Googlebot Crawlers Beginners Guide
Googlebot Crawlers are generally as important as they sound to both desktop and mobile users. To enumerate, Googlebot is a generic name for Google’s web crawlers. Whereas, Googlebot is the general name for two different types of crawlers. Such as the;
- Desktop Googlebot Crawlers – that simulates a user on the desktop.
- Mobile Googlebot Crawlers – that simulates a user on a mobile device.
In the first place, a website will probably be crawled by both Googlebot Desktop and Googlebot Mobile. Meaning that the subtype of Googlebot Crawlers can be identified by looking at the user agent string in the request. However, both crawler types obey the same product token (useent token) in robots.txt. Which means that a developer cannot selectively target either Googlebot mobile or Googlebot desktop using robots.txt.
Q. What is Googlebot?
Important to realize that Googlebot visits billions of webpages. Whether you are awake or asleep, Googlebot is constantly visiting pages all over the web.
Equally important, Googlebot (also known as bot, robot or spider) is a type of software designed to follow links. In addition to gathering information and then sending that information somewhere else. Therefore, with this in mind, we can simply say that;
- Googlebot is the web crawlers used by Google.
- Used by Google Platforms to find and retrieve webpages.
- The information gathered by Googlebot is used to update the Google index.
Although this may be true, there is a slight difference between Googlebot and Google index. Whereas, Google index takes the content it receives from Googlebot and uses it to rank pages. Not to mention that the first step of being ranked by Google is to be retrieved by Googlebot.
Googlebot Crawlers and general Sites Crawlability
Firstly, ranking in the search engines requires a website with flawless technical SEO. Luckily, the Yoast SEO plugin takes care of (almost) everything on your WordPress site. Still, if you really want to get the most out of your website and keep on outranking the competition, some basic knowledge of technical SEO is a must.
Secondly, crawlability has to do with the possibilities Google has to crawl your website. Not to mention that crawlers can be blocked from your site. For instance, there are a few ways to block a crawler from your website. Under those circumstances, if your website or a page on your website is blocked, you’re saying to Google’s crawler: “do not come here”. As a result, your site or the respective page won’t turn up in the search results in most of these cases.
How Googlebot Crawlers execute their work
Although crawlability is just the very basics of technical SEO, it has to do with all the things that enable Google to index your site. Even though, for most people, it’s already pretty advanced stuff.
Nevertheless, if you’re blocking – perhaps even without knowing! – crawlers from your site, you’ll never rank high in Google. So, if you’re serious about SEO, your website crawlability should matter to you! Below is the general serving purpose of Googlebot Crawlers. Including,
Googlebot Crawlers Sitemap
In a nutshell, Googlebot Crawlers uses sitemaps and databases of links discovered during previous crawls to determine where to go next. Whenever the crawler finds new links on a site, it adds them to the list of pages to visit next. If Googlebot finds changes in the links or broken links, it will make a note of that so the index can be updated.
Further, the program determines how often it will crawl pages. In reality, to make sure Googlebot can correctly index your site, you need to check its crawlability. Whereby, if your site is available to crawlers they come around often.
Googlebot Crawlers Indexing
Most compelling evidence is that a crawler follows the links on the web. For this reason, that is why a crawler is also called a robot, a bot, or a spider. Another key point is that Googlebot Crawlers goes around the internet 24/7.
Once they land on a particular website, they save the HTML version of a page in a gigantic database, called the index. This index is updated every time the crawler comes around your website and finds a new or revised version of it. Depending on how important Google deems your site and the number of changes you make on your website, the crawler comes around more or less often.
How Googlebot Crawlers “sees” a webpage
Just because Googlebot can see your pages does not mean that Google has a perfect picture of exactly what those pages are. In fact, Googlebot does not see a website the same way as humans do. Remarkably, humans can see the image, but what Googlebot sees is only the code calling that image.
As has been noted, Googlebot may be able to access that webpage (the HTML file), but not be able to access the image found on that webpage for various reasons. In that scenario the Google index will not include that image, meaning that Google has an incomplete understanding of your webpage.
Further, if any of those components are not accessible to Googlebot, it will not send them to the Google index. They aren’t just images. In reality, there are many pieces to a webpage. Thereby, for Google to be able to rank your webpages optimally, Google needs the complete picture.
Google Web Content Access
There are many scenarios where Googlebot might not be able to access web content, here are a few common ones.
- Resource blocked by robots.txt
- Page links not readable or incorrect
- Over-reliance on Flash or other technology that web crawlers may have issues with
- Bad HTML or coding errors
- Overly complicated dynamic links
In brief, most of these things can be quickly checked by using the Google guidelines tool. Whereby, if you have a Google account use the “fetch and render” tool found in the Google search console. Definitely, this tool will provide you with a live example of exactly what Google sees for an individual page.
Utilizing the Googlebot crawlers (user agents)
As an illustration, a Google “Crawler” is a generic term for any program (such as a robot or spider). By all means that is used to automatically discover and scan websites by following links from one webpage to another.
To demonstrate, Google’s main crawler is called the Googlebot. Markedly, follow – Google’s list of tables with information about the common Google crawlers you may see in your referrer logs. In addition to how they should be specified in robots.txt, the robots meta tags, and the X-Robots-Tag HTTP directives. Including,
1. The user-agent token
For your information, the user-agent is used in the (
User-agent) line in robots.txt. For one thing, to match a crawler type when writing crawl rules for your site.
Some crawlers have more than one token, as shown in the table you just visited. Whereas, you need to match only one crawler token for a rule to apply. Indeed, the list is not complete but covers most of the crawlers you might see on your website.
2. Full user agent string
This is a full description of the crawler and appears in the request and your weblogs too.
3. User agents in robots.txt
Where several user-agents are recognized in the robots.txt file, Google will follow the most specific. Therefore, if you want all of Google to be able to crawl your pages, you don’t need a robots.txt file at all. Additionally, if you want to block or allow all of Google’s crawlers from accessing some of your content, you can do this by specifying Googlebot Crawlers as the user-agent.
For example, if you want all your pages to appear in Google search, and if you want AdSense ads to appear on your pages, you don’t need a robots.txt file. Similarly, if you want to block some pages from Google altogether, blocking the user-agent Googlebot will also block all Google’s other user-agents.
But if you want more fine-grained control, you can get more specific. For example, you might want all your pages to appear in Google Search, but you don’t want images in your personal directory to be crawled. In this case, use robots.txt to disallow the user-agent Googlebot-image from crawling the files in your /personal directory (while allowing Googlebot to crawl all files), like this:
User-agent: Googlebot Disallow: User-agent: Googlebot-Image Disallow: /personal
To take another example, say that you want ads on all your pages, but you don’t want those pages to appear in Google Search. Here, you’d block Googlebot, but allow Mediapartners-Google, like this:
User-agent: Googlebot Disallow: / User-agent: Mediapartners-Google Disallow:
4. User agents in robots meta tags
Some pages use multiple robots
meta tags to specify directives for different crawlers, like this:
<meta name="robots" content="nofollow"><meta name="googlebot" content="noindex">
In this case, Google will use the sum of the negative directives, and Googlebot will follow both the
nofollow directives. See More detailed information about controlling how Google crawls and indexes your site.
Blocking Googlebot Crawlers from indexing your Site
There are various instances that lead to a website designer and or developer such as the jmexclusives to block Google from indexing their site. For instance, while you want the root domain with the coming soon page to be index by Google.
Whereby, you don’t want the subdomain to be indexed. Of course, because at some point when the site is done, you’d probably delete the subdomain. So, what happens? There are a few things that could prevent Google from crawling (or indexing) your website.
For example, if your robots.txt file blocks the crawler, Google will not come to your website or specific web page. Equally, before crawling your website, the crawler will take a look at the HTTP header of your page. This HTTP header contains a status code. If this status code says that a page doesn’t exist, Google won’t crawl your website.
Finally, if the robots meta tag on a specific page blocks the search engine from indexing that page, Google will crawl that page, but won’t add it to its index. Below are the famous methods to use in order to drop Google from Crawling your site. Such as
1. Noindex Method
According to Google, including a meta tag with the content value of
noindex and name value of
robots comes handy. For one thing, this will cause the Googlebot to completely drop the page from the Google Search results when it next crawls. As an illustration, below is a scheme of what the (
noindex) meta tag looks like in the head of your web page.
<head> <meta name="robots" content="noindex"> <title>Your cool website</title> </head>
However, the meta tag will need to be included in every single page you want the Googlebot not to index. Moreover, if you want to block the bot completely instead of telling which individual pages not to index, you’ll want to use the (
2. Robots.txt Method
Forthwith, the other method is to block all search engine crawler bots from indexing your site. In fact, to do this, you’ll create a (
robots.txt) file and place it at the root of the domain. In short, the contents of robots.txt will be as follows.
User-agent: * Disallow: /
Altogether, this tells all crawlers to not crawl the entire domain. So for example, if you’ve got a subdomain of (
dev.example-url.com) and you want just the subdomain of (
dev) to be blocked you’ll want to place the (
robots.txt) file at the root for the subdomain.
Not at all! As a matter of fact, you only need one method but remember with the (
noindex) tag, you’ll need to add it to every page you desire not to be indexed. While the (
robots.txt) will instruct the crawler to not index the entire subdomain.
For your Takeaway,
Whenever I think of Googlebot Crawlers, all I see are cute and smart Wall-E like robots. Not to mention, speeding off on a quest to find and index knowledge in all corners of yet unknown worlds. However, it’s always slightly disappointing to be reminded that Googlebot is ‘only’ a computer program. Generally speaking, written by Google for that matter. For sure, that which crawls the web and adds pages to its index.
To put it another way, a search engine like Google consists of a crawler, an index, and an algorithm. Whereas, the crawler follows the links. When Google’s crawler finds your website, it’ll read it and its content is saved in the index. Therefore, it is always recommended that you make sure that your site pages are crawlable and well indexed.
If you require customized SEO Services and Solutions Support, please feel free to reach out. In that case, through the comments box below or even through the jmexclusives contacts page. After all, you’ll find more useful and related research content materials through the links below.
- The jmexclusives: Online Research Training and Learning Guides
- Search Console Help: Google Crawlers (user agents)
- SEO Basics: Search Engine Optimization Beginners Guide
- Yoast SEO: What is crawlability?
- Dev: Prevent Google from indexing your site