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Google's Javascript Announcement & Framework Growth

by on May 28, 2014
Last updated on
Google dropped a noteworthy announcement: they will be indexing Javascript content. While this is important news across the web, it is especially notable for developers who had, up till now, been forced to choose between using modern web development techniques and the requirements of indexability.

As they themselves state:
Traditionally, we were only looking at the raw textual content that we'd get in the HTTP response body and didn't really interpret what a typical browser running JavaScript would see.
In other words, they would use the initial text loaded on the page as the indexed content. If you were running a page built substantially (with Javascript) after the initial delivery your indexable content may not have been more than the "Loading..." placeholder text.

It has been known that Google has already been indexing at least some Javascript content. How much and the process for doing so is a standard Google Mystery™. It would not be out-of-character to believe this has been their Javascript indexing undergoing a lengthy beta process and these existing partial Javascript indexings the result. Developers were not able to rely on Javascript generated content being interpreted into the index as Google did not acknowledge the extent of their capabilities in this area.

This has always created development tension, do you use modern development techniques to improve your website or do you stick to techniques you know are friendly to search engine crawlers? Google themselves has been sponsoring a Javascript framework for dynamic pages, while simultaneously preventing many sites from being able to take advantage of it without risking their position in the Google index. Not the first time we have seen mixed messages from Google when it comes to their recommended development techniques vs. their web crawler's own interpretation.

Until now the question was: Do you use Javascript to make your website better performing? or do you stick to pre-rendered content for the sake of the Google website crawler? This announcement fundamentally changes things and represents a major shift for developers in crafting SEO friendly websites. Suddenly, single page websites and other Javascript-heavy application are now becoming first-class citizens in the Google index. This removes the single largest obstacle to the widespread adoption of these types of Javascript frameworks. You can expect to see the adoption of these frameworks, which is already exploding, to grow even faster.

One would have to think the Javascript framework to watch from a SEO perspective would be Google's own AngularJS. Not to accuse the Google index of favoring any specific version of a technology over another, but their crawler may find itself more comfortable interpreting information from familiar technologies.

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