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Designed to be Found – Part 4 - Spiders

Design Roadblocks to Spiders

Several design elements, while common, are serious roadblocks to search engines.

Search engines don’t fill in forms

Search engines generally balk at filling in forms, and rightly so. The last thing Google wants is for their crawler, Googlebot, to be off filling in huge orders in shopping carts by accident. That would be annoying for all parties.

If you use any form elements for important content, such as drop-down menus for navigation, or search forms, then these are not search friendly. You’ll need alternate navigation to give the search engines access to those links so it can crawl further. CSS styled drop-downs that are actually lists work very well.

Search engines don’t support JavaScript

Search engine crawlers are a user-agent that does not support JavaScript. If you use JavaScript for links without a more accessible fail-safe, then those links are quite possibly completely invisible to any search crawler.

Use fail-safe scripting, so that plain old HTML link alternatives are available to those people, as well as spiders, who don’t support JavaScript.

<a href=”alternative.htm” onClick=”location.href=’javascript-dependant.htm’;return false;”>

Using return false in your onClick scripting tells the browser that you are handling the click with JavaScript, and thus the browser ignores the click event. If JavaScript is disabled or not supported, the onClick event isn’t read, and the browser will react to the click by going to the href attribute as normal.

For any user-agent that doesn’t support JavaScript, including search crawlers, any embedded JavaScript in the page is just bloating the data without adding anything relevant. Try to make all JavaScript usage into external .JS files to keep the code lean, and make the site much faster for any user-agents that don’t support JavaScript. This will save you data transfer and reduce hosting costs too.

Look out for part 5 next week…



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