Don’t block CSS and JS files

In 2015, Google Search Console already started to warn webmasters actively not to block CSS and JS files. In 2014, we told you the same thing: don’t block CSS and JS files. We feel the need to repeat this message now. We’re currently working on the websites of our first Yoast SEO Care customers, and this is obviously something we’ll look into for them as well. In this post, we’ll explain why you shouldn’t block these specific files from Googlebot.

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Why you shouldn’t block CSS and JS files

You shouldn’t block CSS and JS files because that way, you’re preventing Google to check if your website works properly. If you block CSS and JS files in yourrobots.txt file, Google can’t render your website like intended. This, in return, makes that Google won’t understand your website to the fullest and might even result in lower rankings.

I think this aligns perfectly with the general assumption that Google has gotten more and more ‘human’. Google simply wants to see your website like a human visitor would, so it can distinguish the main elements from the ‘extras’. Google wants to know if JavaScript is enhancing the user experience or ruining it.

Test and fix

Google guides webmasters in this, for instance in the blocked resources check in Google Search Console:

Search Console - Blocked Resources example | Don't block CSS and JS files

Besides that, Google Search Console allows you to test any files against yourrobots.txt settings at Crawl > Robots.txt tester:

Search Console robots.txt tester | Don't block CSS and JS files

The tester will tell you what file is and isn’t allowed according to your robots.txt file. More on these crawl tools in Google Search Console here.

Unblocking these blocked resources basically comes down to changing your robots.txt file. You need to set that file up in such a way that it doesn’t disallow Google to access to your site’s CSS and JS files anymore. If you’re on WordPress and use Yoast SEO, this can be done directly in our Yoast SEO plugin.

WordPress and blocking CSS and JS files in robots.txt

To be honest, we don’t think you should block anything in your robots.txt file unless it’s for a very specific reason. That means you have to know what you’re doing. In WordPress, you can go without blocking anything in most cases. We frequently see /wp-admin/ disallowed in robots.txt files, but this will, in most cases, also prevent Google from reaching some files. There is no need to disallow that directory, as Joost explained in this post.

We’ll say it again

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: don’t block Googlebot from accessing your CSS and JS files. These files allow Google to decently render your website and get an idea of what it looks like. If they don’t know what it looks like, they won’t trust it, which won’t help your rankings.

Read more: ‘robots.txt: the ultimate guide’ »