Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a crucial element for any online business. It determines how visible your website is to search engines, and subsequently, your target audience. One of the key elements of SEO is allowing search engine bots, such as Googlebot, to crawl your website. But what happens when Googlebot can’t access your site? Let’s unravel the mystery.
1. Favicon Removal from Google Search Results
When Googlebot is unable to crawl a website, the favicon – a small icon associated with a particular website or webpage – is removed from Google Search results. Favicons are used in browsers to help users visually distinguish between different tabs. Without them, your website might lose its visual identity in search results, leading to less recognition and potentially fewer clicks from users.
2. Video Search Results Take a Hit
Video content is a powerful tool for driving engagement on your website. However, if Googlebot can’t crawl your site, your video search results could take a major hit. Some websites have reported that their video search results haven’t recovered even after resolving the issue. This means losing out on potential traffic and engagement opportunities from users who prefer video content.
3. Volatile Positions in Certain Regions
Interestingly, when Googlebot can’t crawl your website, the position of your site in search results may become more volatile in certain regions. For instance, some websites have reported more volatility in their positions in Canada. While the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, it highlights the unpredictable nature of SEO when Googlebot can’t access your site.
4. Minimal Traffic Decrease
One might expect a significant decrease in traffic when Googlebot can’t crawl a website, but surprisingly, many websites have reported only a slight decrease. This could be because other search engines are still able to crawl the site, or because users are accessing the site directly or through social media links. However, even a slight decrease in traffic can have a significant impact on your bottom line.
5. Increase in Reported Indexed Pages in Google Search Console
Interestingly, when Googlebot is unable to crawl a website, there’s often an increase in reported indexed pages in Google Search Console. Why? Because pages with no index meta robots tags end up being indexed as Google couldn’t crawl the site to see those tags. This could lead to unwanted pages appearing in search results, potentially diluting the quality of your search presence.
6. Multiple Alerts in Google Search Console
Lastly, when Googlebot can’t crawl your site, you’ll likely receive multiple alerts in Google Search Console (GSC), such as “Indexed, though blocked by robots.txt” and “Blocked by robots.txt”. These notifications are Google’s way of alerting you that something is blocking its access to your site.
Why We Care
Testing is a crucial element of SEO. All changes – intentional or unintentional – can impact your rankings, traffic, and bottom line. It’s essential to understand how Google could potentially react to changes like disabling Googlebot.
Most companies aren’t able to attempt this sort of experiment due to the potential risks involved. However, understanding the possible consequences can help you make more informed decisions about your SEO strategies. Remember, SEO is not a one-size-fits-all approach, but understanding the mechanics behind it, like the role of Googlebot, can help you tailor your strategy to suit your unique needs.