Home > Articles > Home & Office Computing > The Web/Virtual Worlds/Social Networking

The Importance of the New Googlebot

  • Print
  • + Share This
We have always advised search marketers to limit the use of JavaScript. Why? If content or other assets are hidden within JavaScript or other kinds of scripts, the crawler couldn’t unlock their hidden secrets. Google recently announced that its crawler can “see” inside JavaScript and AJAX code. How does search marketing change in the wake of this announcement? Web specialist and self-proclaimed IBMer James Mathewson (author of Audience, Relevance, and Search: Targeting Web Audiences with Relevant Content) has some ideas.
Like this article? We recommend

IBM has a lot of content—millions of URLs supporting thousands of offerings, hundreds of solutions, and dozens of industries. The company for which I serve as search strategy lead publishes in more than 90 countries and some 50 languages. It has a diverse audience from administrators to CEOs and every business role in between.

No matter what the role, every member of the ibm.com audience is time-challenged and attention-starved. To speed up their information tasks, the overwhelming majority of them use search. According to a recent study by TechTarget, search is the leading venue our audience uses to do their research.

Developing a content strategy that tends to optimize this massive content footprint for our audience’s search behaviors is not optional. But the sheer size and complexity of IBM’s content footprint makes optimizing the collection extremely challenging.

One of the few ways we can better manage our content inventory is by building reusable content components that can be assembled dynamically. But the very thing that could help us present less cluttered experiences to users and search crawlers also limits us. Until very recently, search spiders primarily ignored content served within scripts or other dynamic content applications such as AJAX. Why? Because they couldn’t execute scripts to “see” inside them.

I say “until recently” because Google just released a version of its spider that can “see” into JavaScript and other applications to find relevant content. To quote the Twitter feed of Google’s search quality chief Matt Cutts, "Googlebot keeps getting smarter. Now has the ability to execute AJAX/JavaScript to index some dynamic comments."

The context of the quote was Cutts’ confirmation that Google now indexes some Facebook comments. He seemed clear that the new function of Googlebot—the spider that crawls through sites looking for content—is deployed for this special purpose. Still, this is big news. If Googlebot can crawl through dynamic content, it is not hard to imagine a day sometime soon when it will do this pervasively.

When that day comes, search marketers and content strategists will have a much easier time improving user experiences with dynamic content. This article helps these folks prepare for that day in terms of three examples in the ibm.com environment.

Using JavaScript to Reduce Broken Links

One of the most difficult things about managing such a large content footprint is broken links. We try to be aggressive with retiring old content. But this often causes pages that link to the retired content to serve up error messages to users who click those links. Broken links not only cause usability problems, but they’re embarrassing to the brand.

One solution to this problem was to build an application called the Merchandizing Trading Exchange (MTE) tool. Originally built to help teams dynamically share merchandizing modules between relevant pages, teams quickly learned it could be used to serve relevant links on pages without the threat of broken links. If a page is retired within MTE, the modules that have that link embedded within them automatically delete the link without further maintenance from the content team. Figure 1 shows an example.

Figure 1 A typical MTE module on ibm.com

MTE has significantly reduced broken links, but it has had an adverse affect on our search results. We used to get credit for all the hard-coded links we developed between pages in our environment. These links are not as valuable as external links into our pages. But ibm.com is a valued domain whose links provide some equity, or link juice. Also, it is easier to request a relevant link from a colleague in a sister brand or business unity than it is from an external third party such as a publication.

When page owners stopped hard-coding links in favor of using MTE to dynamically render links, they lost that link equity. Why? Because MTE is built in JavaScript. There really is no way to build such a dynamic widget without a scripting language. But Googlebot (and all other crawlers) could not index these links because crawlers can’t execute code.

If Googlebot can now execute JavaScript code, it will have a huge impact on ibm.com search results. Suddenly, pages that look like orphans to the crawler, because all the links into it and out of it are built in JavaScript, will look like they belong to a family of relevant pages. Tens of millions of links for which IBM currently gets no credit will suddenly show up in Google’s index.

The other benefit will be to our efforts to reduce broken links. Because page owners often care more about search results than broken links, they continue to hard-code a lot of their links within the white space of their pages rather than use MTE. When Googlebot crawls links within MTE, that practice should be phased out.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020