Recently, indexing has been an issue troubling many individuals. Google has not helped with the recent update to its core system. This update made lots of websites suffer heavy losses in terms of Discover traffic. Furthermore, the update was concurrent with a Google Helpful Content Update (HCU). This led to confusion as to what exactly is affecting website traffic and the dropped ranking facing websites. I believe the main challenge lies in the lack of a good understanding of how the Google priority system functions.
For decades, Google has not been able (or willing) to index everything that’s published. Search engines have a Crawl budget. This is the number of pages search engines will crawl on a website within a certain timeframe. Unfortunately, a page that is not crawled is not indexed, thus, it cannot rank for anything. Hence, discussions regarding Crawl Prioritization systems have been with us for a long time.
Google Crawl Budget
Search engines calculate the crawl budget based on the crawl limit. As with any budget, to make sure it is used well, some items on a list have to be given priority. A crawl prioritization system works in a quite simple way. Each URL that Google is aware of is placed in a queue, a comprehensive database of URLs, sorted by algorithmically determined priority. Any newly discovered URL is added to this queue and instantly “queue-jumps” to its assigned priority.
This dynamic and scalable system allows Google’s bots to work on tasks as far down the priority list as possible during each period. The exact priority they reach will adapt to meet demand. Crawl traffic varies, when it’s busy, the bot handles only the higher-priority items.
When it’s not busy, Google’s bots can move on to the lower-priority URLs. As the waitlist gets cleared, the priority of URLs changes as lower-priority URLs move up the list. This logical step means that you must give Google signals on what to give the highest priority first.
Today, we live in a world where we create content far more frequently. This means new higher-priority content is added to the waitlist growing the list of tasks for the bots. Consequently, the bots may never reach the low-priority links that are further down the waitlist.
Naturally, as the volume of content and URLs to be crawled continues to grow, it becomes essential for an item to have a higher priority to be indexed within a specified timeframe (such as an hour, day, week, or month). Notably, top-priority items are indexed almost instantly.
It’s essential to understand that Google is a global search engine that serves billions on planet Earth. This means it needs to share its vital resources with so many people all of whom would like their priority content to rank. If you excessively and persistently interfere with the system, Google may impose more limitations. Always, look for ways to make tweaks to improve your content priority but don’t be incessant.
Crawl Prioritization System Determinants
As mentioned earlier, creating and maintaining high-priority signals is very crucial. This ensures the content most valuable for your website is ranked. For example, if you run a business website, information about your service and products is the most important. This is how you give google the signals.
- Links: Not all links, but select ones. Despite Google’s desire for reduced link-building, links remain a strong signal of importance, based on Network Theory, the foundation of the Link Graph. Avoid strategies like blog networks, paid links, and comment spam. This just won’t work and can badly affect your ranking. When looking for backlinks from other websites, prioritize quality over quantity. So, work on getting backlinks from quality websites with high Domain Authority (DA) to link to your priority content. Internal links should link to relevant content in terms of context. Make use of descriptive anchor text and if you can have a keyword as part of the text. The same applies to outbound links. Additionally, outlink to websites with a high authority score.
For example, the table below shows the authority score of a website reduces even as links increase. This is simply because the domain authority of the referring domains is very low. So, I repeat, focus on getting quality links that will give a good signal to the crawl prioritization system not quantity.
- Demand: This includes brand searches and the trending status of queries. Organic click-through-rate ( (CTR)–based signals also play a role in indicating Google should prioritize indexing fresh content in a specific topic or query space. This is the percentage of searchers that click on a search engine result. To try to improve this work on your title tag, meta description, and URL composition.
- Unique Content. The number of similar articles or content on a specific topic affects priority. Google is less inclined to index the millionth article on a topic compared to the first thousand and even lower than the first ten. Hence, look to create unique, organic content that is rare to find anywhere else.
- Keyword Selection: Before creating content targeting popular keywords, check what Google has already indexed and whether there is a demand for fresh content. Look at synonyms around an important keyword, and think of the content around the synonyms that you have not covered. Go for that.