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June 22, 2006 - Comments Off on FOOLING GOOGLE: SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION

FOOLING GOOGLE: SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION

At work I've been working with a search engine optimization company—when they return my phone calls that is (it's been three weeks). What's interesting is search engine optimizers don't really care what your website looks like. In-fact they want to change all my work with lots of links and repeated key phrases (how many times can you say alarm without boring a visitor?). Their theory is the more text and links you have on the front and subsequent pages the higher in the search engine ranks you get. The problem with that is it turns any website into an ugly monster.

Here is a link to one of their clients. She sells beads and if you type beads into google it's the first site to come up. Take a look at the site and you'll quickly see why I'm terrified at what they're going to do to the two sites I maintain at my day job. They also told me that anything created in flash needs to go (I don't think so).

As a web designer and particularly a flash designer this brings up some serious concerns. A website completely executed in flash is pretty much invisible to the google search bots. Sometimes they can pull out links to other sites or web pages, but text fields and most content in a flash site is overlooked.

Since I'm half way through the re-design of the AvantGuard website and planning on creating it all in flash I needed to figure out a way to improve search rankings and not sacrifice design or flash. So I went to work on marcfolio.

MARFOLIO SEARCH ENHANCED

The first thing I changed was the title of the index.html file. Search engines actually use the title of a web page as the number one search criteria. Ok, the second part is where I fool google. I figured google's bots can't possible have javascript enabled and I just so happen to use a lot of javscript. The scripts on marcfolio have a couple purposes; to check for the flash player plugin, and embed the flash movie as a full browser movie. I took all the text and content contained inside my swf file and placed it on the html page, but because the flash movie fills up the browser window it pushes all the additional content out of view. To give the bots the idea that this is a traditional html site I then copied the index.html file and renamed it contact.html, area.html, portfolio.html... changing the html text to reflect the respective areas. NOTE: each html file has the same flash file embedded. Even if your search pulls up clients.html it will launch the same flash movie.

The results have been AMAZING. I went from being able to only type in marcfolio to pull up my site in a google search to number one if you search for interactive boutique studio. AND number 3 if you search from salt lake interactive design studio. There are several other searches that pull up marcfolio on the first page or at least within the first three pages of results.
I'm not too worried about the search optimizers anymore. They can do their worse and I'll just push it out of view.