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By Alan K'necht
August 4, 2004
August 5, 2004 2:43 AM
Good article, I would like to suggest folk have a look at the Poddle Predictor
Which is and excellent little tool that tries to show your site as Google sees it
August 5, 2004 6:39 AM
If you still use tables for layout, Lynx will not only tell you what spiders can “see”, but how they see it. Remember that the ordering of cells with TRs and TDs is roughly the same as the reading order. Table embedding, cells that span multiple rows or columns, or tables used as grids for graphics, may break conventional reading order, and as a result, when rendered as text, a table may make little or no sense. Testing is always a good idea.
I’d like to point out that Lynx is also available for Windows platforms. There are numerous distributions out there, just ask Google.
August 5, 2004 7:09 AM
What a great article. Its nicely laid out and explains everything in thorough detail just how I like it.
At the company I work for, the SEO role has been placed in my hands and seeing a nice document like this definitly helps as a resource and something that I can explain to people in more appropriate terms.
Thanks for writing it!
August 11, 2004 6:20 AM
Thanks for all the positive feedback and I’m glad I could help.
Chris, Poddle Predictor is a nice tool but users need to be aware that it emulates what someone would see in Google if they searched on your URL and not by keyword phrase.
Still it shows you the importance of a good page title.
August 11, 2004 6:30 AM
Very interesting article Alan. A lot of good points raised.
FYI – You can test what your pages look like in Lynx online by using the Lynx Viewer if you can’t install Lynx locally on your machine.
Do you see the title attribute in links as required for SEO or just accessibility?
Thanks again for an interesting article, keeping this magazine at the top of my bookmarks.
August 11, 2004 11:54 AM
You make an assertion that I’ve never seen before — that search engine spiders can’t support (or don’t support) embedded tables greater than 3 levels deep. I don’t think that’s at all true. I have quite a few high SEO sites all with very complex table designs (most with more than 3 table layers). I’ve never seen any penalty for using complex table designs and search engine server software I’ve worked with directly doesn’t seem to care (or is confused) by such layouts.
August 11, 2004 2:01 PM
Thanks a lot for the interesting article, I’ve read some new things about SEO indeed.
August 13, 2004 2:16 PM
David Harris, your statement begs the question: How much higher would your high SEO sites be without the tables?
August 15, 2004 10:16 AM
A lot of good questions. I’ll attempt to answer them.
David Mead – Do you see the title attribute in links as required for SEO or just accessibility?
First, thanks for the link to the Lynx viewer. Makes it a lot easier then starting a telnet session. The title attribute is a requirement for accessibility and for search engines. Just look at search engine search results and see what the first line is. It’s the page title. So even if it didn’t help with ranking, it’s important if you expect people to click on it from the search results.
David Harris – ou make an assertion that I’ve never seen before — that search engine spiders can’t support (or don’t support) embedded tables greater than 3 levels deep.
Many SEO experts disagree on this ascertion. From my observations, there is an impact and I would stop at 3 levels deep. Most SE do index down that far, but it depends how clean your code is. Remember the spiders are dumb and easily confused. Another part of the equations is that the spiders frequently (depending on the SE) will only index the first X number of characters of a page. So if your pages is loaded with TRs and TDs, you’ll reach this maximum sooner. Finally, just as your page won’t display well in Lynx, content in the 3 or 4 embedded table, won’t be considered as valuable as content found earlier on in the code. Remember the higher up on the page the content the more important it must be.
August 29, 2004 7:35 AM
Thank for this good synthetic article, even for a French without a perfect command of English.Just a question eating away at me: what about indentations and white spaces ? Is a page better ranked when these useless spaces are deleted ? Is there a better density of words ?
August 30, 2004 7:19 PM
Merci Bernard pour vos commentaires.
One factor that search engine use is the ratio of content to code. The more visible content the better. The use of white space would depend on how the space is created. If you control white space with CSS using padding, margin, indent then it shouldn’t have an impact. If you start using no-breaking spaces then it might.
As to useless spaces, the benefit of deleting them is the only that it will bring your file size down.
September 18, 2004 11:14 PM
The correct name for the robots file is robots.txt NOT robot.txt as stated in the article
September 22, 2004 6:47 AM
the techniques so far are great… what it doesnt cover is keyword density, using css based FIR techniques to deliver meaningful text titles with imagery and the most important factor being backlinks using keyphrase rich anchor text….
September 26, 2004 2:50 PM
Neeray, you are correct the file robots.txt.
Mark Rushworth – thanks for the positive feedback, yes there are always more techniques out there. Perhaps I’ll cover them in a future column for now the intent was to keep this at purely a basic level. The concept of backlinks is generally a marketing function and has nothing to do with the design of the site. This article didn’t talk about the backlinks or how content shoudl be written. It pure focus was on how to construct a user friendly and search engine friendly site. I’ll see what I can do to cover this material in a future column.
October 22, 2004 4:40 AM
Excellent article. Simple… and efficient. Good work !!!
November 2, 2004 4:42 PM
The typo for robots.txt has been fixed and the number of the tips has been corrected. Thanks for pointing those out.
November 4, 2004 2:39 PM
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November 4, 2004 10:51 PM
Alan, to counter the code: text ratio you should have made a mention about CSS. Not only does CSS reduce usage of oft-repeated HTML attributes it also makes table-less possible. Good coding standards not only makes websites rank top but also make them accessible in different browsers and devices. With XHTML available, all this is possible. By the way, Neerav your homepage was resourceful too!!! I liked that CSS optimization article in your website Neerav!!!
December 6, 2004 4:20 PM
Excellent article! Just for my two pence, we’ve developed a much more thorough spider simulator – you can see it for yourself at http://tools.summitmedia.co.uk/spider/
December 13, 2004 6:36 PM
I think an important aspect that didn’t appear to be covered would be to submit to directories, first and foremost right after designing a spider friendly site.
December 13, 2004 7:04 PM
I think that one thing which is often lost in SEO articles is that first and formost you are writing for people.
Sure you could bold words that are your keywords, but only bold when it makes sense…just because a word is a keyword does not mean its a good time to bold it.
To me good on page SEO is nothing more than structuring a page and figuring out how you can design is so that others want to link into your site.
August 9, 2005 5:14 AM
there’s no reason why google would rank content in a div tag higher than that in a table. it’s all just markup. who cares? writing tableless html is like writing a book without using the whole alphabet. where did this wacky craze start?
i seriously doubt these spider tools have the resources that google does to keep its spider up-to-date.
good article. i would like to see someone write off description tags for good. if you’re going to leave out tables because they load up the html then you should leave these pesky tags out. i haven’t seen any reliable documentation supporting them for a long time.
August 9, 2005 11:19 AM
sorry. i meant keyword tags!
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