Robots.txt Crawl Delay – A Complete Guide (UPDATED 2022)

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. You may have heard about robots.txt crawl delay, and wondering what exactly it means. If so, read on. Search engines crawl websites regularly not just to index the content but also to check for updated content.

Bots use the robots.txt file to get an idea of how to crawl the website. This file is a way to tell the search engine what parts of the website it should access. It also tells it where it should not go. It is a text file that contains directives that bots read to follow the rules you set for the website crawling.

In this guide, we learn how you can use the crawl delay directive in the robots.txt file. We talk about the benefits and uses of robots.txt crawl delay for websites and SEO. All this is to help webmasters optimize their sites better.

Robots.txt Crawl Delay – What Is It?

A useful directive for the robots.txt file, crawl-delay helps prevent the overloading of servers with too many requests at a time. Yahoo, Bing, Yandex, and other bots can get too hungry at crawling and exhaust the server resources quickly.

They respond to this directive that you can use to slow them down when a website has too many pages. Different search engines have different ways to specify the crawl rate, but the result is always mostly similar.

Crawl rate is the time period between two requests made by the bot to the website. It is essentially the rate at which the bot crawls the site. A crawl rate setting asks the bot to wait for a few seconds, as specified, between two requests. This directive is effective at keeping the bots from taking up a lot of hosting resources.

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Setting a crawl rate of 10 seconds means you delay the bot for ten seconds before it can crawl the website again. This would allow the search engine to access about 8600 pages every day.

This may appear to be a big number for smaller sites but it is quite less for bigger websites. If your website doesn’t get a lot of traffic from search engines, this directive offers a good way to save bandwidth.

Google Crawl Delay – Getting Started

While many other search engines support and respond to crawl delay directives, Google does not.  The big G ignores it when specified in the robots.txt file. This means the directive does not affect your website ranking on Google.

The directive can be effectively used for other bots. It is unlikely that you experience such problems with Googlebot. But you can lower the frequency of crawling for Google through the search console.

Here is how you can define the crawl rate for Googlebot.

  • Log onto the Google search console.
  • Pick the website you wish to specify the crawl rate for.
  • You will find a setting for crawl rate that you can tweak using a slider. The default rate is set to a recommended value from Google for your website. Adjust the slider to your preferences for crawl rate.

Why We Use Crawl Delay in Robots.txt?

When your website contains a number of pages, many of them will have to be indexed and crawled. This will lead to too many requests generated within a short period of time. Such traffic load can often deplete the resources generally monitored per hour.

Crawl-delay is a solution to such problems as it lets you set the delay time to allow bots to crawl the pages properly without resulting in any traffic peak.

Using a crawl delay setting of 1-2 seconds helps deal with the problem for search engines like Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex. These bots respond to the directive and you can easily specify the delay time to keep them for some time.

When you set the crawl delay to 10 seconds, the search engine waits for 10 seconds after crawling the website once before it can access it again.

What Happens When Crawl Delay is Used?

Crawl delay is primarily used to save resources from too frequent crawling by bots. Every time the search engine crawler accesses the website, it uses up much of the bandwidth as well as other resources on the server.

This means websites that consist of too many pages or content such as e-commerce platforms would face a lot of problems as crawlers can drain off resources really quickly.

Using directives like crawl delay in the robots.txt file is one way to keep the bots from accessing the scripts and images too frequently to be able to save the resources.

Crawl-Delay Rule Ignored By Googlebot

Search engines such as Baidu, Bing, and Yahoo have introduced the rule of crawl-delay for robots.txt files. They support this directive to date. The directive was aimed at helping webmasters control the time a crawler spends waiting between requests to reduce the server load.

While this has positive outcomes, Googlebot ignores this rule as the search engine is set up differently. Google uses dynamic servers and there is no point in waiting between requests. A specification of the number of seconds between any two requests is not so useful. This is so when servers are powerful enough to handle a lot of traffic every second.

Google is capable of adjusting its crawling function based on how the server responds and does not need to rely on the crawl-delay rule. Whenever it notices any slowdown or error in the server, crawlers are slowed down accordingly. It still allows webmasters to specify in the robots.txt file what parts of the website they want to avoid getting indexed.

Conclusion

Crawl-delay in the robots.txt file gives webmasters the facility to control how crawlers access the site. The parameters in this file affect the SEO of the website and the user experience to a great extent.

With crawl-delay, you can help bots spend time crawling the most relevant information on the page. This way, the content is organized and displayed on the search results as you would like. This directive also helps control intensive bots to save you on resources to benefit the website and visitors.

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