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I have pages that I've disallowed in robots.txt and if I don't want those pages to leak link juice to external and internal links that appear on those pages.

Questions:

  • If I "hide" these links via AJAX what SEO related pros and cons would this method give me?
  • Why should/shouldn't I use that method?
  • How exactly to hide the links via AJAX for the best effect?
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    First mistake leak link juice, that's so late 1990's, early 2000... if pages are useful, they should be indexed period. Trying to shape URLS so juice flows more to others is a foolish thing to do in this era, not only does it dampen user experience it also effects your SEO when people link to these pages. Second mistake Link juice to external... You should link at as much as possible to relevant content, it enhances your authority, and it the user experience. You should only hide pages that contain sensitive data, i.e admin areas. You should only use nofollow when its not a trusty site. – Simon Hayter Jun 5 '15 at 10:47
  • I highly recommend you check out moz.com and other reputable SEO sites with information no older than 1-2 years. – Simon Hayter Jun 5 '15 at 10:53
  • As bybe says. But even in the 1990's, how would pages blocked by robots.txt leak anything - the search engines never see those pages? Also, why "AJAX" (Search engines are a lot less likely to see this. But I thought the point was to influence the search engines)? – MrWhite Jun 5 '15 at 11:58
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Hiding links via AJAX on pages disallowed for indexation for SEO. Good or Bad & Why?

I can honestly see zero benefit in doing this, so therefore, my answer to your question is Bad.

I have pages that I've disallowed in robots.txt and if I don't want those pages to leak link juice to external and internal links that appear on those pages.

Any properly built search engine will have the decency to obey robots.txt and not process the pages that robots.txt specifically blocks.

This means that whatever anchor target URLs are applied to that page would not have any meaning in terms of link juice distribution unless the target URL is accessible from another URL that the robot is allowed to access.

For this reason, you're wasting time trying to invent something that doesn't need inventing unless you have a crawler that disrespects robots.txt that is a good robot that indexes everything on your site which I doubt.

Why should/shouldn't I use that method?

There are more problems with using AJAX in your case. Users with slow internet connections running web browsers with Javascript enabled will see the links for a brief amount of time before they disappear, and they will only disappear if there are no timeout or other errors while trying to load all resources including the URL called in the AJAX code.

You are definitely wasting time if you are presenting the page to users with javascript turned off.

If I "hide" these links via AJAX what SEO related pros and cons would this method give me?

I see all cons in this.

Think about the user when making your pages. Showing links only to have them vanish moments later will present a terrible experience unless you're making some game where users must guess something within a certain time limit, and even if you are, the users must be aware of it and be able to access an instruction manual so they can understand what is going on.

The second issue is that with AJAX, you're making an extra request to the server. This means it takes longer for the entire page to load, and if others access the same page, then the TTFB (Time to First Byte) will be on average higher which increases the chances of the page to be ranked lower in search results. Google page-speed insights complains about pages with a TTFB of over 200ms. This particular point may sound contradictory based on what you are doing but you asked the disadvantage of your idea in terms of SEO.

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BruceClay.com says: Ajax code included dynamically into a web page cannot be indexed in search engines, providing the perfect haven for content, menus and other widgets for user's eyes only. You can read that here https://www.bruceclay.com/eu/seo/silo.htm

That looks like a good reason why you should consider using AJAX to hide links. I'm looking for an implementation of that so if you found a good method please tell us where you found it.

It's an interesting point that load time might be increased but I guess if there is going to be some other code loaded anyway for other reasons then the additional routine won't have a big additional impact.

If users with Javascript turned off don't see your links then it's worth trying to guess what percentage will have it turned off. My guess is that they are insignificant.

  • Google processes JavaScript so Ajax content can be seen by Google. Hiding links from search engines is also just a bad idea general as it is a blatant attempt to manipulate the rankings. – John Conde Sep 28 '17 at 10:41
  • That Bruce Clay article doesn't have a date of publication on it that I can find. That is unfortunate because I suspect it was written several years ago. Google has only added the ability crawl AJAX in the last few years. That article is out of date. – Stephen Ostermiller Sep 28 '17 at 15:39
  • Thanks for those comments. I don't disagree with either of you. The whole thing is a very foggy area and I don't imagine we'll see proof or confirmation any time soon. The article was written many years ago. When I first read it AJAX didn't exist so it has definitely been updated. I too wonder about its freshness. I see Bruce Clay's SEO for Dummies book looks like it was updated in 2015 and that still talks about iframes for hiding links. Search Google Books for "iframes for siloing". – Chris Jones Sep 29 '17 at 11:41

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