Some Basic Definitions
- HTML: Hypertext Markup Language is the backbone, or the organizer of content, on a site. It organizes the code for elements that define the structure of the website, i.e, headings, paragraphs, list elements, etc.
- CSS: Cascading Style Sheets are the design and style that are added to a website, making up the presentation layer of the page.
Googlebot doesn’t Crawl Like Your Browser
Googlebot works just like a browser by visiting web pages, but it is not typically a browser. Googlebot declines user permission requests, for instance, it will deny video auto-play requests. Resources like cookies, local, and session storage are cleared across page loads. Thus, if the website content relies on cookies or other stored data, Google won’t pick it up. Another difference between the two is that, while browsers download all the resources (such as images, scripts, stylesheets), Googlebot may not choose to do the same.
Since Google optimizes its crawlers for performance, it may not load all the resources from the server and may not even visit all the pages that it encounters. Google algorithms try to identify if a resource is necessary from a rendering point of view. And, resources may not get fetched by Googlebot if the algorithm fails to detect it.
Always start with checking your robots.txt file and meta robots tag to make sure someone hasn’t blocked the bots accidentally. Robots.txt provides Google with search engines with appropriate crawling opportunities. Blocking JS will make the page appear differently to web crawlers than it does to users. This leads to different user-experience for search engines, and Google can end up interpreting such actions as cloaking.
To avoid this from happening, it is better to provide web crawlers with all the resources they need to see web pages in the exact same manner as users. So, it is better to discuss with your developers and decide together which files should be hidden from search engines, and which of them should be made accessible.
2. Use HTTP Status Codes to Interact with Bots
Bots determine what went wrong during the crawling process using HTTP status codes. Meaningful status codes can be used to convey bots the message that a certain web page should not be crawled or indexed, such as a page requiring a login. In such instances, a 401 HTTP status code can be used. These codes can be used to inform bots if a certain page has been shifted to a new URL, instructing it to index the page accordingly.
Have a look at some most commonly used HTTP status code:
- 401/403: Page unavailable due to permission issues.
- 301/302: Page now available at a new URL.
- 404/410: Page unavailable now.
- 5xx: Issues on the server-side.
4. Try Search Friendly Loading
5. Test Your Website Frequently
6. Use HTML Snapshots
7. Site Latency
Usually, when a browser creates DOM using the received HTML document, it loads the majority of resources exactly as they are mentioned in the HTML document. But, when the large files mentioned on top of the HTML code loads, it automatically delays loading other resources. Placing important sections of the content above the fold is the key idea that Google’s critical rendering path focuses. It appreciates loading content that are crucial to people.
Still confused? We’ve got a team of SEO experts to help you. They’ll be glad to help you out!