Bartosz Góralewicz • Published: 14 May 2017 • Edited: 07 Oct 2022
Seeing content in Google Cache doesn’t mean it is indexed by Google.
If you want to know which frameworks work well with SEO, but don’t want to go through the experiment’s documentation, click here to scroll straight to the results section and see the charts presenting the data.
Why I Created This Experiment
I believe Google’s announcement was widely misunderstood. Let me explain why.
Most developers reference this section of Google’s blog post :
In the same article, you will find a few more statements that are quite interesting, yet overlooked:
Sometimes things don’t go perfectly during rendering, which may negatively impact search results for your site.
Angular U conference, June 22-25, 2015, Hyatt Regency, San Francisco Airport
“Angular 2 Server Rendering”
If you search for any competitive keyword terms, it’s always gonna be server rendered sites. And the reason is because, although Google does index client rendered HTML, it’s not perfect yet and other search engines don’t do it as well. So if you care about SEO, you still need to have server-rendered content.
Jeff Whelpley was working with Tobias Bosch on server rendering for Angular 2. Tobias Bosch is a software engineer at Google who is part of the Angular core team and works on Angular 2.
[UPDATE: Google acknowledged that they use Chrome 41 for rendering . It has since made the debugging process a lot easier and faster.]
This experiment is the first step in providing clear, actionable data on how to work with websites based on the JS framework used.
Now that we have discussed the why of this test, let’s look at how we set it up.
Setting Up the Website
The core of the website was coded 100% in HTML to make sure it is fully crawlable and indexable. It gets interesting when you open one of the subpages:
At this point, our experiment was more or less ready to go. All we needed now was content.
Our “Hello World” pages got indexed a few hours after we launched the website. To make sure there was some unique content we could “feed” Googlebot, I decided to hire artificial intelligence to write the article for us. To do that, we used Articoloo , which generates amazing content written by AI.
I decided the theme of our articles would be based on popular tourist destinations.
Having indexed content is only half the battle, though. A website’s architecture can only work properly if Googlebot can follow the internal and external links.
Let me show you an example:
To make it even easier to track, the links pointed to the *framework*/test/ URLs.
The link generated by the Angular 2 page ( https://jsseo.expert/angular2/ ) would point to https://jsseo.expert/angular2/t e s t/ (spaces added to avoid messing up the experiment with a live link!). This made it really easy to track how Googlebot crawls /test/ URLs. The links weren’t accessible to Googlebot in any other form (external links, sitemaps, GSC fetch etc.).
To track if Googlebot visited those URLs, we tracked the server logs in Loggly.com . This way, I would have a live preview of what was being crawled by Googlebot while my log data history would be safely stored on the server.
Next, I created an alert to be notified about visits to any */test/ URL from any known Google IP addresses.
The methodology for the experiment was dead simple. To make sure we measured everything precisely and to avoid false positives or negatives:
We had a plain HTML page as a reference to make sure Googlebot could fully access our website, content, etc.
We tracked server logs. Tools – Loggly for a live preview + full server logs stored on the server (Loggly has limited log retention time).
We carefully tracked the website’s uptime to make sure it was accessible for Googlebot. Tools – NewRelic, Onpage.org, Statuscake.
We made sure all resources (CSS, JS) were fully accessible for Googlebot.
All http://jsseo.expert/*FRAMEWORK-NAME*/test/ URLs were set to noindex, follow, and we carefully tracked if Googlebot visited any of /test/ pages via custom alerts setup in Loggly.com.
We kept this experiment secret while gathering the data (to prevent someone from sharing the test URL on social or fetching it as Googlebot to mess with our results). Of course, we couldn’t control crawlers, scrapers and organic traffic hitting the website after it got indexed in Google.
After getting feedback on this experiment from John Mueller and seeing different results across different browsers/devices, we won’t be continuing to look at cache data while proceeding with this experiment. It doesn’t reflect Googlebot’s crawling or indexing abilities.
After collecting all the data, we created a simple methodology to analyze all the findings pouring in.
Fetch and render via Google Search Console – does it render properly?
Is the URL indexed by Google?
Is the URL’s content visible in Google’s cache?
Are the links displayed properly in Google’s cache?
Search for unique content from the framework’s page.
Check if ”*framework*/test/” URL was crawled.
Let’s go through this checklist by looking at the Angular 2 framework. If you want to follow the same steps, check out the framework’s URL here.
1. Fetch and render via Google Search Console – does it render properly?
[UPDATE 09/28/2017: It turned out that because of errors in the Angular.io Quickstart that we populated in our experiment, Google was not able to render this page.
In the Angular.io Quickstart, there were examples of a code written in ES6 syntax: “let resolvedURL = url”. Google Web Rendering service doesn’t support ES6, so it was not able to render the code. It was not only Google, as Internet Explorer