The no script element, also known as the no script tag is used to give information to users with browsers that do not support a script such as Javascript or Flash. It should be used with caution as it has been previously abused by SEOs and when used incorrectly can be viewed as a spam signal by Google.

Use of the no script tag

It was very useful back for Google in their early days when their crawlers were not able to render javascript very well. As such, much like their inability to accurately read images and therefore use the alt attribute for a description, the no script acted as a description of the content that was not being rendered. In 2014 in a Google Webmaster Central Blog post Google announced that they have made leaps and bounds in their ability to render Javascript. It was an advancement in response to websites utilising more and more Javascript to display content to the users. However, as you can read in the post, it is by no means a perfect system and as such the no script can be valuable in providing Google with information about the content that they fail to render.

No script content can also be useful for the user when their browser does not support javascript or any other script used to display content on your website. However, bear in mind that most modern browsers support non html content, in 2013 this was less than 1% of internet traffic.

SEO considerations for no script

As previously mentioned, the no script was an abused aspect of SEO. It was an area in which Black Hat SEOs decided to keyword stuff. In 2014 John Mueller mentioned in a Google+ Hangout that it has traditionally been an area for spam and that if people are using it to place content that is important for the site, that the content should really be placed in the body html. john was fairly ambiguous (using words like ‘probably’ and ‘picky’ as to whether Google completely discounts content in no scripts due to the fact that the user rarely sees the element (like they do for meta keywords). Key takeaways from what John Mueller said:

  • If it is really important content then just makes sure that it is visible to the user and is included in more traditional content
  • No scripts can be used if necessary from a technical point of view
  • Google’s algorithm does not automatically red flag no script content, but due to the amount of spam previously associated with the tag, it will be picky about the content that it indexes

 

So what are the best practices?

Only use no scripts where necessary and if the content contained within the no script is displayed elsewhere to the user then it is likely to be spammy. It must be a relevant and accurate description of the content displayed by the script. For example, if your website was using javascript to display content about how to use Facebook advertising, then the noscript should be relevant to Facebook advertising.

From another discussion on Moz, site wide no scripts (i.e appearing on every page) can be misleading for Google in that they may consider the content within the no script to be associated with the site, for example ‘javascript’. Read the full thread here.

To avoid being flagged as hidden text or cloaking, the text within the no script should also be viewable in the static content and to users that do not have javascript enabled on their browsers.

With the ambiguity as to whether Google actually indexes the no script as well as the previous spam and therefore caution that Google uses in regards to the tag, it is a very touchy subject. If you are unsure as to whether you should be using a no script or what content should be contained in the element, we would advise not using it. It was originally used to provide value to users with older browsers but with advancements in browsers and Google’s ability to render certain scripts it is becoming more and more obsolete.

If you are going to implement the tag, the code for a no script is:

<script>

document.write (“Facebook advertising”)

</script>

<noscript>walk through of Facebook of advertising</noscript>