by Roger Bauer
Designing a website can be a daunting task if you’re new to the game and have little time to research the proper ways to develop a site that is both user and search engine friendly. After-all, what good is a website if no one can find you? Below are some things to avoid if search engine traffic is a priority.
Frames are pages within a page. Search engine crawlers, spiders, or bots (small pieces of code the engines send out to inventory websites) read a frameset as one page with very little content. Just because you can’t see the frames distinctly when viewing a page online doesn’t mean the search spider sees the site as a human does. If you want to see the site as a crawler does, right click on the main area of the page in question and view the source code of that page. Avoid frames especially for main/home pages of a site.
Flash is a very cool and hip way to do a page as it can incorporate interactivity and entertainment into a site or page, but it has little value to a search crawler. The fact is a search crawler cannot read a Flash page or component so all of that content and interlinking you worked so hard to develop earns you nothing in terms of search value. Your viewers may love your site, but you’re unlikely to attract new viewers without the help of the search engines. One caveat: it’s okay to mix in some Flash, but stay way from pure Flash for your website if your goal is to attract the masses.
Search crawlers can’t execute lines of code therefore they won’t be able to navigate your site if you implement a lot of Java-script to guide users. The purpose of a crawler is to inventory a website to report back to the engine what it found. Once the search engine has a pretty good inventory of a site, it can mix that site in with the search engine results pages (SERPs) for a given keyword phrase. Try to make the crawler’s job as easy as possible by limiting the amount of scripting navigation per page. If you insist on using scripting for navigation, make sure you have some form of HTML navigation visible as well. At worst, have an HTML link on each page to an accurate site map for your site.
Most search engines will not list dynamic URLs in their results pages. Dynamic URLs are typically used for database driven sites or script based sites. The above paragraph outlines the reasoning behind avoiding scripts, and dynamic URLs are no different. If you must use dynamic URLs, try to have a main page that doesn’t so that the search engines can find you.
Image Map Navigation
Search crawlers frequently get stuck within image maps and can’t accurately inventory your site. Stick with standard HTML navigation schemes if at all possible.
When designing your site, keep in mind that it needs to be easy to navigate for users and search engine crawlers alike. A slick site is of little use if no one can find you especially a search engine crawler.