SEO 2.0 for AJAX the Microsoft Way vs Best Practices


SEO 2.0 is not my invention neither did I coin the term. Many used it before and many do without having read this blog.

While my SEO 2.0 definition is still a little fuzzy it takes time to grasp the major shift that is going on all around us.

Thus I am always interested in what others say. I search from times to times for the term SEO 2.0 myself to find out how others define it.

In most cases I like what I read and see. In other cases I am quite disappointed though.

The SMX West conference in Santa Clara featured a panel about SEO 2.0

Although I am delighted by any attempts to make SEO 2.0 known I am deeply disappointed by the definition of SEO 2.0 given here:

Let’s say SEO 1.0 is about ensuring that 1990s-era web design techniques such as tables and frames are adjusted to minimize search engine ranking issues.

So far so good. That’s not completely wrong but apparently only covers the on page apsects of traditional SEO. They go on to state that:

[Now it’s about] … CSS, AJAX and other dynamic design techniques … . SEO 2.0 is all about ensuring that …[these]… are as search engine friendly…

It sounds like jumping out from the frying pan into the fire. Taking obsolete and search engine “hostile” (or at least not “friendly”) web development techniques and swapping them with a new, even worse ones.

A while ago I mused about writing an article on SEO for Web apps. I abandoned the endeavor because basically SEO for AJAX web based software often does not make sense at all.

You don’t want your office documents to appear on the Web in most cases. Otherwise it’s similar to Flash SEO: you have to mimic a real web page to optimize it for search engines. Also

creating AJAX web pages just for the looks of it does not make sense for findability.

Taking a look at the speakers you notice that in one case it’s understandable that they never have heard of any other SEO 2.0 concept.

One of the speakers is “Nathan Buggia, Lead Program Manager, Live Search Webmaster Central, Microsoft” who most probably does not read SEO blogs like this one.

In the case of the other two speakers I was a little more surprised but still they might have missed it for other reasons.

Another speaker is from Copenhagen in Denmark so he probably does not read English SEO blogs that much. At least not enough to come across this one.

The third or based on her competence rather the first speaker was Shari Thurow, the acclaimed author of Search Engine Visibility.

It’s one of the SEO books with both mass appeal due to the broad perspective as well as a high level of expertise.

Her appearance on that panel makes me quite happy in the end as I do not expect her to proclaim that “SEO 2.0 is replacing frames with AJAX”.

AJAX websites are in fact SEO 0.0 as you take at least two huge steps back.

For those of you who want a quick overview of what is needed to optimize AJAX applications for search engines make sure to take advantage of these best practices:

  1. Decide where your website ends and your application starts, as stated above, it does not make sense to make spiders crawl your Google Docs drafts, but the documents made public and archived instead
  2. Make sure you have a URL for each “page” you want to get spidered and indexed
  3. Load the basic contents containing the keywords at the beginning in a non-dynamic way
  4. Cache dynamic pages and serve them as static ones, you could even take snapshots of “pages” which contents change all the time and publish the snapshots
  5. Menu items, links and other crucial structural aspects of a site should work without AJAX and/or JavaScript, make them “degradable”
  6. Do not use AJAX for effects but for extra functionality that truly enhances the user experience


Last updated: August 29th, 2017.