Google now recommend ‘progressive enhancement’

Google have announced via their official blog that because ‘Times have changed’ they are now recommending ‘progressive enhancement’ in favour of their AJAX crawling scheme.

Google’s AJAX crawling scheme

The original proposal for the scheme was created in 2009 to remedy the fact that Google’s systems could not read web pages that used JavaScript, and Googlebot wasn’t able to understand content that was ‘created dynamically’. The proposal contained practices that enabled webmasters to make sure their AJAX-based applications could be indexed by search engines.

Times have changed

However, Google have said they can now render and understand web pages, and as long as your JavaScript or CSS files aren’t blocked from being crawled by Googlebot, they can still access AJAX pages. But Google now recommends progressive enhancement.

Understanding progressive enhancement

Progressive enhancement uses technologies in a layered way to enable anyone to gain access to the fundamental functionality and content a web page comprises of using any browser or connection. Those with greater bandwidth or more advanced software are able to access an enhanced version.

The key principles of progressive enhancement are:

  • All web browsers should be able to access basic content
  • All web browsers should be able to access basic functionality
  • Sparse, semantic markup encompasses all content
  • The externally linked CSS provides an enhanced layout
  • The externally linked and unobtrusive JavaScript provides enhanced behaviour
  • Respect should be maintained for end-user web browser preferences
  • No adjustments necessary

No adjustments to your web pages are required as long as they can be indexed by search engine robots. If more advanced technologies are needed to view your site’s content, it’s likely that visitors will be unable to view it as well. Therefore, it is recommended that your site’s most vital content can be easily accessed by all web browsers.

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