Posted January 3, 2007 10:28 pm by with 5 comments

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AJAX is not the page view killer some would suggest. It will suffer the same fate as Flash, and Google will be holding the smoking gun.

AJAX is the latest and greatest thing since sliced bread. It’s going to change the way we surf the web if you believe the hype.

I personally love it. The problem is search engines don’t and when I say search engines, I mean search engine. If you actually take a step back and look at the landscape, you will see it is Google who is in charge of deciding how we develop our websites. They tell us what other ads we can use if we want to run adsense. They dictate what links we must place nofollow tags on to stay within their guidelines. Their algorithm determines how we should link our sites if we want proper link weight distribution to obtain rankings. Google for the most part controls the flow of traffic and revenue on the web.

The boss is really excited about the new AJAX enabled site he is having developed. After all, it has all the hip web 2.0 features that he is sure are going to be part of making it a huge success. It won’t take too long before the 2.0 intoxication wears off and Google reality sets in. The new site isn’t obtaining the traffic it needs to make a profit. He could decide to cloak but that is a no-no to Google. He could create a mirror site for the search engines to index, but then none of those subpages on the mirror will have deep links and with Google’s current algorithm it will be dead in the water. In the end, it will be back to a good old HTML/CSS website which search spiders love.

AJAX isn’t going anywhere but it isn’t going to change the face of the net either. After the web 2.0 party is over, AJAX will find a proper balance on Internet as something used for backend interfaces and search results where search spiders have no business anyways.

The good news is many SEOs are going to make a killing cleaning up overzealous AJAX websites.

  • Pingback: My hesitation to use a lot of AJAX on my websites « matteh, a dev junky()

  • Jeremy,

    Excellent point. However, there are ways to code the page so that most of the content inside AJAX would be crawlable, or viewable by visitors with JavaScript disabled, if you’re the usability junky 😉


  • I totally agree with Andrey. The spiderable content doesn’t need to have AJAX. The main interface to call the spiderable content can have AJAX *and* Googleable keywords in the right places.

    Anyway, AJAX is mostly for applications like calendaring, billing, spreadsheets 🙂 SEO techniques will still be in force to help Google find the entry page & associated blog content by the owners/engineers.

    Google engineers are crazy over AJAX, trust me. Just look at their developer APIs & Maps. So we see that AJAX is primarily for applications and not for content in the traditional sense.

    Don’t write Yahoo! off, even for SEO. Their YUI AJAX libraries are also very widely used. They have heavy traffic because of AJAX.

    With all due respect – and I *love* your blog, I think you really don’t understand AJAX or Google, hence this poorly titled post. I guess anyone who hasn’t typed “new XMLHttpRequest();” nested in an exception-handling routine really doesn’t either.

  • Simon,
    you really should learn not to make assumptions about other people. I’ve been programming for the web since ’99 so I think I might have a little bit of an idea about what I speak of.

    Your under the assumption that developers aren’t using AJAX page generation for content that should be spiderable and plenty of them are. There are those developers who are just oblivious to the SEO implications. Then there are some that are under the opinion that the search engines should adapt to a web with no page reloads when the reality is, Google is the one dictating the terms of this agreement. These are the one the title was directed towards. The people who are pushing for AJAX to change the way we surf. It’s just not going to happen. And no I am not referencing online applications when I use the word “surf.”

    It’s the same thing that happened with flash. When something is new and hot, people overdo it. In the end, it will all even out.

    coding content inside AJAX so it is still spiderable is the same thing as creating a mirror. The problem is the URL in the address bar doesn’t change for the user and it does for the spiders. In the end, the mirrored content will never rank because it will get no links. Also, the next generation algo’s will likely be based on user data, so the mirrored pages will still get no love from the search engines.

  • Jeremy,

    There is no point for us to argue, we seem to be on the same page 🙂 All I am saying is that there are ways to make AJAX crawable, or at least more search engine friendly. Of course, most people won’t bother. So, yes, even if there are ways to optimize AJAX (just like there are ways to optimize Flash), website owners and designers will be compelled to create “simpler” pages in order to rank better. And, of course, ranking well on Google is the ultimate goal for many so indirectly Google will influence the success of AJAX.