Web Design Flaws
Can the design of my website affect my rankings?
Our SEO programming recommendations assist you in determining if your site utilizes any programming formats that limit search engine exposure. Special techniques may need to be implemented in order to get around these elements. For the most effective search engine exposure, we highly recommend a website that is, or functions like, a static website. In addition, having a sitemap and navigation bar on every page is also a good practice, as well as a footer navigation section at the bottom of every page in the site.
Limitations to look for:
- Dynamic websites
- Websites with little to no content
- Large files that lengthen download time
- Incorrect directory structures
- Redirects or pointers
- Include files
- Standards compliant markup
- Content management systems
CyberMark International can apply search engine optimization to websites with these aspects in mind, but it is more costly and the ranking results are not as dramatic. If you are not sure, Click Here to obtain a free website evaluation.
If your site does in fact utilize any of the above limitations, here are some general tactics we can employ to help improve your site’s rankings in the search engines.
Flash is a plug-in file that is embedded within a web page. The web page itself should be optimized. While search engine robots do have the ability to read the text within flash files, the technology is fairly new and not very accurate. For example, can you remember any time you searched on a search engine and found a flash web site in the search results pages? Chances are you have never even seen a full Flash website in any search engine index. If the entire site is in Flash, the search engine will not be able to detect inside content, which destroys rankings. Flash can hurt in conversions due to load time and the lack of rankings, so it is best to avoid all-flash, or heavy flash websites whenever possible.
A solution would be to offer up a non-flash version of your website in conjunction with the Flash website. Then you have the best of both worlds without hurting your search engine exposure.
Smaller Flash elements within a regular non-Flash website generally won’t cause any problems, as long as they are small file sizes and the content and navigation elements are programmed in HTML markup.
Frames can act as a barrier between your optimized text and the search engine spiders. Search engines cannot always effectively crawl and index your site if frames are utilized.
The best solution would be to take the site out of frames.
If that is not possible, then another solution would be to place your Meta tags in the frames portion, at the top of your programming, and also in the no frames portion. Make sure there is text in the no frames programming along with invisible links to stationary HTML pages. If the engines cannot read all of the pages, they can identify the HTML pages and index from those. This results in making your site look like a no frames site to the engines.
Please note that websites targeting very general, competitive terms will usually have extreme difficulty ranking with frames.
Dynamic Websites (top)
.php, .asp, .cfm and .aspx are examples of programming language extensions. If your website is using an extension like these examples, or anything other than .htm or .html, it is probably a Dynamic Website.
There are three main issues that can arise with Dynamic Websites and SEO:
- In most dynamically generated websites the URL string can be very long and include symbols and variables. While in recent years the search engine robots have had better success in crawling dynamic URL’s, they can still have trouble crawling dynamic generated URL’s and on occasions will get caught in a loop and not crawl them at all.
- A highly unique and descriptive URL string or file name can help SEO (and conversions) a great deal. Dynamic URL’s generally are only unique by a 1 to 3 digit number and not descriptive at all, example: pagename.asp?id=1, pagename.asp?id=2, pagename.asp?id=3 etc compared to a descriptive URL, example: large-blue-widget.html, small-blue-wigwom.html etc. Just as you can decipher what the web page may be about in the descriptive URL example above, so too can the search engines.
- Unique title and meta tags are highly important to SEO. Some dynamic websites can use the same page template for every page in the website, including title and meta tags.
There are sound solutions to avoid the above problems. A technique called “ModRewrite” can be used to retrofit an existing site. A ModRewrite will take the dynamic URL and change it to an SEO friendly URL; at the same time it will remove symbols and variables to make the URL easily crawlable by the search engine robots. If your site has not yet been built, it is a lot easier to avoid these problems from the beginning. You just need to be sure your developer is aware and has the knowledge to develop your website in such a way to avoid these issues.
It is highly recommended that you start a cost-per-click (CPC) campaign as a supplement to your organic search engine listings, no matter how your site is designed. If you are unable to redesign your site or remedy the issues associated with a dynamically generated website, then CPC is essential. This can be very expensive, so make sure you track your results using an affiliate program and/or a click fraud detection software. An affiliate program tells you how many clicks, sales, conversions, and/or contact forms were received after each term. CyberMark has a great affiliate program to offer, as well as click fraud detection software, so please inquire with one of our sales representatives. We also save companies thousands of dollars managing their CPC programs.
Websites with little to no content (top)
A website with no inside pages may never be indexed by a search engine spider. Search engines want their database full of valuable content to drive searchers to. If they only find a homepage, there is a very good chance that your website will not have enough content to be considered valuable. Search engines look for websites with a main theme on the homepage that develops into relating themes on the inside pages.
Large files that lengthen download time (top)
Many search engines will not wait for large images, Flash files, or audio files to download before they leave your website un-indexed. Always test the load time of your homepage on a 56k connection. If it does not load fast, you will most likely not rank well.
Incorrect Directory Structures (top)
For small to medium websites, always place all inside pages on the same server level as your index.html webpage, such as "your-website.com/aboutus.html." Many web designers have been taught to create separate folders for each inside webpage leaving a link that looks similar to “your-website.com/aboutus/aboutus.html." This structure can cause limitations to the successful indexing of your website as many spiders will not index too many subfolders deep within your website. This applies only to page files, not image or code files.
For very large websites with 100+ pages it is okay to use sub directories to make your files more manageable. When naming the sub directories, use keywords when possible; this helps with usability as well as SEO. We suggest no more than one sub directory deep, if at all possible.
Redirect or Pointers(top)
Redirected domains or pointers to your website can cause problems with the search engines. The only search engine friendly redirect is a “301 redirect”. This redirect tells the search engines it is a permanent redirect. When a robot comes across a 301 redirect it will remember not to go back to that domain name, and will index the domain name it was redirected to.
Include Files (top)
If your website is not dynamic, and does not use a templating system of any kind, always design the site using “include files.” This makes it easier to change a page and have that one page propagate throughout the entire website. This also provides the best base for CyberMark SEO programmers to work from.
Standards Compliant Markup (top)
Always code your website to be as standards compliant (w3c) as possible. This will ensure that the search engine robots can quickly index the code. If the code is not standards compliant, it is possible that the search engine robots may get stuck in code they do not understand. If the search engine robots get stuck, they may leave your website without indexing it at all.
Content Management Systems or CMS (top)
While a CMS can be an invaluable tool, they can also cause many nightmares for search engine optimization. If you are considering using a CMS, please let CyberMark know. We can provide you with a list of SEO-friendly CMS applications.
If you already have a CMS installed, let CyberMark know as early as possible so we can inspect the application and make sure there are no limitations as far as SEO is concerned.
If the CMS is not SEO friendly, or is just difficult to use, it may result in extra fees.