How can I see what Googlebot renders?

Modified on Thu, 02 Dec 2021 at 01:48 PM

In cases where companies use a dynamic rendering solution, e.g., customers want to know how they can confirm what is being rendered for Googlebot. As Google Search docs describe, dynamic rendering means switching between client-side rendered and pre-rendered content for specific user agents. This means the JavaScript content is loaded on a server side and only the results (rendered) are sent to the client.

Aside from using Google Search Console to inspect a Page URL to see the rendered JavaScript, you may want to simulate what's happening in the browser. In some cases, SEO analysts might not even know if a page is pre-rendering different from what they see. In cases where there might be a discrepency in what's rendered or when you know there is dynamic rendering, you will want to know how to load the page as Googlebot sees the page. The following shows you how you can use DevTools to change the user-agent to test. 

To override the user agent string from Chrome DevTools:

  1. Open Chrome DevTools, either by right-click and select Inspect. Or, using shortcut keys press Command+Option+C (Mac) or Control+Shift+C (Windows, Linux, Chrome OS).

  2. Press Command+Shift+P (Mac) or Control+Shift+P (Windows, Linux, Chrome OS) to open the Command Menu.
    The Command Menu.

    Figure 1. The Command Menu

  3. Type network conditions, select Show Network conditions, and press Enter to open the Network conditions tab.

  4. In the User agent section disable the Select automatically checkbox.

  5. Select "Googlebot" for the user agent string from the list. 

  6. Reload the current page. 

Tools for Frequent Switchers

If you find yourself switching User Agent often, you may want to install a plugin that gives you quicker access.  A plugin like User-Agent Switcher for Chrome makes it easier to change agent at the click of a button:

However, you do have to do a little extra initial legwork to set it up with the specifics of the agents you want to spoof.  So this tool is only worthwhile if you think you'll be switching agent more than once.

If you do go down this route, please check out the list of google bot User Agents for details you can copy and paste into your User-Agent Switcher plugin configuration.

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