Friday recap: Crawl budget explained, AMP updates and a goodbye to Google Link Command and Twitter Dashboard
This week the majority of the spotlight was on Google and Twitter.
Google provided some interesting information for Webmasters, explaining the ‘crawl budget’ and how it works in regards to indexing pages. The company announced updates to the AMP project that will primarily benefit users with low bandwidth internet, and also quietly killed off Google Link Command.
Twitter has made even more cuts to its associated apps by giving the Business Dashboard the flick, whilst promoting the Australian Open on their company blog to encourage users to get involved.
Google AMP Updates
To further improve the AMP experience for internet users around the world, Google developers have made two important updates that affect the load time of these pages.
The two key improvements are optimised image delivery and the introduction of AMP Lite – a way to serve content more successfully for users with low bandwidth. The changes are designed to help improve the user experience for people in countries that do not offer high internet speeds or broad internet access.
Optimised image delivery aims to cut down on data in order to decrease load times, without affecting the user’s overall experience. The images may undergo slight reductions to quality and colour, but the differences will be difficult to spot with the human eye.
The size of the image is compressed and often changed to a WebP format, as JPEG is not always available with constrained bandwidth. Changes may be made to images to further reduce quality when slow network conditions are detected. As can be seen by the example above, the differences in the optimised image can barely be noticed, but 89% of bytes have been saved to increase the load time.
AMP Lite was created with the same principles in mind – reduce the data behind the content to increase page load time. External fonts are optimised by using the amp-font tag as well as applying the above process to images. These pages have more bytes removed to improve the load speed for users operating with slow connections or constrained bandwidth.
The AMP Lite version is currently being rolled out in countries such as Vietnam and Malaysia, as well as globally for all holders of low ram devices.
What is a ‘crawl budget’?
Google webmaster Gary Illyes satisfied the queries of many SEOs and other webmasters this week by finally explaining how the crawl budget works.
The explanation was provided on the official Google Webmaster Blog and detailed the elements that make up the budget and how it is determined.
There are two key components that comprise the crawl budget: crawl rate limit and crawl demand. These must be explained in order to understand the crawl budget.
Crawl rate limit is a system put in place to limit the maximum fetching rate for a site. By ‘fetch’, that means the number of times the Googlebot will crawl links on your pages to add to the list of URLs to crawl, which will subsequently get indexed (and then ranked). This system also determines the time between fetches.
Crawl demand is in relation to the popularity of certain pages (or, in contrast, the staleness). The demand dictates the priority or urgency of pages for crawling. If a page is constantly being returned in search results and has a high click through rate, it will be crawled more often to keep the index updated. Pages that have not received much attention in the SERPS will also call for a fresh crawl to ensure the content is up to date. If there is no demand, a site may not be crawled even if the fetch limit is not reached.
The crawl budget is made up of both of these together and is defined in the blog post as “the number of URLs Googlebot can and wants to crawl.”
Low-value URLs will affect the crawl budget, due to factors such as on-site duplicate content, soft error pages, hacked pages and low quality/spam content. These pages will usually experience low crawl and indexing rates as Googlebot will focus on crawling higher quality pages.
Overall, the post pointed out that this is not an issue most webmasters need to focus on. Crawl prioritisation is only really an important issue to very large sites with more than a few thousand URLs.
Google Link Command is no more
In a rather uneventful manner, Google Link Command was confirmed to be obsolete this week.
Although it hasn’t been a popular tool for many years now, a small number of SEOs were still finding use out of it. The tool allowed webmasters to see inbound links to their site by entering the word ‘link’ and a URL into the search bar of Google, like link:www.castleford.com.au.
John Mueller, Google Webmaster, confirmed that the link command no longer works via his Twitter account. When asked whether it had been removed, he responded that ‘as far as he knows it’s no longer live in search’. The link command may still return results in search, but the results will be completely inaccurate.
If you were still using the Link Command, you can view similar information in Google Search Console.
Twitter Dashboard is done and dusted
In a move that has disappointed a lot of Twitter users, the Business Dashboard is being discontinued.
Similar to the Google Link Command closure, Twitter announced the end of the Dashboard in a rather unspectacular fashion, with a series of 5 tweets on the account.
Twitter Dashboard will be closing down on February 3rd. 1/5
— Twitter Dashboard (@dashboardapp) January 10, 2017
The Dashboard app was first introduced less than a year ago, in June 2016. It currently provides tools and metrics for business accounts that are unavailable on the standard insights page, like scheduled tweets, tips and custom feeds.
The app will close down on February 3, but Twitter has said that it intends to ‘bring the best features from Dashboard to the broader Twitter community’. If you have any scheduled tweets on the app they will still post at the designated date and time. You can view and update them from the TweetDeck.
Twitter and the Australian Open
Twitter has created a compilation blog post of all things Australian Open related. There are a number of tweets from popular tennis players, as well as from the official Australian Open’s and Channel 7’s accounts.
— Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (@tsonga7) January 8, 2017
A range of stickers has been released to accompany the event, including tennis balls, racquets, kangaroos and palm trees.
There doesn’t seem to be any clear direction or indication of what the post is to achieve, other than to remind users that Twitter is still on top of current events (and is still relevant?). In any case, if you’re a tennis fan you might enjoy keeping up with your favourite players as they tweet their experiences.