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Google does not see content behind Captchas

Google does not see content behind Captchas

Google says websites can run into trouble if they hide content behind captchas as its crawler cannot see it.

Googlebot does not interact with anything when it crawls web pages.

If it lands on a page with a captcha that blocks the main content, it assumes that it is the only one on the page.

However, there are ways around this. Although captchas are problematic, there is no reason to stop using them.

This is all stated by Google’s John Mueller during the Search Central SEO office hours recorded on September 24, 2021.

The owner of a library site writes by asking Mueller if the captchas they have implemented to avoid scraping can affect SEO.

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In short – yes, they can affect SEO.

But there is a way to use content blocking captchas that do not interfere with crawl or indexing.

Here’s what Mueller advises.

Google’s John Mueller on Captchas blocking content

Mueller makes it clear that Googlebot does not populate captchas — even non-Google-based captchas.

If the captcha needs to be filled out before you can access the content, the content will not be reviewed.

Google will be able to index the page, but none of the content behind the captcha will be used for ranking.

“Googlebot does not populate captchas. Although they are Google-based captchas, we do not complete them. So it’s something if the captcha has to be filled in for the content to be visible, then we would not have access to the content.

If, on the other hand, the content is available there without having to do anything, and the captcha just appears at the top, that would be fine. ”

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As Mueller says, you can safely use captchas if the main content is easily accessible.

To make sure that a captcha does not block Google’s view, Mueller recommends using the Inspector URL tool in the Search Console.

“What I would do to test is use the URL tool for inspection in the Search Console and download these pages and see what comes back.

On one side [check] the visible page to make sure it matches the visible content. And [then check] the HTML that is rendered there to make sure it contains the content you want indexed. That’s the kind of approach I would take there. ”

It is a solution, but there is still another.

If you want to completely block content with a captcha while keeping it Google-friendly, you can do that too.

It involves a technique that you may think is against Google’s guidelines, but Mueller confirms that it does not violate any policies.

Googlebot serves a different version of the page than regular users.

Googlebot may have a captcha-free version of the page, while users must complete the captcha before viewing content.

Then the content will be used for ranking while you can still achieve whatever your goal is with captcha.

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“From a political point of view, we are okay with situations where you serve us the full content and you need a captcha on the user side. If you need to do it a little differently for Googlebot or maybe other search engines than you would do for the average user from our point of view, that’s fine. ”

Hear Mueller’s full answer in the video below:

Featured image: getronydesign / Shutterstock

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