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Is Web Design Ruining Your SEO Efforts - 5 Things NOT To Do!

by site admin on Jul 22, 2010

The process of optimizing a website starts right from the time you think about building a website. Yeah... contrary to popular belief, SEO is not something that follows website launch. Rather it is what you need to base your design process on. And just like there are best practices to optimize your website, there are also other stuff that can potentially have a negative influence on your SEO efforts.

So just as much you need to do the right things, you also need to make sure you don't do the wrong things:

Here are some design elements that you absolutely must NOT apply:

Drop Down Navigation or Mouse-Over Menus

This was a rage till recent past! Drop down menus not only saves real estate on a page but is a great way to arrange the navigation elements cleanly... Not to mention the sleek drop-down boxes that add to the visual appeal! However, when it comes to search engine optimization, drop down navigation drops down the value. Search engine crawlers cant fill out forms even if there's just one pull-down. So, they cant get to those pages... least of all index the contents.

So make sure you have an alternate means of navigating those pages so that search engine crawlers can get there. You can include text links in the footer of your web pages or use image links or an image map. Also, chuck JavaScript and use AJAX or divs to get the same drop down and ensure search engine appeal at the same time.

Flash or JavaScript for Primary Navigation

Even though search engine crawlers have come off age and become smarter at indexing Flash contents, I don't think its worth the risk. If your primary navigation needs Flash, Java or JavaScript to function, that puts a big question mark on whether search engine crawlers will parse through or not. Remember, search engine crawlers have a limited ability to deal with Flash, Java and Javascript. So any links that you put there have a good enough chances of not being seen by the search spiders.

A more reliable option is to count on semantically marked up HTML. You get what you want on your navigation pathway and search engine crawlers get what they come for.

Fully Flash Website

Graphic artists and ardent designers would swear by Flash but when it comes search engine appeal, its better to mellow down your 'flashy' instincts. If you want to score well in Google SERPs, then you have to create what is called search-friendly design. And as mentioned earlier, inspite of the increasing Flash-consciousness of search engine spiders, they still have a preference for plain text.

Keep the main textual elements of the page out of Flash along with all the page titles and section headings. And if at all (despite all the red signals) you have to use Flash, make sure you have an alternate text version within div tags. Also, don't forget to use SWFObject, a standards-friendly method to embed Flash content.

Frames for Design

For one, Google clearly dissuades the use of frames as they tend to cause problems with search engines, bookmarks, emailing links etc. In fact, it can be a nightmare to scroll through a website that has frames. Since part of the page moves while others stay stationary, it gets pretty difficult to follow where to read and where to scroll. Moreover, not all browsers support frames so you can lose a considerable amount of audience. Worse of all frames create additional maintenance and server load.

So... really.. You are better off without it!


Pop Up Boxes

Pop-ups rely on JavaScript! And this is a roadblock for search engine crawlers just hate. Not only does the content within pop-ups not get indexed but they are a nuisance for website visitors. No wonder most people have installed pop-up blockers. And in case you dint know, Google toolbar and Yahoo Companion toolbar have built-in pop-up blockers

Kabir Bedi is Web Consultant at LeXolution IT Services, a professional web development company that offers a full range of web design services along with SEO & internet promotion services. He has over 10 years of experience in the industry and leads a group of web developers to create effective web solutions for their clients.

 

 

 

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