Javascript and SEO, cats and dogs, or a blooming love?

There are not many SEO’s out there that say they prefer JS over plain HTML for SEO. But at our last edition of Friends of Search in Amsterdam, we had Martin Splitt over who had a compelling talk about the power of JS and how far Google is in understanding, rendering, and correctly indexing JS.

Because we see more and more JS, all kinds of scripts and methods we needed to ask Martin again to come and speak in 2020 also! It’s great that we can welcome him on our stages again on the 4th and the 5th of February in Amsterdam and Brussels.
We had the chance to do a small Interview with Martin to pick his mind and grab some extra inside Googlers’ knowledge ?.

For those who have lived under stones the last years, what should they all know about Martin?

Well, I’m working in the Webmaster Trends Analysts team at Google in Zurich, Switzerland, and I focus on JavaScript, rendering, and crawling & indexing. I’ve done a bunch of Youtube videos, help with the docs and do a bunch of talks at events like this ?

What was it that tricked young Martin into getting into code and online? And eventually ending up at Google?

I loved LEGO, but you tend to run out of pieces, or your creations need pieces that don’t exist. Computers don’t have these limitations – you can build a bunch of cool stuff if you try hard enough. And doing that for a couple of years, I realized the most exciting thing about it isn’t the puzzles you solve or the things you build, but the people you meet, talk to and work with. The treasure is the friends you make along the way. And that eventually landed me here…

Your presentation last year was swelling! We are curious about all the new Javascript stuff that you will blow our minds with this year. A short intro?

Awww, stop it ? We’re doing this interview in December 2019. I am very, very bad at predicting the future, but I’ll make sure it’s interesting ?

In-depth: Pages are first crawled by Google and rendered later. How much time is in between, and what does this depend on?

That depends on a bunch of things. At the median, the time is 5 seconds and within minutes for the 90th percentile of pages.

And as a webmaster, how can you ensure that the time in the ‘rendering queue’ is as short as possible?

There’s nothing you can do about this. Don’t worry. We’re on it for you.

But we want to know and control. So we stick to this subject ?. Without checking server logs, it is not easy to see whether a page has already been rendered. How can you see when a crawled page is out of the “rendering queue?” Any plans for a report in Search Console?

Not really – you can see when something is in the index, but you don’t get to see rendering or the rendering queue specifically.

Google’s cache does contain the raw HTML version of a page, not the rendered one. Why is that?

The cache is provided as-is. It’s been in maintenance for a while now. It’s just a cache – not a particularly useful SEO tool. No idea why everyone continues to pretend it is.

Javascript is regularly used for fast user experience. Javascript websites are often classified as slow by Page Speed Insights, but are not slow in the user’s experience. Is this an issue which results in less good ranking in Google’s search results?

I don’t comment on ranking. (we could have guessed ?)

Do you advise people to get started with JavaScript, or do you prefer another programming language for indexing websites in Google?

Use whatever tool works for what you’re trying to build. If that’s JavaScript – go for it. I also think it makes sense to know and understand JavaScript as it’s quite a powerful tool to do things in the browser.

Do you think in the future Google will increasingly behave like a real user? For example, scrolling to better understand websites that use infinite scroll.

I’d rather not make predictions, but I think behaving like a real user is the goal. Not sure if we need to scroll for that or if there’s other ways of getting what we need to get from the page ?

No Javascript in 2021, and you’re doomed?

Nah, I might switch careers and become a magician or just do something else in the software or hardware space ?

You recently dyed your hair pink. The color of the Netherlands is orange. Do you see any possibility?

I want to highlight that I sometimes wear an orange squid hat, just saying.

You are great! Thanks a million Martin, we are looking forward to your presentation at Friends of Search 2020 and would love to see your orange Squid hat!

Haha, thanks! My pleasure!