One of the challenges of creating an SEO-friendly website is that search engines look at websites in a different way than ordinary people. Google doesn’t use human reviewers to check the content of every site on the internet, that would take forever and be extremely expensive. Instead, Google uses automatic bots that crawl sites to index the content. Recently, Google has been testing an updated version of Googlebot-enabled tools that let website owners see their site the way Google does.
Because Google uses bots to index the content on a website, website owners need to build their sites in a way that bots can understand. Depending on the coding tactics used, a website may look different to a bot than it does to a person. When this happens, the bot may misread content or assume that elements belong in a different order. Discrepancies between what people see and what a Googlebot sees can hamper SEO efforts.
Though Google doesn’t tell people how the company’s algorithms work, they have a tool that allows SEO marketers to see their site the way a Googlebot sees it. Website owners can use this tool to modify the code of their site, so it looks the same to Google as it does to an ordinary user.
Around three months ago, Google launched an updated version of its Googlebot, which some dubbed the “Evergreen Googlebot.” This updated crawler used the latest version of Chromium. So the Googlebot and Chrome were using the same rendering engine. Though the change was announced months ago, a more official test and rollout began last week.
In a post explaining the update, Google wrote, “Today we updated most of our testing tools, so they are using the evergreen Chromium renderer. This affects our testing tools like the mobile-friendly test or the URL inspection tool in Search Console.”
Thanks to the change, websites using ES6+, Web Components, and 1000+ new web platform features are now rendered with the latest stable Chromium, both in Googlebot and on testing tools that Google makes available to website owners. The update will affect the Search Console’s URL inspection tool, the Mobile-friendly test, the Rich results test, and the AMP test. This list notably skips the user agent, which is likely to be updated in the future.
According to the team of engineers who wrote the post for Google, “The new Googlebot still uses the same user agent as before the update. There will be more information about an update to the user agent in the near future. For now, Googlebot’s user agent and the user agent used in the testing tools does not change.”
SEO marketers depend on Google’s testing tools to ensure their sites are getting the best possible exposure on Google properties. Ensuring that these tools reflect the most recent version of the Googlebot allows SEO marketers to trust the results from these tests.
For more recent news about updates and changes to Google, read this article on a recent update to the snippet algorithm that allows for more recent answer cards.