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Googlebot Will Start Using HTTP/2 to Crawl Sites

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Google confirms that several sites will start crawling over HTTP/2 as of November 2020.

Starting in November, Googlebot will be supporting HTTP/2 crawling on some websites. HTTP/2 is the next big HTTP revision.

Google mentioned this upcoming update in a company blog announcement on their Twitter handle.

HTTP/2 is an HTTP update due to better design. Its built-in architecture allows more functionality to be provided to clients and servers.

What most people need to know about HTTP/2 is: it’s more stable, effective, and faster than HTTP.

Google says this transition is being made to make crawling more effective when it comes to server and resource utilization.

With h2, Googlebot is able to open a single TCP connection to the server and easily pass several files in parallel instead of having multiple links.

The fewer communications available, the less time the server and Googlebot have to focus on crawling.

Crawling Googlebot Over HTTP/2

In the first step, Googlebot will crawl a minimal number of sites over HTTP/2 and eventually expand to more sites, all of which benefit from the supported features.  

Googlebot determines which sites to crawl over HTTP/2 has asked if the site supports it and whether Googlebot will benefit from crawling over HTTP/2.

Sites may be eligible for improvements to the link if:

  1. The server of the site supports HTTP/.
  2. Googlebot is already crawling the site a lot.

There is nothing site owners & SEO service providers need to do in order to prepare for the change.

Google states that it’s okay if the server on your site only speaks HTTP/1.1.

There is no downside to crawling through HTTP, and there will be no interruption to Googlebot’s daily crawling patterns for your web.

By instructing the server to respond with a 421 HTTP status code when Googlebot tries to crawl your site over h2, you can opt-out of Google crawling your site over HTTP/2.

Some FAQ’s on Googlebot & HTTP/2

  • Why is Googlebot now being upgraded?

The software that enables Googlebot to crawl over HTTP/2 has finally developed that could be used in practice.

  • Do site owners need to update their servers in order to plan for this change?

Google says it’s up to the owner of the site to decide. Googlebot can only move to crawl over HTTP/2 for sites that “support and explicitly benefit from it.” That means, if there is no obvious advantage to crawling over HTTP/2, Googlebot will continue to crawl over HTTP.

  • What are the advantages of Googlebot crawling through HTTP/2?

Resource savings are the main advantage for both the server and the Googlebot. Crawling over HTTP/2 does not affect the frequency of site indexing or crawling.

  • Is there a ranking advantage for a site that is being crawled over HTTP/2?

No, there is no ranking benefit whatsoever.

Key Takeaway

Site owners need not worry about this update. Google explicitly said there is no advantage to crawling over HTTP/2 and resource savings is the main advantage for both the server and the Googlebot from this update.

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