For years we told users to design sites for their visitors and not the search engines. Today we state the opposite. We now believe it is imperative for sites that want to have top search engine rankings, to maintain proper page and navigation and website structure, so they do not get lost in the search results.
If you do not design and structure your sites for Search Engines, they will erase you. Yahoo and Bing tend to be more lenient to thinner content repeated in a template while Google seems to require more elaborate content which means you need to avoid templates and pages that have repeated or similar content.
I am going to go against the masses here as I am tired of the amount of time I have had to spend fixing content on high-quality sites because of some overly-aggressive filters. Webmasters MUST be cautious when developing websites specifically the use of content, navigation, and structure.
Template heavy designers who use sidebars with content and use a template sub-navigation or section navigation in the body of a site are at greater risk. What we are discussing here is sites that have pages that do not rank or fall into the supplemental index because they duplicate content in a template or even in their navigation.
Naturally, Google’s defense mechanism is to prevent overuse of content repetition to try and help webmasters develop better pages. Sometimes this hurts sites that use certain types of navigational structure, and is simply the fault of people gaming the system and causing Google to be more strategic about how it removes duplicate/templated/mad-lib content.
This next part is for one of our readers that asked me about the supplemental index a few weeks ago…
Another issue is websites using what is termed as “Madlib Spam”. Madlib spam is caused by sites that use the same content on numerous pages and then replace, usually dynamically, a keyword or two in the content but most of the content is exactly the same. Commonly used on dynamic city portals or regional sections of sites. Sometimes we find this is used as “Page Spam” to try and gain the appearance of having a larger website with many pages which is a ranking factor.
This effect is simple to fix, it requires you re-visit your content and adjust how you navigate through your site and the addition of different content or more informational content.
In summary, how you structure a website and how you use content and navigation are imperative to the long-term success of your campaign. We are also entering an age where we really have to design and develop good quality sites for the Search Engines and if we can, our visitors.