What is the tracking budget? Definition and optimization

Backlinks, tags, CMS, long tail, internal/external links, SERP, Sitemap… in SEO there are many technical terms. Some are fairly easy to understand, while others are a little more complicated and sometimes (wrongly) overlooked. This is the case of Tracking budget.

Two words to designate an important concept in natural referencing since it is the number of pages of a website explored per day by search engine robots (Google is the perfect example). Therefore, it is essential to take it into account when SEO strategyand fully understand how it works and its consequences.

Without forgetting the news on Google. The latest was revealed by Gary Illyes, a Google analyst whose mission in 2024 is to find solutions to reduce tracking and data consumption. The long-term goal is to favor quality over quantity.

But before you get interested in this desire to perfect Google’s crawling process, you should:

  • define the tracking budget;
  • explain its importance in SEO;
  • present its influencing factors;
  • List the tools available to monitor your progress.

An extensive program to discover now in this article!

What is the “tracking budget”?

The crawl budget can be defined in a few words: it is the number of pages crawled by Google robots (“Googlebots”) on a site in a given time. This step is essential to be:

  • indexed in search engine results and therefore referenced;
  • more visible on the Internet.

It is done automatically, using robots that browse the Internet and explore the different pages of the sites. You can do it in 3 ways:

  • from sitemap data;
  • from a directory of known URLs;
  • going from link to link.

Once a robot has passed, the crawled pages are indexed. They become visible to all Internet users, who can access them from a search engine.

On the other hand, since a lot of data is moved on a server when a robot passes by, there is a Crawl Rate Limit in English. The goal is to avoid overloading a site’s server, which could detract from the user experience. It is also possible to make a crawl request, after adding a page or modifications made to a site so that the robots take them into account.

An important criterion for natural reference.

To rank sites in the SERPs (search results pages), Google analyzes the data recorded by its robots when they explore the sites. Therefore, the Crawl Budget has an impact on the natural referencing of a website’s pages.. If it is not enough, robots index late updating a site’s content and adding new pages. Consequently, the results are delayed because their positioning is worse, and it may happen that little explored pages are not indexed.

The importance of a well-managed Crawl Budget (neither excessive nor insufficient) in SEO can be summarized, therefore, in 3 points:

  • better visibility of a site in the SERPs thanks to the exploration of new pages and therefore their indexing;
  • rapid indexing of updates to a site (adding or modifying content, for example) to allow Internet users to find recent information on a site during a search;
  • maintain the performance of a site thanks to sufficient exploration of a site by robots.

That is why it is necessary to know the criteria that determine the crawl budget and the useful tools to monitor the progress of page indexing.

The crawl frequency of indexing robots

To determine the crawl frequency of a site (Crawl Bugdet), Google takes several criteria into account. The most common are:

  • the site loading time: the slower it is, the lower the browsing rate;
  • the number of pages: the more there are, the greater the crawling budget must be so that all of them are crawled and indexed;
  • crawl traps (or crawl traps), which indicate problems with the structure of a site and slow down the work of robots (example: numerous irrelevant URLs);
  • the update frequency of a site, which must be regular to encourage robots to visit its pages;
  • excessive redirects and errors, which waste robots’ time;
  • the numerous loads of JavaScript scripts;
  • duplicate and low-quality internal content;
  • the navigation structure, which must be clear to simplify the robots’ work and promote efficient exploration;
  • the popularity of a site: a site with many quality inbound links is better regarded by robots and therefore visited more frequently.

Therefore, these criteria influence a site’s crawl budget in two ways:

  • or they slow it down;
  • or they improve it.

Therefore, it is important to work on them as a priority to avoid SEO penalties.

How to optimize a site’s crawl budget?

The criteria mentioned above constitute a good working basis to have a better tracking budget. To optimize it and ensure the SEO performance of a site, several actions can be carried out, including:

  • improve the loading speed of a site’s pages (changing the hosting solution, optimizing display capabilities using a CDN or compressing media, for example);
  • remove unnecessary pages, internally duplicate content and bad links;
  • block pages in the robots.txt file that should not be indexed;
  • rewrite URLs to make them clear, consistent and review internal links;
  • use a sitemap to make it easier for robots to navigate your site;
  • periodically publish quality content;
  • avoid 404 error pages;
  • create quality backlinks.

These different actions are, therefore, optimization areas that must be worked on as a priority, to meet the exploration criteria of Googlebots.

What are the best tools to track site crawling by Google robots?

To optimize a site’s Crawl Budget and its SEO performance, in addition to the actions prior to implementing, its progress must be monitored. This is a key step in evaluating and trying to understand the behavior of Google robots on a site. To do this, some tools that our experts know well are available online:

  • Google Search Console, which shows the number of pages crawled by Google robots on a site, which pages have errors and which are excluded from indexing, as well as the crawl frequency;
  • SEMrush, which helps monitor crawl errors, duplicate content, and structure issues;
  • DeepCrawl, which provides detailed analysis of a site with reports on crawl errors, site structure, and performance issues;
  • Screaming Frog, which allows you to navigate a site like a search engine and helps you better understand what robots see during their exploration.

Track less but better, Google’s new objective

In March 2024, a Google algorithm update was implemented: Core Update. Its goal is to improve the quality of search results by promoting useful content. To this end, Google has enacted new anti-spam policies and once again, this update has raised many questions from SEO experts. Many of them are wondering, therefore, what Google’s next actions will be in terms of natural referencing of sites. In early April, Gary Illyes, an analyst at the web giant, gave them part of an answer.

In fact, he published a message on the social network LinkedIn explaining his mission for 2024: “ find a way to crawl even less and consume less “. This post responds to a post in a Reddit thread that indicates, according to its author, that “ Google tracks less than in previous years ».

However, according to Gary Illyes, this is not the case. “Googlebot scans are still as frequent as ever,” but the programming has gotten smarter and we’re focusing more on URLs that are probably worth crawling. However, it recognizes that they should track less and consume less data. Therefore, it is looking for an effective solution to “ Reduce scanning without sacrificing quality.

But that’s not the only information about the Crawl Budget that has been revealed recently. Gary Illyes also clarified last March that the search request determines the search limits. In other words, the quality of a site’s content would be an important decision criterion for crawling. This allows Google to adapt to the search trends of Internet users and better index relevant content.

In mid-March 2024, other experts working at Google also explained that there was no fixed crawl budget. It all depends on the sites. In short, case by case, but we know there are ways to benefit from a higher crawl budget:

  • put quality content online, with added value, corresponding to the search intention of Internet users, and update old content with recent data;
  • improve a site taking into account the criteria mentioned above (loading time, structure, mesh, etc.).

For Google, this desire to make it easier for robots to crawl is also a way to reduce its data consumption, improve the quality of its indexing, and reduce its digital footprint.

Therefore, to fully understand Google’s position and Crawl Budget’s interests, we must remember that:

  • According to Google experts, there is no fixed budget to index a site;
  • the production of quality content is essential;
  • A site should be optimized above all to provide a good user experience and not to manipulate a crawl rate.

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