Marketing 2 min read

Google to Start Crawling Sites Over HTTP/2 by November 2020

Morning Brew /

Morning Brew /

HTTP/2 or H2 for shorts is the next major HTTP version — the protocol that the internet uses to transfer data.

Expectedly, the new version, H2, offers some advantages over its predecessor. For one, it is more robust and efficient. Also, the architecture that it’s built on enables it to deliver more features for clients and servers.

Since mainstream browsers started supporting HTTP/2, webmasters have wondered whether Googlebot can crawl over the protocol. As it turns out, now it can.

On Google Webmaster Central Blog, the company wrote:

“Today we’re announcing that starting mid November 2020, Googlebot will support crawling over HTTP/2 for select sites.”

According to Google, the switch will make crawling more efficient in terms of server resource usage.

Rather than require multiple connections, Googlebot only needs to open a single TCP connection to the server to transfer multiple files. So, the server and search engine crawler will spend fewer resources on crawling.

So, how will it work?

How Google Will Start Crawling Sites Over HTTP/2

At first, Google will crawl a limited number of sites over h2.

However, the effort will increase gradually to enable more sites to benefit from the initially supported features. These include request multiplexing, header compression, and server push.

The tech giant points out that its bots will decide which sites to crawl based on two criteria:

  • Whether or not the site supports HTTP/2
  • Whether Googlebot would benefit from crawling over h2

According to Google, site owners don’t need to do anything to prepare for the change. If your server supports h2 and the search engine bot already crawls your site, you may be eligible. If not, that’s also alright.

If your server still only talks HTTP/1.1, that’s also fine,” says Google, “There’s no explicit drawback for crawling over this protocol; crawling will remain the same, quality and quantity-wise.”

Site owners can opt their site out from crawling over HTTP/2. It involves instructing the server to respond with a 421 HTTP status code when Googlebot tries to crawl over h2.

In the end, Google pointed out that sites that are being crawled over the HTTP/2 won’t get any search ranking advantage.

Read More: Google Updates Shopping Search Results to Boost Local Stores

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