Parsing SEO From the Ground Up – Part 2

parserpart2ajaxSEO and Dynamic Content

In our last post we talked about SEO and its relationship to web design.  In particular, we looked at how web crawlers parse pages.  The parser’s functionality provides a guideline as to how your web designer should approach constructing your website.  In this post, let’s focus on some specific web technologies like AJAX, Dynamic Pages and FLASH, to determine how they may effect your website’s parsibility.

Dynamic Pages

The modern website relies heavily on up-to-date and accurate data.  The solution has become dynamic pages such as ASP, JSP and PHP.  These technologies allow for the retrieval of data, that’s not only accurate, but specific to the needs of each site viewer.  They’ve also become the foundation of many content management systems, which rely on storing content  in databases (we’re going to talk about CMS in another post).  Dynamic page data doesn’t become content until the browser requests the page.  The underlying code retrieves the data, and then integrates the content with the existing html– that’s the good news.  Parsers crawl dynamic data, just like any other data.   That fact does imply that your designer must ensure the integrated html utilizes parser friendly coding– using such things as ‘div’ tags rather than ‘table’ tags to arrange data.  You must also be aware of how your links are created. 


So dynamic data parses fine, as long as we follow good CSS design rules.   As part of your CSS design audit, you will want to review page links.  If your links call functions, not urls, you’ll be back in the parser dead zone.  Parsers can’t run script, they look for urls.  So if your links are script driven, the likelihood exists some content won’t get parsed. To figure out if your links are script driven, open your browser to any page.  Mouseover the different links.  At the bottom left hand corner of your browser window, you’ll see the link destination.  If this destination doesn’t contain a url, but something that looks like computer code, bet on the parser skipping that link. 

Look for URLs when mousing over links in your browser.

Look for URLs when mousing over links in your browser.

The Web 2.0 trend has fueled a rise in scripted links.  That’s because more and more websites utilize AJAX.  AJAX is a great technology.  In short, it lets the browser retrieve data from the server without reloading the web page.  The down side of AJAX in relation to SEO– AJAX links generally require scripted links.  The answer is to utilize scripted links only when necessary, or provide an alternative linking system if possible.  If you use AJAX to generate pricing pages for your business’s different offerings, you’re probably fine.  If you utilize AJAX to generate marketing pages containing large amounts of text, you may be better served just creating new pages.

FLASH: The Buck– That Is Parser Stops Here

FLASH provides dynamic content better than any other web technology.  For that reason, it will always have a place at the web design table.  But just like anything else, too much of a good thing can be bad.  FLASH resides on your web page as  a separately compiled program. In simple terms, the parser treats FLASH content like an image– it realizes it’s there, but any text contained in the image isn’t parsed.  You mean I can’t use FLASH? Yes you can, but utilize it strategically.  Avoid FLASH based menus, or presenting core content important to SEO in flash components.  Unfortunately the parser has no way of reading the content.  If you rely on a FLASH driven main menu, the parser can’t follow the links– those are pages that don’t get ranked in the search engine.

There may be reasons you want to keep your FLASH based content.  No problem, just make sure you provide some traditional linking system to access the data in a non-FLASH format.  This is a good idea anyway, as you’ll also make your site more 508.b compliant.

The Great Technology Divide

Web 2.0 and dynamic page technologies are here to stay.  There’s no reason to not utilize these tools to enhance your website.  Just keep in mind when and where to use them.  Understand how they effect search engine parsing, and keep an open dialogue with your web designer concerning parsibility.

In tomorrow’s post we’ll talk about ways to validate that your content is being parsed.


1 Response to “Parsing SEO From the Ground Up – Part 2”

  1. 1 nsyndxllc January 8, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    Here’s a great article on getting your links SEO. Very good information.

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