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Web & Portal Services

Search Engines

Potential Design/Set Up Problems


If your site does not use Frames, Flash, Javascript, Image Maps, or Dynamic URLs you can skip to the next tip.

Unfortunately there are some site design/set up issues that can make it very difficult for the search engines to list your web pages no matter how well you optimize and submit them. What follows is a starting list of elements to take into consideration when trying to get a site listed. Almost everything can be fixed or optimized before you submit. The most common problems are:

  1. Sites that use Frames.
  2. Sites that use Dynamic URLs.
  3. Sites that use Flash.
  4. Sites that use Image Maps for navigation.
  5. Sites that use Javascript for navigation.
  6. Sites that contain many broken links.

Frames
Framed sites can be invisible to search engines. The crawlers that cannot follow frame links never see the content pages that human visitors see. They only see the frameset page itself. The best answer to this problem is to redesign your site without using frames. If that is not possible you can have your Webmaster add information to the frameset page to make it more search engine friendly. Since the frameset is treated just like an HTML page your Webmaster should add meta tags and a title to the frameset page. Additionally, descriptive text can be included in a "No Frames" tag. This tag is intended for older browsers that do not support frames, but it is also visible to crawlers when they are confronted with a frameset.

Dynamically Generated Pages
A problem with many sites managed by a CMS (Content Management System) is that their pages are dynamically generated. Most search engines do not recognize the "?" and "&" characters that separate CGI variables. This means that some individual pages will not be crawled by some search engines. One way to prevent this problem is to create static links to yuor site's most important dynamic pages for search engines to crawl. Another option is to use the "dynamic page optimization solutions" available for ASP, ColdFusion, CGI/Perl, or the Apache Web Server. If you have to include dynamic pages, make sure the parameters are short and the number of them few.

Flash Animation and Graphic Text
Search engines use the text on your page for their ranking determinations. If your site is filled with Flash animation or if your text appears as a graphic the search engine crawler will not see it. Rich media enhancements like flash look good to human visitors but they are invisible to search engines. To improve your chances for good ranking stick with simpler pages without animation. If your site has fancy graphics in place of text be sure to have your Webmaster put another version on the wording in the "Alt Image" tag.

Image Maps for navigation
If you use image maps for your main site navigation you should consider switching to standard HTML hyperlinks or your site will most likely not get crawled. If you want to keep the image maps you can, but you should add another navigation scheme to your site that uses only standard HTML hyperlinks so that your site will get crawled. Try to use text instead of or as well as images to display important names, content or links. An easy way to do this is to create a site map page uses standard HTML links to link to every page on your site. Then add a standard HTML link on each page of your site that links to the site map.

JavaScript for navigation
Search engines can't follow links within Javascript, so your site will not get crawled unless you also have some form standard HTML hyperlinks that they can follow. You should add some standard HTML hyperlinks to all of your pages so that your site will be crawled properly. An easy way to do this is to create a site map page uses standard HTML links to link to every page on your site. Then add a standard HTML link on each page of your site that links to the site map.

Broken Links
Check for broken links and correct HTML often. Broken links keep search engines from being able to optimally crawl your site. There are several tools available as browser plug-ins (such as LinkChecker for Firefox) or web pages (such as W3's Link Checker) that will scan your page for broken links and return a report. Make sure you keep the links on your site fresh. You could also develop a reporting tool for users to notify you when they find a broken link.

Search Engine Optimization


To help your placement in search engines, place your keywords, keyword phrases and 25 word or less description of your site in the code (META tags) on your front page. And make sure the title of the pages in your site are descriptive and accurate. Keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number (fewer than 100).

Beyond the Valencia Web Site, you must either spend the time at each search engine web site you would like to be a part of and follow their placement processes, or you can hire a service. There are quite a few services out there that offer search engine placement. The prices vary from $20/yr to $7000/mth.

Sitemaps
Sitemaps, in general, are a textual representation of your site. More specifically, a Sitemap is a document that can be used to show the structure of a website to web crawlers or users. Sitemaps can improve SEO (search engine optimization) by making sure that all pages can be found. Google Sitemaps are used to help developers publish lists of links from their site to make the site more easily crawlable. Google recommends that Sitemaps are helpful if:

  • Your site has dynamic content.
  • Your site has pages that aren't easily discovered by Googlebot during the crawl process�for example, pages featuring rich AJAX or images.
  • Your site is new and has few links to it. (Googlebot crawls the web by following links from one page to another, so if your site isn't well linked, it may be hard for us to discover it.)
  • Your site has a large archive of content pages that are not well linked to each other, or are not linked at all.

Inbound Links
Your site's PageRank is based on how many other sites link to your own. Therefore, the more links there are to your site, the higher your page will be ranked in Search Engine results. So, it is a good idea to get other sites to link to your site. You can also pay to have sites link to your own site, but you should be careful when employing this technique. It's important to avoid links to/from web spammers. Your own page ranking may be adversely affected by links to and from known spammers. You can also increase your page ranks by linking to your site from social media sites such as Blogs, Social Networking or Social Bookmarking sites.

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