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QR codes stump webmasters with GoogleBot readability

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A recent Webmaster Help thread on Google has drawn attention to this fascinating question.

Recently on the Google Webmaster Help thread, an interesting question has been raised about the use of QR codes and whether or not they are actually being red by GoogleBot.

If these barcodes are being scanned through the search engine giant’s algorithms, it could be a game changer.

If Google is using QR codes in order to be able to discover new, interesting, engaging, and relevant pages and content, it could mean that these already popular forms of mobile marketing will become a central element of search engine optimization (SEO). This could also mean that the barcodes will be used not only to encourage scans from smartphone users, but also for the standard internet in the effort to try to boost traffic to websites.

QR codes smartphoneThe response left by Google regarding the GoogleBot use of QR codes was that he didn’t know.

The specific response left by John Mueller at Google, regarding the use of QR codes and whether they could be scanned by GoogleBot, was “That’s an interesting question — do you have an example of one that we could look at?”

Clearly, it wouldn’t be tremendously difficult to test this type of situation and find out if the GoogleBot is, indeed, using scans of QR codes to help as a part of its indexing. All that would need to be done to test it, in theory, is to create a single page and link it only using the mobile barcode. Then, make certain that Google will locate a page that contains the barcode with the link. If Google does, indeed, discover it, then it means that it was, indeed, able to read it.

The important part to making sure that it is, in fact, the QR codes that are leading Google to the page and not something else, is to ensure that Google doesn’t manage to actually locate the page through any other means.

If GoogleBot does discover pages through QR codes – either currently or in the future – then it will mean that the barcodes can become yet another way for sites to search engine optimize. This is particularly important at the moment, as SEO is extremely new in the mobile web and site owners are scrambling to use techniques that they know will help them to improve their ranking among search engine query results from mobile users.

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