As the Web has evolved, websites have become diverse, particularly in how they are constructed. A wide variety of programming languages and design techniques are now used to build websites.
Some of those coding and design techniques are detrimental to search-engine positioning. And if your website uses any of them, it's probably time to build a new website, or at least rebuild in a format that is better suited for search-engine positioning.
The following can be problematic:
- Websites coded in a database format
- Websites built with "dirty" code
- Websites built almost exclusively in images or Flash
Websites Coded in a Database Format
Several programming languages make heavy use of databases in the construction of website pages: .PHP, .ASP, .JSP, and .CFM (ColdFusion). There are others, but these are the popular ones, especially for those built with content management systems (CMS). Another popular one is Joomla.
Just because your website is built with one of these programming languages doesn't automatically mean it is doomed in terms of search-engine positioning. It just depends on whether the programmer who built the website knew how to code it with SEO in mind.
The biggest problem with database-driven websites is that often they inhibit search engine optimization (SEO) of individual pages of the website. In the case of a plastic surgeon's website, for instance, instead of having one page for each procedure or practice area, the website will have only one page or file, and it will dynamically update to fill in the content appropriate for every subject.
For example, rather than having one fill for breast augmentation and one file for tummy tuck, such as this:
The website will have something like this:
Note that in the second case the file for both breast augmentation and tummy tuck is "index.php." It simply has a variable that indicates which content the page should pull from the database.
This means that the SEO specialist has only one page to optimize for all of the procedures, which in turn means that the search engines won't see a page that is focused on one set of keyword phrases.
Websites built with "dirty" code
In the early days of the Internet, websites were extremely simple. They were built almost exclusively in text. Occasionally, there would be a need for a table to display some data. Then websites grew more complex, and the table code was repurposed to build more intricate designs, which made the code complicated and bulky.
Since then, another way of building websites has emerged. The style of coding is called CSS (cascading style sheets). With CSS, the amount of code needed to build a website is greatly reduced, at least when done properly. In the Web marketing world, we call this "clean" code.
Clean code makes it easier on the search engines to spider (crawl and index) the pages of the website, and it makes it easier for designers to make updates.
Websites built almost exclusively in images or Flash
The search engines don't have eyes. Most of them are not human-edited. The search engines can only count the keywords on a page. But if the website doesn't have actual text because it is built primarily in images or Flash, the search engines can't "see" the keywords.
For example, when you look at this website, you'll see that the homepage is built entirely in Flash (a Web animation program). Google has improved its ability to read Flash files, but they still cannot be optimized effectively. Note that even the address is an image: You can't highlight it with your cursor. And in this example, the homepage is built in HTML, but there isn't much keyword-rich text for the search engines to see.
Your website's homepage is the most important page of the site. It's where your site makes its first impression with the search engines. Therefore, it's important to present the site with informative text that both the search engines and people can use.
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If your website suffers from any of these problems, it's time to make a change. It may be costly, but the cost of not showing up on the search engines is far greater.