How Web Widgets Affect SEO

When inserting web widgets one must consider the potential impact on SEO as a lot of client side widgets are not visible to search engine crawlers due to the fact that they are rendered in Flash or Javascript.

However in recent years Google has developed and improved their crawlers to better understand Javascript content and this has lead to a lot more indexed and ranking content that webmasters weren’t aware of.

A recent study of what Javascript elements are indexed was undertaken over at Search Engine Land(1) and the results were fascinating and not completely expected.

Here is a list of every Javascript element that was tested and the results:

  1. Javascript Redirects – These were followed by google and it was noted that they can even act as a 301 redirect when looking at it from a technical point of view.
  2. Javascript Links – Perhaps the most surprising of all the tests conducted, it appeared that Google crawled all of the links and they behaved in the same manner as DoFollow links. Three different code snippets were tested to cover as many potential variations and in all three instances the links were crawled and treated as DoFollow.
  3. Dynamically Inserted Content – This is arguably the most interesting result which has come from this experiment due to the fact that dynamically generated content is quite prominent across a lot of web widgets. The results found that Google crawled and ranked the website for the content that was crawled within the content that Javascript had dynamically generated.
  4. Dynamically Inserting Meta Data and page elements – The following elements were inserted using Javascript: Meta Title, Meta Description, Meta Robots and Canonical Tags. The result was that they were crawled by Google and behaved in the same way as their HTML counterparts.

What does this all mean for Javascript web widgets?

It appears that Google has rapidly upgraded and improved their search engine to keep up with the latest web technologies and practices. This could be troublesome for some websites which revolve around using a large amount of web widgets because it appears that Javascript content as a whole is crawled and indexed where appropriate.

What can I do?

You need to make sure that any Javascript web widgets do not dynamically generate duplicated content because this will be crawled and indexed by Google which could lead to webpages being held back in SERP’s (Search Engine Ranking Pages).

Most importantly though you have to treat content in Javascript web widgets as if it were typical content you would find in the body of a webpage.

What about flash widgets?

This is another battle entirely, the main reason for this is that Google can’t crawl or understand flash content effectively. They do have the ability to index text in flash files but that’s about as advanced as their crawlers are at the moment.

It is widely accepted that sites should do their best to remove any flash content as it’s not visible on mobile devices and can lead to your site being penalised as it will as not be classified as being mobile friendly(2).

If the flash content is mandatory for your site then we recommend replacing it with something else if a user is viewing your site on a mobile or tablet.


There is a lot to take away from this post and the main thing is that if you are using Javascript of Flash web widgets then you need to make sure the text content that’s generated is unique because Google will crawl and index it.

With that in mind we must also consider the value that the web widget provides to the user because at the end of the day Google would rather you optimise your website for the user opposed to search engine crawlbots and therein lies the balance between user and Googlebots that you have to achieve.

If you require help with your SEO then please feel free to have a look at our SEO packages to see which would be best suited for your website.

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