The boxes below illustrate how Google processes URLs:
Let’s break this down…
Crawl Queue – This is essentially a list of URLs that need to be crawled. The list gets updated as Googlebot discovers new URLs.
Crawler – Googlebot crawls the URLs within the queue and makes the HTML requests.
Render Queue – Similar to the crawl queue, this is essentially Googles queue of pages that need to be rendered.
Rendering – Google renders pages from the render queue. As it renders these into HTML, it passes them back to the HTML processing, where it will then again analyse the rendered HTML and place new URLs found into the crawl queue.
Indexing – Google analyses the pages content to determine its relevance and places URLs into its index.
Ranking – Google matches search queries to pages in the index and ranks them in search results against all ranking metrics.
- It’s an additional step Google needs to undertake before indexing and ranking your page.
- The rate at which Google renders is dependent on render budget.
There are a few things you can do. You can check your pages in Search Console with the URL inspect tool or the Mobile Friendly SEO test. Using either of these, you can look to compare what is visible in the browser against what is being rendered in these tools. Essentially, you can see what Google is seeing and crawling. Any differences signifies that there is an issue.
There are also extensions you can use, such as view rendered source, to visually compare what has been preloaded and what has been loaded within the browser.
HTML – It’s important to remember that Googlebot crawls HTML with priority. Delivering all the key SEO elements upon Google’s first wave of crawling is key to ensuring that indexing and ranking of the page is done as efficiently as possible. And if Google needs to render your site, make sure all key HTML elements are pre-loaded.
Meta Data – Ensure that elements such as meta titles and essential content are loaded and delivered upon the first wave of crawling.
Navigational Elements – Implement navigational elements so that they are also pre loaded. Navigational contextual links not only help Google understand relevance, but also help treacle link equity and PageRank through the site. Waiting for Google to render will slow down the growth and ranking of key category pages which Google does not see within its first wave of crawling.
One of the most important elements to ensure no changes are made in the rendered version are canonicals. John Mueller has previously stated that Google only fetch the pre-rendered version, while Martin Splitt has confirmed that mixed signals such as these will leave Google to guess which version should be honoured.
What’s the ideal solution?
An alternative solution would be dynamic rendering. This practice provides users and bots different versions of the webpage. Crawlers are provided a rendered version of the webpage whilst users will load their version in the browser.
Google is always evolving, and there’s no doubt crawling and rendering technologies will develop further. However, as it currently stands, Google needs additional help in order to be able to fully understand what’s happening on your brand’s site. Otherwise, you could be risking not appearing for the searches that matter to your business.