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Optimise crawl budget to improve website performance

by  David Dwyer on  09/08/2018    26 Reads

How optimising your crawl budget will improve the performance of your website

Hopefully, having launched your website, you’re doing your homework and checking its Google web stats regularly. There’s so much there to help you earn a return on your investment.

 

Chances are though, with so much information at your fingertips, and so many demands on your time, you haven’t got much further than looking at your audience split, their favourite landing page, and the overall site visit trend over the last week, month or quarter.

 

Am I right?

 

I’m willing to bet you haven’t ever clicked on crawl stats in the Google Search Console?

 

 

Ed: Just to bring you up to speed before you read any further:

  • Search Console used to be known as Webmaster Tools (and tells us about users behaviour before they land on your website, effectively telling us the opportunities your missing out on)
  • Search Console and Google Analytics are free products

So you may be missing a trick.

 

By way of explanation let’s take an analogy widely attributed to Albert Einstein, “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it ... he who doesn't ... pays it.”

 

It’s an analogy that works for search engine optimisation (SEO) as well. If you take a little time to understand what will help you earn a greater return on your investment in your website (or simply ask us), then there’s a whole lot more to search engine optimisation than proper tags, relevant keywords, great design elements and a steady stream of high-quality content. 

 

The other analogy is like that of leap frog, what do you need to do even minimal to enable you to leap over the next frog ie move beyond the Search Engine Ranking Position (SERP) above you.

 

As Google Premier Partners, we understand how to compound the effect of these measures with the more subtle ‘mysteries’ that Google stats can reveal.

 

However let me be clear this is no dark art.

 

Helping clients with their SEO is one of our most valued services.

 

Your crawl budget is a good example.

 

What is your “crawl budget”?

 

The best explanation is this is from Google themselves, however this summary from Search Engine Land is slightly more approachable!

“Here is a short summary of what was published, but I recommend reading the full post.

  • Crawl rate limit is designed to help Google not crawl your pages too much and too fast where it hurts your server.
  • Crawl demand is how much Google wants to crawl your pages. This is based on how popular your pages are and how stale the content is in the Google index.
  • Crawl budget is “taking crawl rate and crawl demand together.” Google defines crawl budget as “the number of URLs Googlebot can and wants to crawl.”

Optimising your investment

All search engines work by relying on spiders to gather information on your website: the best known are Googlebot and Bingbot (Microsoft’s equivalent).

 

Googlebot discovers new pages and adds them to the Google Index. Your site’s crawl budget reflects the number of times Googlebot, (or another spider), crawls your website in any given period.

 

There are three key reasons this might matter to you:

  1. Speed - you want new content on your site to be indexed quickly, to help people find it. The higher your site’s crawl budget, the more frequently it is crawled by Googlebot, or another spider, and so the quicker your content will appear. You can determine the crawl budget of individual pages too, using Google’s search console, and then analyse the visitor statistics of your priority pages to influence how the search engine results will be reported, which leads us to…
  2. Quantity - you want your site's most important pages to appear on Google: as many of them as possible. The crawl budget results reflect page by page performance, so you can modify any that aren’t performing as you’d wish.
  3. Typically pages that have been crawled recently get more visibility in the search engine results pages (SERPs), so you want to make the spider welcome.

The smarter you manage your crawl budget, therefore, the faster all this will happen – with Google, Bing, Yahoo - whoever.

 

Don’t be left hamstrung by Open Source platforms

 

Some templates for Open Source platforms rely on multiple plug-ins that have been updated countless times, leaving the code on your pages confused, impaired and far longer than it needs to be. That can upset the spiders! Some of the things you can do to help improve your crawl budget include:

  • Clean code Use HTML5 working with cascading style sheets (CSS) to make your code as clean as possible, and help your site respond quickly. In turn, this increases your crawl rate limit – meaning Google can make more connections in any given period, indexing more pages as it goes. You can optimise the performance of these pages by:
    • shortening redirect chains
    • blocking pages under construction
    • managing url parameters
    • finding and fixing broken links
    • adding RSS feeds
    • keeping the site map clean
    • internal linking
    • adding rich media files.
  • You can also limit a bot’s visits to your site using Search Console. (But setting a larger ‘limit’ doesn’t automatically bring more frequent visits. Google likes to prioritise pages using new content, good traffic, real external links etc)
  • Having low-value-add URLs will negatively affect a site's crawl budget and indexing. By that I mean low quality or spam content, soft error pages and on-site duplicate content will reduce visits. You can control all of these (and other factors) if you keep your site content up-to-date. (Note: if you have an e-commerce site it will more than likely have plenty of filter type pages indexed, which repeat the same content.)

Efficient crawling of your website will help with its indexing in Google Search and help improve your SEO performance.

 

For bigger sites, or those that auto-generate pages based on URL parameters, prioritising how much resource your server allocates to facilitate crawling is also important.

The thing to remember is, for you at least, every web page has a value, but for spiders, not every web page is of equal value.

You can influence how much they rate your page.

 

Inspire work proactively to deliver a return on your investment

 

So, do you simply plan to spend online, or will you ‘compound’ your investment to create a return?

 

By improving your page performance, you (or we) can deliver a better user experience for site visitors, with faster page responses, cleaner code and improved traffic and/or engagements (bookings, sales, enquiries etc). It’s a win-win.

 

This might make your head hurt, just like compound interest, but if you take time to understand it, you’ll see your site performance improve.

 

While other web developers might be happy just to publish your site and then move on; we take a view that that is when the real hard starts in that we then work actively with all our clients to deliver value from their sites.

 

Wherever they are based (and we have hundreds of clients, across the UK and internationally) we will discuss how elements like a crawl budget review can help you respond to the evolving web and gain more value online. We do this at least twice every year – but you can ask us anytime.  You might also like to read about our process which utilises PRINCE2, the gold standard of Project Management.  We believe this makes us stand out from the crowd

Call now on (+44)1738 700 006.

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