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  1. #1
    SitePoint Enthusiast daveg7's Avatar
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    Question Does Encrypting HTML Stop SEO?

    A client is interested in my encrypting his HTML so that competitors won't see his keywords. I'm about to advise him that Google also won't be able to see the keywords, so if he cares about SEO (search engine optimization) he should forget the idea.

    Am I missing something?

    Thanks,

    Dave
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  2. #2
    Twitter: @AnthonySterling silver trophy AnthonySterling's Avatar
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    Huh?

    I'm in agreement with you. You cannot encrypt HTML, browsers wouldn't be able it read it.
    @AnthonySterling: I'm a PHP developer, a consultant for oopnorth.com and the organiser of @phpne, a PHP User Group covering the North-East of England.

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    SitePoint Member lojogroup's Avatar
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    You need to find some alternative options for your client. SE have impact if you encrypt them. As a developer you better understand about WEB2.0 standard and different validations like W3.

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    What if you were to leave the HTML as is, and add a defer script that encrypts everything after a load? That brings to mind that the source code would still reveal the HTML though. What do you guys think?

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard webcosmo's Avatar
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    you can serve a HTML version to bots, encrypted code to others.

    however i shall say, its waste of time.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Enthusiast daveg7's Avatar
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    Well, that's what I thought till I tried, for example, ProtWare's HTML Guardian at protware.com.

    I've set up two temporary Web sites to illustrate encryption for some friends. For the regular unencrypted site whose source you can read, look at test01.editech-online.com. To see the same HTML encrypted, see test02.editech-online.com (the green banner on top won't go away until I pay for the software).

    Now, if browsers can read it, shouldn't Google and other web crawlers be able to read it? Maybe SEO would work, after all. I don't understand it, because I certainly can't read it.

    Quote Originally Posted by AnthonySterling View Post
    Huh?

    I'm in agreement with you. You cannot encrypt HTML, browsers wouldn't be able it read it.
    On Twitter: Daveg777

  7. #7
    SitePoint Enthusiast daveg7's Avatar
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    Could you explain a little more, especially so that I can understand the relevance to my question about encrypting?

    Quote Originally Posted by lojogroup View Post
    You need to find some alternative options for your client. SE have impact if you encrypt them. As a developer you better understand about WEB2.0 standard and different validations like W3.
    On Twitter: Daveg777

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
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    Updated based on a deeper dive of the software tools

    There's really no such thing as encrypting HTML as, if a browser can read it, so can anyone else with the right efforts. What you're really doing is obfuscating a javascript call to a full version of the page to make it hard to follow.

    This is important as it explains how engines will see the page. For some systems, your site then runs off of javascript -- bad for engines, very bad, and for tools that simply scramble code, things becomes more confused which means their filters will have to adjust... can they? Probably. Is it the same as an unencoded page? No. If it's javascript driven the SEO usability goes to zero.

    Also keep in mind that your page ultimately renders back which means a developer addon like Firebug will generally show your code just fine thus defeating the benefit of any such system.

    The idea that protecting front-end code is a benefit has always baffled me. I can still take your images, copy, and easily snag out any scripts or styles; it's client-side code, if people want it, they can get it.
    - Ted S

  9. #9
    SitePoint Enthusiast daveg7's Avatar
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    What's a defer code, and how does it work?

    Quote Originally Posted by MentalManiac View Post
    What if you were to leave the HTML as is, and add a defer script that encrypts everything after a load? That brings to mind that the source code would still reveal the HTML though. What do you guys think?
    On Twitter: Daveg777

  10. #10
    SitePoint Enthusiast daveg7's Avatar
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    Why is it a waste of time, if my client wants to protect his list of keywords?

    Quote Originally Posted by webcosmo View Post
    you can serve a HTML version to bots, encrypted code to others.

    however i shall say, its waste of time.
    On Twitter: Daveg777

  11. #11
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    To defer a script means to run it after the page has fully loaded. You can do this with javascript by adding 'defer' to the script tag. For example:
    HTML Code:
    <script type="text/javascript" defer="defer">...</script>
    EDIT: I do however believe that this method is a dead end because I do not believe it will change anything when you view the source code within the browser.

  12. #12
    SitePoint Enthusiast daveg7's Avatar
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    I forgot to mention that the software allows me to hide my .CSS stylesheets, but I haven't yet tried it on this site.

    Quote Originally Posted by daveg7 View Post
    Well, that's what I thought till I tried, for example, ProtWare's HTML Guardian at protware.com.

    I've set up two temporary Web sites to illustrate encryption for some friends. For the regular unencrypted site whose source you can read, look at test01.editech-online.com. To see the same HTML encrypted, see test02.editech-online.com (the green banner on top won't go away until I pay for the software).

    Now, if browsers can read it, shouldn't Google and other web crawlers be able to read it? Maybe SEO would work, after all. I don't understand it, because I certainly can't read it.



    On Twitter: Daveg777

  13. #13
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by daveg7 View Post
    I forgot to mention that the software allows me to hide my .CSS stylesheets, but I haven't yet tried it on this site.
    Load a page up with firebug and you'll see the sheets [and the entire html source] just fine. Remember, if the browser sees it in the end, so can anyone else... looks like the only thing this really stops is the novice and potentially the engines.

    You also can't right click or highlight text with their script in place. That sucks for usability... no sharing, no quoting, no bueno.
    - Ted S

  14. #14
    SitePoint Enthusiast daveg7's Avatar
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    Thumbs down

    Aaaargh! Thanks! Yes, I can see all my HTML with Firebug. So the whole idea of encrypting is toast, except for novices, and it may very well get in the way of search engines.

    By the way, wouldn't the entire site be unreadable to a person if JavaScript is disabled?

    Thanks again!

    Dave

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted S View Post
    Load a page up with firebug and you'll see the sheets [and the entire html source] just fine. Remember, if the browser sees it in the end, so can anyone else... looks like the only thing this really stops is the novice and potentially the engines.

    You also can't right click or highlight text with their script in place. That sucks for usability... no sharing, no quoting, no bueno.
    Last edited by daveg7; Aug 12, 2011 at 11:39. Reason: Add Javascript question and clarifying previous text
    On Twitter: Daveg777

  15. #15
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by daveg7 View Post
    By the way, wouldn't the entire site be unreadable to a person if JavaScript is disabled?
    Yes - obfuscating the HTML and/or CSS just makes the page unusable to anyone without JavaScript enabled (including many disabled people, search engines and anyone who has turned off JavaScript to get rid of annoying ads). It also makes it slower to load for everyone who is able to view the page.

    For anyone who does have JavaScript enabled and who doesn't want to mess with Firebug (or the equivalent tool actually built into all the other browsers) simply running two lines of JavaScript can extract the entire source code in one go. I have a script like that installed in my browser that even converts all the external file references into links so as to make it really easy to access all the files associated with the page - really useful for helping people figure out why their page isn't working properly.
    Stephen J Chapman

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  16. #16
    SitePoint Enthusiast daveg7's Avatar
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    Question

    I've learned a lot from this discussion, but I'm left with one question. If I can read the "encrypted" page using Firebug, why can't the search engines also see it perfectly?

    Thanks again!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted S View Post
    Load a page up with firebug and you'll see the sheets [and the entire html source] just fine. Remember, if the browser sees it in the end, so can anyone else... looks like the only thing this really stops is the novice and potentially the engines.

    You also can't right click or highlight text with their script in place. That sucks for usability... no sharing, no quoting, no bueno.
    On Twitter: Daveg777

  17. #17
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by daveg7 View Post
    I've learned a lot from this discussion, but I'm left with one question. If I can read the "encrypted" page using Firebug, why can't the search engines also see it perfectly?

    Thanks again!
    Maybe they can... no one from Google seems to have answered the question.

    However, while a browser is rendering a page out, a spider is crawling the content from the source. When you use a system like the one you linked too that encrypts the page into a javascript load there's just about nothing for a spider to crawl as very few follow javascript.

    If you obfuscate the content it becomes easier and it's just characters but again the question isn't can they read it but rather, did someone code a way for them to translate it back and read it.

    And the answer to that is often simple -- it's not worth the work.
    - Ted S

  18. #18
    SitePoint Enthusiast daveg7's Avatar
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    Tiny remaining oddity: On a Vista PC with the "encrypted" page, I tried Firefox, Explorer, Opera, and Chrome. I was able to right-click on all of them but couldn't highlight text on Firefox and Opera. I could highlight with Explorer and Chrome.

    Another oddity: These browsers displayed my Cufon font, except for Explorer.


    Quote Originally Posted by Ted S View Post
    You...can't right click or highlight text with their script in place. That sucks for usability... no sharing, no quoting, no bueno.
    On Twitter: Daveg777

  19. #19
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by daveg7 View Post
    I was able to right-click on all of them but couldn't highlight text on Firefox and Opera.
    Check your browser settings to see whether you have it set to disable "no right click scripts" or whether you have it set to allow those scripts to disable the functionality of your browser. Whether a web page can disable mouse buttons or not depends on the configuration of the browser.
    Stephen J Chapman

    javascriptexample.net, Book Reviews, follow me on Twitter
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