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Google Reads Javascript – Yahoo and Bing, not so much.

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At the bottom of this blog, I was linking to on site pages with nonsense words.  These were completely made up words that have no rankings whatsoever.  I was only using javascript to link to these pages.


As an SEO we’re bred to think that javascript is bad. More than 2 years ago Google came out and said they were starting to follow these javascript links. Google knows that to better serve their users, they’re going to have to learn to understand this integrated language. They know not all webmasters are SEOs; in all honesty, I’m sure they don’t want them to be! Since many sites were heavily developed in javascript, especially for dynamic navigations, Google had to overcome.

And they did. The tests in the footer of this site showed it. Not only could Google index my pages that had the anchor text in them, but they could also index the thin destination pages. And they did so within 3 hours! Hey, they did say they’re obsessed with speed this year.


The Simple Experiment

I tried:

<a href=”javascript:var‘’)”>callicamally</a>


I also tried:

<script type=”text/javascript”>document.write(“<a href=’’>sporgieborgi</a>”);</script>


Finally I tried:

<script type=”text/javascript”>var str = “blankimankorati”;document.write(“”));</script>

Again, Success! I’m pretty satisfied with Google here. Bing and Yahoo? Not so much – they were only able to index the page with the anchor text. And even then, not every time.  But they never claimed to be able to (that I’m aware of).

Now this isn’t surprising to some groups of SEOs, but it really is interesting how often I still hear old SEO recommendations as being critical today.  Granted, this test isn’t exhaustive (the actual PageRank associated through JS links wasn’t tested – just crawlability), but it’s valid.  I think some SEOs really need to get caught up to Google, and start implementing what really matters – user value, context, authority, recommendation, and community.  Whatever you want to call it (SEO 2.0 or not), the wave is starting to build right now – get in front of it, and down shift on the old school SEO tactics.

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    The comments are do-follow. However, any comments that use keyword anchor text as the name will be removed.

    1. Brent Nau
      March 2, 2010

      Bill – I tend to believe that the Google crawls any http:// link (even just plain old text). Interesting that Yahoo and Bing can not determine that there is a link buried in the JS.


      • Bill Sebald
        March 2, 2010

        It would make sense for a sophisticated algorithm to want to follow links even if they’re not properly coded (ie, plain old text with http://). Interesting thought.


    2. Bill Sebald
      March 2, 2010

      It would make sense for a sophisticated algorithm to want to follow links even if they’re not properly coded (ie, plain old text with http://). Interesting thought.


    3. Jim Singer
      March 8, 2010

      This is a great test. I’ve actually been wondering about this lately because I was noticing that navigations that used onclicks to control spiders didn’t appear to be influencing the Google spiders. So much for my short cut.


    4. mark gupta
      April 19, 2010

      I was wondering what tool you used to access weather or not Google and the other engines indexed the site.


    5. Bill Sebald
      April 21, 2010

      No tool. Just searched each nonsense term in quotes.


    6. SEO Tips Forum
      May 17, 2010

      Interesting read. I guess thats why Google is number 1 eh? I notice for my sites that Google always has so many more pages indexed than Yahoo and Bing. I guess Google will be top dawg for a little while longer.
      .-= SEO Tips Forum´s last blog ..Creating Backlinks and its importance in Search Engine Optimization =-.


    7. Roberto
      December 12, 2010

      Interesting. But what about links inside a javascript code?
      Let’s say I have this code on my web page:

      script type=”text/javascript” src=”http://script.js”>

      and in script.js I have this:

      document.write(‘a href=>super keyword‘);

      Will Google be able to *read* this link?


    8. Bill Sebald
      December 12, 2010

      @Roberto – I didn’t test for that, but from what I’ve read, my understanding is no, Google is not likely to follow that.

      If you’re trying to hide links or content from Google, maybe to speed load time, or hide affiliate links (if you’re in the camp that thinks Google may devalue sites with a lot of affiliate links), then I guess you could try that route.

      The point of this article was to say that standard Javascript implementations (for a navigation perhaps) that many SEOs still freak out about, may not be worth the “freak out” anymore. But you raise a good question here. I would imagine Google would want to learn to crawl it though, so it can get a better idea of what’s really going on in the site.


    9. Gael Metais
      August 22, 2012

      Hi, just like you, I noticed recently that Google can execute javascript to parse text.

      I encrypted some words on my website (such as my email to avoid getting spammed), and it appears uncrypted in the google results page, in the preview snippet.

      That’s really annoying, I’d like to make sure google doesn’t read it.