SEO News Roundup: Tests Confirm Google Can Crawl JavaScript Links, Dynamic Content & More

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From Google’s JavaScript-crawling capabilities to a possible Panda update, Tom Williams digs deep into the world of search engine optimisation news…

Google is Able to Crawl and Index JavaScript Content, Tests Confirm

For a while now, Google has been telling us how it’s gotten better at crawling and rendering websites as users see them – especially with its recent focus on the mobile web.

However, until now, we haven’t known exactly how good Google is at crawling JavaScript and dynamically generated website content.

Let’s all say a big ‘thanks’ to Adam Audette, then, for putting Google’s JavaScript crawling capabilities to the test – and sharing his results at Search Engine Land.

Audette's page to test Google's JavaScript crawling capabilities. A page Audette used to test how Google crawled JavaScript. Source: Search Engine Land.

Audette found that Google is able to execute and index JavaScript, as well as render entire pages and read any dynamically generated content – in other words, Google is very good at crawling websites as users see them.

He also discovered that Google honours SEO signals in the DOM (Document Object Model) – the API that lets browsers assemble dynamic content.

Audette tested the following elements, and found that Google was able to execute/crawl/index them without problems:

  • JavaScript links
  • JavaScript redirects
  • JavaScript ‘nofollows’
  • Dynamically inserted content
  • Dynamically inserted page elements and meta data

Google Will Now Optimise Your Pages For Slow Mobile Connections (But You Can Opt Out)

Last month, Google launched a ‘lite’ version of its mobile search interface for users with slow connections. Now, it’s going one step further – by automatically optimising the webpages these results point to.

Announced late last month, the feature promises to use an average 80% less data, leading to load times that are four times faster than usual. The user-friendly format has led to an average 50% increase in page views, in Google’s tests.

Don’t want your website to undergo this optimisation process? Google says users can follow a link to view the original version of the page, and if you really don’t want to be included in the programme, you can opt out.

The feature is currently undergoing a ‘field test’ in Indonesia. There’s no word as yet on when – or if – it will roll out in other territories.

Tweets Are Now Appearing in Google Search, As Part of ‘Small Experiment’

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo recently confirmed that its ‘firehose’ of tweets would be plugged in to Google’s search results this month, giving the search engine live access to its 500 million daily tweets.

Now these tweets are showing up in mobile search results, as part of a ‘small experiment’ which only some users are seeing.

The tweets integrate with ‘trending topics’ in search, and look like this:

Google and Twitter signed a deal in February to allow Google access to Twitter’s live content stream. It remains to be seen whether Google will roll this test out in live search, or if it plans to experiment further with Twitter integration.

A Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land:

As mentioned in Twitter’s earnings call back in January, we’ve partnered to bring their real-time content to Google Search. We’ve started some small experiments in mobile search, but we don’t have more to announce at this point.

Google Explains Why Mobile-Friendly Update Wasn’t As Impactful as Expected

This will be old news for anyone following Google’s mobile-friendly update, but in case you missed it: The update has now fully rolled out, and Google has partly explained why it didn’t cause the ‘mobilegeddon’ many were expecting.

On Friday May 1, Google’s Gary Illyes confirmed on Twitter that the update had rolled out, and wrote:

There were a load of sites that became MF [mobile-friendly] recently, so the actual number of sites affected decreased considerably.

For more on this story, read our news post.

Was There a Panda Update Earlier This Month? Google Says No

In more ‘Google update’ news, many webmasters noticed ranking fluctuations around the start of this month – leading some to speculate that there was an algorithm update.

MozCast, a tool that measures Google ranking fluctuations as a ‘temperature’, hit highs of 91° on May 3 – a level that would usually indicate some sort of update was happening.

MozCast weather report showing high of 91 degrees.

SEO David Naylor speculated on his blog that the update may be Panda-related:

With indications seemingly high that there was a ‘black and white force' at play over the weekend, this could symbolise that Google have finally gotten around to updating their Google Panda dataset, something that we know was overdue after the lack of suggestion that the algorithm had been updated as well as a comment by John Mueller of Google, who said that he thought that the last time the data was drawn was "in October" during a webmaster hangout back in March 2015.

However, despite the evidence, Google has confirmed there was no webspam update over that weekend.

So perhaps the update was related to something else? In other words, it wasn’t related to link or content spam, and could be an entirely new algorithm.

Or, perhaps it was just a glitch.

Search Analytics Report Officially Launches in Google Webmaster Tools

On Wednesday, Google officially rolled out Search Analytics in Webmaster Tools – the report that will soon replace the old Search Queries report.

Search Analytics works much like Search Queries – it lets you see search queries that brought visitors to your site. However, it provides more accurate data than the old report, as well as new ways to filter and report on data.

For example, the report now lets you compare desktop and mobile traffic, and see impressions broken down by country.

Search Analytics report showing impressions by country. Search Analytics report showing impressions by country. Click for full version. Source: Google Webmaster Central Blog.

Search Queries will still be available alongside Search Analytics for three months, as Google says it “[understands] that some of you will still need to use the old report”.

Goodbye Google Emojis, You Left Us All Too Soon

Last month, people noticed Google had begun displaying emojis in desktop search results. But they’re not going to be around for long, according to Google’s John Mueller.

In a Google+ webmaster hangout, Mueller was asked whether he saw overuse of emojis in search as causing problems. He replied:

I thought that looked really cool when I saw the first pages that were using that, but I think it’s really easy to overdo that. And it’s probably something we’ll have to [take action on].

By taking action, I don’t think we’ll manually demote these sites that are using it. But rather we’ll figure out a way to just filter those symbols out of the search results. […] We do that for a lot of existing Unicode symbols already, so that’s something where I imagine we’ll just be expanding that list over time.

So it’s definitely not something I’d recommend to as a strategy going forward. […] Soon they won’t be shown at all, so it’s kind of a waste of time.

Goodbye desktop emojis, we hardly knew you.

Another Google Mobile Search Experiment – Colourful Dots!

Google has been testing lots of visual tweaks to its mobile search interface recently. The latest one to be tested is a series of coloured dots in the lower-right-hand corner of a search result card.

Search Engine Land reports that these dots appeared on Google mobile results for a user searching on an Android device in Kazakhstan.

The dots don’t do anything special, apparently – when you press them, they just take you through to the listed site.

70 New Apps Added to Google Now

Google has added 70 new Now cards to Google Now, integrating with Android apps like Zipcar, Spotify and YouTube.

For a full list of the apps currently available on Google Now, go here.

More Search Engine Optimisation News and Advice

Read our previous SEO news roundup: Mobilegeddon Winners and Losers

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