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Is it acceptable to block googlebot from loading css ?

     
7:37 pm on Jun 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I have a background image and some other design images that load via css. Blocking googlebot from loading css would save a lot of image requests over time, as well as the size of the css file itself.

I know that some sites, like the BBC, block googlebot from both .css and .js but I can't tell what effect, if any, that has on rankings.

I'm also concerned googlebot may report that my site may be "up to something". Thoughts ?
8:38 pm on June 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Essentially googlebot doesn't load your css file, it just looks at the source file in crawling your site.

Personally I would leave it, as technically you are displaying a text only version (no css/img's) to googlebot and are giving the user the full view to it.
9:27 pm on June 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

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If they can't load the CSS file they cannot show cache and previews.

If you do not care about (or you block) these then block CSS.
10:13 pm on June 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

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If they can't load the CSS file they cannot show cache and previews.

Do they serve up a "no preview available" or do they simply put up the preview sans CSS? The second option might be worse than no preview at all, because the user would think you've got a page that looks like ###.
6:45 pm on June 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I can not speak to what G shows if one blocks CSS but allows preview; however, I can say that I have long enabled meta noarchive and blocked SEs from scripts, including CSS, and have blocked previews since inception without noticeable SERP effect. So far.
9:54 pm on June 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

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iamlost - agreed on previews. The result for me varies from a full preview (how did they get the images from a robot.txt-blocked folder?) to "no preview available" for a product "page" that is part of a complex framed site.

Visits, according to logs for the framed site, do not seem to have changed through lack of previews, though it is always possible the results could be higher if I allowed it.

I do not prevent caching on most of my sites.

I do not block CSS.

I do block images on most sites, the framed one included. I seem to get a lot of preview bots trying to get info from all sites on my server, probably for the most part images, since google claims to serve previews from their own data IF they have it. Of course, they may be lying.

I need to do some research on all of this but no time at present.
10:27 pm on June 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I'm also concerned googlebot may report that my site may be "up to something". Thoughts ?

My concern with blocking .css files would be their inability to accurately use visual page segmentation in calculating your rankings.
11:18 pm on June 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

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My css is on by blocked /images/ folder but css still shows (UPDATE *) on previews, I can tell by the formatting. Images, nope, just some white space. Until 5 minutes ago it was blocked for Google, no longer, you never know with them.

* never mind. Css is not loaded but the structure stays because of something else. Looked closely.
10:20 pm on June 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Unless you specifically block preview by UA it will get whatever it wants from your site - including ALL of the robots-txt "banned" stuff.
10:35 pm on June 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I sometimes use keywords in CSS class and id names and comments figuring if the SE's are going to see it, maybe I can get a few brownie points.
11:20 am on June 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I'm also concerned googlebot may report that my site may be "up to something". Thoughts ?

No need to be concerned.

Google will take your CSS (and anything else disallowed in robots.txt) by other means.

A bot with a generic browser user-agent coming from a Google IP is one of them.

There is no effect on rankings.

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