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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Search Engine Friendly Navigation

Summary of this Page
Alot of websites around the web have search engine unfriendly navigation. Search Engines find it hard to crawl through a whole site if you have search engine unfriendly navigation. By the end of this page, you will know what the search engines accept as good page URLs and navigation, and you will know how to optimize your site to improve how fast and efficiently search engines crawl your sites.

Potential Problems

Dynamic URLs
Dynamic URLs are URLs may or may not cause problems with search engines while crawling through your pages. Search engines normally do index dynamic URLs (example: www.examplesite.com/search.php?do=get) but they may sometimes have problems with more complex URLs (example: www.examplesite.com/search.php?do=grreqv&get=edsgr&wef=seeghh). So as a result, I would recommend rewritting URLs using the .htaccess rewrite which is not covered in this guide, or using static pages (example: www.examplesite.com/page.html)

Pages with Many Different Links
It is not very good to have pages with more than 100 links going to other pages of the website. The reason is that search engines may not crawl each and every link on the page. They may only crawl through a few, and there is a chance this may delay the indexing of some pages. But it is still good to link to different internal pages on your website, none the less.

Buried Pages
If one or more of your pages are more than 3 clicks away from the index page, in one way or another, search engine crawlers may not find all of your pages. Crawlers sometimes don't go very far into your site, like more than 5 clicks away. So its good to keep all pages of your site within 3 clicks from the index. The only time which it woulden't matter how many clicks away from the homepage it is would be if you have alot of other websites linking to the specific page. From those links, the search engines will find your page.

Session IDs
Alot of forums and websites use session IDs to keep track of guests on their sites. Search Engine crawlers usually don't like these. They either resort to not indexing pages with session IDs, or the index the URL with the session ID, which dosn't look very good to the engines.

Form Accessible Only Pages
If you have any pages that are only accessible via a form, like a drop down menu with a submit button, those pages may not get indexed. Search engines crawlers don't like these kind of links. So be sure to add a link to these pages, if you want them indexed, elsewhere.

Search Box Accessible Only Pages
Pages that can only be accessed via a search box will never get indexed. So if you want results for specific search terms to be indexed, the only way to accomplish this would be to link to that specific results page on a page that is already indexed in a search engine.

Pages Which Require Login
Any pages that can only be accessed after logging in will obviously not be indexed. There is no real way to show a page to search engines freely bu require a login for a normal user without the risk of getting hacked. So if you want search engines to see those login protected pages, you must either not require a login anymore, or accept the fact that those pages won't be indexed.
Summary

Keep in MindThe most search engine friendly navigation consists of simple html links. These are completely fool proof when they stand alone. So even if you have a complex navigation, it is good to have the same links in the footer of your site, maybe, to be sure the search engines follow each of the links successfully.

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