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How To Control Googlebot’s Interaction With Your Website

Google's Search Relations team provides insights into controlling Googlebot's interactions with webpages on the latest 'Search Off The Record' podcast.

  • You can't block Googlebot from crawling specific sections of an HTML page.
  • Using the data-nosnippet HTML attribute or an iframe can control how content appears in search snippets.
  • A disallow rule in robots.txt or firewall rules using Googlebot's IP addresses can block Googlebot from a site.

Google’s Search Relations answered several questions regarding webpage indexing on the latest episode of the ‘Search Off The Record’ podcast.

The topics discussed were how to block Googlebot from crawling specific sections of a page and how to prevent Googlebot from accessing a site altogether.

Google’s John Mueller and Gary Illyes answered the questions examined in this article.

Blocking Googlebot From Specific Web Page Sections

Mueller says it’s impossible when asked how to stop Googlebot from crawling specific web page sections, such as “also bought” areas on product pages.

“The short version is that you can’t block crawling of a specific section on an HTML page,” Mueller said.

He went on to offer two potential strategies for dealing with the issue, neither of which, he stressed, are ideal solutions.

Mueller suggested using the data-nosnippet HTML attribute to prevent text from appearing in a search snippet.

Alternatively, you could use an iframe or JavaScript with the source blocked by robots.txt, although he cautioned that’s not a good idea.

“Using a robotted iframe or JavaScript file can cause problems in crawling and indexing that are hard to diagnose and resolve,” Mueller stated.

He reassured everyone listening that if the content in question is being reused across multiple pages, it’s not a problem that needs fixing.

“There’s no need to block Googlebot from seeing that kind of duplication,” he added.

Blocking Googlebot From Accessing A Website

In response to a question about preventing Googlebot from accessing any part of a site, Illyes provided an easy-to-follow solution.

“The simplest way is robots.txt: if you add a disallow: / for the Googlebot user agent, Googlebot will leave your site alone for as long you keep that rule there,” Illyes explained.

For those seeking a more robust solution, Illyes offers another method:

“If you want to block even network access, you’d need to create firewall rules that load our IP ranges into a deny rule,” he said.

See Google’s official documentation for a list of Googlebot’s IP addresses.

In Summary

Though it’s impossible to prevent Googlebot from accessing specific sections of an HTML page, methods such as using the data-nosnippet attribute can offer control.

When considering blocking Googlebot from your site entirely, a simple disallow rule in your robots.txt file will do the trick. However, more extreme measures like creating specific firewall rules are also available.

Featured image generated by the author using Midjourney. 

Source: Google Search Off The Record

Category News SEO
SEJ STAFF Matt G. Southern Senior News Writer at Search Engine Journal

Matt G. Southern, Senior News Writer, has been with Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a bachelor’s degree in communications, ...

How To Control Googlebot’s Interaction With Your Website

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