Google Roll Out Mass of ‘Cannot Access CSS and JS’ Notices

by Alex Graves
Bronco - Digital Marketing Agency

With the announcement that Google had finally begun their rollout of the latest version of Google Panda (4.2) we knew that as soon as they noted that the changes would take ‘a couple of months' to completely take effect, this was never going to be a notice free roll out for many and it seems that our thoughts were correct as webmasters take to the online community to share tales of receiving notice that Google can't access everything that they would like to on your website.

The latest string of warning notices delivered in Google Webmaster Tools (Search Console) centre around Google telling site owners that they are failing to be able to completely access Javascript and CSS elements within a site, which could cause them to be unable to see valuable aspects of your website.

css-js-notice

As with every warning notice that any website owner receives from the search engine giants, panic was seen to have broken out as site owners rushed to check their robots.txt permissions on their sites to try to get to the bottom of their problem however with many claiming that they aren’t seeing blocks that would relate to the issue, they are beginning to believe that there could have been a mistake in the fact that they received the notice, but listen up, we may be able to shed some light on that for you.

A look at the ‘Google cannot access CSS and JS files' messages that website owners are waking up to shows that Google consider this to be ‘an issue' and the terminology does seem to offer a fear factor for those that are unsure towards what could be causing Google to have to reach out to the owner, however if you have received one of the notices, you aren't alone.

One thing that you should note about this notice is that Google does not deem this ‘an issue' that would require a ranking penalisation or dampening as you would see from triggering something like the metrics that the Google Panda algorithm is designed to detect, instead they are simply saying that they have a reduced understanding of your website and that in turn could potentially mean that your site would not rank as competitively as it should, in theory. It should be pointed out that opening up your CSS and JS files would not mean that you would be given a boost in the search engine results.

Website owners that have received these notices are advised that they should be looking to make use of the Google Fetch and Render tool found within your Search Console (Webmaster Tools) platform and should be looking to ensure that what Google sees from the image rendered is the same as what is being shown to the user and to check your robots.txt file for the potential block that could be in place.

Got A Notice and Struggling to Figure Out Why?

It seems that there are a number of instances where these notifications are being sent out to website owners that have rushed to check their robots.txt file to see if they have anything in there that could resemble this:

robots-block

After not being able to see either this or similar within their robots.txt file they are reaching out for help in trying to identify what the source of the problem could be and it seems that it could be something a little less obvious, especially if you are not completely informed to what your content management system (CMS) is doing.

18-perc-impacted

A prime example of this, and what looks like it could be the reason that Google's claim that these notices have impacted just over 18% of websites, is that the popular WordPress CMS blocks a file within it entitled ‘wp-includes', which could host a number of CSS/JS files, and although blocked the site still makes use of these throughout your website.

This is a common practise with CMS based platforms and the likelihood is that if you aren’t specifically blocking Javascript or CSS files/folders in your robots.txt, your include files are most likely to be the cause of what Google are reporting to you as they are widely blocked as standard.

Bronco - Digital Marketing Agency
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