What Is a Crawl Budget & How to Optimize It for SEO?

What Is a Crawl Budget And How to Optimize It for SEO?

What is Crawl Budget

What is Crawl Budget?

Crawl budget refers to the number of pages on a website a search engine like Google crawls within a certain timeframe.

The crawl budget is determined by the balance between the crawl rate limit and crawl demand.

  • The crawl rate limit—represents the highest crawling frequency that Google considers for a website without overloading its servers.
  • Crawl demand—depends on the popularity and freshness of the content. Google will allocate a higher crawl budget to websites that are updated frequently, have high traffic, and contain content that is in demand.

The crawl budget for a website essentially dictates the scope and frequency of Google’s indexing process for that site, impcting its SEO performance.

Why is Crawl Budget Important for SEO?

The crawling process determines which pages are available to show in search results. Without being crawled, a page cannot appear in search results.

A limited crawl budget can lead to:

  • Important content might be ignored—a limited crawl budget restricts how deeply or frequently a search engine can explore a site
  • Outdated content—existing pages may not be updated in the search index
  • Lower search visibility—due to less content being indexed
  • Potential loss of organic traffic—if crucial pages are not crawled and indexed
  • Ineffective content updates—newly added content may go unnoticed by search engines
  • Compromised site authority—incomplete indexing can affect the authority and relevance of the site

How to Check Your Crawl Budget?

Monitoring your site’s crawl budget allows you to identify any potential indexing issues.

If you have a large website with hundreds of thousands of pages but Google only crawls a fraction of those pages each day, significant content updates might go unnoticed for extended periods.

Here’s how to check your crawl budget:

1. Use Google Search Console

Google Search Console (GSC) is the primary tool for checking your website’s crawl budget.

In GSC, go to settings, then navigate to the Crawl Stats report.

how to check crawl budget in Google Search Console

This report shows you how many pages Google crawls on your site each day.

how to check crawl budget in Google Search Console

There are also timestamps of when pages were last crawled.

how to check crawl budget in Google Search Console

While there is no standardized, publicly disclosed crawl budget formula, you can estimate your crawl budget by dividing the total number of indexed pages on your website by the daily crawl requests.

Crawl budget = (number of indexed pages) / (daily crawl requests)

  • A good crawl budget score is between 1 – 3
  • A crawl budget score between 3 and 10 means that it needs improvement
  • A score of 10 and above needs immediate attention and optimization.

For example, hostadvice.com has 52,900 indexed pages, and the daily crawl requests on January 6th were 6,604.

This means that the crawl budget is 52900 ÷ 6604 =8.01

You can also see if Google encountered a significant crawl availability issue in the last week on your site

Crawl budget errors in search console

2. Analyze Server Log Files

Server logs provide detailed information about every request made to your website. By analyzing these logs, you can see how often and what pages Googlebot is accessing.

First, you need to access and collect the server log files from your web server. These files are typically available in formats like .log or .txt.

Ensure you collect logs over a significant period (e.g., 30 days) to get a comprehensive view of the crawler activity.

Use Screaming Frog’s Log File Analyzer

Import your server log files into the Log File Analyzer. The tool can handle multiple log files simultaneously, providing a cumulative analysis.

Screaming Frog’s Log File Analyzer

Source: Screaming Frog

Configure the tool to identify Googlebot or other specific user agents (crawlers) you are interested in analyzing. This filters out irrelevant data, focusing on search engine crawlers.

Screaming Frog’s Log File Analyzer

  1. Look at the response codes section to identify the number of crawled pages (200 OK), how many result in errors (like 404s), and other statuses.
  1. Identify which pages or sections of your site are crawled most and least frequently. This helps in understanding the focus areas of Googlebot and identifying neglected sections.
  1. Assess the frequency and trends over time to see if there are any patterns, peaks, or drops in crawl activity.

Now let’s dive into how you can tweak and fine-tune your site to make every crawl count, boosting your visibility where it matters most.

Factors Influencing Crawl Budget & Optimization Tips

Several factors influence how Google allocates a crawl budget for a website. Understanding these can help you optimize your crawl budget for better SEO performance.

1. Site Architecture

A website with a clear and logical structure typically has a straightforward hierarchy that is easy for search engines to crawl.

Alternatively, a complex and deeply nested structure can consume more crawl budget, as Google’s bots spend more time navigating and indexing each page.

For example, consider an e-commerce site with a simple structure:

  • Home Page
    • Category Page (e.g., Electronics, Clothing, Home & Garden)
      • Subcategory Page (under Electronics: Smartphones, Laptops, Televisions)
        • Individual Product Pages

Flat website structure of an e-commerce site example

In this structure, each category page is directly accessible from the home page.

Subcategories further refine the user’s choices, leading them to specific product pages.

This streamlined approach allows Google’s bots to crawl the website efficiently, moving seamlessly from the home page to category, subcategory, and product pages without encountering unnecessary complexity.

Conversely, a website with a complex and deeply nested structure can look like this:

Home Page → Main Category Page →  Subcategory Page → Another Sub-Subcategory Layer →  Yet Another Layer →  Individual Product Pages →  Additional Product Details Page →  User Reviews Page

deeply nested structure in an eCommerce website

In this example, both the user and the Googlebot must navigate through multiple layers to reach the final content, like a specific product review.

Each layer adds complexity and requires additional crawling resources, consuming more of the crawl budget.

The deeper and more convoluted the navigation path, the harder it is for Google’s bots to crawl efficiently.

This results in slower indexing and can potentially lead to important content being missed or indexed less frequently.

How to optimize your site architecture?

  • Aim for a shallow website structure—important pages should be a few clicks away from the home page. This makes it easier for search engines to discover and index these pages.
  • Organize content in categories and subcategories—this clarity helps search engines understand the context and relevance of each page.
  • Utilize breadcrumb navigation—to enhance user experience and provide search engines with an additional layer of structure.
  • Optimize URL structure—simple URLs are easier for search engines to crawl and understand.
  • Use internal linking—to help search engines discover new pages and understand the relationships between different parts of your site.

2. Website Size and Complexity

Larger sites with thousands or even millions of pages naturally require more resources for thorough crawling, as there is more content to be indexed.

As a result, Google will allocate a higher crawl budget for larger sites. However, this also means that if the crawl budget is not high enough, some pages might be crawled infrequently or not at all.

Pages that are crawled infrequently potentially get lower visibility in search results.

For example, on sites like Amazon or eBay, the vast product listings and customer reviews require a significant crawl budget. Each product page, category page, and customer review adds to the total number of pages Google must crawl.

Complexity of Web Pages

Pages that heavily rely on dynamic and user-generated content are typically more challenging for search engines to crawl and index.

For example, platforms like Facebook or Twitter present a unique challenge. Due to the dynamic nature of these sites, Googlebot might need more time and resources to understand and index them compared to static HTML content.

Websites with interactive features, like embedded maps or complex search functions (e.g., real estate sites like Zillow), also add to the complexity. These features often rely on multiple script executions, making the crawling process more demanding.

How to optimize website size and complexity?

  • Server-Side Rendering (SSR)this technique involves generating the final HTML for a page on the server before sending it to the browser. It ensures that search engines can crawl and index the content even if they have difficulty processing JavaScript.
  • Incorporate Structured Datathis data is especially helpful for content that requires user interaction to be displayed. It provides search engines with explicit clues about the meaning of the page content.
  • Simplify Interactive Elements—for sites with interactive features, like dynamic search filters or virtual tours, minimize the code and remove any redundant scripts.
  • Audit Your Content—identify and remove outdated or duplicate content pages. This keeps the site content fresh and reduces unnecessary bulk that might consume crawl budget.
  • Identify and link orphan pages—Link orphan pages from relevant sections of your site and include them in your XML sitemap for improved crawl efficiency.

3. Frequency of Content Updates

The primary objective of Google is to deliver the most relevant and up-to-date information to users.

Websites that frequently update their content signal to Google that they are likely to have fresh information.

Consequently, Google may allocate a higher crawl budget to these sites to ensure that their latest content is quickly discovered and indexed.

Types of content updates

There are several types of content updates that can influence the allocation of a crawl budget

  • Publishing new content such as articles, blog posts, or research papers.
  • Revising articles, updating facts, or improving SEO.
  • Adding new products, changing descriptions, prices, or stock levels.
  • Updating news feeds, upcoming events, or daily deals.
  • New posts, comments, or reviews on forums and social media platforms.

4. Server Speed and Response Time

Websites that load quickly allow Googlebot to crawl more pages in less time.

Fast server response times mean that each request Googlebot makes to the server is answered quickly, enabling it to move on to the next page without delay.

This efficiency is crucial for larger websites with thousands of pages, as it ensures more comprehensive coverage within the allocated crawl budget.

On the other hand, if a server is slow to respond, Googlebot spends more time waiting for each page to load. This delay consumes a significant portion of the allocated crawl budget, reducing the number of pages Google can crawl in the same timeframe.

Slow server response times can be due to various factors, including overloaded servers, inefficient code, or inadequate hosting solutions.

How to optimize server speed and response time

  • Upgrade Hosting—If your current web hosting solution is inadequate, consider upgrading to a more robust hosting service. For large websites, dedicated or cloud hosting can offer better performance compared to shared hosting.
  • Implement Caching—Use server-side caching to store frequently accessed content in memory. This reduces the load on the server and speeds up the response time for returning visitors.
  • Optimize Database Queries—Ensure that your database queries are efficient. Long or complex queries can slow down your server. Regularly review and optimize them for speed.
  • Minimize HTTP Requests—Reduce the number of HTTP requests required to load your pages by combining files, using CSS sprites, and minimizing the use of scripts and plugins.
  • Content Delivery Network (CDN)—Use a CDN to distribute the load, especially if you have a global audience. CDNs store cached versions of your content in multiple geographic locations, closer to the user, speeding up the delivery.
  • Optimize Images and Media FilesCompress images and media files without losing quality. This reduces their size, enabling faster loading times.
  • Minify CSS, JavaScript, and HTML—Remove unnecessary characters from these files to decrease their size, which can significantly improve loading time.

5. Broken Links and Redirect Chains

Broken links are hyperlinks on a website that lead to a page or resource that is no longer available, often resulting in a 404 error.

When Googlebot encounters a broken link, it wastes time and resources trying to access and index content that isn’t there.

The wasted effort on broken links means that fewer live pages are crawled within the same crawl budget.

This is particularly critical for large websites where maximizing the coverage of the crawl budget is important for comprehensive indexing.

Warning

Over time, a site riddled with broken links may be perceived as lower quality by Google’s algorithms. This perception can influence not just the crawl budget but also the overall search ranking of the site.

How to Fix Broken Links for Better Crawl Budget

  • Regularly Scan for Broken Links—Use tools like Google Search Console or Screaming Frog SEO Spider to identify broken links on your website regularly.
  • Fix or Remove—Quickly fix broken links by updating them with the correct URL or remove them if the linked content no longer exists.
  • Update Content—If the broken link points to content that has been moved, update it with the new URL to maintain link integrity.

Redirect Chains

Redirect chains occur when a webpage redirects to another, which then redirects to yet another page, forming a sequence of redirects before reaching the final destination.

redirect chain

Source: loganix.com

Redirect chains consume extra resources for each redirect in the chain.

Googlebot must follow each redirect step by step, which can slow down the crawling process and reduce the number of pages it can index within the allocated budget.

Long redirect chains can also lead to crawl errors, further decreasing the efficiency of the crawl.

How to Fix Redirect Chains for Better Crawl Budget

  • Identify Redirect Chains—Use SEO tools to find and map out redirect chains on your site.
  • Simplify RedirectsShorten long redirect chains by ensuring that they directly link from the original URL to the final destination URL.
  • Update Internal Links—Modify any internal links that contribute to the redirect chain to point directly to the final URL, bypassing unnecessary redirects.

6. Sitemap Errors

A sitemap is a file that lists all the URLs of a website, serving as a guide for search engines to find and index its content.

A well-organized sitemap enables Googlebot to discover and index important content more efficiently, making better use of the allocated crawl budget.

Additionally, sitemaps can help Googlebot quickly identify new or updated content, especially on large websites where content may otherwise be overlooked due to crawl budget constraints.

For example, Airbnb’s HTML sitemap is an example of a well-organized sitemap. It offers a clear, comprehensive structure that covers all significant areas of the website.

Airbnb’s HTML sitemap

Errors in the sitemap, such as incorrect URLs, broken links, or links to pages that no longer exist, can cause Googlebot to miss content on your site. This can hinder your site’s ability to rank well in search engine results, as Google may not be aware of all the content available on your site.

How to Fix Sitemap Errors for a Better Crawl Budget?

  • Remove Incorrect URLs—Correct any typos or errors in the URLs that might lead to incorrect or non-existent pages.
  • Remove Broken Links—Remove links in your sitemap that lead to 404 error pages.
  • Remove Outdated Links—Update links in your sitemap that point to pages that have been 301 redirected or renamed.
  • Remove Non-Canonical URLs—Remove any duplicate or non-canonical versions of URLs to avoid confusion for search engines.
  • Remove Blocked URLs—Remove URLs from the sitemap that are blocked by robots.txt or meta tags.
  • Split Large Sitemaps—If your sitemap is too large (over 50MB or 50,000 URLs), consider splitting it into smaller, more manageable sitemaps.
  • Remove Non-Indexed Pages—Avoid including pages in your sitemap that are not meant to be indexed, such as login pages or internal admin pages.

Conclusion

Understanding and optimizing your website’s crawl budget is vital for enhancing its visibility in search engine results.

This balance of crawl rate limit and crawl demand can significantly impact your site’s indexing frequency and quality. To harness the full potential of your crawl budget, focus on streamlining your site’s structure and keeping your content fresh and engaging.

Additionally, the choice of web hosting is critical, as a reliable and fast host can improve server response times, further optimizing your crawl budget usage.

Prioritizing these elements will not only bolster your SEO efforts but also pave the way for better search engine rankings and online visibility.

Next Steps: What Now?

Learn More About SEO

Frequently Asked Questions

How often does Google crawl a site?

Google’s crawl frequency varies widely based on the site’s size, popularity, and content changes. Large, popular sites with frequent updates might be crawled several times a day, while smaller or less active sites could see less frequent crawling, possibly weekly or even less often. Google’s algorithms determine the optimal crawl rate to ensure timely content indexing without overloading the site’s server.

How to get Google to crawl your site?

To encourage Google to crawl your site, ensure it’s indexed by submitting your URL to Google Search Console. Regularly update your site with fresh, quality content and maintain a clean, efficient site structure. Using an accurate and updated XML sitemap helps Googlebot discover your pages. Also, acquiring quality backlinks from other reputable sites can prompt more frequent crawls.

How long does it take Google to crawl a new page?

The time it takes Google to crawl a new page can vary from a few days to a few weeks, depending on factors like the site’s overall crawl budget, the page’s placement within the site structure, and the frequency of site updates. High-quality content on well-established sites tends to be crawled faster. Submitting new pages through Google Search Console can sometimes expedite the process.

Does Google crawl every website?

Google aims to crawl as many websites as possible but may not crawl every single site. Factors like a site’s accessibility, robots.txt file settings, and overall quality play a role in determining whether Google will crawl it. Some sites might be intentionally or unintentionally excluded from crawling due to errors, poor configuration, or being relatively new and not yet discovered by Google’s bots.

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