Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Flash pages still won't get high rankings on Google

Some webmasters prefer to have a pure Flash website because they can look very impressive. Although Google can index Flash content to some extend, it is very unlikely that a Flash page will get high rankings on Google.

What's the problem with Flash pages?
Flash content cannot be indexed by search engines. If your website is a pure Flash site, then you can be sure that search engines won't be able to see 95% of your website content.
Google has several official statements regarding Flash content:
"Search engines are text based. This means that in order to be crawled and indexed, your content needs to be in text format. [...] Any content you embed in these files should also be available in text format or it won't be accessible to search engines. [...]
We recommend that you use rich-media technologies like Flash primarily for decorative purposes, and instead use HTML for content and navigation."
"Make sure that your site has a reasonable, seamless experience for visitors without Flash.
This may involve creating HTML-only equivalents for your Flash-based content that will automatically be shown to visitors who can't view Flash."
Adding your content in the noscript tag won't help
Theoretically, adding your web page content in the noscript tag on your web pages should make sure that search engines get the right content. Unfortunately, Google's John Mueller indicates that this doesn't work anymore:
"One of the problems with noscript is - as others have mentioned - that it's been abused quite a bit by spammers, so search engines might treat it with some suspicion.
So if this is really important content, then I wouldn't rely on all search engines treating your noscript elements in the same way as normal, visible, static content on your pages. If this is 'just' for comments, then that might be worth considering."
What does this mean to your website
If you want to get a reasonable amount of visitors through search engines, don't use Flash and other multimedia elements for the main contents of your web pages:
  • Only use Flash for decorative purposes.
  • The navigation of your website should use regular HTML a href links. Do not use fancy JavaScript or Flash navigation menus. Most search engines cannot parse them.
  • The main content of your web pages should be available as simple text.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How to check if spammers abuse your website

A new type of spam cloaking is getting more popular: spammers hack into popular websites that have high rankings on Google and then insert keyword rich links and redirects to other websites. What can you do to make sure that your website is not abused by spammers?

What is cloaking?
Cloaking is a spamming technique in which the content presented to the search engine spider is different from the content presented to regular users.
This is done by delivering content based on the user-agent HTTP header of the user requesting the page, the IP address of a user or the referring page:
  1. When a user is identified as a search engine spider, a server-side script delivers a different version of the web page.

    The search engine spider can be identified based on the IP address and on the user-agent HTTP header.

  2. When a user comes from a particular page (for example a Google search result page), the web server delivers a different version of the page than users get when they enter the URL of the page directly in the browser.
These methods can be combined. A web page can be cloaked based on the IP address, the user-agent, referring web page or any combination of these three factors.
How do spammers abuse your website?
Many websites have security holes. Spammers use them to hack into your server and to change the content of your web pages. They can do the following with your pages:
  1. They insert keyword rich links to spammer sites on your web pages. These links are only visible to Google's indexing spider. For Google, it looks as if your website is endorsing the spammer website with a link.

  2. They redirect your website visitors to their own pages. Google gets your regular page. People who visit your web pages after clicking on your website listing on Google's search results will be redirected to the spammer website.
How can you find out if spammers abuse your site?
There are several ways to find out if spammers change your web pages:
  1. Search Google for "" (replace with your own domain). Browse through the search result pages and check the titles and descriptions that Google uses for your web pages.Click on a listing to make sure that visitors are directed to the correct page.
  2. Click on the "Cached" link on Google's search result pages for your domain to see the content that Google has indexed on your pages.Look for links, Javascript and other elements that don't belong on your page.
Use the tips above to find out if hackers have changed the content of your web pages. To make sure that hackers cannot abuse your website, use the latest version of your content management system and install the latest security updates.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Optimize your internal links to get higher search engine rankings

Optimizing the content of your web pages is important if you want to get high rankings on Google. Most people know that they have to work on web page titles, web page content and links from other sites.
The internal link structure of a website is often overlooked although it has a big impact on the rankings of a website.
Why the internal link structure of your website is important
Internal links do not count as much as links from external websites. Nevertheless, search engines use them as an important signal in their algorithms.
Search engines consider links as votes. By optimizing the link structure on your web pages, you can lead search engines to the important pages of your website and you can show them the keywords for which you want to get high rankings.
1. Start by optimizing the main navigation on your website
The main navigation on your website are the navigational links that are visible on all pages of your site. The main navigation is the most important part of your website navigation.
It usually includes a "Home" link (including a linked company logo image) and links to the main sections on your website.
  • Make sure that the links in your main navigation contain your most important keywords.
  • Avoid Flash and JavaScript menus. Most search engines won't index your pages then. Use standard HTML and CSS to design your website navigation.
2. Consider breadcrumb navigation for sub-pages
Sub-pages can benefit a lot from breadcrumb navigation (Home > Category > Sub category > Product page). Sub pages usually aren't linked form the main website navigation.
Breadcrumb navigation links can help search engines to put the sub pages into the right context:
  • Use breadcrumb navigation links on your web pages to show search engines and website visitors the exact location of a page.
  • Use descriptive and keyword rich words in your breadcrumb navigation: Shoe shop > Sports shoes > Buy soccer shoes > Adidas deals
3. Make sure that the first link on the page is the right link
Google seems to consider only the text of the first link on a page. For example, if page A links to page B with the anchor text "further information" on the top of the page and with the anchor text "buy adidas soccer shoes" at the bottom of the page then only the first anchor text will be used by Google.
  • If you link more than once to another page, make sure that the first link on the page contains the keywords for which you want to get high rankings.
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