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Apr 10
2007

A colleague of mine recently mentioned that he wasn’t able to get his Business Edge (DNN) based site to be indexed by search engines. The concern was that since pages are written virtually within the database and no real pages exist in the file structure, search engines would be prevented from indexing your site.

Actually this is a very common misconception. Business Edge builds URL’s that are virtual in nature and not representative of the underlying file structure. This is common amongst many Content Management Systems and doesn’t present any problems from a search engine perspective.

Whether you use the default friendly URL convention (static, but long and confusing) or the the much more elegant “human friendly” URL convention, the search engines should have no problem with virtual URL schemes.

Search engines see your Business Edge site (or any other site for that matter) in the same way that normal users see it – as a set of links and structured content – the rest is just presentation which the search engine doesn’t care about. The search engine has zero visibility into the underlying file structure and literally has no way of knowing whether the URL being shown to the search engine is real or virtual. It only cares that it works or doesn’t (in other words, is a page visible or not). Technically speaking, if a search engine gets back a status code of “200 OK” when it requests a page then the page is as real as a static html page.

In most cases though, you might have difficulty getting internal pages (pages that aren’t on the top level navigation menu) to be indexed by Google (or other search engines) for a couple of reasons:

  • the top level pages are indexed because they are direct links from your home page. As search engines come to your site, they see these links on your home page and “crawls” to them, resulting in those pages being indexed.
  • pages that exist in the site drop-down menu or what you refer to as “inside pages” aren’t being indexed because they aren’t main links off the home page. They are in the drop-down menu, but this menu is built using javascript which the search engine can’t interpret. Due to this, it is unable to navigate to those pages and thinks they don’t exist.

To get around this problem, there are a couple of possibilities:

  • One very easy method is to create a SiteMap link on the home page. This allows the search engine to “see” the link to the sitemap on the home page, which in turn brings all the inside pages into the search engine’s view. We’ve done this on www.noblelimo.com (see the top right corner).
  • Another method is to replace the out-of-box dropdown menu in Business Edge with a search engine friendly CSS based menu. A CSS menu will look and feel the same as a javascript menu, but is built using code that a search engine can parse and interpret, resulting in inside pages being visible. We are in the process of implementing this solution on several sites. Send me an email (shiraz at e-nor.com) and I’ll be happy to provide more information.

Hope that helps!    My thanks to Rehan Asif, one of my colleagues here at E-Nor, for the SEO knowledge that went into this post.

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