Are you interested in learning how to manage your crawl budget as a large site owner? We can help! First, let’s explain what a crawl budget is. The web is a massive space – so massive that even Google doesn’t have the ability to index every available URL. As a result, there is only so much time that a Googlebot can spend crawling a website. The amount of time it devotes to crawling a site is referred to as the site’s crawl budget, and a site’s crawl budget is generally determined by two main factors: crawl capacity limit and crawl demand. If you’re wondering why crawl budget is so important, it comes down to this: Crawl budget allows a website’s pages to be found by Googlebots, which increases the odds of it being identified and indexed. A web page being indexed matters as if it fails to be indexed, it’s not going to rank anywhere and people aren’t going to visit your website. Luckily, in this article, we cover how you can manage your crawl budget as a large site to improve your search engine rankings and organic visibility.
What Is A Crawl Budget?
Crawl budget is the frequency with which a search engineer’s crawls, such as Google’s Googlebots, go over the web pages of your domain. Therefore, crawl budget optimization involves a variety of strategies a business can employ to increase the rate at which a search engine’s bots visit your pages. It’s worth noting that the more often Googlebots visit your website, the faster and more likely your website is to be indexed. From there, your search engine rankings are likely to rise, increasing your website traffic.
Is Crawl Budget Important?
Yes, crawl budget is important – especially for larger websites. That is why Google created a guide to managing your crawl budget that is specifically designed for large sites (1 million + unique pages and medium to large sites (a minimum of 10,000 unique pages). The reality is that if you operate a smaller website with less than a few thousand URLs, it is likely to be crawled efficiently without any optimization. However, if you have a large website, especially with auto-generated web pages, then employing specific crawl budget management strategies is key. Doing so can help search engineers understand what to crawl and when.
8 Tips for Managing Your Crawl Budget as a Large Site
If you manage a large website, it’s time to start managing your crawl budget to boost traffic and visibility. Below, we’ve put together a list of expert tips on how to get started with optimizing your crawl budget.
1. Consolidate duplicate content
The first tip to optimize your crawl budget is to consolidate duplicate content. Eliminating duplicate content allows the search engine bots to focus crawling on unique content as opposed to unique URLs.
2. Block crawling of unimportant URLs using robots.txt
Google strongly recommends that owners of large sites block the crawling of unimportant URLs using robots.txt. Although some web pages might be important to users, this doesn’t mean you want to appear in Search results – especially if it’s duplicate content (as mentioned above). If you don’t want to eliminate duplicate content entirely, then at the very least we recommend blocking unimportant pages via robots.txt.
3. Allow crawling of important pages using robots.txt
Oppositely, while you want to block the crawling of unimportant or duplicate URLs, you don’t want to block the crawling of important URLs. Use robots.txt to allow the crawling of any page of your domain in seconds. Allowing the crawling of important pages increases the odds of those URLs being indexed and ranking higher.
4. Be wary of redirect chains
Avoiding redirect chains on your entire domain is ideal, however, it’s nearly an impossible task for a large site. While you won’t be able to eliminate all redirects, do your best to keep them at a minimum. A bunch of redirects chained together can definitely reduce your crawl limit (and can even do so to the extent that a search engine’s crawler might stop crawling altogether). Google even states that long redirect chains can have a negative effect on crawling.
5. Use HTML as much as possible
6. Make sure your web pages load quickly
A Google-approved tip for managing your crawl budget as a large site is to make sure your web pages load quickly and efficiently. The quicker that Google can load and render your pages, the more content they might be able to read from your site (further increasing the odds of it being indexed).
7. Don’t let HTTP errors affect your crawl budget
Did you know that error pages (e.g. 404 and 410 pages) impact your crawl budget? That’s right, so not only do they hurt your user experience but they also eat into your budget. Therefore, we recommend fixing all error pages as soon as possible. You can do this manually or using a website audit tool, like SE Ranking or Screaming Frog.
8. Keep your sitemap up to date
Taking care of your XML sitemap is crucial when it comes to crawl budget optimization. Search engine bots will have a much faster and easier time understanding where your internal links lead if you keep your sitemap up to date. Focus on using URLs that are canonical for your sitemap. Google also suggests including the <lastmod> tag for updated content.
Once again, it’s a real win-win to take care of your XML sitemap.