Before getting into an understanding of the fuss surrounding the co-existence AJAX and SEO, let us first answer the question. Can SEO and AJAX co-exist? The answer is that the two will definitely have to co-exist, and both developers and end-users will stand to benefit from this.

Emerging technologies tend to have an uncomfortable relationship with existing techniques. The obvious reason is that the existing techniques are created on the basis of existing technologies. AJAX and SEO share a similar relationship.

Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX) brings together various technologies to create a technique that make web pages more like web applications. The key benefit of AJAX is that the page has a greater sense of interactivity, and the user requests are rendered in smaller portions. In other words, AJAX enables the creation of a scenario that is both data-centric and user-centric. Developers were skeptical towards the use of AJAX, but with the introduction of the Google Web Toolkit (GWT) this changed drastically. GWT made AJAX easier for developers to create applications in, and needless to the say the end user stands to benefit the most from this.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a technique used to enhance the visibility of a website vis-Ã -vis search engines. Using various SEO techniques, websites enhance their visibility so that they would be ranked high on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP). SEO has become a part of the development lifecycle of websites. Companies, big and small, are becoming increasingly aware about the importance that SEO has, and what it can do for their business.

There was widespread apprehension about AJAX, and its invisibility to search engines. Words like search engine unfriendly were being used to describe AJAX. What was happening with AJAX was reminiscent of the fate that Flash had faced before this. JavaScript, which is what AJAX applications use, is not visible to search engine spiders. In other words, when a search engine spider is crawling a website that is created using AJAX, most of the content would not be visible. The reason for this is that since smaller portions of content are rendered with AJAX, there are no unique URL’s that a search engine can direct searchers too. In other words, the whole purpose of enhancing interactivity would fail.

This can be better explained with this example. If you a product catalog with x number of products on it, you would obviously want that the search engine has a distinct page for every one of the products on the list. When you create this catalog using AJAX, all the information is there on the same page for the user to click and explore. But from the point of view of the search engine crawler, there is one page and therefore it does not direct any traffic to the individual products on your page. One way to circumvent this problem is to create a parallel site targeted for search engine spiders, and other browsers that do not support JavaScript. This is one available option that many websites have already successfully employed to make the two ends meet. And there are in fact, many success stories of websites that have used AJAX, and found ways in which to ensure that the content is visible to search engine spiders.

In other words, the solution lies in being aware of the problems that SEO for an AJAX application would pose, and to counter the same during the construction stage. For instance, in the first load of your AJAX application you must include optimized elements like TITLE and headers. Also ensure that your rewrite your url in the form of a fixed address which the search engines must be able to index and therefore rank Yet another way out is to create as many internal links as possible. Keyword specific inbound links that point towards a specific section, not just the homepage of the website, would also be beneficial.

AJAX saves time that is otherwise spent on refreshing or reloading a page. SEO makes sure that all the hard work that is put in by writers, designers, and developers pays off and the target audience is able to reach the website – their desired destination. The importance of both AJAX and SEO cannot be undermined. And their significance is such that no website owner would want to compromise to make use of one and forgo the other. The co-existence of AJAX and SEO does not seem like a distant dream at the moment. If new technology creates roadblocks for existing techniques, it also often makes way for newer techniques to flourish.

Avion Technology, Inc.
Web design and development

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