Crawl Depth: What Is It & How to Make It More Efficient

Crawl Depth: What Is It & How to Make It More Efficient
The significance of crawl depth in the realm of SEO cannot be understated. Deeper crawl depth entails more pages indexed, higher organic traffic, and better SERP visibility.

So letโ€™s explore what crawl depth means and the various ways to improve it.

What is Crawl Depth?

Simply put, crawl depth refers to the extent to which search engines crawl and index a website's pages.ย 

Imagine your website as a repository filled with numerous files nested within various folders. Crawl depth is how far "down" into these folders search engines like Google go to index the files โ€” the more profound they go, the better SEO visibility these pages get.

Crawl depth is typically calculated by counting the number of clicks it would take the crawler to reach a specific page starting from the homepage of the website, which is considered to be at depth zero.

link tree

For instance, your homepage may have a crawl depth of zero. A blog page linked from the homepage might have a crawl depth of one, and an article linked from that blog page might be at depth two, and so on. The deeper a page is, the less likely it is to be discovered by the search crawlers.

It's important to note that the depth of the crawl isn't just about how many clicks deep a crawler goes. Instead, it also depends on the overall structure and nature of your website - for example, the crawlers are more likely to crawl deeper into regularly updated sites, sites with a high number of incoming and internal links, and sites displaying a high level of user activity.

๐Ÿ’ก See also: How Often Does Google Crawl a Site? -Factors & Ways to Learn

What is The Difference Between Crawl Depth and Page Depth?

While page depth and crawl depth seem similar, there are subtle differences between the two.

Page depth is relative to the user and refers to the number of clicks a user would need to make to reach a certain page from the homepage or entry point into the site.

On the other hand, crawl depth commonly refers to how many clicks a search engine would take to discover a page.ย 

Page depth is a measure of user experience, while crawl depth is a measure of site's SEO performance.

Therefore, in your SEO strategies, consider both these aspects - not only do you want search engine bots to index your deepest layers but also want to ensure that your users can navigate through your site seamlessly.

What Does Crawl Prioritization Mean?

Not to be confused with crawl depth, crawl prioritization denotes the prioritization of your website pages for indexing.

In essence, search engines do not treat each page of your website the same. The crawlers tend to prioritize certain pages over others based on an array of factors such as page relevance, the frequency of updates, page popularity, and more.

The catch here is to understand that a higher prioritized page is likely to get crawled more frequently and deeply. Therefore, understanding how web crawlers prioritize your pages can help you better optimize your website, gain greater visibility, and enhance SEO ranking.

In summary, search engine crawl depth, page depth, and crawl prioritization are interconnected. By understanding these distinct yet overlapping concepts, you can implement more effective SEO strategies and improve your SERP ranking.ย 

Why is Crawl Depth Important for SEO?

Googlebot crawl prioritization

Understanding and mastering crawl depth is pivotal for improving your site ranking.ย 

Here's why:

โœ… Improved Indexing: The primary function of web crawlers is to discover and index new pages. They spend their traction crawling your site and updating their index. Having a controlled crawl depth ensures your crucial pages get discovered and indexed, which improves your visibility in SERPs.

โœ… Crawl Budget Optimization: Each website has a limited crawl budget. It means search engines will only spend a specific amount of time crawling your site. If your site has a high crawl depth, crawlers might spend their budget before they even get to your important pages. Mastering crawl depth allows you to optimize your crawl budget more efficiently.

โœ… Better User Experience: Websites with a better crawl depth often offer superior navigation and user experience as their structure is geared for easier browsing. This can improve user engagement, reduce bounce rates, and eventually boost your SEO rankings.

What are Common Crawl Depth Issues?

Before we begin the problem-solving process, it's crucial to understand the potential issues you might face related to crawl depth.ย 

So let's take a look:

โš ๏ธ Shallow Crawling: This occurs when search engine spiders aren't crawling your website deeply enough. As a result, important pages buried deep within your site structure might not get indexed.

โš ๏ธ Excessive Crawling: Here, the bots might be spending too much time crawling unimportant pages, therefore wasting your crawl budget and neglecting your key pages in the process.

โš ๏ธ Crawled, But Not Indexed: While your page might be crawled, it may not be indexed as frequently as it should be, leading to not showing up in the SERPs.

โš ๏ธ Blocked by Robots.txt: If certain pages on your website are blocked by robots.txt, they cannot be crawled or indexed by search engine bots at all.

Understanding these common issues gives you an upper hand in troubleshooting them effectively and efficiently.

7 Ways to Improve Crawl Depth

Itโ€™s time to unravel some practical methods to enhance the crawl depth of your website.ย 

With firm understanding and diligent application of these steps, you can sway the search engine spiders to delve deeper into your website and unearth the hidden gems within.ย 

Hereโ€™s how:

01. Optimizing Your Internal Linking Structure

linking between web pages

Search engine spiders appreciate clear and easy-to-navigate paths. The better your internal links, the deeper the spiders can crawl. To check your internal links, simply use SEOmatorโ€™s Free Internal Link Checker Tool.

Here are some recommendations how to optimize your internal link structure:

๐Ÿ‘‰ Follow a Hierarchical Linking Structure: Start with your homepage, followed by categories and subcategories, and finally individual pages or posts. This pyramid-like structure keeps your site organized and easily navigable.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Limit the Number of Clicks to Your Deepest Page: Try to ensure that your furthest page is reachable within three to 4 clicks from the home page. This makes the user experience smoother and supports spiders in crawling your site efficiently.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Use Contextual Links: Embed internal links within your site's content. Not only do they enhance user engagement, but they also play a vital role in enabling spiders to establish relationships between your content.

02. Prioritizing Important Pages

Crawl priority factors into how deeply and frequently the crawlers visit different pages on your website. Hence, making your significant pages accessible and highlighting their importance can improve their crawl depth.

Follow these steps to prioritize your pages:

๐Ÿ‘‰ Build a Strong Internal Linking Structure to Your Important Pages: Direct more internal links toward your high-priority pages. This cue will urge spiders to recognize their importance.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Update Your Content Frequently: Search engines love regularly updated content. Keeping your page content fresh will encourage crawlers to frequently visit and index these pages.

03. Streamlining Your Websiteโ€™s Size and Complexity

linked page structure

Larger sites with a higher number of pages can have higher crawl depths. However, if your site's structure is too complex or difficult to navigate, it can act as a hurdle for the crawlers.

Let's see how we can streamline the website's size and complexity for better crawl depth:

๐Ÿ‘‰ Minimize the Use of AJAX, JavaScript, or Flash Elements: While these elements may add visual appeal, they can obstruct spiders from accessing your content and negatively affect your crawl depth.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Use HTML: HTML is considered crawler-friendly. Use it to ensure spiders can understand and index your content effectively.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Limit the Depth of Your Directory: Keep your directory as shallow as possible to help spiders reach your deepest page with minimum clicks.

04. Implementing XML Sitemaps

Just like how a conventional map guides a traveler, an XML sitemap steers our web-traveler, the crawler, through your website. It provides a roadmap of your site, helping search engines understand its structure and index it accordingly.

Here are some pointers to consider when creating XML sitemaps:

๐Ÿ‘‰ Create Comprehensive Sitemaps: Your sitemap should include all the necessary URLs of your website without any duplicity.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Update Sitemaps Regularly: Keep your sitemap up-to-date with the latest changes in your website to help crawlers locate new pages and updates quickly.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Submit Your Sitemap: Submit your sitemap to Google via Google Search Console to ensure Google is aware of your site's structure.

๐Ÿ’ก See also: How to Find the Sitemap of a Website [8 Ways]

05. Improving Your URL Structure


The URL structure of your website is like its address. Good SEO practice is to keep your URL structure clean and descriptive. It should provide both the users and the search engines with enough information to understand what a particular page is about.

Here's how you can optimize it:

๐Ÿ‘‰ Keep URLs Short and Clear: Longer URLs can seem confusing to both users and spiders. Keep them short and descriptive.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Use Keywords: Include your targeted keywords in the URL. This significantly aids in improving your site's visibility.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Avoid Special Characters and Capital Letters: Using lowercase letters and hyphens to separate words make your URLs more readable and understandable.

06. Dealing with Broken Links

Broken links are like roadblocks on the spiders' path, preventing them from reaching their destinations, i.e., your pages! Hence, it's critical to find and fix broken links regularly.

Use these tips to deal with broken links:

๐Ÿ‘‰ Perform Regular Audits: Conduct regular audits of your website to locate broken links. You can use SEOmatorโ€™s SEO Audit Tool.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Redirect or Replace Broken Links: Once a broken link is identified, either direct it to a relevant page or replace it with the correct link.

07. Boosting Your Site Speed

Finally, let's work on improving the speed of your website. The faster your site, the deeper and more pages the spiders can crawl within their allocated time or crawl budget.

Here are some ways to improve your site speed:

๐Ÿ‘‰ Use a Good Hosting Provider: The performance of your server is crucial to your site speed. Therefore, invest in a good hosting provider.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Optimize Your Images: Large images can slow down your website. Optimize them to increase your overall site speed.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network): CDN sites store your site's files on multiple servers across the globe, ensuring that your site loads quickly for every user.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Enable Compression and Caching: Compressing your website's files and enabling caching can significantly improve your site speed.

Case Studies Showing Impact of Crawl Depth

While understanding crawl depth, it's necessary to bring theory into practice.ย 

These examples illustrate how businesses have enhanced their crawl depth, demonstrating the substantial influence it carries over their SERPs visibility and overall SEO performance.

๐Ÿ” Case Study 1: Better User Experience and Navigation

site navigation symbolizing map and pins

Our first case study is a popular e-commerce platform. This platform was an emerging player in the online retail market but was struggling to generate organic traffic.

After a thorough analysis, the SEO team discovered that their website's complexity and poor internal linking structure were causing the problem.ย 

The team found that it was taking up to five clicks to get from their homepage to a product page and their deep informative content was hard to discover โ€“ resulting in a shallow crawl depth and decreased visibility on SERPs.

After arduous brainstorming, the team implemented a new navigation menu layout. This layout organized their product categories more logically, requiring fewer clicks for a user (and search engine bot) to access a product page.ย 

They also boosted internal linking to deeper, less visited pages throughout their website and regularly reviewed and updated their sitemap.

Within a couple of months, they observed a considerable elevation in organic traffic, a higher number of indexed pages, and significantly lesser bounce rates.ย 

The improved internal linking structure had not only enhanced their website's crawl depth but also substantially boosted the user experience, making navigation much more intuitive and less taxing.

๐Ÿ” Case Study 2: Improved Indexing and Visibility

increasing visibilty symbolized by arrows and pie chart on a laptop

Our second case study involves a news portal. Despite featuring fresh and engaging content daily, they faced difficulties in attracting enough organic traffic.

Upon inspection, they realized their issue lay within the crawl budget. With thousands of news articles published every day, their sitemap had become excessive, and the spiders were unable to index newer articles before exhausting the budget.

The solution? Adopting a strategic approach towards crawl prioritization. They divided their sitemap into categories - breaking news, editorials, feature columns, etc.ย 

Subsequently, they updated their sitemap more frequently towards prioritizing 'breaking-news', ensuring that the latest news stories were indexed before older content.

As a result, they experienced a dramatic surge in organic traffic. As the latest news stories started gaining higher visibility on SERPs, the site attracted more visitors, which in turn invited more frequent indexing by the search bots to their other content sections as well.


Crawl depth is the degree to which a search engine indexes pages within your website, based on the number of clicks needed to reach a page from the homepage.

Multiple elements such as the internal linking structure, regular sitemap updates, site speed, and the presence of broken links, impact your websiteโ€™s crawl depth. A strong grip over these factors will enable you to command your website's crawl depth effectively.

Implementing strategies like optimizing your internal linking structure, refining your website's complexity, enhancing site speed, and dealing with broken links can significantly boost your crawl depth.ย 

Stay committed to these, and you're already on the right path!

๐Ÿ’ก See also:

- How to Prevent Bots from Crawling Your Site

- How to Simply Check if a Page Has Noindex

โ€- Canonical Issues: How to Find & Fix and Avoid Them