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Deliver search-friendly web applications

In their “Deliver search-friendly JavaScript-powered websites” presentation at Google I/O 2018, Tom Greenaway and John Mueller shared details on how Google’s search crawler works and talked about the best practicies to build indexable sites and web applications.

  • There are over 130 trillon (10¹²) documents on the web (as of Jully 2016).
  • Googlebot no longer crawls hashbang URLs.
  • The rendering of JavaScript websites in Google is deferred until resources become available to process the content.
  • It is recommended to detect Googlebot on the server by user-agent string and send a complete “dynamically rendered” HTML document back.
  • There are tools available for dynamic rendering, such as Puppeteer or Rendertron.
  • The Googlebot uses Chrome 41 to render JavaScript websites. That version of Chrome was released in 2015 and does not support ES6.
  • Search Console allows you to view HTML rendered by Googlebot and review JavaScript exceptions and console logs.
  • If your website uses lazy loading images, add a noscript tag around a normal image tag to make sure Googlebot will pick them up.
  • Googlebot does not index images referenced through CSS.
  • Googlebot crawls and renders pages in a stateless way, it does not support Service workers, local and session storage, Cookies, Cache API and etc.
  • Google plans to bring rendering closer to crawling and indexing and make Googlebot use a modern version of Chrome.