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How To Search Engine Optimize (SEO) an AJAX or Web 2.0 Site

One of the three major pillars of Search Engine Optimization is a website’s content, and onsite content optimization. All of the major search engine ranking algorithms have components that relate to the content that is contained on the website. Typically these components relate to Keyword Densities, number of words, content location, and sometimes age of content. In regards to the code that the content is contained in that falls under the topic of structure and not content, and will not be discussed in this article.

Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX) is an advanced web development method which can be used to create more responsive and interactive dynamic websites. AJAX accomplishes this by making object request calls back to the web server without having to refresh your browser, these object calls are then processed and are typically used to update the content of the page on your website that is currently being viewed. For the sake of this Article I’m going to ignore the XML component of AJAX as the search engines never view any of the XML data. Websites that use Javascript to manipulate content without using AJAX will also suffer from the issues described.

When a search engine sends out a robot / spider to visit your website with the goal of indexing your content it is only looking at what is being presented in the Markup Language. Generally a search engine does not behave like a user when indexing your website, it doesn’t click buttons or links it simply makes note of URLs associated with each page then individually then visits these pages to index them. This largely goes against the goal of AJAX which is to have as few pages as possible by interacting with the web server in a smarter method as the users interact with the website.

To put the last paragraph simply any content that is changed via AJAX or Javascript on a webpage that is not hardcoded in a page won’t be cached by the search engines. This essentially means that if you have great content that the search engines may love but you’re using AJAX you may be missing out on traffic. There are two approaches to rectifying these which may even give you an advantage over sites that don’t utilize Javascript / AJAX.

The first approach is to make sure that your website degrades to normal flat markup language for non javascript capable browsers and search engines. Essentially every time you would have used an AJAX call make sure you have a page with the same content. Unfortunately for a lot of people this could mean a lot of work, for those individual using a database with PHP or ASP it is not too hard to build a site that builds itself with some effective web programming.

The second approach is to use AJAX in a more minimalist fashion. The goal here is to present the search engines with your optimized content while making sure that any AJAX calls a user would do has no bearing on what you want the search engines to see. In fact this can be used to remove content from your website which may negatively affect your rankings such as testimonials. I’ve seen very few testimonials that actually do good things for a sites keyword density, I’ve even been known to optimize testimonials on client’s websites. With Javascript / AJAX you could insert a random testimonial into a page and therefore not affecting that pages keyword density. The only downside to this approach is that some offsite keyword density tools actually use Web Browser rendering engines so they may get false results as it takes the Javascript into account.

Now you may think that I’m anti AJAX from everything that I’ve said, but there are times and places for AJAX, provided it doesn’t affect how the search engines see your beautiful relevant content your trying to rank. AJAX is great to use for Member sections of your website, interactive forms, slideshows, and a lot more it just needs to be leveraged correctly to avoid missing out on search engine visitors. The final thing to keep in mind is that most search engines like to see more than a single page website which many AJAX website appear to be, always strive for at least 5 or more indexable pages as internal links and anchor text can have a lot of value.

SEO news blog post by @ 2:13 pm on July 14, 2009


Wow – There’s A Lot Going On

Well – there’s a lot going on in the SEO world and as such, there’s a lot going on at Beanstalk. Over the past 2 days we’ve published 3 articles. I won’t get into the details of them all here – you can read them on our site. I’ll just summarize them so you know which might interest you:

Google Update – Beanstalk’s Jonathan and Kyle have spent the past few days ransacking the web for information, comments and posts about the current shakeup at Google and then have gone further to going back into the records and rankings of a number of clients to illustrate what we’re seeing as well. A good starting point for those of you wondering what the heck’s going on.

When To Do When Your Site Drops – An article written by yours truly on, well, what to do when yoru site drops in the rankings (see the article above for what inspired this one). It’s broken down into 5 steps.

SEO For Ajax – Daryl Quenet writes about SEO for Ajax and Web 2.0

I hope you enjoy reading them as much as we geeks have enjoyed researching and writing them. :)

SEO news blog post by @ 7:47 pm on July 9, 2009



Dude, where’s my site?

Has your website been swallowed by the Google SERPs? You may have noticed your page’s rank (as opposed to PageRank) jumping up and down like a yo-yo without reason?

There are a number of confusing theories as to the how and why. We here at Beanstalk are playing “Sherlock” trying to make sense of all this. Look for an article tomorrow regarding this SERP dance that has been making a buzz.


SEO news blog post by @ 6:04 pm on July 8, 2009



Bing Toolbox

Last week on Webcology on I had the pleasure of chatting with some of the fine folks at Bing to discuss their new engine Bing. I got a followup email from Brendan Blandy from Waggener Edstrom (the marketing folks for Bing) with some useful links for those interested in Bing.

If you care to follow Bing (and you should) then here’s where to go first:

See you there !

SEO news blog post by @ 6:02 pm on July 6, 2009



Who can afford to give free advice? (Why Write Articles)

Companies who give free advice often get benefits of recognition and media attention. These days that is more often via social media the likes of blogs, stumble upon, and digg, all of which are modern forms of “word of mouth advertising”. But they surpass word of mouth in that references from online social media may stick around years longer than a customers memory can recall things clearly. Information also moves so much faster in our modern world. A reference to your site online whether good or bad can generally spread a lot further a lot faster than good old fashioned “word of mouth advertising”. Not to mention that the references stick around a long time and continue to be viewed by more and more web surfers as time goes on.

So why not take advantage of that and publish all manner of resources to garner some attention? At first glance for a businessman it might seem a bit strange to publish resources on say fishing if you’re a fisherman. Or if you’re the best jewel smith you would think you should keep your tips and tricks to yourself. However the reality is most of the people who see this information and think “it’s cool” are never going to be at a level of expertise to become your competition. They still would need thousands of dollars in training and tools to match the quality your business already offers. Not to mention that most of your tips and tricks are probably known among industry professionals so you’re not really divulging any secrets that could affect your customer base are you? If anything a few amatuers might try your advice and find they’re unable to achieve the quality you are. They’ll be able to appreciate your companies workmanship even more.

If authors were worried about competition text books would only be written by retired professionals. Instead active industry professionals are often the one’s writing new resources because it gains them respect and a reputation in the industry. Online that respect and reputation can translate to your businesses website being a hot topic and resources you publish have a chance to spread among social media attracting all kind of buzz in your direction. The question is will you be ready to keep up?

Free tools, tutorials, howto’s and various other resources and gadgets really are the way of the web. Domaintools? MXtoolbox? Tizag? Howstuffworks? All of these services monitize themselves in some way. Some of these monitize themselves with advertisements but others are built by a particular business strictly to promote themselves or their partners.

Customers love when you give them things for free. You might be a bit aprehensive the first time your business is asked to publish free advice. But consider advanced fields like the software industry or web design and think about how long it took you and your employees to get where you are? Did it happen overnight? Unlikely. It probably took years of your spare time learning your trade either at home in your coding cave or at College or University.

Don’t be a protectionist in a time where free tips are the the norm. Your contributions may help people with their coding hobby. (some of which will go on to be professionals after years of dedication) Most people are likely to realize they can’t compete with the level of quality your company can produce in such a short time. Then there are those who fiddle around and find out at some point that they don’t have the time to do it themselves. Meanwhile your real competitors already know the score themselves so your free resources probably won’t help them any.

Out of the few prodigies that can turn a professional product from your tutorials and other resources have you really lost any business? This person obviously had the time, the talent, the ambition and the desire to do things themselves. Were they ever a potential client?

There are already many do it yourself programming and web design communities and resources out there. Why not add to the pool and get your name spread around blogs, twitter, instant messages, discussion boards, and more?

SEO news blog post by @ 3:19 pm on July 2, 2009



Google Update

For those of you who haven’t noticed – there’s an update going on over at Google. It’s lasted about a week and I first reported it back on Tuesday.

What appears to be happening is that they’re trying to react to some aspect of backlinks but unfortunately the house of cards is teetering and cr@p results are climbing to the top for many search queries. I liken it to pulling a loose thread on a sweater only to find that that threat was holding together the entire cuff.

Basically – it appears that a small adjustment in the algorithm has created undesired affects elsewhere. Let’s use an example of how this happens though admittedly – I don’t know or even have a good guess yet on what they changed in this case – this is JUST AN EXAMPLE. I am NOT suggesting that this is the change or even the logic behind the change, In fact, I can guarantee it’s not.

OK – now that that’s out of the way – let’s say for example that Google wanted to decrease the value of reciprocal links and in doing so setup an internal filter that checked for links to domains and from domains and where there was a positive match that the domains each linked to the other – that in such a case the value of those links would be zeroed out. This seems like a logical way to negate recip links HOWEVER if a Harvard professor find a thesis document posted on the MIT website valuable and links to it and an MIT student in their blog finds a research paper on the Harvard site to be relevant to their subject – should these links be negated and if we devalue both the Harvard and MIT websites – will the results for queries relevant to these studies be better?

This is just an example but a clear one as to how efferts to address one area can have undesired affects in others and of course – at this stage in their evolution they’ve got far more subtle aspects to their algorithm and so very many of them that a tweek in one area can have totally unpredictable affects on other areas.

At the end of the day however the results are worse than they were previously and thus, a change will come. I will put myself out there and predict further updates this evening or tomorrow (Friday) that will likely last through the weekend as Google works to address whatever issue they were originally working on but reducing and/or eliminating the undesired results in the form of lackluster sites improving in the rankings.

I will be monitoring and blogging about this update as it unfolds.

I should also note that I don’t get an email from Matt Cutts letting me know when these updates happen (no really – it’s true). My guesstimates are based on past patterns and thus – I may be off by a bit but Google tends to follow a similar pattern about 70 to 80 percent of the time.

Enjoy the ride and have a great long weekend !!!

SEO news blog post by @ 1:16 pm on



Happy Canada Day !!!

I just wanted to make a special notice to all our clients and website visitors that we will be closed tomorrow for the July 1st holiday. It’s Canada Day up here in the great white north (which isn’t all that white now as we hover around 21 degrees (that’s about 70 degrees to those of you south of the border). :)

So to our Canadian friends – Happy Canada Day and to our American friends – we look forward to serving you upon our return.

SEO news blog post by @ 7:01 pm on June 30, 2009



Trust Not What You See On Google – Or Firefox

Just wanting to put out a general head’s up that there appears to be some massive fluctuations going on in the Google SERPs and from what I can see – at least some form of the algorithm is garbage producing, to say the least, entirely lackluster results.

As we all know – this happens from time-to-time and I can’t blame them, they have so many updates that sometimes it’s just not going to work out. So – before madly ransacking your results and tearing apart your site based on the current results (never a good idea anyways) just wait a couple days. We’ll let you know here also when it appears to be stabilizing.

Also – don’t download the new Firefox update just yet. A lot of the extensions aren’t working on the new version yet. And sorry to Daryl here for having to be the guinea pig. :)

SEO news blog post by @ 11:56 am on



Google And … Of Course … Bing

In preparation for today’s show on Webmaster Radio I did my obligatory ransacking of the web for SEO news. Of course – I do this on a regular basis but on Thursdays I dedicate a solid couple hours to just this one task as opposed to the “when I get a chance” aspects of most other days.

Today I found a few interesting stories and so rather than report of something we’ve discovered or putting my spin on some news I’m going to simply list of a number of interesting news stories, perhaps a bit of a summary on why they’re important (in my humble opinion) and a link to the radio show where I discussed them in more detail.

First – let’s look at Google.

Didn’t get to this on the show (week-after-week we run out of time) but they’re pushing hard to get broadband into more regions of the world and get fast wireless access to cover more areas.

Of course they’re only looking out for us right? Wrong. As Greg Sterling rightfully points out over at Search Engine Land in his post, “Google Wants The Web To Go Faster“, Google’s motives here are purely driven by self interest. That said, their self interest coincides nicely with the interests on most tech companies and with consumers so it seems that having the budget and interests on Google on our side just might get things rolling in our favor.

And for those of you who might have missed it the first 83 times they said it – here’s a video from Matt Cutts (Google Guru) on quality directories vs paid links:

All right – now on to Bing.

Our regular readers will know that I’m getting sick-and-tired of reporting more positive news on Bing. Well today I get a mixed bag which is better than nothing.

On one hand – Bing’s share of paid links has increased by 13% since it’s launch. Let’s remember – this is where search companies make their money so this statistic is HUGE. You can read more about this on WebProNews.

Now the fun part for me – SE Round Table has brought a discussion to light that Microsoft has increased the traffic they’re sending in the form of bots looking for suspicious websites. Alright – that sounds good HOWEVER this traffic may well be skewing their referrer stats that all the previous good news is based on. The amount of traffic to some sites is up ten fold since the switch to Bing which is huge for traffic and could well amount to much of the search market share increases being reported.

I haven’t looked far into this at this time and so I don’t really have a side of the discussion however it’s definitely a story to follow. You can read the article and follow a discussion on the subject over at SE Round Table here.

Obviously there’s a lot of other news out there. Today I high recommend visiting Search Brains. They’re always good but today I was especially impressed with the quality and diversity of news.

SEO news blog post by @ 2:32 pm on June 25, 2009



If All Three Report It … It Must Be True

If all three search engines agree … it must be true right? If that’s the case then Beanstalk SEO is composed of the nicest staff and people you’ll meet. For our regular blog readers you’ll remember that last Friday I decided to run a test when I found that “polite seo” was actually a searched term to see how long it would take us to rank. 3.5 hours later it was ranking top 3 on Google for the phrase, then disappeared and early in the week the page was ranking #1 (woohoo … WE ROCK … secured a #1 ranking for a phrase with ~1 search/day :)

Well I just checked today and now we’ve got #1 on all three engines which means (since they can’t all be wrong right?) that Beanstalk SEO is the most polite of SEO firms. That’s all for now my good ladies and gentlemen. Please do excuse me whilst I end this blog post though I do hope you don’t take it as an insult that I’m not taking more time. I must sleep to serve you in the manner you so richly deserve.

With sincere best wishes and kind regards …

SEO news blog post by @ 12:21 am on



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