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Panda 4.0 Fix: Unblock CSS and JavaScript from Google Fetching

The search engine giant frequently updates its algorithm to keep returning high quality results to its users’ search queries. Panda 4.0 update was aimed at trashing out low quality content.

Joost de Valk, the brains behind the popular WordPress SEO tool Yoast, uncovered that many sites got hit and drop down in search traffic by 50% after the roll-out of panda 4.0. Anyway, It's observed that many sites that were hit hard by Google’s Panda 4.0 update returned to their normal rankings within a week after unblocking their CSS and JavaScript.

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Google Inc employee John Mueller responded to a query by a webmaster via the Google Webmaster Help. Here's his response:

“Allowing crawling of JavaScript and CSS makes it a lot easier for us to recognize your site’s content and to give your site the credit that it deserves for that content. For example, if you’re pulling in content via AJAX/JSON feeds, that would be invisible to us if you disallowed crawling of your JavaScript. Similarly, if you’re using CSS to handle a responsive design that works fantastically on smartphones, we wouldn’t be able to recognize that if the CSS were disallowed from crawling. This is why we make the recommendation to allow crawling of URLs that significantly affect the layout or content of a page. I’m not sure which JavaScript snippet you’re referring to, but it sounds like it’s not the kind that would be visible at all. If you’re seeing issues, they would be unrelated to that piece of JavaScript being blocked from crawling."

It's now obvious that search engines don't want us to block our CSS and JavaScript from search bot. If the search engine is unable to render the CSS and JavaScript, it won’t be able to determine where the ads on your web page are. The page layout algorithms update helps Google to check how many ads you have above the fold. If you have too many, it can seriously hurt your rankings.

This is also confirmed by Maile ohye at the SMX Advanced few weeks back, stating that: Google recommends websites to make sure that Googlebot can access all embedded resources that contribute to the site’s visible content or Its layout. Now what we need to be mindful of is how Google see our website's?

How Google See Website?

Google introduced a new feature called "fetch and render" on the fetch as Google page in its Webmaster Tools. This feature was introduced just a week after the search engine giant rolled out its Panda 4.0 update. You can now see how your site appears to Google with the help of this new feature, and by following:
  • Login to your Google Webmaster Tools account.
  • Choose the site you want to unblock
  • Go to "Crawl" > "Fetch as Google"
  • Click on "Fetch and Render" and click on "/" in the latest entry below.

Now you should see your site only in HTML format, with the search crawlers leaving your styles and script behind the scene. But there is nothing to worry about, all we need to do is to make our CSS and JavaScript visible to the search crawler's.

Unblocking CSS and JavaScript

Since Google already stated that Google wants you to make sure that Googlebot can access all embedded resources that contribute to your site's layout and visible content. Now you can make all your embedded resources visible to search engine by following the below steps:
  • Edit your Robots.txt file
  • Include the below code in your Robots.txt file.

User-agent: Googlebot
# Allow all files ending with these extensions
Allow: /*.js$
Allow: /*.css$

  • Save your changes and you are done.

Now re-fetch your site again and see search crawler's accessing your CSS and JavaScript.

Note: Google blog publishers (Blogger) have nothing to worry about. This fix is applicable only to WordPress and other platforms.

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