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Re: [Lynx-dev] Website

From: David Woolley
Subject: Re: [Lynx-dev] Website
Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2008 14:20:05 +0000
User-agent: Thunderbird (X11/20080213)

Donna Warren wrote:

I have built my website through Frontpage because I do not know how to build it without. It is about a 40 page website and while reading

These are not good signs.

through Google on how to make the search more beneficial it said we need Lynx. I am unfamiliar with Lynx and although I read several information pages, I am still lost.

If you are lost, it almost certainly means that the page is not good for search engine indexing.
Any help you can offer is appreciated!

Tab to go from link to link. Return to activate a link. Left arrow to return a level. Page forward and back. If you cannot access the whole indexable site using just these, or if the result is gibberish to the extent that indexing that gibberish would not produce a sensible index, with sensible text, when viewed at a detail level (the hit context that Google returns), it is not suitable for search engines. (Note there are alternative keystrokes for performing many of the the above navigation operations.)

If the result is indexable gibberish, it is still bad HTML, but may be good enough for search engines and unsophisticated GUI browser users. (On the other hand, it is still possible to create a good appearance on Lynx, and good indexability, without the HTML being well written. - Lynx has some error recovery and it is still possible to mis-use, or fail to use, proper heading markup.)

The best way of writing HTML is to write the document, in plain text, with no markup other than the odd single or double newline. Then add appropriate markup. Finally use CSS to style it.

In practice, you can violate this a bit by using table based layout, providing that the text in each table cell is self contained, from the point of view of indexing and returning hit contexts.

HTML was originally designed to allow ordinary people to mark up documents. That's still possible until you start thinking that appearance is more important than content. Most web pages are trying to abuse HTML as something more like PDF.

If appearance is too important, consider using PDF, i.e. the right tool for that job, but make sure you construct it using a word processor type tool, not a graphics tool, so that there are machine identifiable sentences and paragraphs in the document.

Note that, at least some versions of Frontpage are heavily reliant on specific error recovery in Internet Explorer, and I don't think any are capable of creating good HTML unless you understand how to hand code HTML. In general, HTML authoring tools need to be treated as productivity aids for people who understand HTML, not as substitutes for that understanding.

For what its worth, the obvious web site for your email address doesn't look too bad in Lynx. It has some obvious violations, but it looks like it is not so over-designed as to be difficult for search engines.

The one problem that it has for search engines is the splash page. Look at the major sites; none of them use splash pages. Also note that Google are reported to favour hits on the home page in their page ranking algorithms; the splash page is that site's home page. The sites needs to replace the home page with the current Intro page.

It might also help to tone down the use of marketing language on that page as nobody searches for "lifestyle", etc. (Generally try and have lots of facts and use the language that your prospects would use, e.g. research to see if they really look for "Olde Worlde", rather than some synonym or more specific period term. It is no good using emotive wording if the prospect will not consider searching on those words.)

(For the GUI browsers, it needs to specify a fallback font that users will actually have on their machines! The site also needs checking with as it contains basic HTML syntax errors.)
David Woolley
Emails are not formal business letters, whatever businesses may want.
RFC1855 says there should be an address here, but, in a world of spam,
that is no longer good advice, as archive address hiding may not work.

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