Crawl budget: What is it and why it’s important for SEO

Alexandre Hoffmann 29/05/2024 5 minutes

You might have heard SEO experts throw around terms like “crawl budget” and wondered, “Why should I care about crawl budget?”

It’s a top concern for site owners, especially those running massive sites with hundreds or thousands of pages.

So, how does crawl budget impact your site, and why should it be a priority in your SEO strategy?

Let’s break down everything you need to know about crawl budget.

What is crawl budget?

Crawl budget is the total number of pages a search engine’s crawler, such as Googlebot, will visit and index on your website within a given timeframe.

This number varies based on several factors, including your website’s authority, size, and overall health.

Think of it like this: Imagine your website is a large library.

Googlebot is the librarian but only has a limited time each day to index new books (webpages) added to the shelves.

The crawl budget determines how many pages Googlebot can access before moving to other libraries.


Understanding crawl rate and crawl demand

To fully grasp crawl budget, you need to understand its two components: crawl rate and crawl demand.


1. Crawl rate limit

Crawl rate limit is the maximum number of simultaneous connections that Googlebot can use to crawl your site and the delay between fetches.

This “rate” is adjusted to ensure Googlebot does not overwhelm your server, affecting site performance.


2. Crawl demand

Crawl demand is influenced by two primary factors:

  • Popularity: Pages with high traffic are crawled more frequently to keep content fresh in the index.
  • Staleness: Content that hasn’t been updated in a while may be crawled again to check for updates.

The combined effect of crawl rate limit and crawl demand defines your crawl budget.

You can think of it as a balancing act—the faster Google can crawl your site without overloading your servers and the more it cares about your pages, the better your crawl budget will be.

Why does crawl budget matter?

Optimising your crawl budget ensures:

  • Efficient indexing: Ensuring key pages are indexed regularly.
  • Better site performance: Preventing overload on your server from excessive crawling.
  • Improved SEO: Maximizing visibility and ranking potential for important pages.

For large websites, efficient use of the crawl budget is crucial to ensure that new pages are found quickly and outdated pages are revisited to keep SERPs current.

Factors affecting crawl budget

Several elements influence how your crawl budget is allocated. Here are the main ones:


Site structure and hierarchy

A well-organised site structure makes it easier for crawlers to navigate and index your site.

  • Clear Hierarchies: Simplified navigation helps ensure that all important pages are reached.
  • Internal Linking: Good internal linking can exponentially improve crawl efficiency.

A clear information architecture also helps Google understand what your site is all about. Ignoring this or deciding not to optimise it could really hinder the site’s performance. If you are interested in optimising your IA, have a chat with me.


Server performance

Fast server response times ensure crawlers can fetch more pages in the same timeframe. The best way to look at this is to use a tool like GTMetrix, my personal favourite and look at the server response time or TTFB.


Duplicate content

Avoid duplicate content to prevent wasting crawl budget on redundant pages. Use canonical tags to indicate the “master” version of a page. But don’t overuse canonical tags; if you have to use them too much, this indicates that you have other issues on your site.

If you are on Shopify, there is a well-known issue that creates multiple versions of the same products as they sit within different collections. Shopify then canonicalises all the duplicates back to the main page…

This scenario is less than ideal, but there is a fix, and you can find it here.


Low-quality pages

Pages with thin or low-quality content can drag down your site’s overall performance and waste valuable crawl budget. We always recommend conducting a content performance audit every once in a while to cull the unnecessary content bloating your site.


URL parameters

Ensure URL parameters don’t create infinite loops or massively inflate the number of pages with identical or similar content. These can be active parameters (changing the content on the page, like a size parameter on an e-commerce website) or passive parameters (like IDs for tracking purposes that don’t change the page’s content).

This issue is the trickiest, and you ought to be very careful when dealing with parameters, as wrongly configuring them can really impact your site’s performance. Let’s explore how to tackle the parameters a bit more. 


How to deal with excessive parameter URLs


Identifying Parameter URL Issues

Before you can fix the problem, you need to identify it. Here’s how:


1. Google Search Console

Google Search Console (GSC) is a valuable tool for spotting parameter URL issues.

  • Index Coverage Report: Check for an overabundance of parameter URLs being indexed.
  • URL Parameters Tool: This tool within GSC allows you to tell Google how to handle different URL parameters.


2. Log file analysis

Log file analysis can reveal how crawlers are interacting with your parameter URLs.

  • Identify which parameter URLs are being frequently crawled.
  • Pinpoint redundancies and inefficiencies.

This is sometimes tricky because log files are very heavy and require a specific tool to read them. I use the Screaming Frog Log File Analyser, which is cheap and does the job.


Strategies to manage parameter URLs


1. Use robots.txt

Properly configured robots.txt files can block crawlers from accessing unnecessary parameter URLs.

For example:

User-Agent: *
Disallow: /*?sort
Disallow: /*?filter
Disallow: /*?session

The above lines tell crawlers to ignore URLs with sort, filter, and session parameters.


2. Canonical tags

Use canonical tags to indicate the preferred version of a page, preventing duplicate content issues.

For example:

<link rel="canonical" href="">

This tag tells search engines this is the authoritative URL, even if they encounter parameterised page versions like the one below:,5,6&colour=red


3. Optimise internal linking structure

Ensure your internal linking structure points to canonical URLs rather than parameterised ones.

  • Use clean and static URLs and important internal links in navigation menus.


4. Server-side redirects

Implement 301 redirects from parameter URLs to their canonical versions when appropriate.


If doesn’t add significant search value, redirect it to


Why should you care?

Your crawl budget is a precious resource that, if managed well, can significantly enhance your website’s SEO performance.

Site structure, server performance, duplicate content, URL parameters, and content quality are the top factors you must focus on to ensure efficient crawling and indexing.

Regularly auditing your site, optimising page load times, and using tools like Google Search Console can provide valuable insights and help you make the necessary adjustments.

By understanding and addressing these factors, you’ll ensure that search engines focus on the highly valuable content on your site, leading to better visibility and rankings.

Take control of your crawl budget, and let it work for you to maximise SEO success.