The robots.txt file along with the sitemap is majorly responsible to create first impressions with the search engine web scraping and web crawling bots. An incorrect sitemap can make the web crawlers go crazy hunting for the pages they wish to index and may even end up indexing unfavourably.
Here’s a brief list of things that could be messed up when the bots come knocking at your sitemap-
- Format inconsistencies
While there could be a horde of permutations for the types of errors that could be possible, the most common are missing tags and invalid URLs. You can get a list of these errors and possible solutions on google’s support website itself.
While it may sound quite funny at the very outset, but quite often than not it happens that out of sheer overlook, is that the sitemaps itself are blocked by robots.txt, which obviously results in the search engine web crawlers not being able to gain access to the data or anything on your entire website for that matter.
- Messed up pages on the sitemap
Talking about content, although you may not be a web programmer, it does not take a genius to gauge the relevance of website links which are contained in the sitemap. It is important to pass each one of them through a magnifying glass to check for any form of inconsistencies – typos, misprints, anything! If you are running your crawling and indexing campaign on barely an inch more than a shoestring budget, it only makes sense to be prudent and get the sitemaps to indicate the more valuable web pages first.
The worst thing you could do to your budget is mislead the bot in an iterative run due to a contradiction scenario on the web page – like blocking the sitemaps itself on the robots.txt.
Don’t mislead the bots with controversial instructions: make sure that the URLs in your sitemap are not blocked from indexing by meta directives or robots.txt.
While we have covered the impediments that could arise when search engine web crawling bots try to index your pages and there are a few things related to the sitemaps that’s out of place, the next key factor in creating hurdles for successful web crawling is a compromised website architecture.
Let’s take a look at a few key problems related to bad website architecture that could cause problems and actually slow down the process for web crawling
- Bad linking
In a good website, the web pages are linked internally well enough for the bots to easily navigate their way and continue fetching content from all relevant pages.
While efficient linking is extremely important, it is something that can’t be done in an instant; this is something which needs deeper review and understanding of the entire website.
- Incorrect redirection
Redirections serve the basic purpose of pushing a user towards a web page that the website owner deems fit and relevant. Quite often than not what people tend to overlook include –
- Using 302 or 307 redirects give the web crawlers an indication to crawl the website repeatedly which in turn is going to do you no real good but will definitely burn your budget.
-If two pages are redirected to each other, the web crawling bot gets stuck in an infinite loop and continues burning your budget.