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June 15, 2017

What Is a Google Crawl Budget and What Does It Mean for Your Website?

Crawling links is Google’s process for discovering and indexing your Web content, so that is appears in relevant searches and gets displayed to the right audience. Professional SEO services place a strong emphasis on features that enhance webpage discovery, but they will also make you aware of another important factor in running a Web presence that engages and converts. We are talking about your crawl budget. Read on for everything you need to know.

What is a Google crawl budget?

While there is no universal definition, the Google Webmaster Central Blog operationalizes the crawl budget as “the number of URLs Googlebot can and wants to crawl.” Since crawling is what lands your Web content in Google searches and in front of the right eyeballs, the better you understand the process and the different ways in which you can steer it, the more efficient and beneficial the crawling process will be for everyone involved.

Do all webmasters need to worry about their crawl budget? 

In short: no. For websites that feature less than several thousand URLs, crawling will be efficient, and you won’t need to take any special measures. If, on the other hand, you run a larger website or your site auto-generates webpages off special URL parameters, you might want to get into the nuts and bolts of crawling optimization below.

What are the key variables in my crawl budget? 

Even the best SEO company will be hard-pressed to come up with a universal crawling checklist. Instead, we will focus on a few important parameters here, some or all of which may apply to your particular case.
The first key variable here is the crawl rate limit, or the sum total of concurrent parallel connections you allow Googlebot to use in order to crawl your site. Googlebot will adjust that rate on its own based on ‘crawl health,’ or how well your website responds to crawl attempts. Consistently quick response and problem-free crawls result in a higher crawl rate limit. If you are worried too much crawling will slow down your site and worsen customer experiences, however, you can set a hard limit in Search Console.
The other important variable which factors into your crawl budget determination is crawl demand. It depends on your site’s popularity, which increases demand, and staleness, which lowers it. Major episodes like a site move usually provide temporary jolts in crawl demand until Google adjusts to the big change in your Web presence.

What can you do to impact your crawl budget positively?

Like we said already, if you are running a small or medium-sized website, your crawl budget must be in good health by default, and you do not need to take special measures. However, there are some best practices that you should follow in order to maintain an efficient distribution of crawling resources. The top tip here is to limit the number of low-value-add URLs, or subpar content that clutters your site and brings no positives. Faceted navigation and session identifiers, duplicate content, soft error pages and hacked pages are good examples here. Having a large number of low-value-add pages could “steal” crawling resources away from the premium-content pages on your site.

Many professional SEO services, therefore, will make this a major point of improving your website, for Googlebot and most importantly for your audiences as well. It is a good idea for small- and medium-sized websites to get into what I call a regular ‘Spring Clean’, where your SEO company will undertake an audit at least two to three times a year to check error pages and potential issues that could affect crawling and indexing. For larger websites, this definitely needs to be a systematic process, which should be part of your wider SEO strategy.


Christelle Macri is the founder of Ebizpromotion, a leading SEO company in Berkshire, with an ethical approach to digital marketing. She is also a search engine consultant and has 17 years’ experience working for a major search engine and pioneering pay for performance advertising networks. Her professional SEO services turn her clients’ websites into consistent revenue streams, using a variety of digital channels.