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Google Webmaster Warning: Googlebot cannot access CSS and JS files

Google has sent out mass notifications warning saying that the accessibility of CSS or Javascript can be a ranking factor.

I have received a warning from “Google Search Console Team” (previously called Google Webmaster Tools) with the title “Googlebot cannot access CSS and JS files on http://www.[website].com/“. I am sure many webmasters are concerned like I am as I see plenty of buzz in Twitter already.

The warning explains how the issue of Googlebot not being able to access the JavaScript and CSS files of the website can “….result in sub-optimal rankings”. The email goes further on clarifying the importance of these files by saying that they help Google understand your website.

The Google Webmaster Guidelines was updated last year in October which warned webmasters to not block access to JS and CSS file. It said

To help Google fully understand your site’s contents, allow all of your site’s assets, such as CSS and JavaScript files, to be crawled. The Google indexing system renders webpages using the HTML of a page as well as its assets such as images, CSS, and Javascript files. To see the page assets that Googlebot cannot crawl and to debug directives in your robots.txt file, use the Fetch as Google and the robots.txt Tester tools in Webmaster Tools.

Below is the screenshot of the notification received

Google Warning: Googlebot cannot access CSS and JS files

Google Warning: Googlebot cannot access CSS and JS files

For those concerned, few things to note:

1) This is not a notification for penalty, but a warning that your site may get poor ranking if Google doesn’t see all of its content.

2) Several WordPress webmasters are receiving this notifications due to the reason that by default WordPress blocks /wp-includes/ folder in robots.txt file.

3) Follow the step by step instruction provided by Google; it would help finding out what/how Google sees your site by using the “Fetch as Google” tool.

Avi Koirala
Digital Search Consultant
Avi Koirala oversees digital search with a focus on SEO for the De'Longhi Group, covering De'Longhi, Kenwood, Braun and Ariete brands globally. The De'Longhi Group has an online presence in 50+ countries. During the weekends, he helps local SMEs to better understand SEO.
Avi has a BSc degree from Cyprus Institute of Marketing and has completed his postgraduate from University of the Highlands and Islands, Scotland.