External Links

Link building is still a hot topic – and I doubt it’s going away anytime soon. As SEJ’s Anna Crowe elegantly put it:

“Cultivating relationships online, discovering new communities, building brand value – these small victories should already be imprints on your link-planning process. While there are distinct elements of link building that are now so 1990s, the human need to connect with others will never change.”

Now, in addition to Crowe’s excellent point, we also have evidence from Yauhen Khutarniuk’s experiment that external links closely correlate with the number of spider visits your website receives.

In his experiment, he used our tools to measure all of the internal and external links pointing to every page on 11 different sites. He then analyzed crawl stats on each page and compared the results. This is an example of what he found on just one of the sites he analyzed:

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While the data set couldn’t prove any conclusive connection between internal links and crawl rate, Khutarniuk did find an overall “strong correlation (0,978) between the number of spider visits and the number of external links.”

9. Maintain Internal Link Integrity

While Khutarniuk’s experiment proved that internal link building doesn’t play a substantial role in crawl rate, that doesn’t mean you can disregard it altogether. A well-maintained site structure makes your content easily discoverable by search bots without wasting your crawl budget.

A well-organized internal linking structure may also improve user experience – especially if users can reach any area of your website within three clicks. Making everything more easily accessible in general means visitors will linger longer, which may improve your SERPs.

Conclusion: Does Crawl Budget Matter?

By now, you’ve probably noticed a trend in this article – the best-practice advice that improves your crawlability tends to improve your searchability as well. So if you’re wondering whether or not crawl budget optimization is important for your website, the answer is YES – and it will probably go hand-in-hand with your SEO efforts anyway.

Crawl budget is the consequence of crawl demand and crawl rate. This crawling is limited by the content supposed to be crawled and sometimes bigger sites are given more crawl budget. So, now that you have a better understanding of crawl budget for SEO and its effects, you can look into any pending issues and strategize your optimization of crawl budget accordingly to help your website flourish.

Put simply, when you make it easier for Google to discover and index your website, you’ll enjoy more crawls, which means faster updates when you publish new content. You’ll also improve overall user experience, which improves visibility, which ultimately results in better SERPs rankings.