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Serving Alternate Content To The Search Bot


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#16 Drew

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Posted 29 July 2009 - 11:27 AM

Maybe I need to give some more background, because I think I may be misrepresenting the purpose somehow. I really don't think what we're doing is 'dangerous' at all, but I want to be sure we're not missing anything.

The form I'm talking about here is a job search utility. Google et al cannot index the search results (job descriptions) because they cannot submit the search form, which uses both a POST method and javascript. In order to get the engines to the jobs, we're serving the bot with a hyperlink that returns a list of links to all of the jobs instead of the form submit button. The content seen by the user is 100% identical to the content seen by the bot... the only difference is that the bot always is served all of the job listings, while the user only gets the ones that match their search criteria.

I thought the NOSCRIPT tag was the proper way to serve alternate content that would otherwise be inaccessible without script (which is what we have... the search form does not work if script is disabled), but since that doesn't seem to be working, the only solution the developers can think of here is to provide a "list everything" link instead of a "list only matching results" form submit button. Am I missing something?

#17 Jill

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Posted 29 July 2009 - 11:45 AM

Is there a reason why you don't/can't just also add a browsing feature where you link to the various categories of jobs via static links?

That's typically my recommendation for those types of sites.

#18 Drew

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Posted 30 July 2009 - 09:47 AM

That was my first recommendation as well. smile.gif Unfortunately, we have hundreds and hundreds of sites already integrating this system into their web pages and any change, even a minor one, is a huge project that would require a lot of developer time and also a lot of twiddling at the client's end. We're just trying to get the content into the index with the least amount of pain and suffering until we have the resources for a long-overdue revamp...

#19 Jill

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Posted 30 July 2009 - 11:19 AM

You could submit an XML sitemap. (Not sure if that's been said already in this thread.)

#20 Drew

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 12:05 PM

Can you give me some more detail on how a sitemap would function in this case? I've used them with static sites before, but I am not sure how we'd submit a sitemap that gives the search engine access to dynamic pages. We'd still end up back at the issue of there being no bot and user viewable page that links to all of the job records.

I really do appreciate the brainstorming assistance!

#21 Jill

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Posted 03 August 2009 - 11:09 AM

You would need to add the resulting URL that one gets once they submit the form, to the xml sitemap.

#22 Drew

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Posted 03 August 2009 - 11:57 AM

Hmm... looks like I've got some research ahead of me then. We don't have any sitemap at all right now because the URLs are constantly changing. We'd first have to write some sort of program to generate the sitemap and keep it up to date before we could submit it.

Of course, a sitemap only solves Google indexing. It looks like I can finally go to management and say "look, there is no way to get our stuff into the index without risking a block unless you dedicate some time and money to a rebuild". I think that's probably the only way to get anything working if there's no way to get the engine around the submit button...

#23 Randy

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Posted 03 August 2009 - 01:11 PM

Possibly silly question here...

Is there reason you cannot change the POST submit to a GET submit?

The reason I ask is that I've noticed Google indexing a lot more site search stuff over the last year or so, to the point that if you can just give them a little sniff they seem to run with it. At least that's what I'm seeing with my own sites. The difference being that a GET request makes the urls unique where POST doesn't.

#24 Scottie

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Posted 04 August 2009 - 01:20 PM

Just for my own curiosity... why are the URL's constantly changing? Apologies if I missed that somewhere.

If you are passing a link behind the scenes to search engines... why can't that link be visible on the page? It doesn't seem to require a huge redesign, but I may be missing the obstacle.

A simple link that says "Browse Jobs by Category" or however you are feeding them to the spiders would allow humans to also access those pages.




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