That Page Just Won't Fly

Here are a few design failures that may call for an informational page solution:

Graphics Without HTML

Since search engines can't optically recognize text contained within graphics, they have nothing to index when they encounter a Web site entirely made up of graphics instead of HTML. Therefore, the Web site receives no rankings. In such a case, a Web site designer might construct an informational page to address any of the important keyword phrases that the site covers, and then link the visitor to the other areas of the Web site that the search engine could not index.

Not Enough Text

Here is one place where the saying "less is more" doesn't necessarily apply. Unfortunately, search engines need a reasonable amount of text to analyze to determine the content of a Web page. If you only throw 10 or 20 words into the mix, your site is unlikely to be a winner in the rankings. Some search engines have even stated that they won't index Web pages containing less than 250 words of copy (sometimes more, sometimes less). One thing you can do is construct your informational pages to cover various topics in more detail and link to pages that are full of dazzling graphics.

Too Many Topics

Ever eat a dish that tasted like the cook threw in every spice at hand? If so, you know that not all flavors combine well. When a Web page covers several unrelated topics, search engines algorithms have trouble classifying it. For instance, a Web page that discusses "dashboard mounted cellular telephones, " "global positioning satellite navigational devices," and "bulletproof glass" (all high-end automobile after-market accessories) may have difficulty attaining rankings on any of those phrases. Remember, one of the search engine's ranking criteria is "keyword weight." If a Web page contains 1000 words of copy and only one paragraph dedicated to each of these items, the page is unlikely to reach the critical keyword weight for any one of those keyword phrases.

Dynamically Generated Web Sites

Search engines seek to index Web pages that exist. That sounds like an overly obvious statement, right? But what if the Web page does not, in fact, exist until it is "called" by a program? Dynamically generated Web sites present a challenge to search engines, both technically and philosophically, because until the user clicks on a particular link, that page may not actually exist or have been built. Philosophically, the search engines does not want to index a Web page that is not actually there, one that does not, in fact, "exits." Technically, many platforms that produce dynamically generated content produce URL strings so long and complicated that some search engines spiders are unable to read or comprehend them. Worse yet, depending on how the dynamically generated site has been programmed, that same URL appears identically. Hence, the search engine indexes describes a Web page, but the searcher clicks through to find an entirely different page.

Using Frames

Search engines don't do a good job of indexing framed content, and they don't understand Flash. Despite the many workarounds, framed pages just don't consistently rank well. In these cases, the developer might build an informational page that discusses or summarizes specific content of a Web site and that is more inviting and indexable to the search engines. Even the best efforts by the largest companies do not produce good incomes with framed Web sites or Web sites that use Flash.

The Bottom Line: Keep it User Friendly

Search engines are content hungry and hard to impress with awesome graphics. Your Web site will be search engine friendly if its pages are most user friendly.

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