Avoiding the Fancy Stuff - Java, Flash, DHTML

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Okay, I'm not saying never use Javascript, Flash or DHTML. They have their place and can be very valuable assets depending on what your site is about or for.

However, most of the search engine spiders can't read any content created with these technologies. And that means that every time you use these gimmicks, the guys who don't (who have content-rich sites with clean simple HTML) get a leg up on you.

You may also be asking what this has to do with writing for the web. I'll make it even stranger for you. It actually has to do with Real Estate.

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Every inch of a web page is valuable real estate. And just like a house or a shop or a store, some of that real estate is more valuable than others. If you look at this page you'll see real estate taken up by advertisements, writing tips, a banner, and some links at the top.

The content is valuable for search engine placement and to draw people to my site. The advertisements have no value for search engine placement or drawing people to my site but they can make me money if people click on them so they have value.

If you check my banner at the top, it's actually all text with a color background, not a jpeg, gif, or Flash. That means that the search engines can read it. And that makes it valuable real estate. All my links are text for the same reason.

If it were a jpeg, gif or Flash or DHTML, the search engine spiders couldn't read it so it would be essentially worthless real estate. Yes, people who come to your site can see the Flash or the image or the fancy-looking links. But how much will that impress people looking for information?

DHTML links look cool but can't be read by a lot of search engines. That makes them lost real estate. A site designed in all Flash can't be read at all by search engines so no one will ever find it. That makes the whole site worthless real estate. A small Flash movie or headline might impress people if that's what people coming to your site are looking for.

Otherwise, it's worthless real estate. Ask yourself if your users will find your site more useful or informative with these "gimmicks" on it. If not, don't waste your time or money.

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