The online world is a funny place at best, a vastly confusing one at worst. There are massive amounts of information out there, about building websites, about using your social services, about how to rank your site, and so on. Over the last year especially, Google has taken some major twists and turns with the way that they rank information on the web, and it seemed to catch a great many website owners off guard. With how much things can change online, there are still some little tweaks and quirks that don’t often get discussed, so we’ll talk about a couple of nuances that you may have overlooked, or your website developer may have over looked while building your website.
One of the little quirks of the way that search engines work, has to do with how your structure your urls and web addresses. When you look at the terms ‘orange_jacket’ and ‘orange-jacket’ they read the same to a person, but they mean a world of difference to a search engine spider. In the first instance with the underscore, the spiders are going to treat it all as one single term. So ‘orange_jacket’ to a search engine becomes ‘orangejacket’. When you use a hyphen, the opposite becomes true, and ‘orange-jacket’ becomes two separate terms. When you’re building your internal website pages, and you want a page to be ranked for a specific, not wholly competitive term using underscores in your url won’t affect your chances a bunch. When you start to get into the more aggressive terms online however, the difference between a hyphen and an underscore can make or break your positioning.
One other point which bears mentioning, because we still run into a fair number of clients doing it, try to avoid using lots of image based information or using Flash and Silverlight to deliver your website content. Web designers (not developers) are actually some of the worst offenders of using them actually, and when they turn over a clients site to optimize often our first suggestion is to rebuild the website. Flash and Silverlight are great tools for adding snazzy animations or attractive, engaging content to your site, but when you get down to the tech side of it, search engines don’t agree with it. Google and Bing can, to some degree, get the information out of a Flash driven website, but they’re still shoddy at it and it’s poor website optimization practice any how.
These are only two of untold amounts of quirks and tweaks that you can employ as a website owner or developer to help your case when working online. I’ll make sure to discuss the topic further in the coming days.