Google Gives Us Something To Be Thankful For: Javascript Indexing

A few weeks ago, Google made what seemed to be a quiet change that may have huge implications for the SEO world: it started indexing Facebook comments. While this may seem like a small update, it may mean much more for SEO, because Facebook comments are contained in Javascript. Matt Cutts confirmed the update in a tweet, saying, "Googlebot keeps getting smarter. Now has the ability to execute AJAX/JavaScript to index some dynamic comments."

Since its inception, Google hasn’t been able to index content or links contained within Javascript code. As SEOs, that’s meant we’ve had to accommodate for Javascript content in our designs and our code to make websites search-engine-robot-friendly using techniques like the “noscript” tag. Unfortunately, there’s often a disconnect between web designers’ effort to improve usability and user experience, and SEOs’ effort to make websites indexable by search engines. For larger sites, updating code to accommodate for Javascript content outside of Javascript (usually through a “noscript” tag) could be onerous.



For years, I’ve been trying to move clients to the middle – balancing usability and user experience with SEO indexability. But resources can be scarce for companies, and often the priority wasn’t always there.

Then in October, something began to happen. Without making changes to the website itself, somehow images from the site began appearing in Google search results. The images were linked to via links in a Javascript-based gallery; they had previously not been indexed because the Googlebot could not reach them.

In early October, we began to see significant new traffic from Google to these particular images, even though the links to the images remained in Javascript. Checking Google Webmaster Tools, we gradually began to see a climb in the rankings and appearance of these images in search results beginning in early October and culminating to a steady pace around Nov. 3, just after Google’s announcement regarding indexing Javascript. The appearance of these images in search results jumped from nothing to over 10,000 impressions per day.

Just what does this all mean? It’s clear that Googlebot is now accessing content in Javascript and AJAX. As an SEO, you’ll need to adjust your strategy somewhat. But Bing still isn’t able to index Javascript, so you’ll still need to consider using the “noscript” tag for the time being as well.

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