Among the search engine industry is the relatively new concept of negative SEO. I don’t see the techniques associated with negative SEO as anything new; now they just have a name. Most of the conversations about negative SEO discuss a third party interfering with your SEO efforts but is not damaging your own SEO efforts also a form of negative SEO?
Negative SEO Through Frames
I had been taught that using frames to create webpages would hurt search engine optimization before I even learned how to program a site using frames. Why learn how to do something that was bad?
I was introduced to programming with frames as part of the one HTML class I have taken and I quickly saw why so many people were/are using them – they make managing a site quick and easy. But, are the benefits of using frames worth the negative SEO results?
Now let’s look at the SEO questions you should ask before using frames.I was disappointed and felt sorry for a crafter and her website after visiting it earlier today. Her use of frames is such a perfect example of how can negative SEO their own website.
Here’s the source code for their site (meta information and URLs changed to protect the owner of this page and avoid even more negatively impacting their SEO efforts):
<!– General header information –>
<title>Their site title</title>
<meta name=”Description” content=”site name”>
<meta name=”Author” content=”WebMaster”>
<meta name=”Generator” content=”NotePad – The Editor Of Champions”>
<meta http-equiv=”Page-Enter” content=”blendTrans(duration=1)”>
<link rel=stylesheet type=text/css href=xxx.css>
<!– Save session and cookie information –>
<!– Establish primary frame parameters –>
<frameset rows=”120,*” border=”0″ framespacing=”0″ frameborder=”0″>
<frame src=”http://www.xxx.com/Title.asp” marginwidth=”0″ marginheight=”0″ scrolling=”no” noresize name=”header”>
<frame src=”http://www.xxx.com/Links.asp” marginwidth=”0″ marginheight=”0″ scrolling=”auto” noresize name=”button”>
<frame src=”http://www.xxx.com/Start.asp” scrolling=”auto” name=”detail”>
Consider the following list of SEO Questions and then consider if using frames to design your website is a good idea…
Don’t you want to include terms about what you are selling, who you are and other related terms? Even if that information is included within the frames, the search engines will not see it.
How much verbiage/words are in the body of the site displayed by the code shown above? That would be absolutely none!
Do you want all of your marketing efforts to be based on word of mouth or links from people who like your site or would you like Google, Yahoo! and the other search engines to send you free traffic based upon the content on your website?
Do you see a <body> tag in that code? Did you know that some search engines only consider the text within the body tags for search engine optimization?
Why do you want to create an absolutely wonderful looking website only to have no one ever see it?
Are you sure all of your site’s visitors will understand how to navigate your site with the extra scrollbars?
(Yeah, I know the last two aren’t about SEO but they do impact whether or not you can make the sale.)
Negative SEO Defined
Negative SEO is a relatively new term that encompasses SEO and spamming techniques used by one site owner to damage the search engine optimization efforts of another site owner. I and other directory owners have received broken link reports and even requests to delist sites from their competition to damage their search engine rankings. Site owners will even spend money to do what amounts to black hat SEO on the “behalf” of their competition. All of this is done in the hopes of gaining in the search engine results and surpassing the results of the competition. If the competition is completely removed from the search engine results; all the better.
Technically, that would make using frames more of a lack of SEO optimized content than an issue of negative SEO. But, in my opinion doing something that can severely impact your SEO efforts in such a negative way is much the same as helping your competitors to beat you in the search engine results. Perhaps even more unfortunate than being a victim of an aggressive competitor is the fact that so many website owners are still hurting their own SEO efforts through the use of frames and other non-search engine friendly techniques.
Update 8/28/08 I don’t know about anyone else but it drives me crazy when someone only talks about what not to do and not how to do it better or different. It was in that spirit that I set out to write a tutorial that explains a way to create a two-column webpage layout that has fixed navigation on the left side and scrolling text on the right like the site that initially inspired this post does. Hope someone finds it helpful.