Reading Time:4 minutes

Crawl Depth SEO: Is Shallow Crawling Restricting Your Website’s Organic Rankings?

Crawl depth is an essential concept in search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines leverage proprietary software to visit websites and analyze digital content. Known as crawling, it’s the precursor to organic rankings. You’ll need to get search engines to crawl your website so that they can rank it. However, a low crawl depth will result in shallow crawling that restricts organic rankings.

The Basics of Crawl Depth

Crawl depth refers to the depth at which search engines crawl your website. Crawling begins with a point of entry. Search engines will enter your website by initially visiting a page. Maybe they already know about the page, or perhaps they see it mentioned elsewhere. Assuming the page has links, search engines will follow them.

Search engines will follow the initial page’s links to your website’s other pages. If those pages have links, search engines may follow them as well. Eventually, search engines will stop following these links. Even if they are currently crawling a page with links, they may leave your website without following them.

Links allow visitors to navigate your website and search engines to crawl your site. Crawl depth is how many links search engines will follow as they move from page to page. For example, if they only crawl a single page, your website will have a crawl depth of one. If they crawl the initial page and then follow a link to a second page, your website will have a crawl depth of two. If search engines visit 100 pages, on the other hand, your website will have a crawl depth of 100.

A high crawl depth offers the following benefits:

•   More pages indexed by search engines

•   When you update content, search engines will quickly notice

•   Higher rankings for deep-linked pages

•   Ensures proper flow of link equity

•   More organic search traffic

How to Improve Crawl Depth

How you can build links on your website can affect your site’s crawl depth. Not all links are the same. Even if they function the same for human visitors, search engines may treat links differently based on how they were built.

Nofollow links can hurt crawl depth. If you build connections with this attribute, search engines may not follow them. They don’t use nofollow links as primary ranking signals or typically follow them. For internal links, avoid the nofollow attribute. You can use it for outbound links, but you shouldn’t use this attribute for internal links.

Along with nofollow links, broken links can harm crawl depth. This is because search engines won’t be able to follow these nonfunctional links to other pages. Broken links are dead links. They execute a 404 error, so they’ll stop search engines from crawling. You can improve the crawl depth of your website by fixing broken links.

You should also avoid blocking search engines with a robots directive. Robots directives are rule-based instructions in the robots protocol standard. You can use them to keep search engines from crawling specific pages. Disallow is a robots directive that, as the name suggests, prohibits search engines from accessing a page. If you want search engines to follow a link to a page, you should avoid using the disallow robots directive for that page.

An on-site content audit may reveal ways to improve your website’s crawl depth. Crawling is a resource-intensive process. Search engines must spend valuable computing resources to crawl websites. As a result, they may expend all their computing resources on duplicate content before reaching your website’s original and more valuable content.

Deleting duplicate content will encourage search engines to focus their crawling software on your website’s original content. As a result, they won’t get bogged down with duplicate content. Instead, search engines will crawl the original content on your website, which is more valuable.

If you don’t want to delete it, you can use canonical tags to optimize any duplicate content on your website. Visitors won’t see these tags; canonical tags are hidden snippets that only search engines see. They allow you to specify the preferred or primary version. For example, if three pages have the same content, you can place a canonical tag on the two unpreferred versions. These canonical tags should feature the address URL of the preferred page version that you want search engines to crawl.

You can create a search engine sitemap to improve your website’s crawl depth. Search engine sitemaps are particular directory-like files — typically created with the Extensible Markup Language (XML) extension format — that list the address URLs of pages.

Search engine sitemaps are designed for search engines. Visitors can also access them, but search engines use them to find and crawl pages. You can upload a search engine sitemap to your website. After search engines find it, they’ll know where your website’s pages are located, which can help them move from page to page.

If your website uses infinite scrolling on its pages, you should check those pages to ensure that search engines can still crawl them. Infinite scrolling is an interactive navigation feature that allows visitors to scroll to generate new content. Pages with this navigation feature essentially don’t have a bottom. Instead, new content will dynamically appear as visitors scroll down on these pages.

Infinite scrolling poses challenges to search engines. While visitors can scroll by dragging their mouse or tapping and swiping their screen, search engines don’t have this option. They can only see rendered content that doesn’t require any form of scrolling. If visitors scroll to view links on a page, search engines won’t see them. For a higher crawl depth, use pagination in conjunction with infinite scrolling.

Crawl depth optimization isn’t all that difficult. Search engines have been crawling websites since the beginning of the internet, so they know how to do it efficiently. Nonetheless, you can improve the crawl depth of your website by avoiding nofollow links, fixing broken links, removing any disallow directives, optimizing duplicate content, creating a search engine sitemap and using pagination in conjunction with infinite scrolling.

Was this post helpful?

Crawl Depth SEO

Last Updated in 2022-06-08T06:50:12+00:00 by Lukasz Zelezny