Posted Friday, December 24, 2004
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Do you use a side navigation bar on your website?
Many of us do - it makes for an eye-catching, easy-to-use navigational layout.
The received wisdom is generally to place these sidebars (constructed by using tables) to the left of the page. The main reason for doing this is that visitors reading western scripts read from left to right, and are therefore more likely to be drawn to text at the beginning of a reading line.
This is great, but unfortunately, search engines don't read like us humans.
If a page has tables in it, a search engine robot will read from left to right, yes, but it will read the entire contents of a table before moving on to the next one, since it treats anything after the tab as main body text, even if we don't intend it to be.
Chances are that your web pages are laid out with tables; the first containing a logo, then second containing the navigation bar, and subsequent tables (appearing to the right of the navigation bar) with the text WE view as the main body text. This means that your keyword rich text often doesn't appear until some way down the page as far as the search engine robot is concerned.
Since search engines determine relevancy by analyzing the occurrence of words, particularly at the top of the page, this type of layout is ultimately going to hurt your rankings.
I've struggled to find ways of overcoming this problem in the past; e.g; introductory keyword rich text above the logo and keywords in the side bar.
I achieved some success using these methods, but as a webmaster in a competitive sector, I've been unhappy about with leaving my carefully honed body text so far "down" the page, when maybe competitors had the edge.
Then I discovered a way to arrange the table layout so that text you want humans to see also appears first to robots.
You simply ADD ANOTHER VERY SMALL CELL to your table layout.
It's difficult to illustrate exactly what I mean in an e-mail text -
the easiest way is to take the following HTML examples, cut-and-paste them to them into text editor, and from there, into your HTML editor, then compare the results;
First an example of a typical table layout, which leaves The body text in the wrong place;
lots of body text with selected keywords
Now re-write the layout having added an extra cell;
lots of body text with selected keywords < /td>
If you put this code into your WYSIWYG editor, you'll two see layouts that look very similar, but with the second set of code, your keyword rich body text will be in the place you need it to be, and providing you've got the right mix of keywords, the search engines will LOVE you!
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Erika Lawal juggles the conflicting demands of being a webmaster, mother and practising psychotherapist from her home in in the Garden of England, Kent.
About the Author
Erika discovered the dubious delights of running a website back in 2001 after she saw an advert for affiliate webmasters. Since then, she has been (to the chagrin of her long suffering partner who loves her dearly nevertheless) seriously addicted.