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Web 2 (point) Uh-Oh and SEO

Posted on 11.06.2007
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Ajax, that powerful programming language gives developers the ability to improve the user-experience of their website with dynamic pages that act as web applications. The problem for those sites which utilize Ajax however (just like Flash) is that they are difficult to index for search engines. If you have an Ajax enabled site there is a good writeup on the subject over at the Google Webmaster Central Blog which should solve most, if not all, problems related to Ajax and SEO.

While the Googlebot is great at following the structure of HTML links, JavaScript navigation is another story. Google is recommending that site owners create a site that is crawlable by providing HTML links to their content. How do you do that? Design for accessibility of course! Users that are not using a JavaScript-capable browser (those using screen readers or mobile devices) experience this problem most often. Google is recommending that designers and developers develop with "progressive enhancement":

If you're starting from scratch, one good approach is to build your site's structure and navigation using only HTML. Then, once you have the site's pages, links, and content in place, you can spice up the appearance and interface with Ajax. Googlebot will be happy looking at the HTML, while users with modern browsers can enjoy your Ajax bonuses.

Since those building websites will have links requiring JavaScript for Ajax functionality, know that there is a way for Ajax and static links play nice. The solution is to format them so they offer a static link while calling a JavaScript function. For example:

According to the GWC Blog: "Note that the static link's URL has a parameter (?foo=32) instead of a fragment (#foo=32), which is used by the Ajax code. This is important, as search engines understand URL parameters but often ignore fragments."

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