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Google Discontinues Support for Crawling AJAX Websites

For some time, search giant Google, has been hinting at discontinuing its AJAX crawling scheme. What does that mean for you? Quite a bit if you have an AJAX Website. Don’t panic though Google will still index your site…. If you take certain steps.

A Little History

In 2009 Google announced a scheme for crawling and indexing content on websites built with AJAX. Up to that point, content on AJAX sites were black boxes to search engine spiders. In 2009, Google said, “Not solving AJAX crawlability holds back progress on the web.” So they implemented a scheme for indexing content on AJAX sites.

Fast forward six years to March 2015 and we find Google announcing its discontinuation of the AJAX crawling scheme. On October 14th, Google made it official: “We are no longer recommending the AJAX crawling proposal we made back in 2009” (Google Webmaster Blog).

So why the reversal? In short, changes in technology and web development have created better options for getting rich, dynamic content indexed on Google so the AJAX scheme is no longer needed.

What is AJAX?

AJAX, or Asynchronous JavaScript and XML, is a technology that melds XML, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript together for use in creating rich, interactive websites. The platform uses XHTML for content, CSS for presentation, and JavaScript for dynamic content display.

Or in other words, AJAX is a technology that allows websites to respond to user interaction in real time. You’ve seen this before when completing an online questionnaire, for example. You click on option, and AJAX displays another set of questions based on the option you select. It’s very powerful technology. The problem for search engines is that all that content can’t be crawled and indexed.

I Have an AJAX Site: What Do I Do?

While Google’s announcement is significant, you can easily make your AJAX website crawlable by making sure your CSS and JavaScript files aren’t blocked from search engine spiders. (Typically where they might be blocked is in the robots.txt file.) As long as Google can crawl your CSS and JavaScript files, you should be good to go. For information on editing your robots.txt file, check out this resource.

The Even Bigger Picture

Chances are if your concerned about your AJAX website, it’s time to consider a website redesign. Lots of things have changed since 2009. The rise of mobile search and Google’s new rule on mobile design, algorithm changes such as Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird – all these have altered the search landscape so your four-year-old website is probably not working for your business anymore. Your website could be costing your money.

Contact us for a free, 30-minute consultation and we will show you how we can bring your business’s website current with best practices.

Jeff McElhattan

By Jeff McElhattan
Imagine That, Inc.
Digital Marketing Strategist
Frisco Colorado