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    Splash Pages, Cookies, & JavaScript.. Oh My!


    Hi all,

    I have a situation occuring and I'm hoping that the readers here can offer some solid advice on how we should handle it.

    THE SETUP:
    A company I'm consulting for has three main product areas geared towards three different user types: Students, Parents, and Education Professionals. Each user type has a rather extensive number of pages within its area on the site. Recently a mandate came down from the very top of the organization requiring the use of a Splash Page to allow users to select the area of the site they fall into.

    THE GOAL:
    Put a Splash Page into place without actually replacing the existing index.html page, while still maintaining the index.html’s current PR8 and the top SE Rankings being achieved by it.

    IN THE BEGINNING:
    Before the implementation of the Splash Page, all users were taken directly to the "Students area" when www.companyname.com was entered into a browser, as that is the largest and primary group of people using the site. This is the index.html page and it currently has a PR of 8 while the Parents and Education Professionals main entry pages (www.companyname.com/parents and www.companyname.com/prof respectively) each have a PR of 7.

    Now here's where it gets sticky...

    HOW IT WORKS NOW:
    With the new "Splash Page" now in place, when a user arrives at www.companyname.com, a JavaScript is kicked off from the index.html page (the student page). This JavaScript looks to see if the user already has a cookie on their machine for the site. If not, they are redirected to the new "Splash Page" located at www.companyname.com/splash. Once here they can select from one of the three main areas of the site, are then transferred to its corresponding location, and are asked via a pop-up if they'd like to set that page as their "default" start-page. If they say yes, that information is placed in a cookie to be used the next time the user visits the site. If they say no, they will wind up back at the splash page (via the javaScript on the index.html page) the next time they visit.

    Too add to this, the splash page only appears when a user visits www.companyname.com (the student site). It will not appear if a user visits any internal page of the site or if they directly go to the Parents or Educator main pages

    Confused yet?

    WHAT HAPPENS NEXT:
    1. If the user has a cookie AND they've set "students" as their user type, the JavaScript on the index.html page is ignored completely and the user will fall through the JavaScript on the page and will see the Student page (now showing as www.companyname.com/?student), which is still index.html.

    2. If the user has a cookie AND they've set "parents" as their user type, the Javascript redirects them automatically from the index.html page to www.companyname.com/parents.

    3. If the user has a cookie AND they've set "educator" as their user type, the Javascript redirects them automatically from the index.html page to www.companyname.com/prof.

    JUST TO MAKE IT TOUGH:
    I know the majority of you will probably say something along the lines of, “forget the Splash Page all together!” For the purposes of this discussion, lets assume that this is not an option and that some solution using a Splash Page must be implemented.

    WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE:
    Ok all you SEO guru’s out there… what do you think?

    1. Is using the JavaScript with Cookies and redirects a decent way to go?
    2. What potential problems can you foresee with this situation?
    3. Will all the spiders (at least Google, Yahoo, MSN) be able to follow and index all four pages referenced (index.html, /splash, /parents, /prof)?
    4. What about Page Rank? Assuming inbound links are pointing to www.companyname.com and not www.companyname.com/?students what effect can you see this having on the page rank of the index.html page? What about the PR on the Splash Page?
    5. Does anyone have some other brilliant ideas on how can we achieve our goal while at the same time remaining SE friendly, mainting our excelent PR and organic rankings while still providing for the best user experience.

    Be kind!

    Regards.

    Steve Scott - Starship Computer Services
    Search Engine Optimization & SEO Consulting
    Last edited by TheFesta; Jun 2nd, 2004 at 05:21 PM.
  2. #2
  3. web designer
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    detect the bots server side.
    redirect all non-bots to the splash page.
    essentially nothing changes as far as the bots are concerned.

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