Saturday, February 7, 2009

Programming Languages and SEO

One aspect of web-site design you might not think of when planning your SEO strategy is the programming language used in developing the site. There are a lot of programming languages. Among the best known are DotNet, Smalltalk, Beta, C++, C#, HTML, Java, PHP, Perl, Fortran, C, Cobol, Ada, Pascal, Delphi etc. Programming languages all behave a little differently. For example, HTML uses one set of protocols to accomplish the visuals you see when you open a web page, whereas PHP uses a completely different set of protocols. And when most people think of web-site programming, they think in terms of HTML.


The use of JavaScript can look fantastic on your web page, though an excessive use of Java will often hinder a search engine spider. JavaScript is a programming language that allows web designers to create dynamic content. However, it’s also not necessarily SEO-friendly. In fact, JavaScript often completely halts a crawler from indexing a web site, and when that happens the result is lower search engine rankings or complete exclusion from ranking.

To overcome this, many web designers externalize any JavaScript that’s included on the web site. Externalizing the JavaScript creates a situation where it is actually run from an external location, such as a file on your web server. There are many others, and depending on your needs you should explore some of those.


Flash movies can be a great thing. They can help catch eyes that are otherwise bored with static looking pages, and they can help tell a story better than plain text. However the use of flash affects with the ability to rank in search engines. It causes pages to load slower, and users often get stuck on an opening Flash page and can’t move forward until the Flash has finished executing. If the user is in a hurry, it’s a frustrating thing to deal with.

Using a technique similar to one I described in the externalizing JavaScript article, you can externalize the code used to render the flash. The best and the easiest way to overcome Flash problems is simply not use it. But despite the difficulties with search rankings, some organizations need to use Flash. If yours is one of them, the Flash can be coded in HTML and an option can be added to test for the ability to see Flash before the Flash is executed. However, there’s some debate over whether or not this is an “acceptable” SEO practice, so before you implement this type of strategy in an effort to improve your SEO effectiveness, take the time to research the method.

Dynamic ASP/JSP

Most of the sites you’ll encounter on the Web are static web pages. There are two types of URLs: dynamic and static. A dynamic URL is a page address that results from the search of a database-driven web site or the URL of a web site that runs a script. Dynamic web pages are web pages that are created on the fly according to preferences that users specify in a form or menu. Most commonly, these pages are created using a technology like ASP, JSP, Cold Fusion, Perl, etc… It works great from a user perspective, but from a search engine optimization perspective it is problematic.

The problem arises from the fact that these dynamically generated web pages don’t actually exist until they are called by programmed variables to generate them and a search engine spider does not call or select these variables.

The best way to overcome this difficulty is to re-write URLs i.e. to convert them to static URLs with the right coding. It’s also possible to use paid inclusion services to index dynamic pages down to a predefined number of levels. Generate XML optimized feeds for a search engine’s inclusion program. This process can generate hundreds of keywords and key phrases with rich, page-oriented search engine-friendly information that the spiders crave.

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