Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Diabetic Corner

Of all the of websites on the net there are many of them that use frames in some capacity or another. I've been to many of them and I stop and check the code to see if there done right. Yes, there is a Right way to use frames, however, if done wrong frames can be your worst mistake. Let me explain.
When you use frames it poses some problems for you, the search engines and ultimately your search engine positioning. There are trade offs that you have when you use frames and just a couple of them are listed here.
1. Sites that use frames are harder to build. They have to be perfect or you'll have pages that you don't want displaying in the wrong place. 2. You lose valuable screen space, the more frames and scroll bars the less working area you have. 3. They are confusing to the novice user to bookmark and print. When a user tries to bookmark or print a page on your site and maybe a certain product they may bookmark or print just your header, footer or menu depending on what frame they have selected at the time. This alone could lose you a sale and a maybe a new customer. 4. Believe it or not there are still people surfing the net with non-frames browsers and many cases webmasters build a No Frames version anyway or at minimum have to put full navigation on the framed pages.
5. They pose a major technical problem with search engines. To date there are very few search engines that know how to handle frames correctly. But what about all the other ones? When they crawl your page, what do they see? If your site uses frames, you can find out here what your page looks like to the search engines here. http://www.anybrowser.com/EngineView.html
If you visited the above site and didn't like what you discovered, read on. You can overcome the way search engines look at your site. First, your frames page should have a NOFRAMES section with a referring link to a Contents page or Site Map, that will have a link to every page in your website.

The defacto standard has been to just put a note in the noframes section saying that "Your browser does not support Frames" and leaving the viewer no choice but to use the BACK button. However if you put in this section a reference to a contents page that the browsers and engines can follow (as above), they will bypass the frame and index all the pages on the contents page. 6. You have to (or you should) put full navigation controls on each and every page any ways, just in case someone comes into your site through the back door (and they will). What I mean by this is someone loading a page with out the frames page and if they do they will not have any navigation on the page and thus don't see the rest of your site.
Now there is a way around this also, it's called JavaScript. By putting the code below in the head section of your pages (except your frames page) you can insure that 99% of users will load your frames page. The only way they won't is if they have their Java turned off or they have a non-java compatible browser. What this script does is checks to see if the page is inside a frame or loaded by itself, if it is it will instantly load the Frames information. Put this code in the head of your pages and change the index.html to the name of your main frames page.

The reason we are using JavaScript here instead of a fast meta-refresh is simple, search engines penalize pages that use a meta-refreshes and the meta tag itself cannot determine if it's in a frame or not.
Now I am not saying that Frames are bad, and in some case they are absolutely necessary. In my professional opinion, frames are good if they are used correctly, have a purpose, and add value to your site. I'll simplify that for you. If you don't need them don't use them.
About the Author:Robert Boilard is a professional developer, marketing strategist and one of the principals' at i4Market, LLC. Since 1993 Robert has been producing successful website and marketing campaigns for companies from the 2 person office up to the Fortune 500's. Visit us today!

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