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Beware of Relying on 3rd Parties to Render Website Content

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In the latest episode of Google’s Search Off the Record podcast, the Search Relations crew explains the hurdles of relying on third parties for content. This topic was highlighted on 3rd August in an episode of Google’s Search Off The Record podcast, featuring John Mueller and Gary Illyes from the Search Relations team.

Google’s Martin Splitt advises site owners concerning the difficulties that come with using JavaScript content rendered by third-parties, such as blog comment segments.

Problems with Third-Party Content

Splitt spoke about an issue that occurred last month where Google wasn’t indexing blog comments from Disqus. Disqus is an example of third-party content that is installed using JavaScript and rendered on the client’s side. However, the content refers to the site it appears on, is “third-party”, which implies it is hosted on the Disqus server.

Several things can go obverse when a site owner relies on their own server to render content. Though it relates to the issue with Disqus, it appeared to be a bug on Google’s side which created the error.

Splitt states the indexing problem indicated a more prominent discussion. Regarding how to manage crucial JavaScript content rendered by third parties. 

Splitt discusses the multiple situations that can go wrong when dependent on content from different server

“We found out what the glitch was, fixed it, and basically within the day we had it back working.

But I think this kind of started a larger discussion as to how you should do things when it comes to JavaScript and critical content from third parties.

 

Because the challenge is that you, as a website owner, don’t really have control over a third party.

And if you are using client-side JavaScript to pull in content from the third party in the browser, things can go wrong.

 

They could robot their JavaScript API, and then we can’t make the request or maybe their servers are really under load. And then we decide not to make these requests to the third party because they are already experiencing high load situations.”

 

Splitt illustrates how these obstacles can be bypassed by doing everything on the server-side.

If the third party has an API that can be combined with on the client’s side, then possible the same can be done server-side. Indeed, that would need the expertise of a developer, but it is feasible.

Splitt continues

“And there are usually ways of doing this on the server side. So if the third party exposes an API that you can interact with from the client’s side, from the browser with JavaScript, you can very likely also do that on the server side. And then basically avoid these problems because then your server controls what happens when in terms of when the data comes in from the third party. But I think not as many people do that and I would hope that people are kind of warming up to the idea of doing that instead of doing everything on the client side.”

Google’s John Mueller joins the interview by asking:

“Is it a bad idea to rely on third parties?”

It’s not a bad idea, Splitt says, it’s more like an “okay” idea to rely on third parties. Although you do have to be careful, he explains:

“It’s an okay idea to rely on third parties. You just have to be careful and you have to understand that in the browser, you have very little control over what happens and how it happens. And if you are relying on Googlebot to do the heavy lifting, and figure out how to get the data from the third party, then you are less in control than when your server does that work because your server is an environment that you have control over, hopefully.”

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