What's the best method for hiding page content from spiders?

I've got a large collection of pages on my site, each with unique content, but also with often redundant sidebar surrounding that content. I'm worried that this sidebar content is dragging down my site in Google, Bind, etc by diluting the results. What can I do to effectively hide this content from web spiders, but not my users?



It's just my gesture, but Google is smart enough to find out where is a navigation element and where are the content. However, there might be various reasons why your website loosing positions. I would start from reading this help tipic, also keep in mind that Google search results are dynamic and once you reached first position does not guaranty that you would stay there, someone might just providing more unique content that match current subject and he would be pushed up.

If you want to make sure that search engines are aware about your document structure, and point them out what is what use microdata markup.

For example you can wrap a navigation in following format:

<ul itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/SiteNavigationElement">
        <a href="index.html" title="Homepage">Home</a>

There after, your navigation items would appear in: Google Webmaster Tools > Optimization > Structured Data

Also, by hiding your content with AJAX/JavaScript is more likely to harm your visitors who have disabled JavaScript or due to possible error in your library and in fact Google can understand and index asynchronous requests.

One thing you can do is not include it in the page mark-up and to load it in after page load using AJAX.

The sidebar won't affect your SEO efforts as it isn't duplicate content. Site navigation is expected to be on every page (and it is obviously very common). Duplicate content, from a search engine point of view, is when the page's primary content is identical or nearly identical, to another page's content.

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