Inngenious B&B Web Site Promotion

B&B Web Design Mistakes: #3 Fancy Pulldown or Popup Menus

Just to recap what we have covered, search engines use spiders to read text (not pictures of text) and follow links. If your bed and breakfast website is designed well, it will invite the spiders in with lots of real text to devour and lots of good links to follow. I've focused, so far, on making sure you have actual words on your pages, now we turn our attention to the links for the spiders to follow.

Not all links (hyperlinks to be exact) are created equal. Here are two examples of good links that a spider can follow:

This is a text link to The Found Inn and here is an image link to the Found Inn Both links are ones that the spider can follow but the text link is better because it contains text that the spider can read too.

Where too many B&B web sites run into problems is in the use fancier drop-down or pop-up menus for the links to other pages within their web site. They look great, but the majority of pull-down menus are created in ways that spiders can't follow. They are essentially a locked door that keeps spiders out. This can be devastating to your website traffic as many times the inner pages of a site have better content to show up in a search. However, if the spiders can't get in, they never see it, so the search engine doesn't know about it.

Here are some examples of drop-down menus that stop spiders from following the links in the menu:

Not all dropdown or popup menus are spider stoppers, but most are and should be avoided if you are not sure. Better safe than sorry. A lot of companies that should know better are using the kind that stop spiders in their tracks. If you are working with a company to design your site and they recommend a dropdown or popup menu, get them to guarantee in writing that the menu is spiderable. If they won't, don't use the menu.

If you already have a popup menu on your site, you can check to see if the spiders are getting past it or not. Most major search engines have what they call a "site: search" which will list all of your pages that they have indexed. If only a few of your pages show up, the spider is likely being prevented from getting to your other pages. If you have 15 pages to your site and all 15 show up, then you have no spidering problems. If only half show up, then you have some problems, and if only one or no pages show up, then there are some BIG problems. (The only exception to this is if your site is less than 5 months old, they may not have chosen to spider all your pages yet.)

The format of the site search is the same on each search engine. Example: in Google just type "site:" into the search box (replace with the actual address of your site). You can use these search boxes below to quickly check each of the major search engines to see if their spiders are finding all the pages on your web site.

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MSN Search
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Again the question arises, why do designers continue to use pop-up menus that block spiders from getting to your site? The answer has some very familiar possibilities:

  • If you hired a neighbor or cousin or friend, they probably just don't know any better.
  • If you hired a professional, they were more concerned about the appearance of your site as opposed to whether it will appear in search engines.
  • If you hired a company that should know better, because you hired them to design and promote your site, they either have too many inexperienced designers to keep track of (cheap labor), or they are trying to keep you in a dependent relationship. They want you to keep paying them to promote your site.

Advice for B&B web design

  1. If you are having a new site built, avoid pop-up or pull-down menus unless the designer is willing to guarantee in writing that they are spiderable by the major search engines or they will be replaced by the designer free of charge.
  2. If you have an existing site that uses popup/pulldown menus you should check your site with the site search boxes above. If you find many of your pages are not being spidered, you should immediately add a "site map" page to your site. A site map is a page that has a link to every single page in your web site. Then place a link to the site map on every single page of your web site. See the site map link at the bottom righthand corner of this page for an example. If you paid a designer, ask your designer to discount their rate for adding the site map, as it is their fault for building an un-spiderable site in the first place.

B&B Design Mistakes - Pictures of TextB&B Web Design Mistakes: #2 Splash Pages B&B Design Mistakes - Pulldown MenusB&B Web Design Mistakes: #4 Bad Titles