Myths and Truths about “Googlebot cannot access CSS and JS files” Issue

If you are feeling puzzled with new notifications from Google “Googlebot cannot access CSS and JS files” – calm down, you are not alone! A massive wave of GWT notifications started rolling out on Tuesday, July 28th, creating great confusion for all webmasters as majority of them didn’t even plan to hide anything from Google. The worst part of the message was “blocking access to these assets can result in suboptimal rankings”, which of course became an alarm for all website owners to act asap. Some experts connect this issue with the recent Panda update, other believe it’s a part of Mobilegeddon update. If you are still struggling on finding the answer whether to do anything or not, check our summary of the issue and how to solve it.

Detecting Issues with Blocking CSS and JS Files on Your Website

To find out what scripts exactly are causing so much confusion to Google, reproduce such steps in your Google Webmasters Tools account:

  1. Choose the website on the dashboard
  2. Click on “Crawl” tab
  3. Choose “Fetch as Google” option
  4. Click on “Fetch and Render” button
  5. Click on Partial in Status column
  6. See a list of scripts Google can’t read below the screenshots of your website, under “Googlebot couldn’t get all resources for this page. Here’s a list” title

Fetch as Google

Top Reasons That May Cause Blocked CSS and JavaScript Issues

There is a number of things that might cause the Googlebot from being delayed or blocked. You may determine the cause by simply analyzing the URLs of blocked scripts – they already include a hint where to search. Let’s check the most common issues:

Blocking resources through robots.txt

The most typical is a robots.txt file which asks search engines to ignore your site.

Type in your domain/robots.txt to see if anything appears.

Common robots.txt have such settings:

User-agent: *

This means that all robots complete access.

If you see after “Disallow: “ resources that are shown as blocked in your Google Search Console, there’s a simple fix – just remove this string from the file and the issue should be solved. Then you should click on “Fetch and Render” again to make sure that the issue was fixed. And if you see “Complete” status – go ahead and resubmit your website to Google index.

css issues

Zopim Live Chat

As on the screenshot above, you may see that zopim scripts are blocked from Google. While having a conflict with site indexing and the Zopim chat widget, we put a ticket to them and inquired on the issue. According to Anna Lee Ledesma, Zopim Chat Customer Advocate, blocked resources we had “are real-time chat socket connections that are not meant to be indexed by search engines.” So, this shouldn’t really affect your website indexing.

Wordfence Plugin

The first thing to do when you see Wordfence resources blocked it to check settings of plugin

In Options->Firewall rules, you should have following settings:

  • Immediately block fake Google crawlers: (unchecked)
  • How should we treat Google’s crawlers: Verified Google crawlers have unlimited access to the site
  • If anyone’s requests exceed: unlimited then throttle it.
  • If a crawler’s page views exceed: unlimited then throttle it.

After applying those settings click on “Fetch and Render” option in GWT again to make sure that the issue was fixed. Though Wordfence is a great security plugin, the only other way to fix the issue is to disable it.

Google AdSense

In case you used scripts provided by Google AdSense in your account without any additional alterations, you should be safe with such alerts. We believe that such a problem should be caused by bugs in Google algorithms. And we do hope Google will solve it soon and stop showing AdSense as a blocked resource. But to be sure that everything is ok from your side, you should check codes – they may be outdated.

Other Third-Party Scripts

You may be facing issue with blocking scripts from other third-party services like social sharing buttons or even Google Maps. If you want to be 100% sure your website is not affected by this CSS and JS update, the best way to resolve them is to disable plugins and search for alternatives rechecking those with “Fetch and Render” option in GWT. But our team believes that using third-party scripts can’t be the reason for decreasing your website in ranking. Looks like we just witness a not fully tested update in Google algorithms that will be soon solved by Google engineers.

Learn how to fix additional website indexing problems right now!

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