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Google now interprets JavaScript

Search Strategy Lead

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Google told the industry recently that it’s going to be executing JavaScript on web pages to try and index pages more accurately. This is great news for marketers as it means that information that is dynamically placed on the page can now help increase the page rank on the world’s most popular search engine.

Historical Best Practice

First, some background on how websites inform Google about how to crawl the information to create the best result for both the site and Google.

Most sites use a “robots.txt” file to define for spiders sections of sites with either no content value or potential spider traps (databases) where endless crawling won’t produce any meaningful results. Also, most sites put their JavaScript and CSS code into separate files which are called by the pages which makes the pages lighter for download and helps Google crawl the sites more easily. The “robots.txt” typically tells Google not to crawl the code files because there is no useful information there for it.

The Change

Now Google has been testing how “to understand pages by executing JavaScript” and has been working towards rendering “pages more like an average user’s browser with JavaScript turned on”, as stated in a recent Webmaster Central blog post

What Does this Mean?

Google is now asking webmasters to allow Googlebot access to JS and CSS files so that they can render the pages. Site owners should do the following:

Otherwise, most sites will be good to go.

Other Considerations

One caveat is that the servers need to be configured so that crawlers hitting the JS and CSS files do not trigger any firewall rules and reduce access.

Another issue to remember is that Google has been focusing a lot on mobile access and they strongly prefer responsive designs so that they can use the same content to index both the desktop and mobile sites.

More About the Author

Sharon Virtue

Sharon comes to Klick armed with fifteen years of designing and executing best practice, long term SEM strategies (both SEO and Paid Search) for Fortune 500 clients & large enterprises that include Microsoft, Business Objects, Nikon and Vonage. As Search Strategy Lead, Sharon navigates the Google-centric waters to ensure that Klick clients achieve maximum visibility in the search results.

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