GoogleBot optimization can’t be a cup of everyone’s tea because you cannot direct, regulate or decide how the spider perceives your site. But fret not! As Google announced that they are going to update the user agent of GoogleBot this December. Undoubtedly, it’s a good news for SEOs to backpedal and find an exact way through which we can optimize for Google crawlers.

How Is It Going To Be A Good Omen?

This update is a good omen reflecting how Google values freshness because it regards that user-agent strings directly signals towards newer browser versions. If they figured out a system for this, what more for content and user experience, isn’t it? So for those who find unethical practices like user-agent sniffing more fascinating, I’d recommend you to safely cling to white-hat practices and reap results from them.

What Is A User Agent?

You might be completely unaware of this term but in reality you have been utilizing this every day while exploring the web. So, basically a user agent works in a way to bring the user and the internet together. Primarily, you are a vital part of that chain of communication if you are an SEO because it would be a great practice to optimize for user agents.

User agents are made to function especially when a browser detects and loads a webpage. In this case, GoogleBot is the first one to do this and is completely responsible for retrieving the content from sites in accordance with what the user requests from the web.

How Is The Update Going To Make A Difference To The Way We Optimize For Crawlers?

Googlebots user agent string will all be periodically updated to match Chrome updates, which means that it will be at par with what browser version the user is currently using.

This is what Googlebot user agents look like today:

This is how it will look like after the update:

Have you noticed the slight change in the form of user agent strings, “W.X.Y.Z”? These strings will be replaced with the Chrome version we’re using. Google uses this for example, “instead of W.X.Y.Z, the user agent string will show something similar to “76.0.3809.100.” They also said that the version number will be updated on a regular basis.

How is it going to affect us? For now, Google says don’t panic. They guaranteed that most websites will not be affected by this slight change. If you are optimizing in accordance with Google guidelines and recommendations then you don’t have anything to worry about. However, they stated that if you are looking for a specific user agent, you may be affected by the update.

What Are The Honest-To-Goodness Ways To Optimize Better For GoogleBot?

It would be way better to use feature detection instead of being obsessed with detecting the user agent of your users. Google is kind enough to provide access to tools that can assist us in doing this, like the Webmaster Tools which helps in optimizing your site.

Googlebot optimization is always there to erase errors on your site. This goes without saying that you shouldn’t over-optimize and that includes browser sniffing. Optimizing according to the web browser that a visitor is using becomes lazy work in the long run because it would mean that you are not working with an all round approach to optimizing sites. The web is continually progressing which implies that as webmasters, we have to think quickly on our feet on how to keep up with the software and algorithm updates. To do that, here are some effective ways that can help you triumph in Googlebot optimization.

Fix Crawl Errors

Do not waste time in vain to vaguely guess the errors that affect your site. It’d be better to find out if your site is performing well in accordance to crawler guidelines. Your site’s crawl performance can be easily viewed at the Coverage error report in your Search Console because crawl issues are under this feature.

Do Not Hesitate To Take Up A Log File Analysis

A Log File Analysis can help you built a better understanding of your site’s strength in terms of content and crawl budget which will lend you the fundamental assurance that users are visiting the right pages. Specifically, these pages should be relevant both for the user and for the purpose of your site.

Most SEOs do not use a Log File analysis to improve their sites. But I believe it is high time that this becomes a standard for everyone in the industry.

Optimize Sitemaps

A clean sitemap can work exceptionally well for your site because it helps in improving user navigation and behavior as well.

The sitemap feature can help you test if your sitemap can be favourable for your site or put it in jeopardy. Start optimizing your sitemaps and it will improve your site for better.

Put Inspect URL Feature To Use

If you are concerned about how site content is doing, then inspecting specific URLs does the needful in finding ways so you can improve it.

To Wrap Up

With the Googlebot update comes another way to help SEOs fetch better user experience to site visitors.

By the way, if you want to asses whether your site is affected by the change or not, you can opt to load your webpage in your browser using the Googlebot user agent update.


Ritu from PageTraffic is a qualified Google Ads Professional and Content Head at PageTraffic. She has been the spear head for many successful Search Marketing Campaigns and currently oversees Content Marketing operations of PageTraffic in India.