Home Services Contact Info

Does Google See IFRAMEs?

Posted in: Search Engine Optimisation by Richard Hearne on December 1, 2008
Internet Marketing Ireland

One of those curious questions that people ask from time-to-time. And the generally perceived wisdom is that “no, Google does not see IFRAME content”. But a curious bug brings to some odd knowledge into the public domain:

Hi, we looked into this, and the blog in question was ranking lower in
our search results because of an algorithmic error that has now been
fixed; the site’s drop in our search results had nothing to do with
the views expressed on the site. Essentially, our search algorithm saw
a large area on the blog that was due to an IFRAME included from
another site and that looked spammy to our automatic classifier.
believe that this bug has been fixed now. We also added additional
safety checks to the relevant system that would escalate to an
engineer if this site had the same issue in the future.
The site should be ranking higher in Google within 24 hours according
to the people that I talked to. Thanks for mentioning the site on this
discussion group to give us feedback–I appreciate it.
Matt Cutts
Google Software Engineer

The emphasis added is mine, but the comment “our search algorithm saw
a large area on the blog that was due to an IFRAME
” raises some serious questions. Does Google crawl <IFRAME> content? Can IFRAME content affect how your site ranks?

The above was a very generous response from Matt Cutts on the Google Webmaster Groups. The thread is here. (OT – more evidence that Mr Cutts is one of the nicest people on the web, if in fact it was needed.)

The site in question, atlasshrugs.com [runs through a 302 redirect to a loverly 262 request, 4MB page that took 1.55minutes to load on a 8Mb line...] employs some <IFRAME> elements for advertising. I’m not sure what might have triggered the spammy signal. But it’s all very interesting, especially if you’re interested in avoiding Google’s spam filters.

You should subscribe to the RSS Feed here for updates.
Or subscribe to Email Updates now:


  1. Richard,

    I am also very interested in finding out if Google indexes IFRAME content. I am pulling in Google’s Keyword Tool via IFRAME here: http://exposelocal.com/local-research-tool.html but from what it sounds like I should probably build content above and below the tool to be on the safe side. I don’t end up in the Webmaster Groups thread.

    Thanks for the post.

    Comment by Terry Richards — December 10, 2008 @ 10:52 pm

  2. I have also heard that people using 1 pixel IFRAMES or excessively large numbers of IFRAMES might also be temporarily banned from Google.

    Comment by Shane — December 12, 2008 @ 12:59 pm

  3. Hi Terry

    I’m not sure Google will appreciate you displaying their tool like that actually. It may even break some TOS.
    Nice idea, but I’d take care with that.

    Thanks for dropping by

    Comment by Richard Hearne — December 13, 2008 @ 5:40 pm

  4. Hey Richard I just launched a website called http://www.hiburrito.com were you publish WOPS (World Online Polls) on your blog but with an iframe. I read your post and I would like to know if bloggers you post this iframe will be affected by Google. Thanks.

    Comment by Asswass — May 19, 2009 @ 3:36 am

  5. Hi Asswass

    This shouldn’t have any negative impact on bloggers, but I doubt Google will index the content in the iframe.

    Hope this helps and thanks for dropping by

    Comment by Richard Hearne — May 19, 2009 @ 6:58 am

  6. Well I was concerned for the bloggers. My website will get indexed by the original WOPS. Thanks for your help Richard.

    Comment by Asswass — May 19, 2009 @ 3:06 pm

  7. Richard,

    Now I’m confused. Matt Cutts’ comment seems to indicate that big G does look at iframe content. Now you’re telling Asswass that you doubt big G will index it. Please clarify.

    Comment by Joyce — September 27, 2009 @ 4:01 am

  8. Hi Joyce

    Sorry, but I edited your anchor – I’m not clean linking to that site using that anchor.

    In answer to your question, Google may index the content found in iframes, but it will exist on a different URL. So it’s not going to impact the containing page IMO. I imagine they are more likely to look at iframe content to find malware and spam than for indexable content.

    Hope this helps

    Comment by Richard Hearne — September 29, 2009 @ 9:35 am

Comments Feed TrackBack

Leave a comment