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ASP.NET 4 SEO Improvements (VS 2010 and .NET 4.0 Series)
05 Jan 2010
In this article, Scott examines some of the improvements being made around Search Engine Optimization (SEO) with Visual Studio 2010 and ASP.NET 4. After a brief introduction to SEO Toolkit, he delves deep into the usage of the Page.MetaKeywords and Page.MetaDescription properties and the Response.RedirectPermanent() method. He also gets into URL Routing with ASP.NET Web Forms.
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Republished with Permission - Original Article
This is the thirteenth in a series of blog posts I’m doing on the upcoming VS 2010
and .NET 4 release. Today’s post covers some of the improvements being
made around Search Engine Optimization (SEO) with ASP.NET 4.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is important for any
publically facing web-site. A large percentage of traffic to sites now
comes from search engines, and improving the search relevancy of your site will
lead to more user traffic to your site from search engine queries (which can
directly or indirectly increase the revenue you make through your site).
|Measuring the SEO of your website with the SEO Toolkit|
Last month I blogged about the free SEO Toolkit we’ve shipped that you can use to analyze your
site for SEO correctness, and which provides detailed suggestions on any SEO
issues it finds.
I highly recommend downloading and using the tool against
any public site you work on. It makes it easy to spot SEO issues you
might have in the site, and pinpoint ways to optimize it further.
|ASP.NET 4 SEO Improvements|
ASP.NET 4 includes a bunch of new runtime features that can
help you to further optimize your site for SEO. Some of these new
New Page.MetaKeywords and Page.MetaDescription properties
New URL Routing support for ASP.NET Web Forms
New Response.RedirectPermanent() method
Below are details about how you can take advantage of them
to further improve your search engine relevancy.
|Page.MetaKeywords and Page.MetaDescription properties|
One simple recommendation to improve the search relevancy of
pages is to make sure you always output relevant “keywords” and “description”
<meta> tags within the <head> section of your HTML. For
One of the nice improvements with ASP.NET 4
Web Forms is the addition of two new properties to the Page class: MetaKeywords
and MetaDescription that make programmatically setting these values within your
code-behind classes much easier and cleaner.
ASP.NET 4’s <head> server control now
looks at these values and will use them when outputting the <head> section
of pages. This behavior is particularly useful for scenarios where you
are using master-pages within your site – and the <head> section ends up
being in a .master file that is separate from the .aspx file that contains the
page specific content. You can now set the new MetaKeywords and
MetaDescription properties in the .aspx page and have their values
automatically rendered by the <head> control within the master page.
Below is a simple code snippet that
demonstrates setting these properties programmatically within a Page_Load()
In addition to setting the Keywords and Description
properties programmatically in your code-behind, you can also now declaratively
set them within the @Page directive at the top of .aspx pages. The below
snippet demonstrates how to-do this:
As you’d probably expect, if you set the values
programmatically they will override any values declaratively set in either the
<head> section or the via the @Page attribute.
|URL Routing with ASP.NET Web Forms|
URL routing was a capability we first introduced with
ASP.NET 3.5 SP1, and which is already used within ASP.NET MVC applications to
expose clean, SEO-friendly “web 2.0” URLs. URL routing lets you configure
an application to accept request URLs that do not map to physical files.
Instead, you can use routing to define URLs that are semantically meaningful to
users and that can help with search-engine optimization (SEO).
For example, the URL for a traditional page that displays
product categories might look like below:
Using the URL routing engine in ASP.NET 4 you can now
configure the application to accept the following URL instead to render the
With ASP.NET 4.0, URLs like above can now be mapped to both
ASP.NET MVC Controller classes, as well as ASP.NET Web Forms based pages.
You can even have a single application that contains both Web Forms and MVC
Controllers, and use a single set of routing rules to map URLs between them.
Please read my previous URL Routing with ASP.NET 4 Web Forms blog post to learn
more about how the new URL Routing features in ASP.NET 4 support Web Forms
It is pretty common within web applications to move pages
and other content around over time, which can lead to an accumulation of stale
links in search engines.
In ASP.NET, developers have often handled requests to old
URLs by using the Response.Redirect() method to programmatically forward a
request to the new URL. However, what many developers don’t realize is
that the Response.Redirect() method issues an HTTP 302 Found (temporary
redirect) response, which results in an extra HTTP round trip when users
attempt to access the old URLs. Search engines typically will not follow
across multiple redirection hops – which means using a temporary redirect can
negatively impact your page ranking. You can use the SEO Toolkit to identify places within a site where you
might have this issue.
ASP.NET 4 introduces a new Response.RedirectPermanent(string
url) helper method that can be used to perform a redirect using an HTTP 301
(moved permanently) response. This will cause search engines and other
user agents that recognize permanent redirects to store and use the new URL
that is associated with the content. This will enable your content to be
indexed and your search engine page ranking to improve.
Below is an example of using the new
Response.RedirectPermanent() method to redirect to a specific URL:
ASP.NET 4 also introduces new
Response.RedirectToRoute(string routeName) and Response.RedirectToRoutePermanent(string
routeName) helper methods that can be used to redirect users using either a
temporary or permanent redirect using the URL routing engine. The code
snippets below demonstrate how to issue temporary and permanent redirects to
named routes (that take a category parameter) registered with the URL routing
You can use the above routes and methods for both ASP.NET
Web Forms and ASP.NET MVC based URLs.
ASP.NET 4 includes a bunch of feature improvements that make
it easier to build public facing sites that have great SEO. When combined
with the SEO Toolkit, you should be able to use these features to
increase user traffic to your site – and hopefully increase the direct or
indirect revenue you make from them.
Hope this helps,
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