As part of Google’s switch to an evergreen Googlebot, the user agent will soon be updated to reflect the new version of Chrome.
This change will take place in December. Google notes that it will periodically update the version numbers to match the Chrome updates in Googlebot.
For the technical people, here are the user agents being used by Googlebot today compared to the user agents that will be used in December (I’ve circled the key differences.
Future Googlebot user agents:
In the new user agent strings, “w.x.y.z” will be substituted with the current Chrome version, so it may look something like ”76.0.3809.100″. The version number will be updated on a regular basis, Google says.
What Does This Change Mean for SEOs and Site Owners?
Google says, according to evaluations, it’s confident most websites will not be affected by this change.
“Sites that follow our recommendations to use feature detection and progressive enhancement instead of user agent sniffing should continue to work without any changes.”
The only instance in which a site may be affected is if it’s programmed to look for a specific user agent. Google specifically recommends using feature detection rather than user agent sniffing.
Here are some other common issues Google saw while evaluating this change:
- Pages that present an error message instead of normal page contents. For example, a page may assume Googlebot is a user with an ad-blocker, and accidentally prevent it from accessing page contents.
- Pages that redirect to a roboted or noindex document.
To determine whether or not your site will be affected, you can use these instructions to try loading your website in your browser with the new user agent.
Matt Southern has been the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a degree in communications, Matt has an uncanny ability to make the most complex subject matter easy to understand. When he’s not ferociously following and covering the search industry, he’s busy writing SEO-friendly copy that converts.