SEO question; redirects from HTML website to rich media site

  • cduck
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Hey guys,

Looks like a great forum you have here.

I have a small question for you guys, I'm working on an a very rich media site with frame sets and flash content as well as a flash GUI for navigating through the frame set (due to an mp3 player etc`).

I need to SEO this site, which is going to be incredibly difficult due to the rich media content, what I was hoping to do is create an HTML duplicate which will be indexed by the SE's.

My question is: assuming the HTML site is working well and is getting indexed, will having an automatic Re-direct from each page on the HTML site to the rich media flash site cause either or both of the sites to be penalized by the search engines?

If so what are my practical alternatives?

Many thanks for you time and answers!
Oren
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Post 3+ Months Ago

  • Axe
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Yes, this is called cloaking (sending out one lot of content to search engines, and different to users), and search engines will penalize you for it.

Without seeing the site in question, there's really way we can suggest alternatives, other than the usual suggestions (eg, don't use flash).

You could have a HTML duplicate of your site, but I'd forget the redirects if you don't want the SE's to penalize you. If the public can't see the same pages, Search Engines won't like you.
  • cduck
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Hi Axe,

Many thanks for your quick and good reply. I did look into the concept of cloaking but was given an impression its usually IP spoofing, or re-directing to different domains...

What I had in mine was a simplified no flash version which re-directs to the respective flash version in the same domain...any idea how SE's evaluate wether or not a re-direct is considered "cloaking" ?

How do gateways & splash pages work then, are they penalized?

Thanks again,
Oren
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Sending one page to search engines (HTML) and another page to human visitors (Flash) is still cloaking in Google's eyes, and they're REALLY cracking down on it now.

I have to say, it's such a shame you're having the issue that you're having, because that's one REALLY nice site. I see what you mean about all the rich content now.

Splash pages generally won't help you (on a content based HTML site), however in your case I think it might. An actual HTML version of the site would probably serve you even better.

If I were in your situation, I would actually create a fully browsable HTML version of the site. Let the search engines index that, and you can always put a link or a cute lil button somewhere on each page for visitors to enhance their experience with the flash version of the site - but don't use automatic redirects.

There are ways search engines can check if your site is sending out different content to SE's and users - the most obvious being using an IP address that isn't on their standard crawler network, and simply sending an Internet Explorer user-agent when they request pages to see what comes back. This is a really easy and relatively cheap method for search engines to attempt to spot cloaking.
  • cduck
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Hey man,

That's very kind of you to say, thank you...we worked pretty hard on getting a creative site up and running :-)

Tell me what you reckon of our own website: http://www.cyber-duck.co.uk
In our own site we used the duplicate due to promoting our accessibility skills, which is fine for us as well as SEO (which is yet to commence).

But for the Band they are not interested in people visiting the HTML version, as such I'm trying to think up creative solutions...its a real shame we can't use re-directs as I suspect many users won't experience the mp3 player, video, gallery or other great features available on the rich media site...and we aren't interested in re-creating them in HTML.

I didn't mean using splash pages with SEO'd content for the band as much as wondering why they aren't considered cloaking if they are practically re-directs as well no?


Thanks again!
Oren

P.S.
You seem to know your stuff, what is your speciality? we always seek out creative freelancers to work with (development, design, etc`) preferably London, UK.
  • Axe
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Post 3+ Months Ago

cduck wrote:
I didn't mean using splash pages with SEO'd content for the band as much as wondering why they aren't considered cloaking if they are practically re-directs as well no?

Some are, yes, but some aren't. Many splash screens just require you to "Click here", or if they automatically redirect, generally they're just an image and contain little-to-no other content (kind of the way yours is, with the video clip at the beginning) - that's generally why they're not such a great idea, because you want your site's main index page to display some content relating to what your site's about, perhaps a small index of recently added pages with snippets from each page, navigation, etc. with all the other pages on your site linking to it, giving search engines the impression that it's the most important page on your site (which, generally, it is).

The use of scrolling DIVs on some of your pages will definitely help, they're a great alternative to the use of frames/iframes. But, this isn't going to get around wanting to have the music playing continuously as the user browses through your site - unless you could tap into IE's "Media" bar, although this won't help you with FF or other Non-IE, Non-Windows combos of visitor.

You're in a tough spot if the band doesn't want visitors browsing a HTML version, but then, you're going to have people on limited technology PCs that can't display flash (or don't want to install the flash plugin), as well as people on dialup that don't want to have to download all the media, etc.

I'd just explain to the band the benefits of having an HTML site running parallel with their flash version; SEO, low-bandwidth visitors, general compatibility and - as you mentioned regarding your own site - accesibility.


Probably about 80-95% of the traffic on my websites comes from Google, or other search engines. Without that, my sites would've been nothing. Yes, now there are many other sites out there linking to mine, but if not for the search engines telling them I exist in the first place, most of those links would've never appeared.

cduck wrote:
P.S.
You seem to know your stuff, what is your speciality? we always seek out creative freelancers to work with (development, design, etc`) preferably London, UK.

I'll send you a PM :)
  • cduck
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Okay Axe, I'm convinced.

I guess we'll follow up on the original duplicate HTML site.

Thanks for your time and extensive answers.
Oren
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Post 3+ Months Ago

No problem Oren, good luck :)
  • cduck
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Actually, I had another question if that's okay.

You mentioned DIV Scrolling is good rather than using frames, in the current site if you noticed the ABOUT page has Hidden DIVS which are triggered via the buttons in the SWF.

I was wondering would it be better if in the HTML I have a seperate HTML page for each button triggered (i.e. sub page per button) or is it better for search engines if everything is considered at the same level i.e. keep the hidden divs function but use HTML rather than flash.

So I have 2 options:
1. 5 subpages accessible only from the about page
2. Divs with visibility trigged via HTML (or other non flash based use)

I don't know if the DIV hiding trick is penalized or not...

Cheers!
Oren
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Honestly, I don't know about hidden divs and having them show up "on demand" so-to-speak. But having them all on the same page will bump up the content:crap ratio ("crap" being HTML, JavaScript and other code search engines don't bother with).

Having them on separate pages, will help you get more pages on the site though, hence more backlinks (in theory), however on your flash version of the site I don't think it would make much difference.

On the HTML version, I'm not sure. I'd probably have all the content visible from the start in a single scrolling DIV, with a headshot or other photo next to each bio/about - unless you can bump up the meat in the bios a bit, and extend them some to provide more textual content, in which case I'd create a separate page for each one.
  • cduck
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Yeah that's exactly what I had in mind, cheers again mate!

Oren
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Search engine are looking for content and probably they ignore styles. The content should be visible, original and unique of genuine value.

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