Articles in the Tips & Tools Category

Get simple, actionable information you can use to gain insight into SEO, content production, competitor data and more with our SEO Tips & Tools blog posts. Learn how to use a variety of tools and browser plugins to see your website how the search engines see it, and find opportunities to enhance your content, link portfolio and SEO.

October 21 2009

JavaScript Flyout Menus, Why Are They Bad for SEO?

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One of the many items we look for in our website Optimization Reviews is whether or not a website is using JavaScript flyout menus. JavaScript dependent flyout menus are not ideal navigation solutions for a number of different reasons. First and foremost, search engines cannot crawl JavaScript menus. This means that if you are relying on a menu system for users to find certain pages, while they may be able to, search engines will not. JavaScript menus also contribute to a page’s code bloat, by automatically adding numerous lines of irrelevant code to a page’s HTML output. Additionally, if a user has JavaScript turned off on their web browser, whether intentionally or not, not only will the search engines not be able to see the navigation, but neither will the user.

It just so happens that the most widely used menu system that we come across is the one that comes bundled with the most popular web development application, Adobe Dreamweaver. While this menu system is very easy to setup, style and implement, it’s a JavaScript menu. An alternative to JavaScript dependent menus would be a menu that is created using a combination of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and jQuery (a JavaScript). CSS and jQuery navigation systems will perform just as well, if not better, than a pure JavaScript menu and they are 100% SEO friendly. Also, if the user has JavaScript turned off, then the menu will degrade nicely to pure CSS.

If you are concerned about SEO and are considering using flyout menus on your website, then it is important to explore non JavaScript dependent menu systems so that your site can easily be crawled by search engine spiders.

October 19 2009

AJAX Content May Soon Become Crawlable by Google

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A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about the inability for search engines to crawl some AJAX-driven content. This is due to AJAX’s reliance on JavaScript, which is mostly ignored by search engines. Recently, Google has proposed a new standard for making AJAX content crawlable by search engines. This is exciting news because webmasters who were not able to utilize some of the cool features of AJAX, for fear of poor SEO results, will now be able to offer a richer user experience without sacrificing their search engine rankings.

It seems that this will not be an automatic process, but will require web developers to tweak their applications slightly, so they are in accordance with the new standards that Google is proposing. However, Google is hoping that this will be possible with minimal modifications to existing AJAX-based applications. Although Google has not specifically stated how web developers will know if their modifications are correct or not, they do mention that there will be a way to verify what parts of your AJAX-driven content are crawlable, perhaps through Google Webmaster Tools?

Although this proposal and implementation are still in its infancy, it has been a long time coming in my opinion. This will no doubt make the web a better place. Let’s hope that other search engines will soon follow suit.

October 14 2009

Creating Smooth Animations in Flash

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Have you ever wondered how some Flash sites have slick, smooth animations? When it comes to creating smooth animation in Flash, there are some things to keep in mind.

A common mistake for Flash beginners is to use Flash’s preset frame rate which is 12 frames per second (fps). This will invariably cause animation with a choppy, stuttering look. What we really want is a smooth, crisp animation similar to video and film. To do this, we must increase our frame rate.

The frame rate of a motion picture is 24 frames per second. Television uses 30 frames per second. These frame rates are what’s required to create convincing movement of still images.

Flash gives you the option to choose a frame rate between .01 and 120 fps. Chances are, you will never need to go as high as 120 fps or as low as .01 fps. Somewhere in-between is the magic number.

To get a better idea of how frames per second works take a look at the chart below. You can see visually how frame rate can make a big difference between choppy and smooth animation.

1secondofanimation

I’ve found through many years of animating in flash that a good round number is 30 fps. You can get a good smooth animated punch with this frame rate. I’ve even used up to 60 fps which can have a great snap and crispness to it. Be careful, however, when using a rate this high, as some people may have slower computers and cannot process the information being streamed over the internet.

Next time we’ll discuss the principles of animation and how to utilize them for maximum effect.

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