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What is Googlebot?

  • Post category:SEO
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Whenever I think about Googlebot, I typically envision a mix between the Terminator, Wall-E, and the robots from iRobot. Yes, I realize that this is quite the range of robots, but let’s roll with it. Anyways, I picture this hybrid robot scurrying around the internet on an endless quest to find and index all the knowledge that it can get its metallic hands on. Sadly, my daydreams are anything but true. Googlebot is nothing more than a computer program written by Google that crawls the web and adds pages to Google’s massive knowledge index. In this article, we’re going to discuss what Googlebots (or crawlers) are and what it is that they do.

Googlebots, Crawlers, and Spiders…Oh, My!

All of these terms mean the same thing – they’re bots that crawl the internet. A Googlebot crawls via links between web pages. It discovers and reads new and updated content. It then suggests what should be added to Google’s massive index of knowledge. Google’s index, in the simplest of terms, is Google’s brain. This is where all of the valuable knowledge that Googlebots report resides. Google makes use of an army of computers to send their bots to every edge of the internet to find new pages and to see what’s on them. Googlebot is Google’s web crawler or robot and is similar in nature and purpose to the bots developed by other search engines.

How Does Googlebot Work?

Googlebot uses sitemaps and databases of links discovered via previous crawls to figure out where to venture next. Whenever it finds new links on a site, it adds them to a list of pages to visit next. If Googlebot finds changes in the links or heaven forbid, broken links, it will make note of that so that it can update the index. The program also determines how often it will crawl the various pages that make up the endless ocean we know as the internet. You need to make sure that Googlebot can effectively and correctly index your website. You can do this by checking its crawlability. If your site is readily available to Googlebot, then it will make a point to drop by on a regular basis.

Different Robots

There are a number of different robots that scour the internet for new pages filled with information. For instance, the AdSense and AdsBot review ad quality, while Mobile Apps Android checks Android apps. Here are some of the more important bots that you should keep in mind:

Different Types of Googlebots

How Does Googlebot Visit Your Site?

So you want to know how often Googlebot visits your site and what it does when it visits? Well, it’s actually pretty simple. There are two primary means to monitor Googlebot’s activity on your site. First, you can dive into your log files and poke around there. This is without question the more difficult of the two methods. The far easier method is to open the Crawl section of Google Search Console. If you really want to take a deep dive into the advanced stuff that will help you optimize your crawl performance, then you should check out tools such as Kibana or Screaming Frog’s SEO Log File Analyzer.

Sadly, Google does not share a list of the IP addresses that Googlebots use since these addresses change on a regular basis. However, you can do a reverse IP lookup to find out if a real Googlebot visits your site. Spammers can easily spoof a user-agent name, but no matter how hard they try, they cannot fake an IP address. Check out this article from Google on how to verify the validity of a Googlebot.

You can use the robots.txt to figure out how Googlebot visits various parts of your site. However, you need to be careful here. If you do it the wrong way, you may stop Googlebot from coming altogether. This will remove your site from the index.

Google Search Console

Search Console is one of the most valuable tools when it comes to checking the crawlability of your website. Search Console provides you with the means to verify how Googlebot sees your site. It also provides a list of crawl errors and how you can fix them. In Search Console, you can also ask Googlebot to recrawl your website.

Googlebot-Cleaning Robot

Optimize for Googlebot

Getting Googlebot to crawl your website faster and on a more regular basis is a fairly technical process. In short, it comes down to breaking down the barriers that prevent Googlebot from accessing your site properly. Again, it is a fairly technical process, but it is worthwhile to become familiar with it. If Google cannot crawl your site perfectly, your site will never rank. That being said, it is critical that you find any and all errors and fix them!

Closing Thoughts

As previously stated, Googlebot is a little robot that visits your site. If you’ve crafted a technically sound website, it will visit your site on a regular basis. Furthermore,  if you add fresh content on a regular schedule, it’ll come around even more often. Sometimes, let’s say you’ve made large-scale changes to your site, you may need to call Googlebot to come at once, so the changes are reflected in the search results as quickly as possible.

Andrew Roche

Andrew Roche is a Digital Consultant at Shift Digital. He is also pursuing an MBA in Marketing & Finance through the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University

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