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Seo With Layers


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16 replies to this topic

#1 Denyse

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Posted 07 August 2003 - 08:06 AM

OK here goes, :aloha:

I've often mentionned the problem I have with my first page being just a no text redirection to the right language (ie french and english). So I'm trying to think of creative ways of adding text to this page without offending my user.

I understand that:
a. if something cant be seen its considered spam, and that
b. layers create problems with spiders.

1. So what if I use a layer for example to coverup english text with an image, with an onMouseOver button (ex english) that makes that layer invisible - thereby revealing the text underneath. Of course the Javascript would be external.

or alternatively

2. Using a text layer for each language made visible with an onMouseOver button

Does anyone see any SEO problems with thesesolutions?

Any other (better) ideas to solve this kind of dilema?

Denyse

#2 markymark

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Posted 07 August 2003 - 08:27 AM

Surely, the best solution to all this is to have two separate websites - one for French and one for English language. You can link them together in case you have French language visitors searching in English.

#3 Denyse

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Posted 07 August 2003 - 08:40 AM

The customer wants to market only one URL - and the users in Quebec are VERY touchy when it comes to language and "Who's on top"

Denyse

#4 Jill

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Posted 07 August 2003 - 08:47 AM

layers create problems with spiders.


I don't believe layers are a problem with the spiders.

However, the way you want to use them could be a problem as you'd be basically showing the search engines one thing and the average visitor something else.

The technique would probably work fine, but there's a chance it could be thought that you were trying to trick the engines in some way and lead to a penalty somewhere down the line.

If the company is serious about their rankings, they will take Mark's suggestion. It's easy to say "we don't want to do that." But when you do that, you must face the consequences of your actions, in this case not being able to be found in the search engines.

It's their choice!

Jill

#5 Denyse

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Posted 07 August 2003 - 08:59 AM

You're right Jill,
I'll pull up my pants and advise them - after all that's what an SEO should do. Right?

Denyse

#6 qwerty

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Posted 07 August 2003 - 09:32 AM

In my experience, search engines have no problems with layers at all. I don't really think that's an issue. However, when a layer is hidden, even for the good of the user, I worry that the designer's intentions could be misconstrued. It's a shame, because there are a lot of great things you can do for the user with hidden layers, but I'm afraid it's just not worth the risk.

As far as dealing with the multiple language issue goes, I'd say your best bet would be to make the text on your home page bilingual, and provide links leading to 2 separate areas: one for French and one for English. It's not necessary to make them separate sites.

This is going back at least a year, but I remember reading an article Jill wrote in her newsletter about organizing multilingual sites. I'd recommend searching her archives for it.

#7 brianjulkunen

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Posted 07 August 2003 - 12:56 PM

on the subject of layers, I have seen many optimized pages that put there copy into a layer, so they can move their content to the top of the code. I have seen navigation moved to the right hand side of the page, and so forth to try and push the content up in the code. Does anyone have any evidence of this to be true, and if so, how much weight do you believe it carries?

#8 qwerty

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Posted 07 August 2003 - 12:59 PM

I did it on my own site (the one in my signature), but it's still a fairly young site, so I can't tell you if it helped in the SERPs yet. But if you look at the source code, you'll see that the first <div> is the one containing the content.

#9 Mel

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Posted 07 August 2003 - 01:06 PM

HI Denyse;
I do not believe that layers (used properly) create any problems at all with spiders, since all the content of the layer is in the code, is read by the spider and can be seen by the viewer.

You can test this by using a simspider to spider the site and see what the spiders see.

If there were a problem there would be lots of sites with DHTML menus having problems, but I see no evidence of that.

#10 brianjulkunen

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Posted 07 August 2003 - 01:33 PM

This is a tactic that we implement at the firm I work at, however, we have run into some problems with dynamic centering and browser compatibility (the absolute position set in the <div> tag often times won't line up). I am interested to know if the benefits of having it positioned higher in the code out weigh the detriments.

#11 Scottie

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Posted 07 August 2003 - 07:30 PM

If it doesn't render correctly, do you really want to send a lot of visitors there?

Get the layout right and don't worry so much about the position in the code. Googlebot will spider pages up to 110K and read the whole page, not just the top. :zap:

#12 Mel

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Posted 07 August 2003 - 11:05 PM

Hi Brian:
I assume you are saying that you are using layers to position your page content higher up in the code for better rankings and that the layers do not line up the same way in different brwosers?

There are several things that can help with this problem, one of which is to use a doctype declaration before the head if you are not doing so now.

IMO there is only a very tiny SEO advantage to be gained by positioning the content higher in the code, but this could be important in marginal cases, which is why I often use this technique.

#13 Denyse

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Posted 08 August 2003 - 08:09 AM

No Mel, the layer is strictly not to offend touchy users -- many want their language to be first, or only. at all times (english or french) its very political.

The main customer base is french, but we dont want to offend the rest either.

However lining the layer up properly could be a problem in different browsers - whats this about a doctype declaration, tell me more.

Denyse

#14 Mel

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Posted 09 August 2003 - 09:57 AM

Hi Denyse:
Ok I see what you mean, you want the French pages to load by default, unless the system detects an Egnlish language Browser in which case it would load English pages, right?

This can be done using layers, but there are some aspects of doing this that you may want to consider.

When you use layers all the code is in the page and the method we are discussing will have both the French and English content in all pages, just that half of it would not be seen at any time.

This will make the pages unnecessarily large and it will be harder to differentiate and target your french keyphrases from the English.

From an SEO standpoint I think it might be better to set up the French site in the Root directory and the English site in a sub-folder. When and English language browser is detected you just send the viewer to the English subdirectory pages.

You will need to construct a sitemap for each set of pages and link it in such a way that the spiders can get to all your site pages.

The Document type definintion is a W3c standard that goes at the top of each page before the beginning <html> tag and typically looks like this:
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">.

This gives the browser a guideline as to which of the various standards you have constructed your pages under, in effect setting some rules for it to follow. If you do not have the DTD the browser will have to use default settings which can sometimes result in layer alignment differences between various browsers.

You can get full information onf DTDs at the W3C website, and a search should reveal several sites who can explain in more detail about the different ways various brwosers handle layers.

#15 markymark

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Posted 09 August 2003 - 11:18 AM

Mel wrote:

IMO there is only a very tiny SEO advantage to be gained by positioning the content higher in the code, but this could be important in marginal cases, which is why I often use this technique.

Well, there is a major advantage to be gained from having total control over how the code is presented to search engines, which is why I use the same techniques. It's not so much having information higher up in the code, it's having the main content before the navigation bar, for example.

Trouble is the cached copies of all pages done this way look an absolute shambles in Google, but never mind. Can't have everything.




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