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Ajax Technology And Seo


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13 replies to this topic

#1 christelle

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 03:11 PM

Hey guys. The company just built a website and on some pages they implemented Ajax. Now I know all this is part of the Web 2.0 SEO era, but it also means that search engine optimization is gonna become more difficult to accomplish with these new technologies. I know that's the direction the internet is moving in, so we basically need to keep up. How can I do SEO for sites with Ajax (and other web 2.0 stuff like widgets, etc.) Any advice, reputable sources or white papers on this specific topic?

Thanks guys!

#2 Randy

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 05:06 PM

Turn off your Javascript and view the site Christelle. AJAX can be used for a lot of things, including incorporating database calls. Whether it's search engine friendly or not depends entirely upon how the information is then written to the page.

If it's written by JS, it's not a good situation.

But if you can view, navigate and use the site with JavaScript disabled you're fine.

#3 BlueSky

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 05:07 PM

AJAX components change the content of a web page without doing a full page reload. In other words, AJAX can make a page dynamic. Therefore, avoid using AJAX components for SEO relevant content.

#4 Randy

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 05:18 PM

That's not all AJAX can be used for though BlueSky. Hence my advice to check out the page/site in question with JS disabled.

I wouldn't want the baby to get thrown out with the bathwater when it was not necessary.

#5 BlueSky

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 05:58 PM

QUOTE(Randy @ Sep 13 2007, 06:18 PM) View Post
That's not all AJAX can be used for though BlueSky. Hence my advice to check out the page/site in question with JS disabled.

I wouldn't want the baby to get thrown out with the bathwater when it was not necessary.


I agree.



#6 Randy

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 08:27 PM

I know you do, because you know your stuff. wink1.gif

FTR, the reason I raised the spector is because I created a site that is 90% AJAX-driven a year of so ago just to play with it and see what could be done. Not only does the AJAX work wonderfully for real users and the surfing experience they receive, but the site is also completely spider friendly and has some 15,000 pages that have been crawled, indexed and ranking.

AJAX in my book is like pretty much every other scripting language. In the right hands it's a wonderful addition to the developer toolbox. In the hands of someone who doesn't understand the basics of what a search engine spider needs it's incredibly dangerous.

#7 christelle

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 07:59 AM

Thanks, you guys!

#8 BlueSky

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 09:09 PM

QUOTE(Randy @ Sep 13 2007, 09:27 PM) View Post
AJAX in my book is like pretty much every other scripting language. In the right hands it's a wonderful addition to the developer toolbox. In the hands of someone who doesn't understand the basics of what a search engine spider needs it's incredibly dangerous.


Yup. It's going to be intersting to see how SEO and interactive web pages (AJAX, Flash, etc) will work together in the future. I just don't see how page reloading for updates can can last too much longer (of course, it's not a question of bandwidth). Maybe we will see mechanisms that will declare different page states (and, therefore, changes in page content) in the future? How else could it work?

#9 Randy

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Posted 15 September 2007 - 06:59 AM

Well, here's a quick and dirty explanation of how I tackled the issue when I was building my test BlueSky, which should give you a good starting point.

When I put on my Design hat I first made sure I was utilizing AJAX with the same mindset I use with CSS. Meaning there was .html (or .php in my case) that was the underlying structure of the site, with CSS and AJAX laid on top of the foundation to provide a better Presentation or User Experience. If you want to search for more information on the approach it's sometimes called Progressive Enhancement, or has also picked up the shorthand name HiJax.

Basically you build your site like you normally would from the functional side of things. It may not be quite as pretty because you're not really worried about Presentation at this stage. Just make sure the site works.

Your link references (<a href=), form <form action=)references, etc, etc all end up pointing to real pages, just like they would if you weren't going to employ AJAX. This allows the spiders and JS-disabled viewers to crawl, surf and use the site.

Then you lay AJAX over the top of it all to produce your desired Presentation. The real beauty (and simplicity) of it is that you can make use of an onClick event for any link or form field you want to be AJAX enabled. Because onClick events will only be activated when a user has JS enabled, you can make use of those to send information to your AJAX processor. With a (usually smallish) bit of JS you can convert the onClick information into an XMLHttpRequest, effectively hijacking the click and have it processed by your AJAX rather than sending it all back to the server.

At the end of the day this causes the server connection to only return the tiny amount of information that's required, rather than sending back an entirely new page.

It sounds a lot harder than it actually is in practice. It's also a lot harder to explain than it is to do. It's been on my To Do list for some time now to produce a short tutorial of how I managed it, complete with example code that people could grab and reuse. I just haven't gotten to that yet with the crush of getting everything ready for the Christmas sales season.

#10 BlueSky

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Posted 15 September 2007 - 08:40 AM

Randy, I am thinking more along the lines of an industry wide solution that will allow SEO + AJAX type technologies to coexist without having to cobble a solution together on a case by case basis.

#11 nexenator

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Posted 15 September 2007 - 02:59 PM

In my opinion an ajax link should look like:
... href="http....your-regular-link-goes-here" onmouseover="this.href='#';" [onmousedown="this.href='#';"] onclick="ajaxpage(...);"...
(the [onmousedown...]-part is optional)

I use this little "ajax-seo-trick" for over 2 years now and it works like a charme. All pages are indexed properly and pages equiped like this offer an improved user-experience.

Another benefit of this strategy is that your indexed pages still point to the right content.

Finaly users are happy for faster loading pages and the search engines are happy having it easy spidering the page and last but not least I am happy to make everybody else happy ;-)

The only problem can be the missing back-button functionality, if not implemented separately.

#12 Randy

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Posted 16 September 2007 - 06:50 AM

QUOTE
Randy, I am thinking more along the lines of an industry wide solution that will allow SEO + AJAX type technologies to coexist without having to cobble a solution together on a case by case basis.


That one is probably going to be awhile coming yet BlueSky. Part of the problem is that AJAX developers aren't in an SEO mindset and/or don't understand what the search engines need, much like when the first PHP/ASP/etc carts started appearing on the scene several years ago. It'll take some time for them to come to the realization that they'll sell more of their AJAX products if they make them SEO friendly, separating Functionality from Presentation. The other part of the problem is that there are lots of ways to accomplish the task, though many of them are closely related.

The beauty of the Hijax method I mentioned above is that it's really simple to integrate into most dynamic carts and such. The base stuff stays the same as it is in the original templates. All you really do is add a little AJAX call to an onClick event, and if the original app was built with some decent modularity you can re-use the same variables. Meaning you can simply add the same calls to the back end template via onClick events and you're done. One small tweak to the template pages, one small external javascript file to handle the AJAX XMLHttpRequest calls and you're ready to roll.

hmm... Maybe that's what I should do with the tutorial. Take a well known cart like OSCommerce and AJAX-ify it to show how easy it really is.

#13 hulio

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 04:47 PM

When using ajax, is there any concern that the search engines will view content as "hidden"? Currently I have an on-page tabbed nav for product specifications - this prevents the page from having to be scrolled ad nauseum in order to read all the information (ie, Overview, Location, Rates...)

#14 Randy

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 08:10 PM

Nope. As long as user interaction can make the content visible you're golden.

Though I'm not sure I'd qualify that as Ajax. It sounds more like good old DHTML. With Ajax the hidden content wouldn't normally even be in the page code at all until a user click was used to call it into the page. If that's what you're doing you'll want to make sure to give the spiders other ways to reach that content. Otherwise they'll never see it, even though users will.




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