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I have written code that will detect when a user is a search engine and i dont include css files when this happens to save bandwidth. I was also thinking i could replace ALL images on the page with a 1px placeholder. Is this an ok thing to do?

Search engine bots cant see what the image contains so there is no need to be loading large images when the bot cant even view them. If i replace with a 1px image it will hugely increase load speed since i have an image intensive website.

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That's a very bad idea and your site will suffer in the organic search rankings.

For one, Google does have image recognition abilities and so your assumption that the bot can't "view" the image is wrong. And two, the algorithm does render pages to decide whether they are not mobile friendly and if your pages are delivering different content to users and to search engines; and if either of those is thought to be true, your rankings will suffer.

What you're essentially trying to do is trick the bot to believe your site is different / better than it actually is. Google never responds well to being tricked.

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  • So there isn't anything that i can do to reduce the load when my website is crawled? – user1889580 Jul 18 '15 at 12:04
  • You could reduce the crawl rate via the Google Search Console (Webmaster Tools) - support.google.com/webmasters/answer/48620?hl=en - though, be warned that this can have its own negative repurcussions, such as search results being out of date and deeper content being crawled too late – FarhadD Jul 18 '15 at 14:13
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    Good answer! Generally speaking, webmasters should always present their website to search engines exactly as they do to users. Trying to trick a search engine will always be found out. It amazes me that so long ago, Google announced that they use other networks to compare the results of a crawl to check for cloaking and yet, this is rarely ever discussed anymore. People seem amazed when you tell them. Why would you be amazed?? It makes sense! – closetnoc Jul 18 '15 at 15:49
  • Absolutely... and now Google even warns webmasters via the Search Console when any resource that is used to render a page is not crawlable - that should tell webmasters that Google definitely can render pages to understand how they'll be viewed by users – FarhadD Jul 18 '15 at 15:56

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