I've asked this before on Stackoverflow, but I figured moving it here would be appropriate.

For presentational reasons, I'm currently build an Ajax/parameter driven page. I'm trying to figure out how to present it to Google properly, which brought me to Google's page here. The backend of the page would allow me to present a "static" version of the page with php. This raises the following question for me:

What does Google want/allow in the html snapshot? Do I need to present it with the excessive styling I use in the user version, or can I simply serve it the plain text/image content I dynamically get in the user version? Also, can I have different metadata in the Google version? (that is, specific metadata for every parameter based url, since altering it with javascript on the page itself would not be visible to Google?)

I hope i have made myself clear here.


  • I've deleted my answer because your mention of snapshot made me think you were talking about the instant preview crawling that Google does. Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 11:49

1 Answer 1


Why don't you just make sure your Ajax powered content is crawlable? Otherwise you're essentially building your site twice which is just silly. But if you take this route do not use different meta data. Even though meta tags do not affect rankings you may still run the risk of being seen as serving up special content to the search engines which is considered black hat and can get you penalized or banned.

  • Ok then, but is my understanding correct, that if i would set metadata like a description or a title using javascript, the "htmlunit" headless browser google mentions would set those as plain html?
    – Lg102
    Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 12:28

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