Leveraging Your Content

A special report from the Search Engine Strategies 2001 Conference, August 16-17, San Francisco CA.

In a roundtable entitled “Leveraging Your Content” Shari Thurow discussed advanced design techniques such as frames, Flash sites, JavaScript, Cascading Style Sheets, and dynamically generated Web sites.

Although some sites lend well to a framed design, Thurow explained, most end users prefer an unframed site. She suggested that Webmasters always give their target audience a choice between a framed and unframed site. “If your audience prefers the framed site, then use that design. If they prefer the unframed version, then use that design. Always let your target audience decide.”

For the Webmasters who insist on using framed sites, Thurow provided a JavaScript to always keep the framed site intact. She warned that end users will not be able to bookmark a specific page on a framed site. So from a site usability standpoint, the framed site with JavaScript might not be an ideal solution.

She also pointed out that items such as JavaScript and Cascading Style Sheets are not important information to the search engines. She recommended placing all scripts and style sheets, whenever possible, in external files and placing the Robots Exclusion Protocol on those files.

“If you try and spam the search engines with any technology and think you can hide it with a Robots Exclusion Protocol, you are mistaken,” said Thurow. “Any spam can get your site penalized or permanently removed from the search engine indices. Search engine spiders might not be able to detect the spam, but any human ‘spambuster’ can. These ‘spambusters’ will report your sites to the search engines.” (Shari is well-known as a spambuster, herself.)

Thurow also gave two solutions for working with Flash sites. Give your target audience the choice of viewing the Flash version vs. the non-Flash version of your site, she stated. Let them select their preference. If a Webmaster only wants end users to view a Flash site, Thurow recommended placing the Flash site inside of a frame set and using a JavaScript command to keep the frames intact.

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