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I heard if you serve different content with Javascript disabled, search Bots can penalize you. I have been looking at the source of the new Hulu website and wanted to ask a few questions. I was told to ask them here as opposed to StackOverflow. Your help will be much appreciated.

I am building a Backbone application, and the site is very Javascript heavy as you can imagine. I did not code the site with progressive enhancement in mind. I thought if Hulu can successfully do this, I am sure it is feasible.

With every page, Hulu has a content area (div id = "SEO") with links to its various videos. This SEO content area is removed with javascript. Obviously this will only be removed if Javascript is not disabled. If it is dsiabled, a no script tag is used covering the SEO content area asking the user to enable Javascript. So in essence, the Bot will still crawl the SEO content area.

99% of the content, from what I can see, is being served via JSON. Now the Bot obviously cannot read this content. However, all SEO Meta tags are served from the server with the content inside the SEO content area.

Now my question is: is this enough? Can I have a content area with just "enough seo" (H1 paragraph etc) so the Bots can get an understanding of what the page contains, then have my application takeover? Will I get penalized for serving different content?

I can have the page rendered on the server, but it does require much more work and I will then need to maintain both client and server side templates.

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There's more to the world than SEO. Once you reach a popularity of hulu just link popularity alone can be enough to drive rankings. If you even need rankings at all. –  John Conde Jan 6 '13 at 16:21
    
But what they are doing, would it be considered bad practice? I have a few pages that rely heavily on javascript, so there is hardly any content. If I just insert the proper description for the page, will it be indexed properly. Is it bad practice to put content in a page thats only going to be replaced by javascript anyway. –  TyroneMichael Jan 6 '13 at 16:28
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Hulu has had a massive advertising campagin in the past and there for SEO hasn't been important for them. Your find that even blank pages can rank if they have enough quality links and are a trusted site. Hulu is treated as a leading authority site for TV and Entertainment they are treated much differently than the average site is. For example they could make a new page bits and bobs and I'd expect them to instancely rank on the first page without any links due to the sheer amount of trust and authority, and links they have going to the site, of course that page will decrease over time in rankings if they don't establish links and social mentions but when you become an authority you don't really need to counter in to much SEO since most of its about your audience and if your audience is happy then the links keep coming and counter-any bad on page SEO effects ;)

Short Summary

Authority sites that are trusted well with Google don't need as much focus onpage SEO than us little guys but of course if they did use good SEO on the page they would rank even stronger for those words.

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Thanks for the answer. That makes sense, since their SEO content block contains nothing but links. –  TyroneMichael Jan 12 '13 at 8:47
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