Google Can See the JavaScript Links that No One Can See

Google is now parsing Javascript and processing content within the DOM. Google has tested and confirmed that many tools available that provide data backlinks and can only see the HTML elements that are classically formatted within the source code of a particular page.

In what may come as a revelation for many small and medium sized organisations, Google is now parsing Javascript and processing content within the DOM. Google has tested and confirmed that many tools available that provide data backlinks and can only see the HTML elements that are classically formatted within the source code of a particular page. These tools do not capture the link referrals from JavaScript redirects that are dynamically inserted <a> tag link or the URLs that are associated with JavaScript onclick events.

Apart from the GSC or the Google Search Console that has limited backlink data, the top players in backlink data providers like Ahrefs, Majestic SEO and Moz Open Site Explorer are not reporting on the JavaScript-based link referrals currently. In a test setup to point the JavaScript-based links at TechnicalSEO.com, the links to the targeted pages were not present on the referring site previously.

While the URL ‘strings’ are found in the page’s source code, they are linked to the onclick events and not within the href attribute of the <a> element. The links in the above imaged are picked up and are reported within the GSC. It is thus quite clear that Google has much understanding of the things that can be classified as ‘link referral’ in today’s digital ecosystem. However, it is quite unfortunate that the same links are not reported by the top data providers that are mentioned earlier.

Some of the most common concerns that SMEs may have are addressed below:

Is it really something to worry about?

The lack of visibility for JavaScript-based link referrals could be an area of concern for webmasters. Since Google can parse the JavaScript, the JavaScript based link referrals are able to be considered while analysing the profiles for webspam. It is highly likely that Google is considering the JavaScript-based links within the link penalties, its inability to view the data within the backlink data tools can hinder the webmasters’ ability to make sure that the profiles are as per the rules.

Since the Google is providing the links, GSC data should be enough to work from because it is the data owned by Google. Isn’t it?

It is quite unfortunate that the ‘links to your site’ data will not show you everything that you would need to see to be able to conduct a thorough review of the backlink profile. The data is quite limited; it provides only about 1,000 rows per example and the sample report. As the best measure, people who are trying to review and monitor the backlink profiles, they are encouraged to use the multiple data providers and not just GSC. There have been many instances where the example links that is provided by the Google Webspam Team in a Manual Action message which was not found by any backlink tools including the GSC.

Do the JavaScript-based link referrals have the same weightage as the conventional redirects?

Yes. Google not only looks at the JavaScript redirects but Mariya Moeva, a team member at Google, looks at the DOM rather than the source code of a page. This was confirmed by the Mariya Moeva, a Search Quality Team member at Google. It is therefore clear that the elements that the dynamically inserted <a> would have the same weightage as they would be located within the source code.

What would be the number of backlinks affected by this?

It would be hard to provide the exact number, but in a survey conducted by OverStack it was noted that in 2016 more than 56,000 developers from around the world Javascript was the most popular technology; it was used by 90.5% of the front-end developers and 54.4% back-end developers.

What do I do with this knowledge?

For now, the SMEs owners can wait for the backlink data providers to catch up the JavaScript-based link referral reporting. Today, there are many tools that are going against the wide web and are appreciating the JavaScript for each page in their indices.

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