Fetch and Horror: 3 examples of how fetch and render in GSC can reveal big SEO problems

In May 2014, some powerful functionality debuted in the “fetch as Google” feature in Google Search Console — the ability to fetch and render.

When you ask Google to fetch and render, its crawler will fetch all necessary resources so it can accurately render a page, including images, CSS and JavaScript. Google then provides a preview snapshot of what Googlebot sees versus what a typical user sees. That’s important to know, since sites could be inadvertently blocking resources, which could impact how much content gets rendered.

Adding fetch and render was a big deal, since it helps reveal issues with how content is being indexed. With this functionality, webmasters can ensure that Googlebot is able to fetch all necessary resources in order for the render to be accurate; with many webmasters disallowing important directories and files via robots.txt, Googlebot might be seeing a limited view of the page.

As former Googler Pierre Far said at the time, “By blocking crawling of CSS and JS, you’re actively harming the indexing of your pages.”

Pierre Far Fetch and Render

Therefore, a technical audit isn’t a technical audit if it doesn’t include testing pages using fetch and render. Using the tool in Google Search Console (GSC), you can test both Google’s desktop and smartphone crawlers to see how Googlebot is rendering each page on your site.

I’ll cover more about the mobile situation later in this post, but for now, I’ll focus on what can happen when you block resources. After checking your own pages, you might just look like this:

SEO Double Take

Credit: Giphy

Let’s take a closer look at three examples I’ve come across during my SEO travels.

[Read the full article on Search Engine Land.]

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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