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How Google Handles Iframes During Crawling

Article Highlights

  • According to Google, iframe content can be crawled, but it’s crucial to use text-based links alongside iframes to enhance the accuracy of indexing.
  • To avoid issues with indexing and appearing in search results, website owners are advised to explore alternative options to iframes.
  • Instead, it’s recommended to incorporate vital content directly onto a page, rather than relying on iframes, to improve SEO outcomes and discoverability by search engines.

The Past Challenges Faced by Search Engines in Crawling iFrames

In the past, search engines had difficulties in crawling and indexing content within iframes. The robots of search engines were unable to access the content inside iframes, and in some cases, they couldn’t exit the iframe to continue crawling the rest of the website. Moreover, there was a lack of clarity about whether the content in iframes belonged to another website, leading to ambiguity about whether it should be indexed or not.

Google’s Capability in Crawling iFrames and Recommendations for Website Owners

Despite a Reddit user’s belief, Google has made significant progress in crawling iframes. Currently, Google can directly render the iframe and incorporate its content as a component of the hosting page using a process called “DOM Flattening.” As stated by Muller, Google’s Search Advocate

Google does try to crawl iframed content and include it in the indexed page, if it’s allowed. It’s not always trivial though, and I don’t know how other search engines handle it. If you have something that you absolutely want indexed within the context of a page, I’d work to include it directly rather than relying on iframes.

john mueller

Additionally, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller, provides suggestions for those who use embedded or iframed content on their websites.

These recommendations include using the “x-frame-options” header to block iframing, utilizing “noindex” robots meta tags or “x-robots-tag” if indexing isn’t desired for either the page or its embedded content, and using “indexifembedded” along with “noindex” if the embedded page itself shouldn’t be indexed but its content can be included on a page that’s iframing it. Website owners who are concerned about whether Google can access the content in iframes can use the “mobile-friendly test” provided in Search Console.

Google’s Caution Against Using iFrames

To avoid potential indexing difficulties with iframes, Google suggests reducing their usage as much as possible. Incorporating vital content directly onto the page or utilizing alternative embedding techniques can lead to better SEO outcomes and guarantee that Google can appropriately index the content.

While iframes may be advantageous for embedding external content like videos and interactive elements, it’s essential to consider their limitations when designing a website.

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