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Monday, January 11, 2010

ASP.NET 4.0 now 50% more SEO friendly

Okay, so I made that statistic up, but this post will cover some of the extra SEO related goodness Microsoft is including in the .NET framework.

I previously mentioned the Microsoft SEO Toolkit which helps find SEO issues with your site here.

Why is Microsoft including SEO features anyway?

For public facing web sites and web applications, visitors are the lifeblood that keeps their businesses flowing. Every visitor is a potential customer, and who doesn't love customers?

For most web sites, a high proportion of new traffic comes from search engines, so improving the relevancy of your site will lead to higher rankings in search results. This in turn leads to greater visibility and higher traffic.

SEO can be the difference between success and failure, and that importance is reflected in the changes made in ASP.NET 4.0.

So what's new?

1. Page.Keywords and Page.Description.

The Keywords and Description meta tags have traditionally been the first place to optimise your pages, in keywords you can offer a list of words relevant to the current page. Description is used as a short description of the page, search engines often show this as part of the listing in the results, so it's very important.

Whereas before you had to manually inject keywords and description into a page, you can now manipulate these directly via the Page class.

2. Permanent Redirects

Renaming links and removing old content that have previously been indexed can lead to an accumulation of stale links. Nothing turns visitors off like a big error page when they click one of your broken links.

One way to handle these broken URLs is to do a Response.Redirect to a working URL, this means the visitor gets a page which is good, but results in the search engine believing the link is still fine, which it isn't. The best way to deal with this is to use a permanent redirect so search engines know the page has permanently moved, this means it will index the new URL and remove any dead links.

.NET 4.0 introduces a nicer way with:

 1: Response.RedirectPermanent"("PathOfWin.aspx")

You can do this manually by returning the 301 status code yourself, but this is certainly a win for speed.

It also introduces the MVC method of:

 1: Response.RedirectToRoutePermanent("SomeRoute");

I'm sure there'll be lots more info on .NET 4.0 improvements to come in future posts.

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