Using the NoScript Tag

While I was at WebmasterWorld, I had a webmaster come up to me and ask me about the NOSCRIPT tag. Where this tag gets used is for those sites that have Javscript menus, and that don’t provide an alternate text based navigation scheme. These sites end up cutting off search engines from portions of those sites. In addition, users who have browsers that do not support Javascript also can’t use the site effectively either.

One possible solution is to use a NOSCRIPT tag. Using this tag, you can include the navigation links in text form, making them accessible to those users (and crawlers) not able to read Javascript.

But unfortunately, like so many great potential ideas, there are serious problems with this approach. It originates with the fact that this has been used be spammers as a way of stuffing unrelated links and content on a page. The fact that the NOSCRIPT content is not seen by most users would make it a way to hide content.

The result is that the search engines cannot really trust the content found within a NOSCRIPT tag. Here is a forum thread at WebmasterWorld where Brett Tabke says that NOSCRIPT content links do not pass Page Rank. He also indicates that any content within the NOSCRIPT tags may not even be indexed.

Bottom line: It’s a great idea, but it doesn’t fly. Make sure you have text navigation that reaches every point on your site. If you must use a Javascript menu, then make sure you also have a text navigation path as well.

Comments

  1. says

    Hi Herb,

    While I don’t know what will work best for your particular situation, my belief is that the more common techniques for exposing text to crawlers are: (1) SiFR (Scalable Inman Flash Replacement), and: (2) SWFObject. I’d be inclined to look at those and see if they meet your needs.

  2. says

    My website too has excessive use of java script tags; really confused as to will it be profitable using it on the website or not. The content above throws some light on the topic but not fully convinced. I’ll try & will come back with an answer.

    Thanks

  3. says

    I can see how this can be a problem with JavaScript menus – you definitely want to give users and crawlers an alternative. A good approach to this is to add text links in a block at the bottom of your page. Helpful to crawlers and users alike.

    Of course, it is just a matter of practicality to gracefully downgrade your menus using the noscript tag whether the crawlers like them or not. There are still a lot of users out there with their scripts disabled.

  4. marshall says

    I came across the use of a noscript tag recently when researching a popular shopping cart software company. Organizations using this company’s software as the shopping cart may not be noticing the noscript link back to the software company. From what I’ve seen either the brand name, domain name or service of the shopping cart company is the anchor text being used as the anchor text in the noscript tag.
    Is this a legit back-linking strategy?

    From what I’ve seen of various organizations using the shopping cart software, there isn’t a mention of this company powering the cart visible to the user, but when you look at the text only version or source of the page, there it is, just below the footer links. It just seems smarmy that this wouldn’t be visible to the eye.

  5. says

    Marshall – definitely not kosher. If Google were aware of the practice, then the shopping cart company would likely be banned from the index.

    The issue is that the company using the shopping cart does not even know that they are linking to the shopping cart company. If you read my recent interview with Matt Cutts (http://www.stonetemple.com/articles/interview-matt-cutts-061608.shtml), Google wants the web site providing the link to be aware that they are doing so.

  6. says

    Well there is no point oif confusion

    If you’re using text to try to describe something search engines can’t access eg. Javascript, images, or Flash files – remember that many human visitors using screen readers, mobile browsers, browsers without plug-ins, and slow connections will not be able to view that content either. Using descriptive text in “noscript tag” for these items will improve the accessibility of your site.

    So I guess stuck to basics. So only benefit and no harm

  7. says

    I know this is a very old post but I am interested in SEO for my DJ website and have been reading a lot. While I’m sure many things have changed, it seems that the basic information has stayed the same: make sure the search engines can read your site!

    Good post, hope I can find some more recent material that you’ve written.

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