If you want it done right, you’ll have to do it yourself. That seems to be the sentiment of Google as it relates to rendering content on your website.
In other words: don’t rely on third-party APIs to help you earn a great rank in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Google’s Martin Splitt explained why in a recent Search Off The Record podcast.
Much to Disqus
In case you missed the news, there was a bit of a stir in the SEO community recently when digital marketers noticed that Google wasn’t indexing content from Disqus (pronounced “discuss”).
Disqus is a third-party tool that enables website visitors to post comments. It’s one way that some webmasters keep visitors coming back to the same page over and over again.
So why did Google suddenly stop indexing blog comments from Disqus? Well, that turned out to be a bug in Google’s system that the search giant quickly corrected.
But the whole episode opened the door to a larger discussion.
During the podcast, Splitt mentioned a few things that can go wrong when you rely on a third-party, client-side tool to render content on your site:
- You don’t have control over the content
- High-load situations could prevent Googlebot from making requests to the third-party
So what’s the solution? Do everything on the server-side.
The Nature of APIs
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are services that define various types of input and output interactions. They generally work on both the client-side and the server-side.
But it also means you’re relying on client-side rendering for content. As we’ve seen just above, that’s not a good idea.
If you want to be more certain that the content gets rendered correctly, move the API interactions to the server-side. Then, you can publish the content as though it were your own.
Of course, that requires the assistance of a professional developer. If your expertise is digital marketing, it’s not likely that you can handle the task yourself.
A word of caution, though: even if you move your client-side integration to the server, you could still experience some problems. For example, if the third-party server is down, you won’t get any content and that could certainly spell trouble for SEO.
Still a Problem?
During the same podcast, Google’s John Mueller asked Splitt if it was a bad idea, in general, to rely on third parties for content.
“It’s an okay idea to rely on third parties,” he replied. “You just have to be careful and you have to understand that in the browser, you have very little control over what happens and how it happens.”
Splitt also said it’s a bad idea to rely on Googlebot to do the “heavy lifting.” In other words, don’t count on Google to crawl third-party content hosted on another site. Instead, just render the content on your own site so Googlebot doesn’t have to go anywhere else to find it.
Wrapping It Up
Moving your APIs to the server-side isn’t a foolproof solution. And you might find that it’s more trouble than it’s worth.
Still, if you rely on blog comments to help you build rank, it’s an option you should at least consider.