In New York recently I was upset to have missed a seminar on optimizing AJAX websites for rankings. Fortunately Liz Camps of the Big Green Blog took some fantastic notes and summarized the seminar. I highly recommend the read for those who anticipate they will be implementing AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript & XML). I know, it sounds awfully fancy but I expect to see a dramatic increase in use of AJAX by StepForth’s clients over the next 2 years.

Here is an excerpt from Liz’s synopsis:
“If you’re planning to use AJAX on your site, or if your web site already contains AJAX, you’ll need to take some extra steps to protect your natural rankings in major search engines. As long as you follow a few guidelines, you can make AJAX work without any impact on your SEO. But if you don’t follow these guidelines, your search rank can suffer.”

As it turns out the search engine un-friendliness of AJAX mirrors many of the disadvantages of FLASH. As a result, the solution to search engine friendly design with AJAX is not to use it as the basis for the entire website but to (much like FLASH) integrate it within spiderable content such as text content and links or other JavaScript-free content.

I highly doubt FLASH and AJAX will always pose such a barrier to search engines but for now and the near future you will need to utilize this technology carefully to allow search engines to access content on your site.