What is Googlebot and How Does It Work?

Staff Writer
Last Updated
April 22, 2024
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When you’re looking to secure a good ranking on search engine results pages (SERP) for your website, it’s important to know what’s actually going on. SEO professionals know that search engines don’t simply rank websites randomly, as search engines like Google actually use a process called web crawling to understand the content of web pages and rank them accordingly based on users’ search queries. This is where Googlebot comes into the picture!

What is a Googlebot?

A Googlebot is a web crawler used by Google to browse through and gather information on websites across the internet for Google’s index, which is then used by algorithms to provide search results based on users’ search queries ranked by quality relevance. 

This is essentially done by crawling through the web and following links, but Googlebot also has different crawlers to assess news, videos, and images, as well as mobile and desktop versions of a website, to ensure that the information is being thoroughly assessed and indexed.

How Does Googlebot Work?

Googlebot operates on a highly advanced algorithm that allows it to autonomously search and assess the entire World Wide Web. Here are some things that Googlebot does:

  • Uses Sitemaps and Link Databases to Crawl: With the help of sitemaps and databases of links that were discovered in previous crawls, Googlebot can figure out where to go next in the crawling process. You can think of them as roadmaps that help the web crawler navigate the World Wide Web thoroughly.
  • Analyzes Links: Googlebot can identify and analyze all kinds of links, whether they lead to other web pages or content resources like images and videos. When Googlebot finds a new link on a website, it adds it to its list of pages to visit next.
  • Detects Changes and Broken Links: Googlebot constantly revisits websites that it’s already crawled to monitor for any changes in links or broken links. If the web crawler finds either of these, it takes note of them in the index so that it can be updated accordingly to reflect the current state of the website.
  • Looks for the Fastest Way to Search the Internet: Googlebot employs certain methods to efficiently cover the entire Internet. An example of this is using the multi-threading crawling method, which allows Googlebot to perform several different crawling processes at one time. Googlebot can also launch certain web crawlers and task them to search certain areas, such as crawling with only hyperlinks.

How Often Does Googlebot Visit Your Website?

If you’re curious about how often Googlebot visits your website, there are a few ways you can check:

  • Google Search Console: Google Search Console offers a wide range of insights, including how often your website is being crawled through. You can open up your log files or click on the Crawl section to find out how frequently Googlebot visits your website as well as what it does there and which version of your website was viewed.
  • Robots.txt: Robots.txt is one of the most basic files on your website, and it can be used to find out when Googlebot visits certain parts of your page. However, its simplicity means that it can also easily be compromised, so make sure that you do this properly. Any mistake could completely stop Googlebot from visiting your website, which means that your website will no longer be included in the index.

How to Optimize Your Website for Googlebot?

Improving your website’s crawlability—how much access web crawlers have to your site—can help Googlebot understand your page content better, which can increase your chances of landing a good ranking on SERP. Here’s how you can do this:

  • Google Search Console: With Google Search Console, you’ll be able to check on the crawlability of your website, as well as see how Googlebot understands your pages. Google Search Console will also provide you with a list of crawl errors that you can fix to optimize your website, as well as the option to ask Googlebot to recrawl your website.
  • Online Tools: You can also look at other online tools that can help boost your website’s crawl performance and get other useful insights and recommendations. Some examples include Kibana and SEO Log File Analyser.
  • Sitemaps: A sitemap is a list that includes all of your website’s pages, as well as other relevant information. By creating a sitemap that’s organized and easy for Googlebot to understand, you’ll be able to improve your website’s crawlability, as Googlebot will refer to the sitemap to learn more about your website and its content.
  • Robot.txt: With the help of the Robot.txt file, you’ll be able to guide Googlebot through your site and control what the web crawler can actually see, as well as how much time it spends on certain parts of your site.

Googlebot is the web crawler used by Google to crawl through and index various websites to present users with a list of relevant search results. By understanding what it is and how it works, you’ll be able to leverage Googlebot’s capabilities to improve the performance of your website on search engines.

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