Search Engine Optimization: Hazards to Avoid

Optimizing your Web site for the search engines is pertinent to your success. When you attract search engine traffic, you are in essence attracting potential customers who are searching for your products or services. Therefore, you should consider all aspects of your site's design when preparing your site for submission to the search engines.

Before you begin optimizing your site, there are some hazards to avoid at all costs. These can potentially harm your ability to get listed with the major search engines as well as minimize your success if you do get listed. Examine your site to make sure it doesn't fall into one of these categories before rolling out your search engine submission campaign.

Flash Design - Flashy, but Dangerous

If you use the popular program called "Flash" to design your site, beware of its limitations. A Flash homepage will usually not get indexed by the search engines. Why? Search engines typically index pages based on content and links within an HTML page. For pages designed totally with Flash, all content and links are hidden within the Flash code instead of HTML. Fortunately, some search engines are now developing ways to index content within Flash pages, but it's still wise to take the necessary steps to ensure that your pages will get listed.

Here's what you can do:

1) Design your homepage in HTML and offer access to your Flash site or HTML site with links. List the HTML version with the search engines.

2) Design your site in HTML and only use Flash for interactive or complicated presentations within your site.

3) If you build your site using Flash, make sure each page has related content in HTML as well so the search engines will detect your content.

4) Be sure all Flash links are also offered as HTML text links on your site.

Frames - Search Engine Nightmare

If you've used frames to design your site, consider changing over to another HTML language such as PHP to get similar results. Frames don't fare well with the search engines because they prevent the search engines from seeing your real content. The search engine spider or bot only sees a "frame" code. Your real page has been framed inside this code, so it appears to be a blank page when the raw code is viewed by search engine spiders. If you don't want to redesign your site, you might improve your chances of being listed by using a code called "noframe," which reveals your real content to the search engines.

Dynamic URLs - Great for Databases, but not for Search Engine Success

Dynamic URLs are normally used in sites with running scripts or with a large database. Though these definitely help the flow and organization of a large site, they're often ignored by the search engines. What can you do? If you have a site with dynamic URLs, consider designing your main content pages in HTML to attract search engine traffic. You can still link your content pages to your dynamic pages, but at least you will have some pages that the search engines will favor.

Javascript Codes for Links

If you use Javascript codes for your site's navigation, you might experience rejection by the search engines. Since search engine spiders usually crawl HTML links throughout your site to find all your content and pages, they are unable to do so if all your links are hidden within Javascript code.

Tip: If you must use Javascript code for your linking, provide a separate link in HTML on every page so the search engines will have access to all your pages. If you use an image map for navigation, take this step as well.

Keep in mind that having a fancy design should not be the most important aspect of your online business. Gaining visitors is your main goal. Don't let the Web design hazards above hinder you from search engine success!