SEO for Web Developers Part 2

Jan 20, 2012
Miscellaneous
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Some experts say search only drives 30 percent of a website’s traffic.

While that may seem insignificant, that 30 percent often makes up visitors who are looking for the products, services or information specific to your company so losing them could have a significant impact on how well an organization performs.

In part one of this series we looked at some things that web developers need to consider when it comes to search engine optimization, but now it’s time to step up to the plate. Let’s roll up our sleeves and really see what it is we can do to help our site compete in the search engine results page.

While we know that our objective is to rank high, we need to understand what it is that prevents a site from achieving that goal, from a developer’s standpoint.

As a developer, the number one thing we need to consider is can a search engine spider crawl my web site? Because quite honestly, if the pages of the site can’t be crawled nothing else really matters.

So what prevents a spider program from finding the right information on our websites?

Frames

In the past spiders were not able to read frames, but now almost all the major spiders can read them. If you do need to solve a problem for a particular spider, the quick solution is to utilize your “No Frames” tag content to optimize your page. It is also advisable to make sure that you use a base href tag in your header to help search engines understand better.

Password Protected Pages

These are pages you probably don’t want indexed anyway. Just be aware that like a human, the spider cannot enter any area that is protected by a password.

If you have content behind these pages that you want people to find via the search engines, consider using a teaser with some of the content that can be indexed and protect the rest.

Flash Sites

Flash looks cool, it adds interactivity to your site but most of the time it give the search engine spiders some trouble. Recently, Google is reading, indexing and ranking Flash pages based on the text content used in the Flash code. However this is not optimal optimization.

One solution would be to use an entrance page that is keyword rich, create a two frame frameset where one frame is only one pixel in height and use the No Frames area, or to alternate the use of Flash and static HTML.

Image Maps

These are funny because they can be read by some spiders but not by others. If you plan to use an image map, make sure there are other links on the page (perhaps on the bottom) that link to your other pages or better still to a site map that links to all your pages with good anchor text.

PDF Files

These are a popular way to share content but they present a major stumbling block to most spiders. Some engines (specifically Google) are now, however, beginning to index this kind of pages.

Dynamic Pages

Some search engine spiders have problems with dynamic pages which contain variables in the URL. This is most often seen with dynamic pages that use CGI, ASP, or Cold Fusion. Google for instance will not index pages shower URL contains id= followed by more than ten characters or if there are too many variables in the URL. If you are having problems with dynamically generated pages you should consider using the rewrite module of the Apache server to rewrite those dynamic urls into static looking URL or using a similar add on if hosted on a Windows server. There are also PHP scripts which can be implemented which will change the address into a readable page.

Author: Jeff
Jeff is a freelance writer and the editor of Developer Drive. He writes on web development topics with a focus on web application security. In his spare time he coaches youth football and works as a technology coordinator for the Palm Beach County school district.
  • Anonymous

    If you use ajax and don’t provide a fallback for js disabled devices your ‘ajaxed’ content might not get indexed.

    display:none might penalize your ranks and i’m not sure about google algorithm ability (present or future) to detect content hidden with js

  • Anonymous

    For JS tabs they shouldn’t have a negative effect depending on how they are implemented.

    The tabs should first be rendered fully visible, then use JS to hide the inactive tabs, this is also good practise for accessibility.

  • http://twitter.com/mohsinnazir Mohsin Nazir

    good article really help in understanding SEO more

  • Eilersmarketingtpss

    Very informative . Thank you for sharing information.

  • Ryan Keefer

    This is a pretty dated sounding article. Who uses frames and image maps in modern day sites. A lot of SEO is common sense, and using semantically good code.

    PDFs can be read just fine by major search engines such as Google, as long as the PDFs were output with actual text, rather than being just an image/scan.

    Even the dynamic pages thing is a bit dated. Google can index dynamic pages. In 2012, your bigger issue with dynamic pages is making sure you’re not getting dinged for duplicate content.

    • Anonymous

      Ryan, it was mentioned that search engines (specifically Google) are picking up PDFs now.

      As far as frames and image maps are concerned, we can all agree that these are not best practices for modern web development however we still see these methods being used. The point is, they shouldn’t be because there are better ways of doing things technology wise, but also when it comes to SEO.

    • Anonymous

      Ryan, it was mentioned that search engines (specifically Google) are picking up PDFs now.

      As far as frames and image maps are concerned, we can all agree that these are not best practices for modern web development however we still see these methods being used. The point is, they shouldn’t be because there are better ways of doing things technology wise, but also when it comes to SEO.

  • Anonymous

    Great responses!

  • Anonymous

    Great responses!

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    Thanks for sharing the post here. Keep up the good work. All the best.

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    Thanks