Google’s John Mueller: keep it simple if you want to get high rankings

What exactly has John Mueller said?
John Mueller answered a webmaster who wondered if particular links on his client’s website were crawlable by Google:

“My 2 cents on this is that … even though this is “r/techseo” … many people do too much fancy stuff when they could just be doing something basic that works just as well, and which isn’t a future maintenance nightmare. Keep it simple.“

If you’re not sure whether search engines will be able to parse your unusual content format then better do not use it at all:

“Keep it so that you don’t have to guess, ask, or test what search engines will do, and keep it so that search engines are clearly & consistently guided to do what you’re trying to do. If it’s unclear, but ‘test says yes’, then assume that search engines will change their behavior when you’re in the plane headed to Timbuktu for a 3-week camel safari.

In other words, if you run across something like this where someone uses a form for navigation, and you have a chance to simplify it, then figure out what the original goals were, and simplify (& document) it in the clearest way possible. The way you describe it is hard to guess what you have, but I’ve seen some weird ways that sites try to hide links from search engines (I won’t give inspiration, sorry :)), and most of the time it’s hard to create, painful to maintain, and ends up not even working as expected.”

What does this mean?
It’s pretty simple: if there is an easy way and a complicated way to do something on your website, use the easy way. It’s possible to use fancy JavaScript for the navigational elements on your website. However, it’s also possible that Google won’t be able to parse these links.

Earlier this year, Google’s John Mueller said that Google won’t follow JavaScript links. He also said that Google will use the canonical attribute of the non-JavaScript version of a web page. In general, your website should not rely on JavaScript.

How to check your web pages
If you want to find out how search engines see your web pages, use the website audit tool in SEOprofiler The website audit tool analyzes the web pages of your website and it tells you what you have to change so that search engines can index all pages correctly.

The website audit tool checks the content of your web pages as well as technical things such as HTTP status codes, security settings, canonical attributes, etc.

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