Question: How can you set a crawl delay for Googlebot?


Google, unlike some other search engines, does not officially support the Crawl-delay directive in the robots.txt file. The Crawl-delay directive is used by webmasters to limit how often search engine bots visit their site to avoid overloading their server resources.

Understanding Google Crawl Rate

Instead of using the Crawl-delay directive, Google provides a more flexible and advanced approach to control the crawl rate. This is managed through the Google Search Console:

  1. Verify your site on Google Search Console if you haven't done so.
  2. Navigate to Settings > Crawl rate, which appears under the 'Legacy tools and reports' section.
  3. Adjust the slider to set your preferred crawl rate. This setting will be effective for 90 days.

When to Adjust Google's Crawl Rate?

Adjusting the crawl rate might be necessary if:

  • Your server is experiencing high load and slowing down because of Googlebot's frequent visits.
  • You've added a large number of new pages and want to ensure they are indexed promptly, without overwhelming your server.

Limitations and Considerations

It's important to note that:

  • Increasing the crawl rate does not guarantee faster or more comprehensive indexing.
  • Decreasing the crawl rate might delay how quickly new content or updates to existing content are reflected in search results.

Best Practices for Managing Crawl Efficiency

To optimize Googlebot's crawl efficiency without explicitly setting a crawl delay, consider:

  • Improving server response times and overall site performance.
  • Using the sitemap.xml file to indicate updated pages to Google.
  • Utilizing the robots.txt file smartly to disallow crawling of insignificant pages, thus saving crawl budget for more important pages.

By taking these steps, you can help ensure that Googlebot crawls your site effectively, without needing to impose strict limitations through a crawl delay.

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