Google Plugins SEO

How to check for age ate the gate but always allow Google to crawl your website?

This title was kind of a big question we had to ask ourselves when building the website for a alcohol brand. Around the world, the Netherlands included, we try to discourage younger people to consume beverages with alcohol in them. So websites that sell things like that have to adjust their marketing campaigns accordingly. 

Google Crawlers

Stopping someone from entering your website is not that hard. Pop a message in place by throwing it in a hook that loads first and then create a cookie to confirm the user is eligible so the rest of the pages know that too.

In that message ask for some details, birthdate in this case. Calculate their age from that and compare it to the minimum age set for that website. This returns a yes or no. Pretty much the same thing a bouncer of a nightclub would do when checking ID’s of potential costumers.

Bam. Now you got yourself an age gate. But a Google crawler is not that smart that it has a fake ID in his pocket so how do you deal with that?

So the bouncer that works the nightclub door sees the crawler in the distance and nudges it to a separate door built for people with some sort of a vip access. Yes, when a crawler is looking at the website the age gate should not be visible to the crawler so it can go to work.

But what if the bouncer doesn’t see the crawler in time? Well, then there is the fact that the entire website is laced with schema and the age gate is loaded last zo it only covers the page so the things below are not visible instead of totally replacing it.

I’ve tested some other age gates and found them not to be that friendly to crawlers. That’s why I’ve decided to write my own Super Simple Age Gate.

Google Plugins SEO Wordpress

An attempt at using the  Google Site Kit WordPress Plugin 

Why didn’t I know about this? That is what I thought when reading about the release of Google Site Kit 1.0. Yes, Google has its own WordPress plugin called Site Kit. This allows users to show their analytics, speed test, search console and Adsense data right in their dashboards. I’ve installed it on one of my blogs and currently testing this tool. Since it’s by Google I am not that scared that this plugin is rather unsafe to use but you will never know. 

That said I dislike that my websites have those open api connections with all the Google Tools I use.  That’s why my sites have a minimum amount of plugins to work. And even then I still think there are way too many. Every outdated plugin or theme can do harm to your website and Google ranking. So, I view them as potential risks.

Not very well suited for website developers

With this Google Site Kit bundle there are some things that are slammed together in one piece of software. I like that thought so I installed the bundle and was not happy about what I saw. Google Site Kit seems like a dream come true for the average webmaster. You have to connect every plugin manually to your Google account. That makes sense.

But from a developer standpoint Google Site Kit doesn’t make any sense. There were barely any settings and the plugin to optimise your website. And any signals that tell you what Google does to your website are kind of absent. That should be something that I’d look for when installing a plugin like that. Some tools to help to get your SEO game going would be a nice asset coming from the Google camp.

Google Site Kit made my site slow as molasses

And then there is the weight of Google Site Kit. Running a speedtest via Google Lighthouse I got some awesome results without Google Site Kit. Running up in the green at around 98 percent. Not bad. Since it’s all about site speed at the moment I love that result. But with Google Site Kit running it plummeted to around 70-80 percent depending on the page. What the.. Google!

Google, what are you doing with my site?

All in all I wasn’t that impressed by this plugin. The lack of features and the modifications to your WordPress installation worried me a bit. And the speed dip on the front end was something that I didn’t expect from Google since they are rewarding websites for speed in search results. SEO wise it’s a bad choice. 

So after testing the plugin I quickly uninstalled Google Site Kit and added my own Google Analytics and Tag Manager plugin back to the WordPress installation.

Google SEO

Doubts about Google’s use of meta

What if there was a big company that helped us all find the things we need in an instant. And that they would know everything about everybody. Yes, even the things we don’t want to know. Well, that company exists. It’s called Google. But you probably would know that.

The thing is, and it is known for years, they don’t seem to care much about content creators. It shows how they treat people that run YouTube channels but also blogs. Having said this, not everybody uses white-hat tactics to improve their ranking. It’s a cat and mouse game basically.

But now that the meta is becoming more and more important the creator is kind of being pushed back. Google now shows the content of bloggers and content sites outside on their search feed. With this Google denies the creator of the content a piece of income. But Google needs those creators. If they wouldn’t exist there would not be a Google needed.

I understand that structuring the data on a website can bring good things as well. With smart speakers marching in peoples homes a way of knowing what the meat of the content and knowing what the important part is is being ready for the future. What the advertising or other monetising options will be for the content creator is unsure. It could be in the form of spoken ads, maybe some affiliate links under the ‘order now’ voice command. I’m not sure.

But it also turns out implementing schema Json-ld or microdata in your website makes it quicker to crawl (not sure if the crawler favors it but I saw a slight rise) and the rich snippet can make people click the result more often. But that probably depends on the type of information/content that you provide.

I am curious to see how this will pan out.