SEO Spider FAQ
Why is my licence key invalid?
If the SEO Spider says your ‘licence key is invalid’, then it's because it has been entered incorrectly. This can be seen under 'Licence > Enter Licence Key' in the interface.
Licence keys are displayed when you checkout, sent in an email with the subject "Screaming Frog SEO Spider licence details" and are available at any time by logging into your account and viewing within the 'licence keys' section.
Before contacting us, please view your licence details and copy and paste them into the correct field - they are not designed to be entered manually. Please follow our tips below on common issues encountered.
- Ensure you are using the username provided for your licence key, as this isn't always the same as your 'account username' and it's not your exact email address. Usernames are lowercase. This is by far the most common issue we see.
- Please also double check you have inserted the provided ‘Username’ in the ‘Username’ field and the provided ‘Licence Key’, in the ‘Licence Key’ field.
- Ensure you are not entering a Log File Analyser licence into the SEO Spider.
- Ensure you are not entering a SEO Spider licence into the Log File Analyser.
If your licence key still does not work, then please contact support with the details.
How many users are permitted to use one licence?
Each licence key is to be used by one designated User (individual person). Licences are per individual User.
If you have five people from your team that wish to use the SEO Spider, you will require 5 Licences.
Discounts are available for 5 users or more, as shown in our pricing.
Please see section 3 of our terms and conditions for full details.
Is it possible to use a licence on more than one device?
What happens when the licence expires?
Licences are annual. The SEO Spider returns to the restricted free version upon expiry of the licence.
This means the SEO Spider’s configuration options are unavailable, there is a 500 URL maximum crawl limit and previously saved crawls cannot be opened.
To remove the crawl limit, access the configuration, enable all features and open up saved crawls, simply purchase a new licence upon expiry.
How do I transfer a licence to a different user?
If someone leaves a company, you are able to transfer licence to a new user.
You can do this by logging into your account, clicking on 'Licence Keys', and updating the email address of the 'Assigned User' against the relevant licence, and clicking 'Update'.
The new user can then download and install the SEO Spider on their device and click on 'Licence > Enter Licence Key' in the top level menu.
They can then input their username and password into the relevant fields in the SEO Spider.
When entered correctly the licence will say it’s valid and show the expiry date. The new user will then be required to restart the application to remove the crawl limit and enable access to the configuration and paid features.
If the licence says it’s invalid, please read our FAQ on common invalid licence issues to troubleshoot. For new users, please see our getting started guide.
Please also note that licences are per person, but can be used on multiple devices by a single user.
What features does a licence provide?
A full comparison of features between the paid and free versions can be found on the Pricing page.
In the same way as the free ‘lite’ version, there are no restrictions on the number of websites you can crawl with a licence. Licences are however, individual per user. If you have five members of the team who would like to use the licensed version, you will need five licences.
I have lost my licence or invoice, how do I get another one?
If you have lost your a licence key or invoice from the 22nd of September 2014 onwards, please login to your account to retrieve the details.
If you have lost your account password, then simply request a new password via the form.
If you purchased a licence before the 22nd of September 2014, then please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with your username or e-mail you used to pay for the premium version.
Is it possible to move my licence to a new computer?
Licences can be used on multiple devices by the same user. Licences are individual per user.
This means a single user with a licence, can use the software on multiple devices. It cannot be used by multiple users, each user would require a separate licence.
If you wish to transfer the licence away from an existing machine, please take a note of your licence key (you can find this under 'Licence > Enter Licence Key' in the software), uninstall the SEO Spider on the old device, before installing and entering your licence on the new machine.
If you experience any issues during this move, please contact our support.
Why can’t my licence key be saved (Unable to update licence file)?
The SEO Spider stores the licence in a file called licence.txt in the users home directory in a ‘.ScreamingFrogSEOSpider’ folder. You can see this location by going to Help->Debug and looking at the line labeled “Licence File”. Please check the following to resolve this issue:
- Ensure you are able to create the licence file in the correct location.
- If you are using a Mac, see the answer to this stackoverflow question.
- If you are using Windows is could be the default user.home value supplied to Java is incorrect. Ideally your IT team should fix this. As a workaround you can add:-Duser.home=DRIVE_LETTER:\path\to\new\directory\ to the ScreamingFrogSEOSpider.l4j.ini file that controls memory settings.
I have purchased a licence, why have I not received it?
If you have just purchased a licence and have not received an email with the details, please check your spam / junk folder. Licences are sent via email immediately upon purchase.
Licences are able displayed on screen at checkout and you can also view your licence(s) details and invoice(s) by logging into your account at anytime.
Where can I find your EULA (terms & conditions)?
How do I buy a licence?
Simply click on the ‘buy a licence’ option in the SEO Spider ‘licence’ menu or visit our purchase a licence page directly.
You can then create an account & make payment. When this is complete, you will be provided with your licence key to open up tool & remove the crawl limit. If you have just purchased a licence and have not received your licence, please check your spam / junk folder. You can also view your licence(s) details and invoice(s) by logging into your account.
Please note, if you purchased via bank transfer or PayPal invoice you will not have an account. An account is only created when you checkout via our online purchase system. If you have lost any of your details you can contact us for this information.
How do I renew my licence?
You simply login to your existing account and purchase another licence upon expiry.
Please don't purchase a licence pre-expiry as it will not extend your existing licence expiry. Updated licence details will be provided upon purchase to continue using the tool.
Licences do not currently auto renew, so if you do not want to renew your licence you need to take no action as you will not be automatically charged.
How much does the Screaming Frog SEO Spider cost?
The SEO Spider is free to download and use. However, without a licence the SEO Spider is limited to crawling a maximum of 500 URLs each crawl, crawls can't be saved, and advanced features and the configuration are restricted.
For £199 per annum you can purchase a licence which opens up the Spider’s configuration options and removes restrictions on the 500 URL maximum crawl. Please see our pricing page which shows a comparison between free and paid.
Licences are individual per user of the tool. When the licence expires, the SEO Spider returns to the restricted free lite version.
Do you offer licence discounts?
We only provide discounts on bulk purchases of 5 or more licences at a time. We do not offer discounts at any other time, both new and renewed licences are the same price.
We simply keep the price as competitive as possible for everyone.
We don't provide discount codes or coupons. If you have found them on other websites, they are not genuine and should be ignored.
Please see the SEO Spider licence page for more details on discounts.
What payment methods do you accept & from which countries?
We accept most major credit and debit cards and PayPal.
The price of the SEO Spider is in pound sterling (GBP), but it can be purchased worldwide.
If you are outside of the UK, please take a look at the current exchange rate to work out the cost. The automatic currency conversion will be dependent on the current foreign exchange rate and perhaps your card issuer, so we are not able to give an exact fee (other than in GBP).
We do not accept cheques (or checks!) as payment.
I’m a business in the EU, can I pay without VAT?
Yes, if you are not in the UK and are in the EU. To do this you must have a valid VAT number and enter this in the Billing Information section during checkout.
Enter your VAT number in the 'Tax ID' field, and then remember to click 'Save'. Your Tax ID number will be checked using the official VIES tax validation service and VAT removed if it is valid.
You can check your VAT number using the official VIES VAT validation system here. The VIES service can go down from time to time, please see here for your options if this happens.
If you don't have a VAT number you must confirm the 'I do not have a tax ID. I acknowledge tax will be added to the order' button. If you confirmed you do not have a tax ID when you do have one, then VAT will be kept on your order.
We cannot refund VAT once a purchase has been made and are unable to add your tax ID to the invoice. Unfortunately legally there can be no exceptions to this, it's your responsibility to ensure it's completed accurately.
What should I do if the External Tax Validator service is down?
During checkout we use an external service to validate Tax IDs. If this service is down there are 2 options.
- Wait until the service is up. If you are in the EU this will be the VIES services, you can see the status here.
- Clear your Tax ID and make the purchase with Tax. You can then claim this back later from your local Tax Authority.
We are unable to refund tax after purchase.
Why is my credit card payment being declined?
Unfortunately we do not get to see why a payment has been declined. There are a few reasons this could happen:
- Incorrect card details: Double check you have filled out your card details correctly.
- Incorrect billing address: Please check the billing address you provided matches the address of the payment card.
- Blocked by payment provider: Please contact your card issuer. Screaming Frog does not have access to failure reasons. It’s quite common for a card issuer to automatically block international purchases.
The most common of the above is an international payment to the UK. So please contact your card issuer and ask them directly why a payment has been declined, and they can often authorise international payments.
Alternatively, you can try a different card, PayPal, or you can contact us via support and pay via bank transfer.
Has the SEO Spider price changed?
We try and keep the price as low as possible to allow SEOs worldwide to benefit from the use of the software. We believe it's the best value tool on the market.
The price is £199 a year, which is the same for both existing and new customers, and software resellers working on behalf of enterprise clients. We also don't ever provide discount codes. We believe this keeps it fair.
To provide transparency on price, our pricing history is detailed below.
- Launch (November 2010) - £99 / $N/A / €N/A. (Only sold in £ GBP)
- Price Increase (August 2016) - £149 / $209 / €185.
- Price Increase (January 2023) - £199 / $259 / €239.
As can be seen in the above, there have been two price increases in 13 years since launch.
Between our most recent pricing update in 2023 from 2016, there have been 12 major releases and many updates with improvements.
The rate of inflation between increases should also be considered and can be checked using the Bank of England inflation calculator. The licence cost in 2016 has an equivalent cost of £190 at the start of 2023 for example.
Updating our price allows us to continue to improve the tool and continue to provide world-class technical support.
Legacy User Pricing
On renewal after a price increase, existing users are not retained on old pricing. All users pay the same price for the same tool, without exception.
Some tools choose to 'grandfather' existing users, but often this results in new features being restricted in 'legacy' user plans to encourage them onto new pricing.
Our licencing is an annual purchase, rather than auto monthly subscription. This allows users to decide whether the product is still right for them each year.
We are committed to supporting the freemium model, which provides a completely free version of the tool for crawling up to 500 URLs at a time.
Hundreds of thousands of professionals, small business owners, freelancers and hobbyists continue to utilise our free version, which does not require any form of email capture, or sign up.
Simply download, and use - without the sales.
Do you have a refund policy?
Absolutely! If you are not completely satisfied with the SEO Spider you purchased from this website, you can get a full refund if you contact us within 14 days of purchasing the software. We do not provide 'pro rata' refunds for any period of non-use of a licence.
To obtain a refund, please follow the procedure below.
Contact us via email@example.com or support and provide the following information:
- Your contact information (last name, first name and email address).
- Your order number.
- Your reason for refund! If there's an issue, we can generally help.
- For downloaded items, please provide proof that the software has been uninstalled from all your computers and will never be installed or used any more (screenshots will suffice).
If you have purchased your item by credit card the refund is re-credited to the account associated with the credit card used for the order.
If you have purchased your item by PayPal the refund is re-credited to the same PayPal account used to purchase the software.
If you have purchased your item using any other payment method, we will issue the refund by BACS, once approved by our Financial Department.
Refunds can take 3-5 working days to be processed by Braintree and the banks.
Do you work with resellers?
Resellers can purchase an SEO Spider licence online on behalf of a client. Please be aware that licence usernames are automatically generated from the account name entered during checkout. If you require a custom username, then please request a PayPal invoice in advance.
For resellers who are unable to purchase online with PayPal or a credit card and encumber us with admin such as vendor forms, we reserve the right to charge an administration fee of £50.
How is the software delivered?
The software needs to be downloaded from our website, the licence key is delivered electronically by email.
What is the part number?
There is no part number or SKU.
What is the reseller price?
Where can I get company information?
Where can I get licensing terms?
Where can I get Form W-9 information?
Screaming Frog is a UK based company, so this is not applicable.
Can I get a quote in a currency other than GBP?
No, we only sell in GBP.
Why does the Installer take a while to start?
This is often due to Windows Defender running a security scan on it, which can take up to a couple of minutes. Unfortunately when downloading the file using Google Chrome it gives no indication that it is running the scan.
Internet Explorer does give an indication of this, and Firefox does not scan at all.
If you go directly to your downloads folder and run the installer from there you don’t have to wait for the security scan to run.
Why do I get “error opening file for writing” when installing?
Please reboot your computer and restart the installation process.
Can I do a silent install?
Can the SEO Spider work on a Chromebook?
We don't have a Chromebook version of the SEO Spider, however, since 2018, Chromebooks have been able to run a Linux VM natively meaning that our Ubuntu download will open straight from the Chrome OS.
The SEO Spider may need some packages that haven't been installed by default, so for those not familiar with Linux, it's worth familiarising yourself a little bit with some basic commands. The Reddit Crostini site is an excellent place to start. A package which is required is mscorefonts, so if this isn't installed, the latest version can be downloaded from here using the command:
Currently version 3.8 is the latest but check for the newest version in the filename. To install the package use:
sudo dpkg -i ttf-mscorefonts-installer_3.8_all.deb
Once installed, the SEO Spider can be simply opened in the Chrome OS by double-clicking the icon.
On older Chromebooks, you can install Crouton, set up Ubuntu and download and install the Ubuntu version of the SEO Spider.
Please note, most Chromebook's hardware is not very powerful by design and RAM is normally limited. This will mean the number of URLs that can be crawled in memory mode will be restricted. You can read more about SEO Spider memory in our user guide.
Why doesn't the SEO Spider start after installation on Windows?
We occasionally see start-up issues related to font settings. If this is the issue, then users will need to reset some font-related settings to fix it.
The signature for this issue in the logs ('Help > Debug > Save Logs' and within the 'trace.txt' file located C:\Users\Your Name\.ScreamingFrogSEOSpider) is -
java.lang.RuntimeException: Exception in Application init method
at java.base/java.lang.Thread.run(Unknown Source)
Caused by: java.lang.ExceptionInInitializerError
... 2 more
Caused by: java.lang.IllegalArgumentException: 1009298 incompatible with Text-specific LCD contrast key
at java.desktop/java.awt.RenderingHints.put(Unknown Source)
at java.desktop/sun.awt.windows.WDesktopProperties.getDesktopAAHints(Unknown Source)
at java.desktop/sun.awt.windows.WToolkit.getDesktopAAHints(Unknown Source)
at java.desktop/sun.awt.SunToolkit.getDesktopFontHints(Unknown Source)
at java.desktop/sun.awt.windows.WDesktopProperties.getProperties(Unknown Source)
at java.desktop/sun.awt.windows.WToolkit.lazilyInitWProps(Unknown Source)
at java.desktop/sun.awt.windows.WToolkit.lazilyLoadDesktopProperty(Unknown Source)
at java.desktop/java.awt.Toolkit.getDesktopProperty(Unknown Source)
To reset ClearType settings and solve this issue, on Windows 10 users need to follow these steps:
- 1. Open the Settings app
- 2. Navigate to Personalisation
- 3. Click on Fonts in the left-hand navigation bar
- 4. In the top right, click the “Adjust ClearType text” link
- 5. Leave ClearType turned on, and click “Next”
- 6. Follow the wizard, selecting the best-looking text sample in each step
- 7. Click finish at the end
- 8. Restart the computer (or log out and log back in)
The font settings should now be reset, and the SEO Spider should launch.
Do you have a server version?
Every version of the SEO Spider is a server version and always has been. You’re able to run the SEO Spider locally on your PC or a dedicated machine, or remotely on a dedicated server or in the cloud.
This allows users to –
- 1) Access all crawls via ‘File > Crawls’ (in database storage mode). Using RDC multiple users are able to view crawls.
- 2) Crawl multiple sites concurrently.
- 3) Access crawl data from anywhere in the world.
- 4) Crawl millions of URLs. Though, you don’t really need a server to do this. Just a reasonably powerful machine using database storage mode.
- 5) Still run crawls locally on your own machine.
You can also still choose whether to run on Windows, macOS or Linux depending on your server choice.
Every user accessing the machine will require their own user licence.
We have a guide for running the SEO Spider in the cloud.
Do You Need To Run Crawls On A Server?
Most modern machines are more than capable enough to allow you to crawl websites while performing other work at the same time. Even for larger crawls of millions of URLs.
What hardware is recommended?
TL;DR: A 64-bit OS is required to run the SEO Spider. For crawls under 200k URLs, 8GB of RAM should be sufficient. To be able to crawl millions of URLs, an SSD and 16gb of RAM is recommended.
Hard Disk: We highly recommend having an SSD and switching the SEO Spider to database storage mode to crawl large websites. a 500gb SSD will suffice, but 1TB is recommended if you're performing lots of large crawls.
Memory: The SEO Spider stores all crawl data in memory by default, but it can be configured to store data within a database to crawl more URLs. The more memory you have allocated, the more URLs you will be able to crawl in both regular memory storage mode and database storage mode. Each website is unique in terms of how much memory it requires, so we cannot give exact figures on how much memory is required to crawl a certain number of URLs. As a very rough guide, 8GB of RAM will generally allow you to crawl about 200,000 URLs in memory storage mode. In database storage mode, this should allow you to crawl approx. 2-5 million URLs.
CPU: The speed of a crawl will normally be limited by the website itself, rather than the SEO Spider, as most sites limit the number of concurrent connections they will accept from a single IP. When crawling hundreds of thousand URLs some operations will be limited by CPU, such as sorting and searching, so a fast CPU will help minimise these slowdowns.
Recommended Set-up: Our recommended set up is a machine with a 1TB SSD and 16GB of RAM. We recommend switching to database storage mode ('File > Settings > Storage Mode') and allocating 4GB of RAM ('File > Settings > Memory Allocaton') for all crawls up to 2m URLs.
How do I crawl millions of URLs?
We recommend using a machine with an SSD and switching to database storage mode ('File > Settings > Storage Mode' on Windows or Linux, or 'Screaming Frog SEO Spider > Settings > Storage Mode' on macOS). This auto stores all data to disk, rather than keeping it in RAM - and allows you to crawl more URLs.
We then recommend increasing memory allocation to 4GB of RAM in the tool ('File > Settings > Memory Allocation') to crawl up to 2m URLs.
To crawl more than 2m URLs, you'll need to allocate more RAM. Please read our how to crawl large websites tutorial.
When switching to database storage, you will no longer be required to click 'File > Save' to store crawls, as they are auto saved and are accessible via the 'File > Crawls' menu. The main benefits to database storage mode are -
- 1) You can crawl more URLs.
- 2) Opening crawls is much quicker, nearly instant even for large crawls.
- 3) If you lose power, accidentally clear, or close a crawl, it won't be lost forever. Crawls are auto saved, so you can just go and open it via 'File > Crawls'.
- 4) You can peform crawl comparison, change detection and utilise segments.
You can export the database file, or as a .seospider crawl file still if you need to share the crawl for another user to open, and memory storage mode works the same way. Please read our guide on saving, opening, exporting and importing crawls.
What operating systems does the SEO Spider run on?
A 64-bit OS is required to run the SEO Spider. It runs on Windows, macOS and Linux.
It’s a Java application, that includes a bundled runtime - there's no need to install Java separately. You can download the SEO Spider for free to try it on your system.
If you're a licensed user of the software using a 32-bit machine, you can contact us via support and we are able to provide a link to version 12.6, which is the last version which supported 32-bit OS.
Windows: The SEO Spider can be run on Windows 10 and 11, and server variants. The SEO Spider doesn't run on Windows XP. The fully supported Windows variants are:
- Windows 11
- Windows 10
- Windows Server 2022
- Windows Server 2019
- Windows Server 2016
The SEO Spider may work on older Windows variants, but these have not been tested - and not all features may work as expected.
macOS: macOS 11 (Big Sur) or later. If you are using macOS 10.15 (Mojave) or earlier, the latest release you can use is 19.2. If you are using macOS 10.7.2 or lower please see this FAQ.
Linux: We provide an Ubuntu package for Linux.
Please note that the rendering feature is not available on older operating systems.
Why do I get error initialising embedded browser on startup?
This is normally triggered by some third-party software, such as a firewall or antivirus. Please try disabling this or adding an exception.
The exception you need to add varies depending on what operating system you are using:
You can prevent this initialisation happening by going to 'File > Settings> Embedded Browser'.
How do I increase memory?
Please see the how to increase memory section in our user guide.
The TL;DR is: If you have experienced a memory warning, crash or are trying to perform large crawls, we recommend using a machine with an SSD and switching to database storage mode ('File > Settings > Storage Mode'). We recommend increasing memory allocation to 4GB of RAM in the tool via 'File > Settings > Memory Allocation' to crawl up to 2m URLs.
To crawl more than 2 URLs, you'll need to allocate more RAM. Please read our how to crawl large websites tutorial.
Why is the JVM failing to allocate memory?
This crash is caused by the Java Virtual Machine trying to allocate memory from your operating system and there not being enough memory available. This can be caused by a number of reasons:
- Memory being used by other applications.
- Multiple instances of the SEO Spider running.
- Allocating too much memory to the SEO Spider.
To avoid you have the following options:
- Switch to database mode.
- Reduce the amount of memory allocated to the SEO Spider, see User Guide.
- Reduce the amount of memory used by other applications running on your machine by running fewer of them when running the SEO Spider.
- Run fewer instances of the SEO Spider (check for concurrent scheduling).
- If you have 16GB of system RAM and allocate 8GB to the SEO Spider, running 2 instances as the same time will leave no memory for the operating system and other applications.
- If you have 8GB of system RAM and allocate 6GB to the SEO Spider, you'll only have 2GB available for other applications and the operating system.
Why am I running out of disk space?
When using database storage mode the SEO Spider monitors how much disk space you have and will automatically pause if you have less than 5GB remaining. If you receive this warning you can free up some disk space to continue the crawl.
If you are unable to free up any disk space, you can either configure the SEO Spider to use another drive with more space by going to 'File > Settings > Storage Mode' and selecting a folder on another disk, or switch to 'Memory Storage' via the same configuration.
Changing either of these settings requires a restart, so if you'd like to continue the current crawl you will have to export it and reload it in after restarting.
Can I use an external SSD?
If you don't have an internal SSD and you'd like to crawl large websites using database storage mode, then an external SSD can help.
There are a few things to remember with this set-up. It's important to ensure your machine has USB 3.0 and your system supports UASP mode. Most new systems do automatically, if you already have USB 3.0 hardware. When you connect the external SSD, ensure you connect to the USB 3.0 port, otherwise reading and writing will be slow.
USB 3.0 ports generally have a blue inside (as recommended in their specification), but not always; and you will typically need to connect a blue ended USB cable to the blue USB 3.0 port. Simple!
After that, you need to switch to database storage mode ('File > Settings > Storage Mode'), and then select the database location on the external SSD (the 'D' drive in the example below). You will then need to restart the SEO Spider, before beginning the crawl.
Please note - ExFAT/MS-DOS (FAT) file systems are not supported on macOS due to JDK-8205404. You will need to reformat the drive to another file system to use it, which is typically a simple task.
Why is the UI unresponsive after reconnecting via RDP/VNC?
If the SEO Spider user interface isn't rendering for you, then the chances are you've run into this Java bug. This can be worked around by performing the following steps:
Close the SEO Spider, then open up the following file in a text editor:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Screaming Frog SEO Spider\ScreamingFrogSEOSpider.l4j.ini
then add the following under the -Xmx line:
(You may have a permission issue here, so copying your desktop, editing, then copying back may be easier).
Now when you start the SEO Spider the user interface should repaint correctly.
Why do I get a blank / flashing screen?
If the SEO Spider user interface isn't rendering for you, then the chances are you've run into this Java bug. In our experience this seems to be an issue with Intel HD 5xx series graphics cards. We've had less of these recently, so a driver update might help resolve this issue.
If not, please close the SEO Spider, then open up the following file in a text editor:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Screaming Frog SEO Spider\ScreamingFrogSEOSpider.l4j.ini
then add the following under the -Xmx line:
(You may have a permission issue here, so copying your desktop, editing, then copying back may be easier).
Now when you start the SEO Spider the user interface should render correctly.
Why is the GUI text/font text garbled?
Why is the title bar still grey in dark mode on Windows?
The colour of the Windows title bar is controlled by the operating system.
You can change the colour by going to the search menu and typing in 'Settings', then 'Personalisation' and 'Colours'.
You're then able to choose a dark accent colour under 'Choose your accent colour', and tick the 'title bars and window borders' button at the bottom. It will then match the rest of the application. Please note - The title bar will return to a grey colour when the application is not in focus still. This is a Windows thing.
Why does the Spider show in the taskbar but not on screen?
The SEO Spider is opening off screen, possibly due to a multi monitor setup that has recently changed.
To move the SEO Spider on to the active monitor use Alt + Tab to select it, then hold in the Windows key and use the arrow keys to move it window into view.
Why does the SEO Spider freeze?
Why am I experiencing slow down?
There are a number of reasons why you might be experiencing slow crawl rate or slow down of the SEO Spider. These include –
- If you’re performing a large crawl, you might be reaching the memory capacity of the SEO Spider. Learn how to increase the SEO Spider’s memory and read our guide on crawling large websites.
- Slow response of the site or server (or specific directives for hitting them too hard).
- Internet connection.
- Problems with the site you are crawling.
- Large pages or files.
- Crawling or viewing a large number of URLs.
Why won’t the SEO Spider crawl my website?
This could be for a number of reasons outlined below:
- The very first thing to look at is the status code and status in the Internal tab. The site should respond with a 200 status code and 'OK' status. However, if it doesn't, please read our guide on common HTTP status codes when crawling, what they mean and how to resolve any issues.
- The site is blocked by robots.txt. The 'status code' column in the internal tab will be a '0' and the 'status' column for the URL will say 'Blocked by Robots.txt'. You can configure the SEO Spider to ignore robots.txt under 'Configuration > Robots.txt > Settings'.
- The site behaves differently depending on User-Agent. Try changing the User-Agent under Configuration->HTTP Header->User Agent.
- The site doesn't link to pages using proper crawlable a tags.
- The site requires Cookies. Can you view the site with cookies disabled in your browser after clearing your cache? Licensed users can enable cookies by going to Configuration->Spider and ticking “Allow Cookies” in the “Advanced” tab.
- The ‘nofollow’ attribute is present on links not being crawled. There is an option in 'Configuration > Spider' under the 'Crawl' tab to follow ‘nofollow’ links.
- The page has a page level ‘nofollow’ attribute. The could be set by either a meta robots tag or an X-Robots-Tag in the HTTP header. These can be seen in the 'Directives' tab in the 'Nofollow' filter. To ignore the nofollow directive go to 'Configuration > Spider > Crawl' and tick 'Follow Internal nofollow' under the 'crawl behaviour section' and recrawl.
- The website is using framesets. The SEO Spider does not crawl the frame src attribute.
- The website requires an Accept-Language header (Go to 'Configuration > HTTP Header' and add a header called 'Accept Language' with a value of 'en-gb').
- The Content-Type header did not indicate the page is HTML. This is shown in the Content column and should be either
<meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-8">
- The configuration is limiting the crawl. Reset to the default configuration to ensure this is not occurring 'File > Configuration > Clear Default Configuration'.
If the above does not help, please get in touch with details of the website, the status and status code you're experiencing via support.
Why do I get a “Connection Refused” response?
Connection refused is displayed in the 'Status' column when the SEO Spider's connection attempt has been refused at some point between the local machine and website. If this happens for all sites consistently then it is an issue with the local machine/network. Please check the following:
- You can view websites in your browser.
- Make sure you have the latest version of the SEO Spider installed.
- That software such as ZoneAlarm, anti-virus (such as the premium version of Avira Antivirus, and Kaspersky) or firewall protection software are not blocking your machine/SEO Spider from making requests. The SEO Spider needs to be trusted / accepted. We recommend your IT team is consulted on what might be the cause in office environments.
- The proxy is not accidentally ‘on’, under Configuration->Proxy. Ensure the box is not ticked, or the proxy details are accurate and working.
- If you are trying to crawl a secure site (https://) and not using version 8.0 or above, please see here.
If this is preventing you from crawling a particular site, then this is typically due to the server either refusing connection to the user-agent, or it uses anti bot protection software. Please try the following -
- Changing the User Agent under 'Configuration > User Agent'. Try switching to 'Chrome', the server might be refusing requests made from particular user-agents. A ‘Googlebot’ user-agent is also worth testing, although it is not unusual for sites to block a spoofed Googlebot.
- Use Forms Based Authentication under 'Configuration > Authentication > Forms Based'. Add the website into our inbuilt browser, and view the site to see if a captcha needs to be completed. Click 'OK' and 'OK' to accept any cookies and see if you're able to crawl.
If this is happening intermittently during a crawl then please try the following:
- Adjusting the crawl speed / number of threads under 'Configuration > Speed'.
- In the ‘lite’ version where you cannot control the speed, try right clicking on the URL and choosing re-spider.
Why do I get a “Connection Error” response?
Connection error or connection timeout is a message when there is an issue in receiving an HTTP response at all.
This is generally due to network issues or proxy settings. Please check that you can connect to the internet.
If you have changed the SEO Spider proxy settings (under 'Configuration > Proxy'), please ensure that these are correct (or they are disabled).
Why do I get a “Connection Timeout” response?
Connection timeout occurs when the SEO Spider struggles to receive an HTTP response at all and the request times out.
It can often be due to a slow responding website or server when under load, or it can be due to network issues. We recommend the following –
- Ensure you can view the website (or any websites) in your browser and check their loading time for any issues. Hard refresh your browser to ensure you’re not seeing a cached version.
- Decrease the speed of the crawl in the SEO Spider configuration to decrease load on any servers struggling to respond. Try 1 URL per second for example.
- Increase the default response timeout configuration of 10 seconds, up to 20 or 30 seconds if the website is slow responding.
If you're experiencing this issue for every website, please try the following -
- Ensure the proxy settings are not enabled accidentally and if enabled that the details are accurate.
- Ensure that ZoneAlarm, anti virus or firewall protection software (such as the premium version of Avira Antivirus) are not blocking your machine from making requests. The SEO Spider needs to be trusted / accepted. We generally recommend your IT team who know your systems are consulted on what might be the cause.
Why do I get a “403 Forbidden” error response?
The 403 forbidden status codes occurs when a web server denies access to the SEO Spider’s request for some reason.
If this happens consistently and you can see the website in a browser, it's often because the server is behaving differently to the user-agent of the request.
In the paid version of the SEO Spider, adjust the User Agent via 'Config > User-agent' and try crawling as a browser, such as ‘Chrome’. This request is often allowed and solves the problem.
If switching the user-agent doesn't solve the problem, then the following should be performed -
- Verify it's a security issue by going to 'Config > Authentication > Forms Based', clicking 'Add' and entering the websites homepage into our inbuilt browser. You should see a security based message from the CDN provider. If there is a captcha or puzzle to solve, you might be able to complete it, verify you're human and crawl. However, often this can fail.
If both of the above fail, you will need to add your IP address and the 'Screaming Frog SEO Spider' user-agent to an allowlist in the website's CDN security settings to be able to crawl it. Your CDN provider will be able to advise on how to do this.
If the 403 response occurs intermittently during a crawl, it could be due to the speed the SEO Spider is requesting pages, which is overwhelming the server. In the paid version of the SEO Spider you can reduce the speed of requests. If you are running the free version you may find that right clicking the URL and choosing re-spider will help.
Please note - It's common for sites to block a spoofed Googlebot request, as CDNs such as Cloudflare check to see whether the request has been made from the known Google IP range, as part of their bot protection of their managed firewalls.
Please see our FAQ on how to crawl with Googlebot for sites that use Cloudflare.
Why do I get a “503 Service Unavailable” error response?
Why do URLs redirect to themselves?
When a website requires cookies this often appears in the SEO Spider as if the starting URL is redirecting to itself or to another URL and then back to itself (any necessary cookies are likely being dropped along the way). This can also be seen when viewing in a browser with cookies disabled:
The easiest way to work around this issue is to first load up the page using forms based authentication.
‘Configuration > Authentication > Forms Based’
Select ‘Add’, then enter the URL that is redirecting, and wait for the page to load before clicking ‘OK’.
The SEO Spider's in-built Chromium browser has thus accepted the cookies, and you should now be able to crawl the site normally.
A secondary method to bypass this kind of redirect is to ensure the ‘Cookie Storage’ is set to 'Persistent':
'Configuration > Spider > Advanced > Cookie Storage > Persistent'
To bypass the redirect behaviour, as the SEO Spider only crawls each URL once, a parameter must be added to the starting URL:
A URL rewriting rule that removes this parameter when the spider is redirected back to the starting URL must then be added:
'Configuration > URL Rewriting > Remove Parameters'
The SEO Spider should then be able crawl normally from the starting page now it has any required Cookies.
Why won’t my crawl complete?
We recommend checking that the SEO Spider is still crawling the site (by viewing the crawl speed and totals at the bottom of the GUI), and reviewing the URLs it's been crawling. Depending on the URLs the SEO Spider has been discovering in the crawl, it will explain why the crawl percentage is not increasing:
- URLs seem normal – The Spider keeps finding new URLs on a very large site. Consider splitting the crawl up into sections.
- Many similar URL parameters – The Spider keeps finding the same URLs with different parameters, possibly from faceted navigation. Try setting the query string limit to 0 ('Configuration > Spider', “Limit Number of Query Strings” in the “Limits” tab, use the exclude or custom robots.txt feature.).
- There are many long URLs with parts that repeat themselves – There is a relative linking error where the Spider keeps finding URLs that cause a never ending loop. Use the exclude feature to exclude the offending URLs.
It's possible to view URLs that are still in the crawl queue by exporting the 'Queued URLs' report under 'Bulk Exports' in the top level menu. We also recommend reading our guide on how to crawl large websites, which has lots of practical tips.
Why do I get a ‘Project open failed java.io.EOFException’ when attempting to open a saved crawl?
This means the crawl did not save completely, which is why it can’t be opened. EOF stands for ‘end of file’, which means the SEO Spider was unable to read to the expected end of the file.
This can be due to the SEO Spider crashing during save, which is normally due to running out of memory. This can also happen if you exit the SEO Spider during save, or your machine restarts or you suffer a powercut.
Unfortunately there is no way to open or retrieve the crawl data, as it’s incomplete and therefore lost.
Please consider switching to database storage mode where crawls are stored automatically (you don't need to 'save'), or increasing your memory allocation in memory storage mode, which will help reduce any problems saving a crawl in the future.
You can verify this by going to 'Help > Debug > Save Logs' in the SEO Spider, and then opening the 'trace.txt' file within the zip file logs.
You will see an error in the logs like this -
Cannot run program "C:\Users\your name\.ScreamingFrogSEOSpider\chrome\91.0.4472.77-sf1\chrome.exe": CreateProcess error=1260, This program is blocked by group policy. For more information, contact your system administrator
The chrome.exe file in this location needs to be given permission to run within any antivirus programs on your machine if it has blocked them.
How do I crawl with the Googlebot user-agent for sites that use Cloudflare?
Cloudflare will respond with a 403 'forbidden' error response to requests made by a Googlebot user-agent that isn't from their known IP range.
This is what will be displayed if you have adjusted the user-agent in the SEO Spider ('Config > User-Agent') to Googlebot. Using the default Screaming Frog SEO Spider user-agent, or a browser user-agent such as 'Chrome' will generally allow the site to be crawled.
However, if you want to crawl as Googlebot to mimic a search engine as closely as possible, or to test dynamic rendering, then you will need to adjust settings within Cloudflare to allow this. Simply adding the user-agent or IP address to the Firewall rules as an 'allow' will not work.
Cloudflare have a 'Super Bot Fight Mode' that is enabled by default as part of their managed firewall ruleset. To bypass this feature, it will need to be disabled under 'Firewall > Bots > Configure Super Bot Fight Mode''. The configuration is slightly different dependent on your Cloudflare subscription -
- For Free plans, toggle Bot Fight Mode option to Off.
When this has been updated, you should then be able to adjust the user-agent to Googlebot within the SEO Spider and crawl the website.
Disabling this feature may mean 'bad bots' are able to scan your website as well. Hence, when you have finished crawling, please remember to enable 'Super Bot Fight Mode' if this is your preference. For more details, please read Cloudflare bot solutions guide.
How many URLs can the Spider crawl?
The SEO Spider uses a configurable hybrid storage engine, which enables it to crawl millions of URLs. However, it does require configuration (explained below) and the correct hardware.
By default the SEO Spider will crawl using RAM, rather than saving to disk. This has advantages, but it cannot crawl at scale, without plenty of RAM allocated.
In standard memory storage mode there isn't a set number of pages it can crawl, it is dependent on the complexity of the site and the users machine specifications. The SEO Spider sets a maximum memory of 2gb for 64-bit machines, which enables it to crawl approx. 10k-100k URLs of a site.
You can increase the SEO Spider’s memory allocation ('File > Settings > Memory Allocation'), and crawl into hundreds of thousands of URLs purely using RAM. A 64-bit machine with 8gb of RAM will generally allow you to crawl approx. 200-500k URLs, if the memory allocation is increased.
However, for larger crawls we recommend saving data to disk which enables the SEO Spider to crawl millions of URLs. This can be configured by selecting ‘Database Storage’ mode (under ‘File > Settings > Storage Mode’). We only recommend using this option with a Solid State Drive (SSD), as hard disk drives are significantly slower at writing and reading data.
As a rough guide, an SSD and 8gb of RAM in database storage mode, should allow the SEO Spider to crawl approx. 5 million URLs.
Please see our guide on crawling large websites for more information.
How do I crawl Wix websites?
In short, you shouldn't have to do anything special to crawl Wix websites anymore.
Wix websites were historically set-up using Google's now deprecated AJAX crawling scheme, with escaped fragment URLs. Google announced they would stop using the old AJAX crawling scheme in Q2 of 2018 (and will render #! URLs and content instead).
Wix subsequently used dynamic rendering to show a server-side-rendered (SSR) version of their website to search bots, browsers, and the Screaming Frog SEO Spider user-agent. Their CMS now uses server side rendering as default, which bots are able to crawl.
If you experience any problems crawling Wix websites, just get in touch with our support.
What IP address and ports does the SEO Spider use?
The SEO Spider runs from the machine it is installed on, so the IP address is simply that of this machine/network. You can find out what this is by typing “IP Address” into Google.
The local port used for the connection will be from the ephemeral range. The port being connected to will generally be port 80, the default http port or port 443, the default HTTPS port. Other ports will be connected to if the site being crawled or any of its links specify a different port. For example: http://www.example.com:8080/home.html
Does the SEO Spider crawl PDFs?
Yes, the SEO Spider will crawl PDFs, discover links within them and show the document title as the page title and any PDF keywords as meta keywords.
This means users can check to see whether links within PDFs are functioning as expected and issues like broken links will be identified reported in the usual way.
Please read our guide on How To Audit PDFs for more detail.
The outlinks tab from PDFs will be populated, and include details such as response codes, anchor text and even what page of the PDF a link is on.
You can also choose to ‘Extract PDF Properties’ and ‘Store PDF’ under ‘Config > Spider > Extraction’ and the PDF subject, author, created and modified dates, page count and word count will be stored and shown as columns in the Internal tab.
The text content of PDFs is also parsed, so features such as custom search and spelling and grammar checks can also be performed on PDFs.
PDFs can be bulk saved and exported via ‘Bulk Export > Web > All PDF Documents’.
If you’re interested in how search engines crawl and index PDFs, check out a couple of tweets where we shared some insights from internal experiments for both Google and Bing.
Why isn’t my Include/Exclude function working?
The Include and Exclude are case sensitive, so any functions need to match the URL exactly as it appears. Please read both guides for more information.
Functions will be applied to URLs that have not yet been discovered by the SEO Spider or are in the crawl queue to be processed. Any URLs that are currently being processed by the SEO Spider will not be affected.
Functions will not be applied to the starting URL of a crawl in Spider mode. However, they do apply to all URLs in list mode.
.* is the regex wildcard.
What’s the difference between ‘Crawl outside of start folder’ & ‘Check links outside folder’?
How does the Spider treat robots.txt?
The SEO Spider is robots.txt compliant. It checks robots.txt in the same way as Google.
It will check robots.txt of the (sub) domain and follow directives specifically any for Googlebot, or for all user-agents. You are able to adjust the user-agent, and it will follow specific directives based upon the configuration.
The tool also supports URL matching of file values (wildcards * / $) like Googlebot. Please see the above document for more information or our robots.txt section in the user guide. You can turn this feature off in the premium version.
Can the SEO Spider crawl staging or development sites that are password protected or behind a login?
The SEO Spider supports two forms of authentication, standards based which includes basic and digest authentication, and web forms based authentication.
Basic & Digest Authentication
There is no set-up required for basic and digest authentication, it is detected automatically during a crawl of a page which requires a login. If you visit the website and your browser gives you a pop-up requesting a username and password, that will be basic or digest authentication. If the login screen is contained in the page itself, this will be a web form authentication, which is discussed in the next section.
Often sites in development will also be blocked via robots.txt as well, so make sure this is not the case or use the ‘ignore robot.txt configuration'. Then simply insert the staging site URL, crawl and a pop-up box will appear, just like it does in a web browser, asking for a username and password. Enter your credentials and the crawl will continue as normal. You cannot pre-enter login credentials – they are entered when URLs that require authentication are crawled. This feature does not require a licence key. Try to following pages to see how authentication works in your browser, or in the SEO Spider.
- Basic Authentication Username:user Password: password
- Digest Authentication Username:user Password: password
Web Form Authentication
There are other web forms and areas which require you to login with cookies for authentication to be able to view or crawl it. The SEO Spider allows users to log in to these web forms within the SEO Spider’s built in Chromium browser, and then crawl it. This feature requires a licence to use it.
To log in, simply navigate to ‘Configuration > Authentication’ then switch to the ‘Forms Based’ tab, click the ‘Add’ button, enter the URL for the site you want to crawl, and a browser will pop up allowing you to log in.
Please note – This is a very powerful feature, and should therefore be used responsibly. The SEO Spider clicks every link on a page; when you’re logged in that may include links to log you out, create posts, install plugins, or even delete data.
How do I bulk export or move database crawls?
In database storage mode the SEO Spider will auto save crawls into a database. These crawl files are contained within the 'ProjectInstanceData' folder within a ScreamingFrogSEOSpider folder in your user directory. The location of this folder can be viewed by clicking 'File > Settings > Storage Mode' and viewing the directory line - If you wish to move crawls to a new location, simply copy the 'ProjectInstanceData' folder into the new \.ScreamingFrogSEOSpider folder location on the new drive or machine. Ensure the SEO Spider installed on the machine has the database storage location set as the \.ScreamingFrogSEOSpider folder. The transferring of crawls will also work across OS, when switching from one to another.
Can I crawl more than one site at a time?
Yes. There are two ways you can do this:
1) Open up multiple instances of the SEO Spider, one for each domain you want to crawl. For Mac users, please see how to open up multiple instances on macOS.
2) Use list mode ('Mode->List'). Remove the crawl depth limit ('Config >Spider->Limits') and upload your list of domains to crawl.
Why is the SEO Spider not finding a particular page or set of pages?
The SEO Spider finds pages by scanning the HTML code of the entered starting URL for
<a href> links, which it will then crawl to find more links. Therefore to find a page there must be a clear linking path to it from the starting point of a crawl for the SEO Spider to follow.
If there is a clear path, then these links or the pages the links are on must exist in a way the SEO Spider either cannot 'see' or crawl.
Hence please make sure of the following:
- If any links or linking pages have ‘nofollow’ attributes or directives preventing the SEO Spider from following these links. By default the SEO Spider obeys ‘nofollow’ directives unless the 'follow internal nofollow' configuration is checked.
- The expected page(s) are on the same subdomain as your starting page. By default links to different subdomains are treated as external unless the Crawl all subdomains option is checked.
- If the expected page(s) are in a different subfolder to the starting point of the crawl the Crawl outside start folder option is checked.
- You do not have an Include or Exclude function set up that is limiting the crawl.
- Ensure category pages (or similar) were not temporarily unreachable during the crawl, giving a connection timeout, server error etc. preventing linked pages from being discovered.
- By default the SEO Spider won't crawl the XML Sitemap of a website to discover new URLs. However, you can select to 'Crawl Linked XML Sitemaps' in the configuration.
Why do the results change between crawls?
The most common reasons for this are:
- Crawl settings are different, which can lead to different pages being crawled or different responses being given, leading to different results.
- The site has changed, meaning the different elements of the crawl are reported differently.
- The SEO Spider receives different responses, specific URLs timing out or giving server errors. This could mean less pages are discovered overall as well as these being inconsistent between crawls. Remember to double check under 'Response Codes > No Responses' and right click on URLs and click to 're-spider' on URLs that might have intermittent issues (such as timing out or server errors).
Another point that could affect crawl results, is the order in which pages are found. If allowing cookies, a page that drops a cookie that leads to certain URLs being treated different (such as redirecting to a different language version after a language selector is used) could lead to wildly different results depending on which cookies are picked up when during the crawl. In these situations multiple crawls may need to be undertaken, excluding particular sections so that only a single cookie behaviour is set at a time.
Why is the SEO Spider not finding images?
There are generally three reasons for this:
- The images are blocked by robots.txt. You can either ignore robots.txt or customise the robots.txt to allow crawling.
Why am I experiencing a different response in a browser?
The SEO Spider's HTTP request is often different to a traditional browser and other tools, so you can sometimes experience a different response than if you visit the page or use a different tool to check the response. The SEO Spider simply reports on the response given to it by the server when it makes a request, which won’t be incorrect but can differ from what might be experienced elsewhere. Some of the common factors that can cause servers to give a different response, that are configurable in the SEO Spider are -
- User-Agent - The SEO Spider uses its own user-agent as default, and so do browsers. You can find the User-Agent configuration under ‘Configuration > HTTP Header > User-Agent’. If you adjust this to a browser user-agent (Chrome etc), you may experience a different response.
- Accept-Language Header - Your browser will supply an accept language header with your language. Similar to Googlebot, the SEO Spider doesn't supply an Accept-Language header for requests by default. However, you can adjust the Accept-Language configuration under 'Configuration > HTTP Header > Accept-Language'.
- Cookies - Your browser will allow cookies to be loaded, and so will the SEO Spider. However, the SEO Spider will mimic Googlebot and cookies will not persist between requests like in a browser.
- Speed - Servers can respond differently when under stress and load. Their responses can be less stable. We recommend reducing the crawl speed and seeing if the responses then change, and using WireShark to verify responses independently.
Why does the 'Completed' URL total not match what I export?
The ‘Completed’ URL total is the number of URLs the SEO Spider has encountered. This is the total URLs crawled, plus any ‘Internal’ and ‘External’ URLs blocked by robots.txt.
Depending on the settings in the robots.txt section of the ‘Configuration > Spider >Basic’ menu, these blocked URLs may not be visible in the SEO Spider interface.
If the ‘Respect Canonical’ or ‘Respect Noindex’ options in the ‘Configuration > Spider > Advanced’ tab are checked, then these URLs will count towards the ‘Total Encountered’ (Completed Total) and ‘Crawled’, but will not be visible within the SEO Spider interface.
The ‘Response Codes’ Tab and Export will show all URLs encountered by the Spider except those hidden by the settings detailed above.
How is the response time calculated?
It is calculated from the time it takes to issue an HTTP request and get the full HTTP response back from the server. The figure displayed on the SEO Spider interface is in seconds.
Please note that this figure may not be 100% reproducible as it depends very much on server load and client network activity at the time the request was made.
What do Indexable & Non-Indexable mean?
Every URL discovered in a crawl is classified as either ‘Indexable' or ‘Non-Indexable' within the Indexability column in the SEO Spider.
'Indexable' means a URL that can be crawled, responds with a ‘200’ status code and is permitted to be indexed.
'Non-Indexable' is a URL that can't be crawled, doesn't respond with a '200' status code, or has an instruction not to be indexed.
Every non-indexable URL has an 'Indexability Status' associated with it, which explains quickly why it isn't indexable.
It's important to remember that 'Indexability' does not tell you whether Google is indexing a URL or not - only Google ultimately decides that. Indexability tells you what you're instructing Google to do, which goes a long way in getting Google to do what you want.
Non-indexable can include URLs that are the following -
- Blocked by robots.txt.
- No Response.
- Client Error (4XX).
- Server Error (5XX).
- Noindex (or 'None').
Check out our video guide on indexability below.
The SEO Spider will consider meta robots, X-Robots-Tag, canonical link elements and the rel="canonical" HTTP header information for directives and canonicals.
It's fairly common for sites to have a self referencing meta refresh for various reasons and generally this doesn't impact indexing of the page. However, it should be investigated further, as it's redirecting to itself, and this is why it's flagged as 'non-indexable'.
To stop self referencing meta refresh URLs being considered as 'non-indexable', untick the 'Respect Self Referencing Meta Refresh' configuration under 'Configuration > Spider > Advanced'.
Why are page titles &/or meta descriptions not being displayed/displayed incorrectly?
If the site or URL in question has page titles and meta descriptions, but one (or both!) are not showing in the SEO Spider this is generally due to the following reasons -
1) The SEO Spider reads up to a maximum of 20 meta tags. So, if there are over 20 meta tags and the meta description is after the 20th meta tag, it will be ignored.
Why does the number of URLs crawled not match the number of results indexed in Google or errors reported within Google Search Console?
There’s a number of reasons why the number of URLs found in a crawl might not match the number of results indexed in Google (via a site: query) or errors reported in the SEO Spider match those in Google Search Console.
First of all, crawling and indexing are quite separate, so there will always be some disparity. URLs might be crawled, but it doesn’t always mean they will actually be indexed in Google. This is an important area to consider, as there might be content in Google’s index which you didn’t know existed, or no longer want indexed for example. Equally, you may find more URLs in a crawl than in Google’s index due to directives used (noindex, canonicalisation) or even duplicate content, low site reputation etc.
Secondly, the SEO Spider only crawls internal links of a website at that moment of time of the crawl. Google (more specifically Googlebot) crawls the entire web, so not just the internal links of a website for discovery, but also external links pointing to a website.
Googlebot’s crawl is also not a snapshot in time, it’s over the duration of a site’s lifetime from when it’s first discovered. Therefore, you may find old URLs (perhaps from discontinued products or an old section on the site which still serve a 200 ‘OK’ response) that isn't linked to anymore, or content that is only linked to via external sources in their index still. The SEO Spider won’t be able to discover URLs which are not linked to internally, like orphan pages or URLs only accessible by external links by default. However, read our tutorial on how to find orphan pages, as the SEO Spider can use URLs found in GA, GSC and XML Sitemaps as an additional source of discovery.
There are other reasons as well, these may include –
- Google include URLs which are blocked via robots.txt in their search results number. Don’t forget, robots.txt just stops a URL from being crawled, it doesn’t stop the URL from being indexed and appearing in Google.
- Google crawl XML sitemaps. The SEO Spider does not currently crawl XML sitemaps by default, you need to enable them to be crawled. Please read our tutorial on how to audit XML Sitemaps.
- Google’s results number via a site: query can be pretty unreliable!
- Google’s error reporting can be pretty slow and outdated!
Why does the number of URLs crawled (or errors discovered) not match another crawler?
First of all, the free ‘lite’ version is restricted to a 500 URLs crawl limit and obviously a website might be significantly larger. If you have a licence, the main reason an SEO Spider crawl might discover more or less links (and indeed broken links etc), than another crawler is simply down to the different default configuration set-ups of each.
As default the SEO Spider will respect robots.txt, respect ‘nofollow’ of internal and external URLs & crawl canonicals. But other crawlers sometimes don’t respect these as default and hence why there might be differences. Obviously these can all be adjusted to your own preferences within the configuration.
While crawling more URLs might seem to be a good thing, actually it might be completely unnecessary and a waste of time and effort. So please choose wisely what you want to crawl.
We believe the SEO Spider is the most advanced crawler available and it will often find more URLs than other crawls as it crawl canonicals and AJAX similar to Googlebot which other crawlers might not have as standard, or within their current capability. There are other reasons as well, these may include –
- User-agent, speed or time of the crawl may play a part.
- Some other crawlers may use XML sitemaps for discovery and crawling. The SEO Spider does not currently crawl XML sitemaps by default, you currently have to upload them in list mode. The reason we decided against crawling XML sitemaps by default is that it shouldn’t make up for a site’s architecture. If a page is not linked to in the sites internal link structure, and only in an XML sitemap, it will help it be discovered and indexed, but the chances are it won’t perform very well organically. This is obviously because it won’t be passed any real PageRank, like a proper internal link. So we believe, it’s useful to analyse websites via the natural crawling and indexing process of internal links to get a better idea of a sites set-up. There are some scenarios where it does make sense to crawl XML sitemaps though and we may make this possible in the future as an option.
- Some other crawlers might crawl analytics landing pages, or URLs in Google Search Console Tools top pages. Again, this is not the natural crawling and indexing process, but might be something we consider in the future.
Why is word count not accurate?
Word count is all ‘words’ inside the body tag, excluding HTML markup. The count is based upon the content area that can be adjusted under ‘Config > Content > Area’.
By default, the nav and footer HTML5 elements are excluded to focus on content within the main content area of a page.
Our figures may not be exactly what performing this calculation manually would find, as the parser performs certain fix-ups on invalid HTML. Your rendering settings also affect what HTML is considered. Our definition of a word is taking the text and splitting it by spaces.
No consideration is given to visibility of content (such as text inside a div set to hidden).
You may experience a less accurate word count, if the website is not using HTML5 elements. You can include or exclude HTML elements, classes and IDs to calculate a refined word count via ‘Config > Content > Area’.
How do I maintain order in a list mode export?
If you wish to export data in list mode in the same order it was uploaded, then use the ‘Export’ button which appears next to the ‘upload’ and ‘start’ buttons at the top of the user interface.
The data in the export will be in the same order and include all of the exact URLs in the original upload, including duplicates or any fix-ups performed.
Why is the character encoding incorrect?
The SEO Spider determines the character encoding of a web page by the “charset=” parameter in the HTTP Content-Type header, eg:
You can see this in the SEO Spider’s interface in the ‘Content’ columns (in various tabs). If this is not present in the HTTP header, the SEO Spider will then read the first 2048 bytes of the html page to see if there is a charset within the html.
For example –
“meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html; charset=windows-1255″
If this is not the case, we continue assuming the page is UTF-8.
The Spider does log any character encoding issues. If there is a specific page that is causing problems, perform a crawl of only that page by setting the maximum number of URLs to crawl to be 1, then crawling the URL. You may see a line in the trace.txt log file (the location is – C:UsersYourprofile.ScreamingFrogSEOSpidertrace.txt):
20-06-12 20:32:50 INFO seo.spider.net.InputStreamWrapper:logUnsupportedCharset Unsupported Encoding ‘windows-‘ reverting to ‘UTF-8’ on page ‘http://www.example.com’ java.io.UnsupportedEncodingException: windows-‘. This could be an error on the site or you may need to install an additional language pack.
The solution to fix this is to specify the format of the data by either the Content-Type field of the accompanying HTTP header or ensuring the charset parameter in the source code is within the first 2048 bytes of the html within the head element.
How do I check for broken links (404 Errors)?
How do I bulk export all inlinks to 3XX, 4XX (404 error etc) or 5XX pages?
How do I bulk export all images missing alt text?
You can bulk export data via the ‘Bulk Export’ option in the top level navigation menu.
Simply select 'Bulk Export > Images > Images Missing Alt Text Inlinks’ option to export all references of images without alt text. Please see more in our guide 'how to find missing image alt text'.
How do I bulk export all image alt text?
You can bulk export data via the ‘Bulk Export’ option in the top level navigation menu. Simply choose the ‘All Images’ option to export all images and associated alt text found in our crawl. Please see more on exporting in our user guide.
Where can I see the pages blocked by robots.txt?
You can simply view URLs blocked via robots.txt in the UI (within the ‘Internal’ and ‘Response Codes’ tabs for example). Ensure you have the ‘Show internal URLs blocked by robots.txt’ configuration ticked under 'Configuration > Robots.txt'.
You can view external URLs blocked by robots.txt within the 'External' and 'Response Codes' tabs by ticking the ‘Show External URLs blocked by robots.txt’ configuration under 'Configuration > Robots.txt'.
Disallowed URLs will appear with a ‘status’ as ‘Blocked by Robots.txt’ and there’s a ‘Blocked by Robots.txt’ filter under the ‘Response Codes’ tab, where these can be viewed.
The ‘Blocked by Robots.txt’ filter also displays a ‘Matched Robots.txt Line’ column, which provides the line number and disallow path of the robots.txt entry that’s excluding each URL. If multiple lines in robots.txt block a URL, the SEO Spider will just report on the first encountered, similar to Google within Search Console.
Please see our guide on using the SEO Spider as a robots.txt tester.
How do I create an XML sitemap?
Why is my exported sitemap missing some URLs?
Canonicalised, robots.txt blocked, noindex and paginated URLs are not included in the sitemap by default.
You may choose to include these in your sitemap by ticking the appropriate checkbox(s) in the 'Pages' tab when you export the sitemap.
Please read our user guide on XML Sitemap Creation.
Why can't I generate an image sitemap from a list of images?
Image sitemap protocol require the HTML page the image is referenced on to be included in the sitemap. A list of images only does not have this information, so a sitemap cannot be generated.
Details on Google's requirements for image sitemaps can be seen at - https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/178636.
How can I extract all tags matching my XPath?
Why is my regex extracting more than expected?
If you are using a regex like
.* that contains a greedy quantifier you may end up matching more than you want. The solution to this is to use a regex like
For example if you are trying to extract the id from the following JSON:
"id":"(.*)" you will get:
007", "name":"James Bond
If you use
"id":"(.*?)" you will extract:
How do I extract multiple matches of a regex?
If you want all the H1s from the following HTML:
Then we can use:
Google Analytics Integration
Why do I receive an error when granting access to my Google account?
After allowing the SEO Spider access to your Google account you should be redirected to a screen that looks like this: However, if you receive an error like this: There are a few things to check:
- Is there any security software running on your machine preventing the SEO Spider listening on the port specified in the URL? The port is the number after localhost: in the address bar, 63212 in the screenshots above.
- Is your browser sending the request, intended for localhost, to a proxy instead? You can sometimes tell this if the failure screen mentions the name of a proxy server, such as Squid for example.
- You may have HSTS enabled for localhost. Go to chrome://net-internals/#hsts, then under "Delete domain security policies" delete "localhost" and try again. You can reinstate this setting afterwards if required.
Why does my connection to Google Analytics fail?
Why doesn’t GA data populate against my URLs?
The URLs in your chosen Google Analytics view have to match the URLs discovered in the SEO Spider crawl exactly, for data to be matched and populated accurately. If they don’t match, then GA data won’t be able to be matched and won’t populate. This is the single most common reason.
If Google Analytics data does not get pulled into the SEO Spider as you expected, then analyse the URLs under ‘Behaviour > Site Content > Landing Pages’ and ‘Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages’ depending on which dimension you choose in your query. Try clicking on the URLs to open them in a browser to see if they load correctly.
You can also export the ‘orphan pages’ report via 'Reports > Orphan Pages', which shows a list of URLs returned from the Google Analytics & Search Analytics (from Search Console) API’s for your query, that didn’t match URLs in the crawl. Check the URLs with source as ‘GA’ for Google Analytics specifically (those marked as ‘GSC’ are Google Search Analytics, from Google Search Console). The URLs here need to match those in the crawl, for the data to be matched accurately.
If they don’t match, then the SEO Spider won’t be able to match up the data accurately. We recommend checking your default Google Analytics view settings (such as ‘default page’) and filters such as ‘extended URL’ hacks, which all impact how URLs are displayed and hence matched against a crawl. If you want URLs to match up, you can often make the required amends within Google Analytics or use a ‘raw’ unedited view (you should always have one of these ideally).
Please note – There are some very common scenarios where URLs in Google Analytics might not match URLs in a crawl, so we cover these by matching trailing and non-trailing slash URLs and case sensitivity (upper and lowercase characters in URLs). Google doesn’t pass the protocol (HTTP or HTTPS) via their API, so we also match this data automatically as well.
Why doesn’t the GA API data in the SEO Spider match what’s reported in the GA interface?
There’s a variety of reasons why data fetched via the Google API into the SEO Spider might be different to the data reported within the Google Universal Analytics or GA4 interface.
First of all, we recommend triple checking that you’re viewing the exact same account, property, view, segment, date range and metrics and dimensions for UA. For GA4, we recommend ensuring you're using connecting to the correct account, property, data stream, date range and have the same filters applied.
If data still doesn’t match, then there are some common reasons why –
- Google APIs can just return slightly different metrics. We’ve tested this and sometimes the data from the API, can just be a little different to what’s reported in the interface.
- For UA, we use default sampling, and your settings in Google Analytics might be different.
- For UA, we use the ga:hostname dimension and a ga:hostname==www.yourdomain.co.uk filter, to remove other domains which might be using the same GA tracking code as your core domain. Google does not do this by default in the interface, so landing page sessions for your homepage, might be inflated for example.
We recommend debugging using the UA API Query Explorer and viewing the data returned, with the following query parameters which the SEO Spider uses by default (obviously using the account, property and view of the site you’re testing) –
Be careful to replace the hostname field with your own. The segment ID is for 'Organic Traffic', which is our default segment for GA.
For GA4, debug using the GA4 API Query Explorer and view URLs and data returned using the following parameters - You will also need to enable 'show advanced options', and add a 'Not' dimension filter for when 'LandingPagePlusQueryString' contains '(not set)' to throw those away. For GA4, you can also set dimension filters, so do ensure that the dimension type and values in the SEO Spider match any of those selected in the GA4 query explorer.
You can also set up an 'Exploration' (also known as a custom report) in GA4 and match this against the data shown in the SEO Spider. This takes 1min to set up with the parameters as shown below.
You should see that data returned via the API matches pretty closely to what is reported within the SEO Spider.
Why can't I see GA4 properties when I connect my Google Analytics account?
Please ensure you're using version 18.0 or higher. You will then need to ensure you're logging into GA4 specifically, via 'Config > API Access > GA4'.
PageSpeed Insights Integration
Why is there no Core Web Vitals data?
If your URLs aren’t showing any page level Core Web Vitals data and the PSI status lists ‘success’ then it is likely they don't receive enough real world user visits to generate sufficient speed data for the Chrome User Experience (CrUX) report.
In the example above, our 'contact us' page has missing or blank Core Web Vitals data, whereas the much higher trafficked homepage has data.
Core Web Vitals data are gathered from real user monitoring (RUM), which is available in the CrUX report, and via the PSI API used in the SEO Spider. You can verify whether a URL has any data by running it through the PageSpeed Insights web interface, where it will display a message at the top. The 'Origin Summary' below the highlighted area in the screenshot above is aggregated data for all pages across the site, rather than data for the specific page. Hence, this does not mean the page itself has data.
When there is no data, you can check to see if the other device type (desktop, or mobile) has data instead. For example, our 'contact us' page used in the example above, does have data for desktop (just not mobile) - as we have a high proportion of desktop users.
Alternatively, you can analyse a similar page (in layout) that does have CrUX data, or you can use simulated lab data instead. Lab data can be found under the ‘Lighthouse’ dropdown of the Metrics tab in the PSI config (this is enabled by default). Please see our tutorial on How To Audit Core Web Vitals for more.
Does the PageSpeed Insights API affect analytics?
As of writing, using the PageSpeed Insights API appears to inflate analytics data. PSI renders web pages to get lab data about their performance. These Chrome instances appear to be recorded in Google Analytics as direct, even when the 'Exclude all hits from known bots and spiders' view setting is enabled.
Google is aware of the issue, and we understand they are working to resolve it. To stop PageSpeed Insights from inflating GA data, you can use either of the two methods below, depending on your setup:
- Include a filter to exclude known Google IP addresses, or
- Add User Agent as a custom dimension in analytics, and then exclude traffic based on this. (You need access to the site or GTM)
Method 1 - The following IP address exclude filter regex pattern appears to work from our own testing. However, we recommend using with caution, setting this up in a view that isn't important to you and testing first.
Method 2 - An outline of steps for this method is below:
- Create a custom dimension in Analytics - this can be found under the Admin for the property and Custom Definitions > Custom Dimensions
- In the Google Analytics Settings variable add the custom dimension's details created in the first step with the user agent variable created in the second step
- An exclude filter can now be created for the newly-created custom dimension for the Chrome-Lighthouse user agent.
Again, we recommend using with caution and all the usual GA / GTM caveats, using best-practices such as setting up in a testing workspace and view first. As GTM and GA implementations vary we haven’t gone into specifics with these steps, but it should make sense to analytics stakeholders.
We hope that Google will resolve this issue internally over the coming months.
Why is my PageSpeed Insights API key invalid & displaying 'failed to connect'?
This is usually because the PSI API hasn't been enabled as per our PageSpeed Insights integration guide. To enable the API, run a search from the API credentials page using the search bar for the PageSpeed Insights API in the API library (or just click on this link potentially). On the PageSpeed Insights API Library page, click the 'Enable' button. Now the API is activated. Give it a couple of mins and try connecting again, it should now work.
Why do I see an 'Error' Status for PageSpeed Insights?
The PSI Status column shows whether an API request for a URL has been a success, or there has been an error. An 'error' usually reflects the web interface, where you would see the same error and message. In the example below, there are two errors. A full list of errors can be viewed using the 'Request Errors' filter in the PageSpeed tab.
The PSI Error column explains "500: Lighthouse returned error: ERRORED_DOCUMENT_REQUEST. Lighthouse was unable to reliably load the page you requested. Make sure you are testing the correct URL and that the server is properly responding to all requests. (Status code: 404)".
If you search for the URL in the interface, right click on it and then choose 'PageSpeed Insights' it will open it up in the PSI web interface. For the Netflix example above, you can see the same error in the web interface. So this is generally not an issue with Screaming Frog, or the API, it is directly related to the Lighthouse audit conducted by PSI. Our testing also shows that from time to time the PSI API is unable to process requests, possibly due to overall load capacity. The following message is displayed when this occurs. Once again, this can be replicated in the web interface, where the same message will be displayed. We recommend pausing the crawl, waiting for 10mins (until it's available again), and then right clicking on URLs and 're-spidering' them. This will re-request the PSI data. You can provide Google with feedback about any errors you experience directly on their mailing list or ask questions via Stack Overflow.
The total count of errors from PSI can be seen in the right hand window 'API' tab and 'Errors' count.
Why do PageSpeed Insights Lighthouse scores differ in a browser?
The PSI API uses Lighthouse which is run from Google servers which emulates a page load on a mid-tier device (Moto G4) on a mobile network. More information can be found here. The exact mobile throttling presets used by PSI can be seen on Github here.
When Lighthouse is run within your browser there are a number of variables which can vary the scores. Lighthouse is throttled by your own network, browser settings, the applications running on your machine and whatever emulation settings you’re currently using. Google go into some detail about this in their Lighthouse scoring guide.
Even when using the same API and conditions, the scores can also change. Google say "Variability in performance measurement is introduced via a number of channels with different levels of impact. Several common sources of metric variability are local network availability, client hardware availability, and client resource contention." We recommend reading the following 'Lighthouse Metric Variability and Accuracy' report by one of the Chromium team.
Why do I get an error saying "Screaming Frog SEO Spider" is not supported on my Mac?
If you are seeing the following dialog when you mount the dmg: and when you try to run it: You have downloaded the Apple Silicon version of the SEO Spider and are running it on an Intel mac. For details on choosing the correct download please see here.
What version of the SEO Spider do I need for my Mac?
As of version 17 we now ship two versions of the SEO Spider; one for Apple Silicon processors that were introduced in late 2020, and one for the previous generation of machines that used Intel processors. You need to select the correct download based on the type of processor your machine has.
You can identify what processor your machine has by clicking the Apple logo in the top left of your screen and selecting "About This Mac". You can now see what machine you have by looking at the value for Processor/Chip. If this says "Apple M1" or "Apple M2", you have an Apple Silicon machine. If it says "Intel" anywhere, then you have an Intel machine.
If you have an Apple Silicon machine, please download the version labelled "macOS (Apple Silicon)".
If you have an Intel machine you will most likely need the version labelled "macOS (Intel) requires 10.14 or later". If you are running a version of macOS 10.13 "High Sierra" or earlier then you will not be able to use version 17 or later unless you update your operating system. The latest version you'll be able to use is 16.7, which can be downloaded by clicking "Using a different operating system?" and then "macOS (Intel) for 10.13 and earlier".
You will not be able to update your operating systems if your machine is too old, in which case you will have to remain on Spider 16.7 until you update your machine.
How do I enter a licence key on a Mac?
Scroll to the top of your screen while the app is in focus, for the top level application menu to appear. Please see the screenshot below, or our video demonstration. This works in the same way as other Mac native applications.
Does the SEO Spider work on the new Apple Silicon Macs?
Why do I get a pop up about keystrokes in Catalina?
The first time you run the SEO Spider on macOS Catalina you will get the following dialog. This is because the SEO Spider uses a small shell script, using "bash", to launch. You can Deny permission here and the SEO Spider will function correctly.
Do you support Macs below macOS Version 10.7.3 (& 32-Bit Macs)?
No, we do not support macOS versions below 10.7.3 (and 32-bit) Macs.
From version 2.50 released in 2014, the SEO Spider requires a version of Java not supported by this version of macOS.
This means much older 32-bit Macs (the last of which we understand were made over a decade ago) will not be able to use the SEO Spider. 64-bit Macs which haven’t yet updated their version of macOS, will just need to update their OS.
How can I open multiple instances of the SEO Spider?
To open additional instances of the SEO Spider open a Terminal and type the following:
open -n /Applications/Screaming\ Frog\ SEO\ Spider.app/
Can I run the SEO Spider on a Raspberry Pi
The SEO Spider doesn't run on a Raspberry Pi. Several of the components used by the SEO Spider don't run on the ARM architecture.
Can You Support A New Language For Spelling & Grammar Checks?
The SEO Spider uses an Open Source project called LanguageTool for spelling and grammar checks.
It's developed by a group of language enthusiasts and software developers and is used in a variety of applications, such as Libre Office, Open Office, Firefox, Google Chrome and other software packages like macOS, InDesign, memoQ, Opera, SDL Trados and JetBrains IDEs. They also have various free browser plugins.
LanguageTool have funding from the EU for the project, but also rely on contributions from the public to improve spelling and grammar in different languages. A list of current supported languages can be viewed here.
If you wish to see a new language in the SEO Spider, then you can help by making LanguageTool better and supporting the project. You're able to contribute by adding a new language and you can suggest new features and ask questions in the forum.
Do you have an API?
How do I block the SEO Spider from crawling my site?
The spider obeys robots.txt protocol. Its user agent is ‘Screaming Frog SEO Spider’ so you can include the following in your robots.txt if you wish the Spider not to crawl your site –
User-agent: Screaming Frog SEO Spider
Please note – There is an option to ‘ignore’ robots.txt and change user-agent, which is down to the responsibility of the user entirely.
Do you collect data & can you see the websites I am crawling?
We do not see what sites you are crawling or the data you have crawled. All crawl data is stored on your machine.
Google APIs use the OAuth 2.0 protocol for authentication and authorisation, and obviously, the data provided via Google Analytics and other APIs is only accessible locally on your machine.
The software does not contain any spyware, malware or adware (as verified by Softpedia for Windows and macOS).
Do you have an affiliate program?
No, we do not have an affiliate program for the SEO Spider software at this time.
Contact & Support
How do I submit a bug / receive support?
We love to receive bug reports. Please follow the steps on the support page so we can help you as quickly as possible.
Please note, we only offer full support for licensed users of the tool although we will generally try and fix any bugs or issues discovered.
How do I provide feedback?
We welcome feedback, feature requests and suggestions to improve the SEO Spider. The tool has been built on feedback from the awesome SEO community.
Please just follow the steps on the support page to submit feedback.
Alternatively, just e-mail support[at]screamingfrog.co.uk with your feedback. (Replacing the [at] with @).
Back to top