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 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:http://www.yourAddress.com" into the search box (replace www.yourAddress.com 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.
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:
Advice for B&B web design
Inngenious B&B Web Site Promotion • 8744 Lower Lake Spur • Lodi, NY 14860 • (607) 582-7025 •