SMX East: Handling CSS, Ajax, And SEO

    October 7, 2008

Since most relevant recommendations are presented as and relate to standard English words, it’s not too hard to understand most of the SEO basics.  But stuff relating to CSS and Ajax can get a little confusing, so a session at SMX East tried to focus on a few tips and tricks.

(Coverage of the SMX East conference will continue at WebProNews Videos.  Keep an eye on WebProNews for more notes and videos from the event this week.)

Nathan Buggia, Microsoft’s lead program manager of Live Search Webmaster Central, started things off by directing people to look at the Arbor Snowboards site.  Although great for users, it’s much less so for search engines.  Buggia recommends that folks learn about some better alternatives at ("search friendly design patterns for web development).

Sharad Verma, Yahoo’s senior product manager of Web Search, later stepped up to give some more specific advice.  While CSS is good, he believes external CSS is better, for example.  You shouldn’t disallow CSS in robots.txt, and don’t hide text using CSS.  As for Ajax, use href links, use spot Ajax, and turn off JavaScript in your browser and ensure that the content is navigable.

"Search engines are getting there," Verma noted.  "We are not fully capable but we are making progress."

This brings us to Tony Adam, Yahoo’s SEO manager.  He recommends being strategic in your Ajax implementations, and applying progressive enhancement to the task.  Adam suggests working with standards or platform teams to build standard interactions, and looking at what Jeremy Keith has done.

One last, solid piece of advice from Adam: "Take care of things before it even starts."

WebProNews Video anchor Abby Johnson contributed to this report.