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Featured Article

Search Engine Optimization - site design pitfalls

Question:

Can you give me a few tips on search engine optimization? What should I watch out for when designing my web site?

Answer:

Some technologies are problematic for search engines as many spiders cannot see the content. The problematic technologies are:
  1. Frames
    Search engines do not index framed sites very well - you may have to go the extra mile to set up pages that have links to each individual (framed) document plus each framed document needs some code to reload itself in the frame (start page) should the visitor happen to click directly on a document that is supposed to be shown in the context of a frame only
  2. dynamic content
    While storing content in a database is great for organizing it, most search engines will ignore all urls that are considered 'dynamic'. Generally script generated content is recognized by any of the following strings or characters:
    ? & % + = $ cgi-bin .cgi .pl

    If all of your content is dynamic you might want to create static dummy pages with URLs that do not contain any of the elements listed so that these get listed in the search engines. Your static pages should contain links to your dynamic content
  3. Flash
    Flash itself is not problematic unless Flash is used to convey content (text) or links. Spiders cannot see Flash and will not follow a link presented by Flash.
    Againn the solution is to have a separate document with links to all documents on your site (aka 'a Sitemap').
  4. Javascript
    Like Flash, Javascript is not a problem unless it is used for navigation (which happens all the time). I know of a web site where all menues are javascript links and no spider will follow those links. Luckily that site has a rather complete sitemap.
To optimize your web site for search engines, be careful with the technologies that you use. Search engine optimization of an existing site can be difficult and confusing. Even if you follow all the tips about site design, you may not immediately get better positioning in search engines because there are factors outside your domain as well, e.g. how many external pages link to you.
One last thing I remember from my employment as an engineer at a search engine company:
spiders keep track of how frequently a document gets updated. The more often you update, the more often the spider will come back and check your content.
While I cannot speak for *all* search engines out there, generally, between two documents that have the same ranking otherwise, the more frequently updated document will be ranked higher.

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Generated 16:02:30 on Mar 31, 2015