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What is Googlebot & How Does it Work?

James Gibbons

Google Crawler: What is it & How Does it Boost the Site's Visibility?

Google Crawler

As a website owner, you may have experienced the frustration of suddenly seeing your website traffic drop off. It could be due to the Googlebot crawler being unable to access your site. However, Googlebot is not your enemy but rather a friend that can help you gain more traffic to your site.

Google bots are more of a gateway to unlocking your site's full potential.

Without its favorable glance, your content could languish in obscurity, buried under the mountain of information on the internet. It may lead to decreased visibility on search engine result pages.

In this blog, we will delve deeper into the world of Googlebot crawling & how you can optimize your website to ensure it is crawled effectively. So, without further ado, let's dive into the world of Googlebot crawling!

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What is a Web Crawler?

A web crawler, also called a spider or a bot, is a tool that explores & catalogs the web in an automated, organized manner. Picture it like a robot that goes door to door, visiting every house in a city, documenting its observations, and then returning to its headquarters to report the data. The only difference is that the "city" is the World Wide Web, and the "houses" are web pages.

Their primary role is to keep search engines, like Google, updated with fresh data, making search results relevant & useful.

The most well-known web crawler is Googlebot. It uses sophisticated algorithms to decide which websites to visit, the frequency of visits, and the number of pages to retrieve. This process helps build an index for Google Search, ensuring quick and accurate search results.

They serve as the backbone of search engines like Google.

Without these bots, search engines would have outdated information, making their results irrelevant & useless for users.

There are four basic types of web crawlers: focused web crawlers, incremental web crawlers, deep web crawlers, and hybrid web crawlers.

1. Focused web crawlers target specific topics for indexing.

2. Incremental web crawlers update indexes with new or altered pages since their last visit.

3. Deep web crawlers navigate the parts of the internet not indexed by standard search engines.

4. Hybrid web crawlers combine the features of focused, incremental, and deep web crawlers.

Use Cases of Web Crawling

Web crawlers are used for data mining, web scraping, SEO monitoring, and competitive intelligence. They also aid in continually updating Google's index to make Google Search the most powerful & accurate tool.

However, they must operate within legal boundaries, respecting guidelines like those outlined in a site's robots.txt file. It helps ensure a balance between thorough indexing & website owner preferences.

How Do Google Crawlers Work?

A web crawler, such as Googlebot, acts like an eager reader exploring a vast library of online 'books' or websites. At its heart, it operates with three key components: the frontier, the fetcher, and the scheduler.

The frontier is the list of URLs queued for a visit, akin to a reader's wishlist. The fetcher grabs the web page's content, much like reading a book, while the scheduler decides which 'book' to read next based on priority & organization.

Googlebot begins its reading journey by visiting a few 'libraries' (servers with websites). It starts with familiar 'books' (known websites) and then uses the links within these 'books' as a roadmap to discover new 'books' (new websites or pages).

However, it can encounter 'locked doors' like broken links or access errors, which it skillfully bypasses, ensuring only accessible & valid pages are added to its collection. This efficient system allows Googlebot to sift through seamlessly & index the ever-changing web landscape.

What are the Reasons Googlebot is Not Crawling my Website?

Several factors could be at play if you've noticed that Googlebot isn't crawling your website:

1. Check Your Robots.txt: Ensure your robots.txt file isn't blocking Googlebot. It is crucial to how the Google crawler interacts with your site. If your robots.txt file accidentally tells Googlebot not to crawl your website, it will heed that instruction.

2. Low-Quality or Duplicate Content: Googlebot aims to index high-quality & unique content. It may reduce the crawl rate or even stop crawling your site altogether if it encounters too many pages with similar or poor content.

3. Server Problems: If your server is slow or often down when the Googlebot tries to visit, it can decrease your site's crawl frequency. Googlebot doesn't want to cause additional load on your server & may limit its visits if it encounters server errors or slow response times.

4. Lack of Backlinks: Googlebot might not crawl your website if it is new & has few backlinks. Backlinks are vital for Googlebot to discover new websites. If your website lacks quality backlinks, Googlebot might take more time to crawl and index it. So, it's crucial to develop a strong link-building strategy.

5. High Page Load Time: Googlebot allocates a specific crawl budget to each website, meaning it has limited time to crawl & index pages. If your site loads slowly, Googlebot may leave before it has crawled all pages.

Understanding and rectifying these issues will help Googlebot crawl and index your site efficiently. Learn how to identify & fix crawling errors in Google Search Console.

How Does Crawler Help With Indexing?

After crawling a website, Google starts indexing. Indexing is when Google sorts & organizes the site's content so people can find it easily in search results. Googlebot looks at things like text, images, and videos to understand what the website is about.

It then puts this information into Google's big database. The better a website talks to Googlebot - using the right keywords, updating regularly, and being easy to use - the higher it will likely appear in search results. Google uses special formulas to decide which websites show up first. It look at how relevant the information is, its structure, how the website is built, and user experience.

But remember, not every page that Googlebot visits gets stored in Google's database. Sometimes, there are issues, and a webpage might not be indexed. These errors occur due to numerous factors:

1. The webpage is disallowed in your robot.txt file.

2. The webpage has a "noindex" meta tag.

3. The webpage is blocked by a password.

4. The webpage is unreachable or presents a 404 error.

5. The webpage is a duplicate of other pages and doesn’t provide any unique value.

6. The webpage is significantly under-optimized in terms of SEO.

Learn how to rectify indexation errors in GSC here.

Google Crawling vs Indexing

Google crawling and Google indexing are two essential processes in the search engine ecosystem, both crucial for effective website visibility. While they are interconnected, they serve distinct purposes in optimizing search results. Let us learn how they are different.

Aspect Google Crawling Google Indexing
Purpose Identify and retrieve new or updated content on the web. Create an organized and efficient database of web content.
Frequency It is an ongoing process that happens continuously. It occurs after crawling and is not as frequent.
Scope Covers the entire website, including all pages and resources linked within. It examines the HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and other content to understand the structure and collect relevant information. Focuses on the content deemed valuable during crawling. Google prioritizes and stores information, including text, images, and other media, in its index for future retrieval.
Dependencies Depend on a website's structure, sitemap, and the presence of navigable links. Depends on the quality and relevance of the content.
Impact on SEO Influences on how often your site is visited. Affects which keywords your site ranks for.
Challenges Crawling faces challenges such as handling dynamic JavaScript-generated content, dealing with crawl errors, and ensuring efficient resource allocation for crawling millions of websites daily. Indexing challenges include managing duplicate content, interpreting complex web pages accurately, and continuously updating the index to reflect changes on the web.

Different Types of Google Crawlers and Their Functions

Google uses various types of crawlers to collect data from the web, including text, images, videos, and audio. These crawlers have different functions & are specialized in different types of content.

Googlebot Smartphone

Googlebot Smartphone is a specialized crawler designed to index web pages optimized for mobile devices. It emulates smartphone user agents & makes mobile-optimized pages available for mobile users. This crawler helps ensure your website is accessible & functional for mobile users.

The user token here is "Googlebot Smartphone" and the full agent user string would look something like "Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; Android 6.0.1; Nexus 5X Build/MMB29P) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/41.0.2272.96 Mobile Safari/537.36 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +"

Googlebot Desktop

Contrary to its mobile counterpart, Googlebot Desktop emulates a traditional desktop-user agent. This crawler specializes in analyzing & indexing web pages optimized for larger screens.

Its user token is "Googlebot" and a typical full agent user string might come off as "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +" This crawler is beneficial in ensuring your website is accessible & functional for desktop users.

Googlebot Image

Googlebot Image specializes in discovering & indexing images available on the web. It's designed to help Google's image search functionality.

The user token associated with it is "Googlebot-Image" and the full agent user string usually appears as "Googlebot-Image/1.0." The benefit of this bot is that it can help your images appear in Google Images, leading to increased visibility & potentially more web traffic.

Googlebot Video

Googlebot Video is deployed to crawl, index, and rank video content on the web for Google Video search. Its user token is "Googlebot-Video" and the full agent user string is "Googlebot-Video/1.0". It increases the visibility of your website on Google's video search, leading to more viewers & higher engagement rates.

Google AdsBot

Google AdsBot is a crawler designed to crawl & index web pages containing Google AdWords advertisements. It is responsible for analyzing the content of each AdWords advertisement and determining its relevance & quality. 

The user agent for the desktop version of this bot is 'AdsBot-Google (+,' and there's a mobile version, too, identified by 'AdsBot-Google-Mobile.'

Are They Really Googlebots: What Does Google Say?

Google bots are essential for indexing web content, helping Google's search engine find relevant information quickly. However, it's crucial to be aware that not all bots claiming to be Google are legitimate. Some may pose as Google bots to scrape & steal website content or bypass security measures. Google advises website owners to verify the authenticity of bots crawling their sites.

To ensure a bot is a genuine Googlebot, Google provides a list of IP addresses associated with its crawlers. But there's also another way to check the activity of Google bots on your site. Google Search Console (GSC) provides a comprehensive report related to crawl stats. This report can be utilized to monitor Googlebot activity, allowing you to identify any unusual or suspicious actions. Follow the steps to check the Googlebot activity:

1. Log in to GSC and select your website.

2. Navigate to "Settings" and then "Crawl Stats" to access detailed reports on Googlebot interactions.

3. Look for data like 'Host status,' 'Crawl requests,' and other crawl stats.

An unusual spike in crawl requests could indicate suspicious bot activity.

Methods to Control Googlebot Crawlers Activity


The robots.txt file is a simple text file that sits at the root directory of your website & instructs Googlebot which pages of your website to crawl & index. You can use this file to block specific pages or entire sections of your website from being crawled. To create a robots.txt file, you need to follow specific directives. The most common directives include "User-agent", "Disallow", and "Allow".

Learn more about the Robots.txt file & how to implement them here.

Meta Robots Tag

Unlike Robots.txt, which is a standalone file, the Meta Robots Tag is an HTML tag placed in the header section of a webpage. This tag instructs crawlers whether or not to index a particular page & follow its links.

With attributes like "index"/"noindex" and "follow"/"nofollow," it lets you fine-tune the indexing & link-following behavior of specific pages. This tag is useful to prevent duplicate content issues or exclude specific pages from being indexed. It is also useful when you don't want to pass link equity to external pages.

The choice to use "noindex" and "nofollow" depends on the specific requirements of your website. For instance, you could use "noindex" for duplicate pages and pages with sensitive information and "nofollow" for links to untrusted content or paid links.

URL Parameters

URL parameters are used to track specific campaign data, sort information, or produce dynamic content. They are used to pass additional information to a web page. However, if not handled carefully, they can cause significant SEO problems by creating duplicate content issues.

Maintaining a clean URL structure & minimizing unnecessary parameters helps ensure Googlebot's efforts are focused and effective, avoiding potential crawl issues.

Crawl Rate Settings

The crawl rate determines how often Googlebot visits your site. While Google automatically determines the optimal crawl rate, you can adjust this rate in Google Search Console under 'Settings.'

It should be noted that a higher crawl rate does not necessarily lead to higher rankings, and an excessive crawl rate might put unnecessary load on your server. Therefore, it's best to trust Google's judgment unless you experience server load issues or your site content changes rapidly.

Advanced Strategies for Effective Googlebot Crawling

Using XML Sitemaps

XML Sitemaps are files that tell Google & other search engines about the pages available on your website. They provide crucial information such as the last update, frequency of changes, and the importance of pages in relation to other pages on the website.

These XML sitemaps can be generated using numerous free & paid online tools. Once the sitemap is generated, it should be submitted to Google Search Console and added to your site's robots.txt file.

It significantly enhances Googlebot's crawling efficiency and helps search engines discover & index your content faster, improving organic visibility.

Implementing Structured Data Markup

Structured Data Markup is code that helps search engines understand your content better. It’s a way to label or annotate your content so that search engines can index it more effectively.

Use Google’s tools to mark up your site's content, validate it, and add the code to your HTML. Once your markup is ready, use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to validate it & add the generated code to your website's HTML.

Doing so can significantly improve your pages' representation in SERPs. It may even lead to rich results, dramatically increasing your click-through rates.

Lazy Loading Optimization

Lazy loading defers the loading of non-essential resources until they are needed. Optimizing lazy loading for Googlebot involves ensuring efficient rendering and indexing of these deferred elements.

Prioritize critical resources for initial loading, use the "loading" attribute, and employ JavaScript frameworks like Intersection Observer to trigger lazy loading for Googlebot.

Efficient lazy-loading enhances page speed, reduces server load, and positively influences Googlebot's ability to crawl and index content.

Canonicalization Strategies

Canonicalization is the process of selecting the preferred URL when multiple URLs represent the same content. Use rel="canonical" tags, set preferred URLs in Google Search Console, and leverage 301 redirects for parameter handling. Implement hreflang annotations for internationalization.

Proper canonicalization prevents duplicate content issues, consolidates link equity, and ensures Googlebot focuses on indexing the preferred version of your pages.

HTTP Status Codes Management

HTTP status codes are the server's response to a browser's request to view a page. Use 200 status codes for successful page loads, 301/302 for permanently or temporarily moved pages, and 404/410 for removed pages. Regularly check your site’s status codes and fix any unexpected errors.

Proper usage of HTTP status codes can prevent Googlebot from wasting its crawl budget on nonexistent or irrelevant pages. It also provides a better user experience, as users are directed to the correct pages, not error pages.

Improve Googlebot Crawling Efficiency with Quattr

In conclusion, mastering Googlebot crawling is crucial for optimizing your website's SEO performance. Advanced tactics such as optimizing lazy loading, canonicalization, and managing HTTP status codes refine crawling efficiency. It ensures your website stands out in the crowded digital space. As Google continues to evolve its crawling algorithms, staying ahead with these sophisticated strategies ensures your website remains visible & competitive.

This is where Quattr can help you. Quattr can significantly enhance your website's crawling efficiency by offering advanced crawl analysis capabilities. Imagine discovering not just basic SEO issues but analyzing your site's performance against competitors with comprehensive weekly audits.

Quattr's tools render and analyze a broad set of pages, providing insights through historical trends on crawl errors, lighthouse audits, and site speed scores. This level of detail empowers you to make informed decisions, optimize your site to outrank competitors, and achieve superior SEO results.

Optimize for Googlebot Crawling with Quattr AI-SEO!

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Google Crawler FAQs

How long does it take for Google to crawl a website?

Google's crawling speed varies based on factors like website size, popularity, and changes. On average, new pages may take days or weeks to index, while frequent updates can appear within hours.

Which pages receive the most attention during crawling?

During crawling, pages with high-quality content, strong backlinks, and optimized metadata tend to receive the most attention from search engine crawlers. These pages are often prioritized for indexing and ranking due to their relevance & authority signals.

What role does the structure of a website play in crawling?

The structure of a website plays a crucial role in crawling as it directly impacts how efficiently search engine bots navigate & index content. A well-organized site with a clear hierarchy, internal linking, and optimized URLs can enhance crawlability, ensuring important pages are discovered and ranked effectively.

About The Author

James Gibbons

James Gibbons is the Senior Customer Success Manager at Quattr. He has 10 years of experience in SEO and has worked with multiple agencies, brands, and B2B companies. He has helped clients scale organic and paid search presence to find hidden growth opportunities. James writes about all aspects of SEO: on-page, off-page, and technical SEO.

About Quattr

Quattr is an innovative and fast-growing venture-backed company based in Palo Alto, California USA. We are a Delaware corporation that has raised over $7M in venture capital. Quattr's AI-first platform evaluates like search engines to find opportunities across content, experience, and discoverability. A team of growth concierge analyze your data and recommends the top improvements to make for faster organic traffic growth. Growth-driven brands trust Quattr and are seeing sustained traffic growth.

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