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I'm developing a website that uses a lot of AJAX. Now this is the first time I use AJAX and read something about making an AJAX website crawable

I don't have any experience of SEO, but I read about it. I've got multiple questions.

  1. Do Google crawlers follow links that are styled like this: <a href="producten/mica.html" class="ajax-popup-link-mica" style="display:none"></a> So with no text, and display set to none.

The reason I use this is because of a plugin I'm using, magnific popup. Magnific popup requires you to give links a certain class, and if you click it, a modal/popup will appear with ajax content, retrieved from the above link. (with out refreshing the page)

But the problem for me is that it won't change the browsers URL, so using this would make it impossible to send the link to someone else or to add it favourites. So what I did is use two links. The first one <a href="#!/producten/mica" class="product_link"> with a div inside it with product image and product text. When this is pressed the browser URL does get updated (without refreshing the page), then using JQuery/JavaScript it triggers the class="ajax-popup-link-productname" so the modal/popup is triggered.

So the main question is, is it necessary, using this technique, to also make the page AJAX crawlable. Or do I not have to, because the crawler can follow the link as seen in question 1?

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The question is what do you want? do you want users to be able to get to your content or do you want to have a kind of good position on search engines? –  PatomaS Mar 27 at 1:01
    
Well of course I would love both –  vincent kleine Mar 27 at 1:07
    
Then don't use any modal element that has content for the user and generate those pages. –  PatomaS Mar 27 at 1:11
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up vote 3 down vote accepted

I think that you may be interested in this article: Design AJAX-powered sites for accessibility. It's a very basic article, but it should give you some pointers about what to do and what not to do.

AJAX should be used to improve the experience on specific pages and elements of the site, but not to build a whole site.

For the user perspective, it's a bad decision because if the content they may be looking for is not there, it will be when they find the right combination of controls or menu options, but it's not there when they follow a link from a search result page.

From the SEO perspective, it's bad because you have less resources to show and get indexed, plus less internal links, less relevant text on links, less keywords, etc. Or you have artificial elements on the page just for the purpose of covering your deficiencies, which translates as double work and worst experience, plus you may be "penalized" for stuffing.

A bad AJAX experience diminishes the possibility of returning visitors.

That doesn't mean that you should not use AJAX, if it makes sense to do it then you should, or if there is a benefit for the user on using it. If the reason is because is "looks cool" or any other variation of this, then don't use it.

In any case, yes, Google can read AJAX requests and find the content, although it would be presented to the user on a SERP as on the same page as the requesting code. Read above, the user doesn't find the content they are looking for.

These links may be helpful to decide what to do:

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