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Are ASP Pages Actually Searchable Pages?

As the Internet is growing by leaps and bounds, it is getting harder and harder to have your pages found by prospective customers and even more so should the pages be created dynamically. Some facts and figures illustrate the problem:

  • Google as a very popular search engine with an extensive index - says that it has indexed more than 1,3 billion pages.
  • Accepted estimates of the total number of pages on-line are in excess of 3 to 4 billion pages.
  • Search engines generally do not index dynamic pages, i.e. pages with URLs containing '?', '&' and '='.

We can therefore come to the conclusion that in an ever growing Internet, our dynamic content won't be easily found by the target audience, as generally only the opening page of our site will be visible in the search engines, compared to a full index of a static site with comparable content.

To get more entries linking to our site into the various search engines, there are two strategies available:

  1. Creating additional (off-site) domains reflecting the content of our main site in static pages and submitting these as 'doorways', or
  2. Using a product like PortalPageFilter 1.0 by AlphaSierraPapa to automagically give the site the appearance of being static while remaining fully searchable.

Approach a) has the obvious drawback of being rather expensive for deep content to be completely indexed. On the other hand outsourcing it to a submittal specialist, the visible pages might be fine tuned manually for good content tagging. Approach b) is compared to that much 'cheaper' when considering the cost per search engine hit, as such an automated conversion will reach all content without manual interference.

We will take a short look at the way PortalPageFilter works. Consider the following link found in a referring page:

An URL like this, containing characters associated with query strings won't be indexed. PortalPageFilter translates this URL into the following:

This conversion of the query string to a pseudo path structure does not affect the ASP functionality of the site. The functionality is just hidden from outside view.

An important factor to be taken into account when designing your site for search engine visibility of course is the inclusion of the proper tags to describe the contents. When considering this in designing the database behind the site, effective tagging can be implemented already in the generation of the dynamic content, without resorting to the services of submittal specialists later on.

When submitting your documents, you also have to consider the criteria and limitations of the various popular search engines. Google will accept 2 documents per day, AltaVista 3 and Inktomi 300. To some degree, the problems arising from that can be alleviated by using Submitter software, but consultation of a specialist company would be preferable beforehand in any case.

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