Google On Web Workers / WebAssembly & Google Search

Jul 30, 2021 - 7:21 am 0 by

Google Web Workers

Another super interesting and totally geeky aspect to the latest Search Off The Record podcast was Martin Splitt of Google giving a master class on Web Workers and WebAssembly. Specifically how they work and how Google Search thinks about them.

This part starts at the 9:43 minute mark into the podcast below and lasts until 25 minutes in. Martin really gets into it and honestly, a lot of it is above my head. So listen to it here:

Here is how this started where Martin said:

Back in 2018 when I joined, I did a bunch of tests around our JavaScript capabilities. And one of the things that I tested was web workers. And web workers are basically just a way to have like multi-threaded code on the web and off-load some stuff from the main thread. I'll explain all of these lovely words in a moment. I see big eyes here.

And I noticed that in rendering web workers don't really work the way that you would expect them to work. And that's normally fine because very few people are using them. And even fewer people are using them for content related things. But Giacomo Cecchini, I hope I didn't butcher your name Giacomo, if you're listening to this, recently tweeted out that specific question. Like, since 2018 no one has caught up on this? Like, no one has noticed that behavior? And he ran a few tests, apparently, and he noticed that the behavior is different from what you would expect. And asked me a question about it. And I'm like, oh, here we go.

This is interesting because I talked to the rendering team. And the rendering team is like, Yeah, but is anyone really using it for anything where Google bot would need to run the web worker properly? And I'm like, I don't think so. But I would love to hear from the community if they have considered using web workers and then not done it because they wanted to do something that involves the content? And they found out that it doesn't work super well in rendering? Because I wonder if it really is a problem? I don't know, to be honest.

He goes on to explain why developers use this and maybe how Google reacts to it all. It is a pretty interesting conversation and I recommend technical SEOs give it a listen.

Forum discussion at Twitter.


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