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Marketing With Frames - Part One          Print the current page
by Brian D. Chmielewski

Clinching prime positioning in the major search engines is a formidable task. Some sites reach stardom, while others fail miserably. Keywords, ALT tags, META tags, body text, keywords, TITLE Tags - there is much to consider when optimizing a web page for search tool submissions. Some Webmasters perform thorough competitive research, keyword-triggering analysis and have vast knowledge of HTML to spring their site into respective ranking, while others accidentally secure a decent ranking. When a web site uses frames, optimization is complicated further, since frames-challenged engines cannot ingest all of your site's sensitive information.

Frames are used essentially for the purposes of managing navigation. Frames also simplify the Webmaster duty by centralizing any changes that need to be made to the navigation structure. Instead of altering the link configuration on every web page involved in a navigation restructuring, frames allow Webmasters to change a single file, or at most, a handful of files, to systematically replace the old with the new. This is especially handy with large web sites. Commanding the navigation of a web site can be accomplished without using frames, it's just that some site owners just prefer this approach.

Inasmuch as frames simplify the duty for the Webmaster in altering a site's navigation structure, they also create a classic problem for marketing a web site in the search engines. Search engines cannot properly index your entire site. Pages that employ this approach typically have three separate frame windows. If you are unfamiliar with this, take a look at the uPromote web site. The left frame contains our major navigation, the top frame our logo and newsletter signup and the third frame contains the content for the page being retrieved by the user. The content for these frames actually comes from three different pages and is blended together according to the instructions of a fourth master page, also called the frameset page.

How many times have you noticed, 'Sorry, you need a frames-supported browser to view this site' as the description listed for a web site at your favorite search engine? Upon indexing frames, most search engine spiders only see the master page. Spiders do not make independent or complex decisions about where on your site to get the data for indexing. They don't understand the instructions on how to produce the frame layout. So, you have to offer some direction for the spider. The first step is to place your keyword-sensitive information within the NOFRAMES tag. This will allow your important copy to be read.

Placing META Tags into to your master page solves the problem of posting inappropriate descriptions within the engines. Don't place the META tags into the navigation, advertising or logo frame. This only serves to confuse things more for your visitors, since they could potentially read your search listing description and click-through a link that is pointed to a non content frame. META tags are not supported by all of the search engines, so this is only a partial solution. This also doesn't make it any easier for users that want to view your site but are without a frames-supported browser.

Another common problem associated with frames is that many sites do not offer links within the NOFRAMES area to other pages within their site. This sends a message to the spider that your site is comprised of one page, keeping it from crawling past your master page. You could have hundreds of content-rich pages within your site, but without links for the spider to follow, they become invisible to many search engines. A NOFRAMES page with META tags may earn you a position in the engines, but once someone click through toyour site, wouldn't you like them to experience it in all its splendor? Ensure this by offering a link to your main or home page on every NOFRAMES page throughout your site.

It is also important to use keywords and descriptive text to generate relevancy for your site in any search engine that doesn't support META tags. The prime focus of the text should be to tell your human visitors about your company, so using keywords should be a natural extension of this.

When organizing your HTML, place the NOFRAMES content immediately after the first FRAMESET tag. Placing it here allows your valued keywords and copy to appear near the top of the page, making it some of the first information fed to the spiders for indexing. To avoid browser incompatibility issues with this tag, you should not place this information above the first FRAMESET tag.

Create TITLE tags for every frame page. The information contained in your frame titles will not appear when being retrieved by your site's visitors, but it will be noticeable to search spiders. TITLE tags are the most important component for indexing, so use them. Place the BODY tags within your NOFRAMES tags. Taking this approach ensures that the body tags are clearly marked for any browser or search engine spider that is seeking the information contained within these tags.