Google Blogoscoped

Monday, January 21, 2008 Blocks Opera... and Google

Online pharmacy doesn’t support Opera – in fact, when you try visit their homepage with Opera you’re forcefully excluded, ending up on a “sorry” page. The only problem, outside of not supporting Opera*? The Googlebot is excluded as well, as the Google cache of shows, reading: “You have landed on this page, because we do not currently support your web browser and/or browser version.” The search result for CVS isn’t too bad though, as Google pulls a description snippet from the Open Directory Project.

I guess one lesson in here is that accessibility remains to be useful not just for “exotic” browsing contexts, but also for Google. If you want to get an idea of what your site looks in Google, you can turn off images and JavaScript in your browser (e.g. in Firefox, choose Tools -> Options, and uncheck “Enable JavaScript” and “Load images automatically”). Or, try switching to a text-only browser like Lynx for testing.

Opera’s Daniel Goldman in a blog post remarks that they have contacted CVS a “a few times over the past few years,” with CVS each time telling them that they’re working on Opera support. “Nothing has ever happened. Needless to say, Opera works perfectly on; I see no issues at all.” Daniel adds that after neglected Opera users for so long, they’ve taken the matter into their own hands; a special file (browser.js) will be updated every two weeks on systems with Opera, making the browser identify itself as Firefox on certain websites. “Now when you go to, Opera will identify itself as Firefox when it requests the page from the server. CVS now gives you the correct webpage instead of the bogus upgrade error,” Daniel writes**.

[Thanks Daniel Goldman!]

*On that note, according to Google Analytics, 2% of all Google Blogoscoped visits for the last month were with Opera (Firefox is in the lead here with 53.4%, followed by Internet Explorer at 34.6%).

**This workaround spins off another problem, as Daniel admits: now, the traffic logs of those sites at which Opera pretends to be Firefox are not showing Opera anymore... removing even more incentive for webmasters to support Opera.


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