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I was looking through the blog comments of an Alexa top 20,000 site, and I noticed something odd: when a comment is viewed in the source (or in Firebug with JS turned OFF) the author's name is written like this:

<cite class="fn"><a href='http://example.co.uk' rel='external nofollow' class='url'>Example</a></cite>

What they are doing here is they have a static list of comments cached, using the HTML above, but when the page is loaded with JS, it AJAX calls a database of comments (the same as the static cached comments) but when it loads (it takes about 10 seconds) the same comments are written as below (this time viewed in Firebug with JS turned ON)

<p class="idc-i"><a href="http://example.co.uk"> Example </a><em class="idc-time"></p> 

To be clear this is the EXACT same part of the page with the exact same comment below (not shown in these examples), the only part I've changed in the above code is changing the link and anchor tag to example.

Any idea why they would want to do this?

Which version of the code would a search bot see, as I believe they now process JS when the scrape a page?


I don't really want to disclose the name of the site as I fear it will be spammed if it is indeed allowing to follow blog comments on such a high profile site.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

It's quite likely that the forum software they are using doesn't really support the mechanisms Google and others need to read the AJAX content - as it's not as simple as just "processing the HTML":

Making AJAX Applications Crawlable

So the idea would be, the site loads the static HTML that is refreshed with a particular frequency (daily/hourly/etc.) that can be crawled by all spiders, and that quite sensibly includes nofollow attributes. The script will then load the most uptodate content for that area, as well as enable AJAX pagination, etc.

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+1 I agree, I don't think the search engines will see the AJAX generated content in this instance. And rel="external nofollow" is pretty much only relevant for SEO and will otherwise just use a bit of extra bandwidth so there is little need to include it. But also, by not including it they are perhaps duping the unwary into thinking that links in their posted comments will benefit them SEO wise!? –  w3d Jun 7 '13 at 19:07
    
@w3d - yeh i thought that as well, obviously pure spam comments will be caught by akismet (or similar), but it may be a ploy to draw people into the conversation, having there Name as a backlink to them. –  sam Jun 7 '13 at 20:27
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