How do You Optimize a Web Site that Uses Frames and Server-Side-Includes?

    May 21, 2003

Dear Jim,
“When creating things like a text menu with all the main links at the bottom of each page, does it create a problem for the spiders if you use server side includes? Can the spider find the links in that include page? I have a lot of stuff like the menu that are on every page and would like to put it into an SSI page to simplify maintenance.”

We’ve had no problems with SSI and search engine spiders. StepForth’s main site uses includes and the time saved is incredable. Spiders generally perceive information the way it is displayed in common web browsers. A general rule of thumb is, if the user can see it, the spider can see it. This rule does not apply to images or FLASH driven sites but tends to apply to sites using SSI.

Do Search engines have problems with frames? My site uses them.

This is a yes and no answer. Yes, search engines have problems with FRAME based sites but newer search engines should follow the URL paths in the foundation (frame-set). Whenever we get a FRAME based site, we use tags and place the entire sourcecode of the page we are working on between the <noframes> and tags. That way we are certain spiders will read and record relevant information. (This also presents an opportunity to offer keyword enriched text that may read oddly to human-users but will make perfect sense to a spider).

I have heard that it is important to have links back to the main page from other pages on the site. These links act as “votes” to the SE. Is this true? Does it matter the form of the links – relative vs. absolute? Is index.htm considered the same as or

The concept of links acting as “votes” comes from Google’s page-rank explanation page. Newer search tools tend to use some form of relative topic clustering when determining what sites are aligned with which keyword phrases. One of the ways of determining sites that share a topical relationship is by following links back and forth from site to site and within sites. It is a good idea to place a link on each page back to your index page in order to provide a path for spiders to follow that will always lead them back to your most important page, the index page, (which is seen as the default regardless of whether you write, or Internal links do not count as “votes” on Google but we suspect they have a limited weight on (now owned by Overture). Nevertheless, adding this link to the text-based navigation link is a good idea as it provides human-users and search engine spiders with a path back to the start. (one tip though… I have banned the use of the word “HOME” in this office. You should do that in yours as well. Use the words INDEX, FRONT, or START in place of HOME. home is one of the ten most used words on the Internet and is therefore useless from an optimization standpoint.)

I hope these answers help,
– Jim

Jim Hedger is the SEO Manager of StepForth Search Engine Placement Inc. Based in Victoria, BC, Canada, StepForth is the result of the consolidation of BraveArt Website Management, Promotion Experts, and Phoenix Creative Works, and has provided professional search engine placement and management services since 1997. Tel – 250-385-1190 Toll Free – 877-385-5526 Fax – 250-385-1198