Google Reads JavaScript: It’s NOT Your Dad’s Google Anymore

On Oct 27, 2014 Google updated Webmaster Guidelines, which I think is pretty significant.

"For optimal rendering and indexing, our new guideline specifies that you should allow Googlebot access to the JavaScript, CSS, and image files that your pages use."

googlebot wants your css, js, and images

Googlebot wants your JS, CSS, and Images

What this means is today’s Google is not your Dad’s Google anymore, that relied simply on text-rendering. Google has officially announced that now they are in page rendering mode, reading webpages just like a modern browser would do.

So this is a time, every webmasters should check their robots.txt file to see if you are blocking a) JavaScript b) CSS and c) Images. It has been customary to block JS to the bots. Bot had no business reading CSS as well. Either manually or via CMS system based robot.txt generators, JavaScript and CSS files could have “Disallow:” for the GoogleBot. In some case, images could have been blocked as well. For images, this update could have an interesting impact, as it’s still unclear how Google can “read” and rank images following this update.

Google clearly warns against blocking of these files which can cause suboptimal ranking.

So begin by looking at your robots.txt file for “Disallow:” for folders with JavaScript, and CSS as well as images. If they exist simply remove those lines and make sure Google can crawl the page which can be tested from within Google Webmaster Tools.

Other questions I would be asking myself would be:

  • Does my site have progressive enhancement? (and graceful degradation?)
  • When was the last time I did page performance optimization? What can be improved from these insights?
  • How can I eliminate unnecessary downloads on my pages … starting with JS, CSS, images etc.
  • What else could be compressed using gzip or such technologies?
  • What can I do immediately to improve¬†Webserver’s performance?

GoogleBot has changed, hence, we the webmasters must keep up with it for optimal rankings and performance. At the end of the day, our customers will be the winners.



About Ujjwal Bhattarai

Ujjwal is an engineer by education, a programmer by hobby, and an internet marketer by choice. Other than 1 minute chess, and biking, his passion includes SEO, SEM/PPC, CRO, and Web Development. As a lifelong student of Internet Development, he is hopelessly addicted to Internet, and sincerely believes after fire, wheel, and decimal point, internet is the fourth most important invention in the human history. Catch up with him on Twitter at @uj2wal or at his Google+ .

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