Google Offers A Proposal To Make AJAX Crawlable

It’s one of the most common pieces of SEO advice you’ll find: Don’t build your web site with AJAX if you want it to be crawled and indexed by search engines. AJAX-based web sites are essentially a locked and bolted door when a spider comes crawling.

At our SMX East conference today, Google has announced a proposal to change that, a new standard that would make AJAX crawlable. If it comes to pass, and if the other major search engines go along with the idea, the proposal could serve as a green light for developers wanting to enjoy the rich features of using AJAX while not sacrificing search engine visibility.

The details of Google’s proposal are, to this non-developer, highly technical and more than I care to recap here. (Read Google’s blog post, linked above, for the details.) Google’s goals in creating the new standard are summed up in less technical language:

  • Minimal changes are required as the website grows
  • Users and search engines see the same content (no cloaking)
  • Search engines can send users directly to the AJAX URL (not to a static copy)
  • Site owners have a way of verifying that their AJAX website is rendered correctly and thus that the crawler has access to all the content

Google estimates that about 70% of all web content is created dynamically, and that figure is likely to grow. “This hurts search,” Google says. “Not solving AJAX crawlabilty holds back progress on the web.” Those quotes are from a Google Docs presentation deck about the proposal, embedded below.

Google is asking for feedback on the proposal in the Google Webmaster Central help forum.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: SEO | Google: Web Search | Top News


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • Duane Forrester

    Bound to happen. If the mountain won’t come to Mohammad, Mohammad will go to the mountain.

    Good for them for putting this forward – truly a step in the right direction in terms of working with those who matter to you.

  • click2dennis

    This was a very interesting proposal. The audience seemed stunned at first because I don’t think there were lots of developers in the room. Although it may seem highly technical, It’s definitely worth exploring. I think that the audience did at least understand the need for the solution. I’m surpised by the use of yet another special character (the exclamation mark) but if developers will adopt, it will be good for search.

  • Robert

    Finally, Google gives in to AJAX. More and more sites nowadays relies on AJAX, because it is easily customizable and minor tweaks are needed when changing something within a site.

    Let’s see what more changes are happening within Google.

  • Jowita Blak

    Great! I’m sure many web developers and SEOs will feel relieved. Currently the Web contain so much dynamic content and Ajax is a truly fantastic solution for serving it. AJAX improves user experience and its ability to pull data from the server after the page has loaded contrasts with the traditional website architecture. We should see more and more websites using AJAX and users won’t longer have to wait for the pages to reload to see new results from the server. Another barrier removed…look forward to further improvemnts in google’s crawling technology.

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