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How Does Googlebot Handle Cookies?

With cookie based personalisation based CMS’ s such as Sitecore becoming more popular on the web, it’s important to understand how they work and how they could effect a search engine crawler.

How Googlebot handles cookies

I setup a test to determine if Googlebot was in fact tracking cookies. It’s a pretty simple to follow script. If there’s a cookie set, a message is echo’ed out. If there’s no cookie set, a new cookie is created. Easy right?

 

Next, I opened up Google Search Console and ran a few “Fetch as Googlebot”. Here are my results:

Test 1: (Initial call should set the cookie)

Test 2: (We’d expect that the cookie was set the last time)

Test 3: (Nothing on the last attempt. This for sure should have the cookie.)

How Bingbot handles cookies

[Work in Progress]

So, according to my test results, Google does not currently store or use cookies. This is likely due to how crawlers work.

Nothing that we didn’t already assume but this is something to keep in mind if you are using cookies on your site to provide a personalised user experience. This is the current situation but may change.

As the search engine crawler will be unable to accept the personalisation cookie it will revert to a cookieless browsing experience. Therefore it is vital that you optimise the default templates to give the crawler the optimal experience for SEO value.

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