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Crawl Ratio, Render Ratio, & Why They Matter for SEO

23rd July 2019Kyle BlanchetteKyle Blanchette

Crawl, render, index… it’s the foundation of Botify’s methodology. If you’re not optimizing for these steps, you run the risk of all your other work being ineffective.

This is especially true for large enterprise websites with millions of URLs. Google doesn’t have the resources to crawl the entire web constantly, so enterprises face the challenge of making sure Google finds and indexes all their important content. Unfortunately, what we often find is that Google misses half of the content on these websites.

Whether you’re unsure how much of your content is being seen by Google or you already know you have issues in this area, read on to learn about crawl and render rate, and how improving them can boost your organic traffic and revenue.

What is crawl rate?

Crawl rate is the percentage of URLs on your site that have been crawled by Google. In Botify, we consider crawl rate within a 30-day period. If Google hasn’t crawled a page within the last 30 days, it’s considered not crawled.

We’ve been promoting the idea of crawl rate for years. It’s one of the foundations upon which we built our platform. The reason knowing your crawl rate is so critical is that, if Google isn’t crawling your content, it has no chance of showing up when people search for it. If it doesn’t show up to interested searchers, it can’t produce organic traffic and revenue. With about half of enterprise website’s content un-crawled by Google, there is a huge opportunity for enterprises to maximize revenue from the organic channel by optimizing for crawl rate.

How can I calculate my website’s crawl rate?

In order to calculate website crawl rate, you’ll need to know how many URLs are on your website as well as how many of your URLs have been crawled by Googlebot. Those who have connected their log files to the Botify Log Analyzer are able to see this automatically in our venn diagram visualization.

Crawls Wenn Diagram-1

This makes it easy to see what parts of your website Google isn’t seeing. Knowing how many of your total pages are crawled by Botify only is the first step toward optimizing for crawling. You won’t know what you need to fix until you’ve diagnosed a crawl rate problem.

Why isn’t Google crawling all my content? And how can I fix it?

Once you’ve identified an issue with how Google is crawling your website, the next logical questions are “why?” and “how do I fix it?”

To answer those questions, we’ll need to dive into both sides of the venn diagram chart to see both what pages Google is and isn’t spending time on. The main goal of this exercise is to do whatever we possibly can to get Google’s attention on the right pages — for example, there may be money-making pages (ex: product pages) that Google is ignoring, and unimportant pages (ex: duplicate content) that Google is spending unnecessary time on.

One of the big things we notice when diagnosing crawl issues is that crawl rate tends to decrease by page depth. In other words, the deeper a page is on your website, the less likely Google will crawl it. This is something that you can easily check for in Botify.

URLs Crawled by Googl By Depth - 2

There are lots of other reasons why Google might not be crawling your pages — maybe they lack freshness or maybe they’re even mistakenly blocked by your website’s robots.txt file. Whatever the issue, you have the ability to diagnose it by drilling down into the Botify crawl venn diagram.

An added benefit of crawl optimization is that, not only does it get Google’s attention on the right pages, it gets our attention on the right pages. For example, you might find that certain pages on your website are driving traffic but aren’t in the site structure. To maximize the value of those pages, you could add them to the site structure.

Visits volume - 3

If you own or manage some aspect of an enterprise website and you aren’t sure how Google is seeing (or not seeing) your pages, evaluating your crawl rate is key to ensuring that you’re getting all the value out of your website that you possibly can.

What is render rate?

Render rate is the percentage of total content that Google has rendered. If you’re not familiar with the concept of rendering, we encourage you to check out our article From Crawl Budget to Render Budget. In it, we explain that Google has a budget for rendering just like they have a budget for crawling. Because of their finite resources, they use a “second wave of indexing.”

Javascript Indexing - 4

This can sometimes lead to JavaScript-loaded content being missed. If Google isn’t rendering it, it won’t show up in the index. Just like with crawling, if Google doesn’t render something, they won’t know it exists, and knowing it exists is a prerequisite for it showing up in the index and contributing to your organic traffic and revenue.

So what percentage of your content is being rendered? Calculating your render rate is currently somewhat of a manual process:

  1. Find an expression you know is in the HTML-only version of your pages HTML Example - 5

  2. Find an expression you know is in the rendered version of your pages Javascrpit Example - 6

  3. Use Google’s advanced search operator to search site:yourdomain.com “HTML-only phrase”

  4. In a separate tab, search site:yourdomain.com “rendered phrase”

  5. Divide the number of rendered results Google returned by the number of HTML-only results Google returned

HTML vs JS - 7

Doing this may reveal that Google is only rendering part of your content, and therefore missing some of the content that your website loads with JavaScript.

Why isn’t Google rendering all my content? And how can I fix it?

Just like with crawl rate, knowing that your site has a rendering problem will prompt questions such as “why” and “how can I fix it?”

First, we recommend getting an idea of how much time Google is spending on static resources like JavaScript (note: we’re speaking exclusively about Google and not Bing because Bing doesn’t dedicate many resources to crawling JavaScript, whereas Google really tries to render all the JavaScript they can).

In Botify, you can view JavaScript load time. The more resource intensive it is for Google to load your JavaScript, the less of it they’ll be able to render. We recommend doing an audit of what resources are needed/not needed to be loaded on each page in order to render meaningful content for search engines.

JS load time - 8

We also recommend checking how much of your crawl budget is being used up on static resources like JavaScript, and just generally ensuring that everything Google is crawling is necessary. It's a good practice to check that things like tracking scripts are blocked from crawling, for example.

Avg Crawl Volume by Day - 9

It’s a good idea to try and reduce this percentage, making it simpler for Google to crawl your site.

You’ll want to ask, “Is there a way to serve Google the same amount of important content while serving them less resources they have to render?” Some of the enterprise organizations we’ve worked with have answered this with prerender/dynamic rendering solutions. You can read more about dynamic rendering from Google here.

Google will likely render your content eventually, but with many enterprise organizations such as publishers, time to indexation is critical. When your content is timely and needs to be discoverable in search engines as soon as possible after publishing, you need to care about render rate.

Diagnosing crawl & render issues are critical for fixing organic traffic and revenue issues

If Google isn’t crawling and rendering your important, revenue-driving content, all the on-page SEO strategies in the world won’t help you correct course. The bad news is that large enterprise organizations are often operating at half-capacity, driving traffic and revenue from just a portion of their pages. The good news is, that means there’s immense traffic and revenue potential by optimizing your website for discoverability.

When you make it easier for Google to find and understand your content, they’ll reward you. An enterprise-grade SEO tool like Botify can help. Book your demo with us today and learn how we can help you optimize for crawl and render rate!