What is a crawl budget and why is it important to your SEO efforts?
While the right keywords, backlinks and quality content are all important to your website ranking, SEO is a much bigger concept that requires you to stay up to date on changes if you want to succeed.
If you’ve recently heard about crawl budget, you may be wondering if it’s something you should be concerned about as a website owner. This post aims to unpack crawl budget and give you a better idea of the effects it can have on your website ranking.
Crawl budget consists of two main elements: crawl demand and crawl rate.
Larger websites that have multiple pages would benefit more from paying attention to crawl budget. This is what you need to know:
Crawl budget combines crawl rate and demand to determine ‘the number of URLs Googlebot can and wants to crawl.’
The bottom line is that if Google doesn’t index your website pages, your site is not going to rank.
When the number of website pages exceeds a crawl budget, it means that some of the pages of that website will not rank. With this being said, crawl budget really isn’t something that website owners should panic about because overall, Google does do a good job of finding and indexing pages all on its own.
Here are some of the cases where website owners should pay more attention to crawl budget:
There are steps that website owners can take to increase and maximise their crawl budgets. Here are a few of the most effective tactics:
Site speed is already crucial for SEO success, with consumers having much higher performance expectations than ever before. While speed is important for creating the best possible user experience, it is also critical for your crawl budget. When your site is able to perform faster and more efficiently, it is able to handle more requests from Google and users at the same time. This means that Google is able to increase your crawl rate without harming user experience. To increase your crawl budget with the help of speed, focus on Time to First Byte (TTFB), which refers to your server’s response times.
Google favours sites that have many external and internal links. Since it’s not possible to get backlinks for every single page on your site, it’s important to focus on internal links too. Internal links help point Google in the right direction when your site is being crawled.
The more efficient your site is, the more efficiently Google can allocate your crawl budget. Get rid of anything that could slow down Google’s bots, including unnecessary 404 and 500 errors as well as duplicate content. There are a number of tools that can help you identify and correct common errors, including Search Console. Analysing your sitemap is another quick way to identify multiple errors, which could be causing Google to abandon a crawl. In the event of duplicate content, rather use canonical tags in your code instead of deleting one of the pages. These tags will tell Google which of the two pages should be considered authoritative.
If there are pages on your site that don’t need to be crawled, block them using your Robots.txt file. This will help free up some of your crawl budget, ensuring that Google is crawling the websites you want indexed. Gated pages that require a user login are prime examples of pages that should be blocked via your Robots.txt file.
If your website has been around for a while or you’ve recently changed over to HTTPS, you probably have a good number of 301 redirects in place. What you don’t want is for a page to be redirected multiple times as this will very quickly use your crawl budget in all the wrong ways. Taking the time to clean up your website’s redirects will make a big difference to your crawl budget.
If you want to increase your crawl demand, focus on developing quality content on a continuous basis. You also want to spend time identifying your top performing content and making sure that the information is still fresh and relevant. Never stop looking for ways to expand and improve existing content on top of your new content efforts. If you do update existing content, be sure to promote it to drive additional traffic to those pages.
While optimising your crawl budget is an excellent way to boost your SEO efforts, it’s not an exercise that is going to generate overnight results. Incorporate crawl budget into your overall SEO strategy to achieve the best results.