Friday, December 9, 2011

Search Engine Indexing of Web Edition Apps

We've been getting some questions about how the search engines treat Web Edition apps and what, if anything, you can do about it.

First of all, it's worth noting that most search engine "bots" do not support Javascript. This means that neither the Web Edition framework nor the initial WebPage of your app will ever be delivered. You can't even use a Javascript command to redirect to another page.

In fact, there are some good arguments for why you wouldn't want a search engine to index your application content. Think of a membership list, or a company calendar or an email client. Having that content indexed by a search engine could be catastrophic, and probably part of the reason that most search engines don't index dynamic content like that, unless specifically told to do so.

We're investigating ways to make this a little easier to do, but there is something you can do about this now... META Tags. There are two HTML header tags that you can add that help a search engine to figure out what your site/app is all about. They are:
  • Description: A brief description of that your page or product is about. It is not uncommon for search engines to display this text as is when showing a listing for your page.
  • Keywords: A list of key words and phrases under which a search engine should index your page.
To use these tags, add code that looks like this to the app.HTMLHeader property in the IDE:

<meta name="description" content="My software is the greatest piece of software ever made" />

<meta name="keywords" content="best software, greatest software, awesome software, most-likeable software" />


isomfield said...

Thanks for providing that info Greg - it makes me feel MUCH better about my WE project.


Jay said...

The meta tags don't help very much. First of all, Google states that they pretty much ignore the keywords because they can (and are) easily abused. Second, because the meta tags are in the header, and WE only allows you to set anything in the header one time, in the IDE, then it's not going to help index your web app/site at all.

As far as the danger of indexing sensitive information, all of that should be protected by a login system. If not, then you've got a lot more to worry about than just search engine crawlers.