Dumb SEO Questions

(Entry was posted by Sławomir Zdunek on this post in the Dumb SEO Questions community on Facebook, Monday, July 1, 2013).

Do you remove Etag from headers?

Hello number one SEO community. This time I`ve got a tough question (at least for me :). Do you remove Etag from headers? What sort of implications can it have on the website. Thanks a lot for the answers.

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Selected answers from the Dumb SEO Questions G+ community.

  • Alistair Lattimore: Setting an etag is a good thing, better than not setting one at all. However using an etag on its own still means that the client needs to request a cached asset (passing the etag back to the server) and if it matches, receiving a 304 not modified response (fast, light weight) or the full resource if it doesn`t match (equivalent to not having an etag at all).<br /><br />The thing to remember with this in general is the impact of web requests on website performance, it is very significant and why using CSS sprites, combining CSS files, combining JavaScript and so forth is recommended these days. This is even more apparent in mobile networks where the latency increases, effectively penalising the client even more for having unneeded web requests.<br /><br />With that in mind, I`d be more interested in setting cache-control max-age and last modified headers so that once a client has downloaded the resources once - the browser won`t request in subsequent page loads until the cache becomes invalidated.
  • Alistair Lattimore: I  checked the documentation for HTML5 Boilerplate+ and they are removing the etag by default because it isn`t consistently generated in a clustered web hosting environment by default.<br /><br />Most websites aren`t load balanced, so the etag is consistently generated and it isn`t a problem but I guess they are just covering their bases and providing that option but it could be disabled easily if you wanted to continue serving etags.
  • Sławomir Zdunek: + Thank you very much for the answer. That was very helpful. Mobile boilerplates suggest removing Etag so I was wondering if this is the way to go. I try to build RWD websites and optimize them so I wonder if removing Etag can be helpful in this respect.

View original question in the Dumb SEO Questions community on Facebook, Monday, July 1, 2013).

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