5 Easy Steps to Verify Your Website is Crawlable

Ensuring your website is crawlable is a cornerstone of technical SEO, impacting how a search engine understands and ranks your content. The process of crawling refers to how search engine bots navigate and index the pages of your website. Given the significance of web crawling in SEO, verifying the crawlability of your site is an indispensable step for any content strategy.

To navigate these intricate waters, my aim is to simplify here the value of checking your crawling website, from assessing your Robots.txt file to using tools like Google Search Console and others. Understanding and applying these techniques is critical in optimizing your website’s visibility and performance in search engine results. Join me as we delve into the essential steps to ensure that web crawlers can effectively access and index your site’s content.

Checking Your Robots.txt File

Managing the traffic of web bots and ensuring your website is not overwhelmed is crucial, and this is where the robots.txt file comes into play. As I delve into the specifics, remember that this text file is pivotal in directing how web bots crawl and index your site. Here’s how to make sure your robots.txt file is set up correctly:

Verify the Presence and Proper Placement of Your Robots.txt File

  • Locate Your File: To check if your website has a robots.txt file, simply append “/robots.txt” to your domain in the browser’s address bar. For example, accessing http://www.yourwebsite.com/robots.txt should display the file.
  • Correct Domain Root Placement: Ensure that the robots.txt file is placed at the root of your domain; each subdomain must have its own file.

Review and Fine-Tune the Contents of Your Robots.txt File

  • Case Sensitivity: Remember, the robots.txt protocol is case sensitive. A common mistake is using Disallow: / which blocks all bots from all content. Conversely, Disallow: with nothing after it allows all bots access to all content.
  • Crawl-Delay Directive: If included, this tells bots the frequency at which they can request pages. For instance, Search.gov’s usasearch agent recommends a 2-second delay.
  • XML Sitemaps: Your XML sitemaps should be listed in the robots.txt file, guiding bots to your site’s structure.

Testing and Managing Crawl Directives

  • Robots.txt Test Tool: Utilize tools like Ryte’s Robots.txt Test Tool to test your file by entering your website’s URL and selecting the user agent to simulate.
  • Manage Server Load: Use robots.txt to block crawlers from certain pages, helping to manage server load and prevent unnecessary crawling.
  • Regular Updates: Keep your robots.txt file updated, excluding pages that no longer need to be indexed and securing content from malicious bots.

By systematically checking your robots.txt file, you can ensure that important directories are not accidentally excluded. It’s also a good practice to inspect the file for any directives that might block access to crucial pages or resources. Regular reviews and updates are key to maintaining an optimal crawl strategy for your website’s content.

Using Google’s URL Inspection Tool

Moving forward in our endeavor to ensure your website’s content is readily accessible to web crawlers, let’s turn our attention to a powerful tool in our arsenal: Google’s URL Inspection Tool. This tool is a window into how Google views your pages and serves as a valuable asset for troubleshooting and confirming indexability.

Accessing and Utilizing the URL Inspection Tool:

To start, access the URL Inspection Tool within Google Search Console. You can either type the fully-qualified URL directly into the inspection search bar or use the “Inspect” link available in various reports.

Once you’ve submitted a URL, the tool will display a plethora of information including the last crawl date, the HTTP status of the page, any crawl or indexing errors, and the canonical URL chosen by Google.

Key Insights Provided by the URL Inspection Tool:

The tool sheds light on various aspects such as:

  • Indexing Status: Whether the page is indexed or not.
  • Last Crawl: When Googlebot last visited the page.
  • Page Fetch: Can Googlebot fetch the page successfully?
  • Crawl Allowed: Is Googlebot permitted to crawl the page?
  • Indexing Allowed: Is the page allowed to be indexed?
  • User-declared Canonical vs. Google-selected Canonical: This shows if there’s a discrepancy between the user’s preferred URL for a piece of content and the URL Google deems most representative.

Troubleshooting with the URL Inspection Tool:

In case a page is missing from the index, the URL Inspection Tool can help identify whether a page has been excluded due to a ‘noindex’ directive. If so, you can remove or modify the noindex tag in the page’s HTML code and test the changes within the tool.

For more immediate issues, such as rendering problems, the “Fetch as Google” feature within the tool allows you to see the page from Googlebot’s perspective, helping you pinpoint and rectify any discrepancies.

It’s important to note that the URL Inspection Tool does not conduct a live test but rather provides details from the last crawl or attempt made by Googlebot. Regular use of this tool can aid in identifying and resolving technical issues, thereby enhancing your site’s SEO and user experience. Remember, the tool does not assess page and structured data quality, manual actions, content removal, or duplication issues, so it should be used as part of a broader strategy for ensuring your website’s content is crawlable and primed for optimal performance in Google search results.

Leveraging Third-Party Crawlability Tools

Embarking on a site audit is my first course of action to determine the proportion of pages Google has indexed. This not only reveals indexability rates but also highlights any underlying issues that might be impeding a site’s visibility. Here’s how I proceed with leveraging third-party crawlability tools to conduct an effective site audit:

  • Site Audit Tools: I utilize renowned tools like Semrush’s Site Audit or Ahrefs to uncover a wealth of technical SEO issues. These platforms offer an extensive checklist, from duplicate content to server-side errors, and provide an overall health score to gauge the site’s SEO status.
  • Crawl Simulations: Tools such as Screaming Frog SEO Spider and Botify allow me to simulate how a web crawler navigates the website. They provide invaluable insights into crawlability issues by examining status codes and indexability status, and Botify can even handle extensive crawls at impressive speeds, analyzing up to 50 million URLs.
  • Regular Monitoring: It’s a practice I maintain to regularly check for errors using Google Search Console, which offers direct insights from the Google index and alerts me to any website errors needing attention.

When diving deeper into the technical aspects, I follow a structured approach to ensure thoroughness:

  1. Crawler Configuration:
    • For a detailed crawl, I import the XML sitemap into Excel, then copy the URLs to a text file, which I feed into Screaming Frog or a similar tool.
    • With each tool, I adjust settings to mirror the behavior of search engine crawlers, paying close attention to JavaScript rendering capabilities, especially in tools like Screaming Frog and Lumar, which provide this across all packages.
  2. Analysis and Reporting:
    • I review the crawl reports, focusing on metrics such as crawl depth, broken links, and redirect chains. Tools like Moz Pro and BrightEdge present these findings in visual formats like charts, aiding pattern recognition.
    • For those seeking an enterprise solution, BrightEdge offers custom crawl rates and comprehensive SEO reports, while OnCrawl and Lumar cater to different scales of operations with their flexible pricing and package options.
  3. Optimization and Fixes:
    • After identifying issues, I apply the recommended fixes, whether it’s addressing duplicate content, rectifying broken links, or resolving server errors.
    • I also ensure that the XML sitemaps listed in the robots.txt file are error-free and reflect the current site structure, as this guides bots effectively through the site’s content.

By harnessing the power of these third-party tools, I’m able to conduct thorough audits and maintain a website that is not only crawlable but also optimized for peak performance in search engine results.

Analyzing Your Sitemap for Errors

Analyzing your sitemap for errors is a critical step in ensuring your website’s content is both crawlable and indexable. A well-maintained XML sitemap is a beacon for search engines, guiding them through the important pages of your site. Let’s dive into the key practices for keeping your sitemap pristine:

Regular Sitemap Audits:

  • Update Frequency: Keep your XML sitemap current by regularly including newly added pages and removing obsolete ones. This ensures that search engines always have a fresh roadmap to your content.
  • Error Checks: Validate your sitemap for common errors such as fetch errors, parsing errors, and URL errors. Tools like XML Sitemap Validator can automate this process for you.
  • Response Codes: Ensure all URLs in your sitemap return a 200 OK status code. URLs that redirect (301) or lead to errors (404) should be corrected or removed.

Optimization for Indexing:

  • Canonical URLs: Verify that all URLs in your sitemap are canonical and self-canonicalizing, avoiding unnecessary duplicates that can waste your crawl budget.
  • Size Matters: A sitemap should not exceed 50,000 URLs or a file size of 50 MB. If your site is larger, consider splitting your sitemap into smaller, topic-specific sitemaps.
  • Avoid Non-Indexables: Exclude URLs that are blocked by robots.txt or are set to ‘noindex’. Only include content that you want search engines to crawl and index.

Integration with Search Console:

  • Submission: Submit your updated sitemap to Google Search Console and other search engines to expedite the indexing process.
  • Monitoring: Utilize Google Search Console to monitor your sitemap’s status and the indexed-to-submitted ratio, which can highlight potential issues with the URLs you’ve submitted.
  • Discovery Methods: Review how search engines are discovering your URLs. If they’re not using your sitemap as expected, it might be time to investigate and rectify any issues.

By meticulously reviewing and updating your sitemap, you ensure that search engines have a clear and error-free path to your website’s most valuable content. Regular audits, coupled with strategic sitemap optimization and monitoring, pave the way for enhanced crawlability, ultimately supporting your site’s performance in search results.

Performing Manual Checks for Crawlability

When I embark on manual checks for crawlability, I’m essentially playing detective – meticulously combing through the website to uncover any hidden issues that might be preventing search engine bots from doing their job effectively. Here’s my step-by-step approach:

1. Speed and Structure Analysis

  • Improve Page Loading Speed: I start by evaluating the page speed because if a page takes too long to load, search engine bots might not stick around. I use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights to get actionable recommendations for speeding things up, such as:
    • Upgrading to a more robust hosting solution.
    • Enabling compression for large CSS, JavaScript, and HTML files.
    • Minifying code to eliminate unnecessary characters.
    • Reducing redirects that create additional HTTP requests.
  • Strengthen Internal Link Structure: Next, I ensure that the website’s internal link structure is logical and robust. I create a clear hierarchy, starting from the homepage and branching out to subpages. I also:
    • Use descriptive anchor text for links.
    • Keep the number of links on a page at a reasonable level.
    • Check that all internal links are functional with no dead ends.

2. Technical Integrity Checks

  • Canonicalization and Redirects: I scrutinize the canonical tags to consolidate signals and prevent confusion among search engines. This involves:
    • Regularly checking for misplaced or incorrect canonical tags.
    • Removing rogue canonical tags to ensure the right pages are indexed.
  • Redirect Chains and Broken Links: These are notorious for causing crawlability issues, so I:
    • Identify and fix any redirect chains that might be unnecessarily long.
    • Use tools to scan for and repair any broken links that disrupt the user experience and bot navigation.

3. Advanced Crawlability Enhancements

  • Implement IndexNow: To give search engines a clear roadmap, I implement the IndexNow protocol, which allows for real-time URL submission across participating search engines.
  • Content and Structure Optimization: I also focus on:
    • Regularly adding fresh, high-quality content to attract more frequent crawling.
    • Avoiding duplicate content to ensure search engines don’t waste resources.
    • Ensuring a clear and intuitive site architecture that’s easy for search engines to follow.

By diligently performing these manual checks, I can significantly enhance the crawlability of the site, paving the way for improved indexing and, ultimately, a stronger presence in search engine results. Remember, these checks are not one-off tasks but rather ongoing efforts to maintain a website that’s always ready for the next crawl.


Embarking on the journey to maximize your website’s crawlability is an essential endeavor, and harnessing the outlined strategies can optimize your digital presence in search engine landscapes. From the vigilant management of your Robots.txt file to the meticulous use of Google’s URL Inspection Tool, each step plays a pivotal role in ensuring that the pathways to your content remain clear for web crawlers. The significance of these measures cannot be overstated — they collectively enhance your site’s readability and, by extension, its capacity to rank effectively.

As we recognize the importance of a crawlable website, it is crucial to conduct regular audits, apply necessary optimizations, and adapt to ever-evolving search engine algorithms. Remembering to avoid common pitfalls such as neglecting broken links or redundant content will spare your site from potential invisibility in search results.


Q: How can I ensure that search engines can crawl my website?

A: To ensure your website is crawlable, consider enhancing your page loading speed, strengthening your internal link structure, submitting your sitemap to Google, updating your robots.txt file, checking your use of canonical tags, conducting site audits, removing low-quality or duplicate content, and eliminating redirect chains and unnecessary internal redirects.

Q: What is the process to verify if a web page is accessible to search engine crawlers?A: To check if a page is crawlable, follow these steps:

  1. Enter the URL of the web page you want to check into a crawlability test tool.
  2. Run the tool by clicking on the “Check” button.
  3. Review the results to understand the page’s crawlability and indexability status.

Q: What actions can be taken to enhance the crawlability of a website?

A: To optimize your site for crawlability, use clear and descriptive URLs, create a logical site structure, implement internal linking, avoid duplicate content, repair broken links, manage your robots.txt file properly, and submit your sitemap to Google Search Console.

Q: What defines a website as being crawlable?

A: A crawlable website is one where search engine crawlers, or ‘spiders’, can easily read and navigate through the site’s content by following links. This crawlability is crucial for allowing search engines to index the site’s pages and make them available in search results.

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