Understanding Fetch as Google

Fetch as Google is a tool available in the Google Asset – Search Console (previously called Webmaster Tools).

How does Fetch as Google Work?

This tool is a very useful, it enables you to test how Google crawls and renders either a specific URL ( an individual page or post etc) or indeed your entire site, for both mobile and desktop views. More importantly it will highlight any issues. Where this becomes very useful is the issues it highlights are likely to be having a detrimental effect on your organic search engine rankings, so rectifying these should be a high priority if you want your site to continue to rank well. I recommend this exercise is done regularly to ensure the continued good health and therefore quality of your site.

Understanding Fetch as Google

Where to find Fetch as Google

To utilise this tool, login to your Google Account and navigate to the Search Console asset. There is a new version (released earlier this year) so even if you are familiar with this tool but have not used it for a while, the dashboard may look a little confusing. Fetch as Google tool is located under the “URL Inspection” tab on the left menu.

How to Fetch as Google

You have the option to crawl either the desktop or mobile versions. I recommend doing both options. You can either Fetch or Fetch and Render. Google describes these options as:

Fetch: Fetches a specified URL in your site and displays the HTTP response. Does not request or run any associated resources (such as images or scripts) on the page. This is a relatively quick operation that you can use to check or debug suspected network connectivity or security issues with your site, and see the success or failure of the request.

Fetch and render: Fetches a specified URL in your site, displays the HTTP response and also renders the page according to a specified platform (desktop or smartphone). This operation requests and runs all resources on the page (such as images and scripts). Use this to detect visual differences between how Googlebot sees your page and how a user sees your page.

When you have selected the most appropriate action the request will be added to the Fetch History Table with a status declaring “pending”.

Fetch as Google Results

Once the crawl is complete you will have your results, here are the official Google explanations of the possible results:

Complete: Google successfully contacted your site and crawled your page, and can get all resources referenced by the page. Click the table row to see more details about the fetch results.

Partial: Google got a response from your site and fetched the URL, but could not reach all resources referenced by the page because they were blocked by robots.txt files. If this is a fetch only, do a fetch and render. Examine the rendered page to see if any significant resources were blocked that could prevent Google from properly analyzing the meaning of the page. If significant resources were blocked, unblock the resources on robots.txt files that you own. For resources blocked by robots.txt files that you don’t own, reach out to the resource site owners and ask them to unblock those resources to Googlebot. See the list of resource fetch error descriptions.

Redirected: The server responded with a redirect. The Fetch as Google tool does not follow redirects. Although the actual Google crawler follows redirects, the Fetch as Google tool will not. You must follow a redirect manually:

If the redirect is to the same property, the tool displays a button that allows to quickly follow the redirect by populating the fetch box with the redirect URL.

If the URL redirects to another property that you own, you can click “Follow” to autopopulate the URL box, then copy the URL, switch views to the new site, and then paste the URL into the fetch box.

You can inspect the HTTP response on the fetch details page to see the redirect details. Locate the HTTP error code to learn more. Redirects can be triggered by the server or by meta tags or JavaScript on the page itself.

Specific error type… Any of the resource type fetch errors can also apply to a fetch request for the entire page and can be shown in the status column. For example: Not found or Unreachable.

Understanding Fetch as Google

From this crawled information you will be able to identifying the URLs that require attention. Admittedly it can all look rather imposing and difficult to understand, however there are plenty of explanations and walk throughs available in the Search Console Help guides that will enable you to identify issues and understand them to enable you to rectify each one.

For assistance with this or any other aspect of your site’s health and organic SEO you can contact The Last Hurdle on 01604 654545 or 01327 359908 or by email sales@thelasthurdle.co.uk

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