Crawl Budget is the number of pages that Google’s bot crawls and indexes on your site within a specific period. But why is this crawl budget important for your site’s Google ranking?
In short, if Google doesn’t index a specific page, it won’t appear in search results and won’t be ranked at all. So, if the number of pages on your site exceeds the crawl budget, and you add a new page, for example, it might not get indexed at all (unless explicitly requested).
However, before we continue, let’s clarify that most of you don’t need to worry about this crawl budget at all. If you see that your pages are automatically indexed on the same day you publish them, there’s no reason to worry. Moreover, if your site has fewer than a few thousand URLs, Google will efficiently crawl it (in most cases).
The situation where you prioritize which content gets crawled, when it gets crawled, and worrying about how many server resources your hosting can allocate for that crawl, is relevant for large sites or those that automatically generate pages based on URL parameters.
Crawl Rate Limit
Googlebot is designed for this crawling, prioritizing its top priority while ensuring it doesn’t disrupt users’ experience on your site. There’s actually a limitation on the crawl budget, which serves its purpose – limiting the frequency of scanning and crawling on a given site. This is to avoid disturbing the user experience, as mentioned, in order to keep user interaction smooth.
In other words, this frequency represents the number of connections Google’s bot uses simultaneously to crawl and scan your site. Additionally, this frequency represents the time the bot waits between crawls. This crawl frequency can change over time and is influenced by two main factors:
- Crawl Health – If your site responds quickly at a certain time, the limitation will be smaller, meaning more simultaneous connections will be established for crawling.
- Crawl Budget Limit in Google Search Console – Website owners can limit or reduce the crawl frequency of Googlebot through Google Search Console.
Even if the crawl budget hasn’t reached its existing limit, if there is no demand or necessity for crawling, there won’t be much activity by Google’s bot. The two main parameters affecting crawl demand are:
- Popularity – More popular URLs or domains on the Internet tend to be scanned more frequently by Google.
- Staleness – Google’s systems attempt to prevent situations where URLs are no longer relevant in the index.
Furthermore, broader events such as moving a site to a new domain can lead to an increase in crawl demand to re-index new URL content.
So, if we consider crawl frequency along with crawl demand, we arrive at the crawl budget, which essentially represents the number of URLs Google’s bot can and wants to scan.
Factors Affecting Crawl Budget
Let’s describe several factors that negatively affect the crawl budget. URLs with low value can have a negative impact on crawling and indexing the site on Google. URLs with low value often fall into several categories, and we’ll present those according to their level of impact on crawl budget:
- Faceted navigation – For example, filtering by color or price in digital stores can help users but create many combinations of URLs. These include Session Identifiers and various parameters in the URL.
- Duplicate content on your site.
- Soft 404 errors – Errors received when the server returns a 200 as an HTTP Response Code for non-existent pages instead of returning a 404 error. These pages can interfere with crawling, as these URLs will be scanned instead of URLs with unique content on your site.
- Low-value content and spam content.
- Endless navigation – Situations where there’s endless navigation will waste crawl budget. For example, a looped pagination that never ends, or links in a calendar that allows browsing between months and years without limits, can be a problem for your site’s crawl budget.
- Redirects – Every time a page on your site makes a redirect, it uses a small part of the crawl budget. Limit the number of redirects to avoid wasting this budget.
Wasting server resources on such pages will deplete crawl budget from pages with actual value on your site, so addressing these issues will result in a more effective crawl budget and crawl frequency.
Frequently Asked Questions about Crawl Budget
1. Does site speed affect crawl budget?
A fast site impacts user experience primarily, but its effect on crawl frequency is not directly disabled. For Googlebot, a fast site signifies healthy servers, implying that it can crawl more content with the same number of connections. Conversely, timeouts or numerous 5xx errors indicate a negative signal and slow down the crawl.
2. Does crawl budget or crawl ability affect ranking?
Crawl frequency does not directly lead to higher rankings in Google search results. Google’s algorithm uses multiple signals to rank content, and crawl frequency is essential for appearance in search results but is not a direct ranking factor.
3. Are alternative URLs part of the crawl budget?
4. Does the NoFollow directive affect crawl budget?
According to Google, it depends. In general, any URL that is scanned affects the crawl budget. So, if a specific URL is marked as NoFollow, it can still be crawled if there’s a link leading to it. However, if the NoFollow directive is used extensively and Googlebot discovers that many scanned URLs are not indexed, it can adapt its crawl accordingly.
5. How can I optimize my crawl budget?
Begin by avoiding the problems that squander the crawl budget as mentioned above. If the crawl budget is already optimized, the best strategy is to focus on higher-value URLs that contribute to your site’s goals. This can include ensuring that important pages have proper internal and external linking.
Remember that crawl budget optimization is most critical for large, established sites, or sites with complex structures. If your site is relatively small or new, you might not need to worry much about crawl budget, as Google will efficiently crawl it.
Crawl budget is an important concept for larger or more complex websites, as it determines how efficiently search engines like Google can crawl and index your pages. By understanding crawl budget and its factors, you can optimize your website’s crawl frequency and ensure that the right pages are being indexed and ranked. However, for smaller websites or those with straightforward structures, crawl budget optimization might not be a major concern.