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  1. #1
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    Are tables bad for SEO?

    Is it bad to have table on the main (front page) that consists of 30 links to my other pages on the site?
    In other words I have 30 brand names in that table and visitors choose which brand they are interested and it takes them to that page specific to that brand.
    My website is static and no blog posts, purely information about brands and products which when they narrow it down, can download information for free in PDF format.

    Since 30 brands is too much for navigation bar I had to do it this way but I'm wondering if table on front page and plugin(TinyMCE Advanced) that I used to create a table is bad for SEO?

    Any suggestions or experience is greatly appreciated.
    Thank you,

  2. #2
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    Personally I don't think it's bad because your home page is the gateway to other pages of your site and in most cases being the first landing place t hat visitors of your site get to, they must be directed to the exact place where they can find what is of interest to them. If not directed they would be frustrated by trying to locate the page and probably leave which can lead to low or no conversion rates. What you need to do is make sure that all you tables have an alt attribute on them to make it easier for search engines to know what they are.

  3. #3
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    What is alt attribute? I'm using plugin for table, how would I go about checking or adding alt attribute?

  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    Yeah, I don't think tables make a difference to search engines unless you nest lots and lots of tables within tables and make it difficult for search engines to find the content.

    Rather than 'alt' attributes, I would make sure that you have values for the 'title' attribute on all of your links describing what the link is linking to. That in my opinion is one of the most important SEO tips to follow.

    Your links would look something like:

    HTML Code:
    <a href="/link-to-a-page-somewhere-on-your-site" title="This is an informative title attribute value">this is a link to a product</a>
    Andrew Wasson | www.lunadesign.org
    Principal / Internet Development

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by awasson View Post
    Yeah, I don't think tables make a difference to search engines unless you nest lots and lots of tables within tables and make it difficult for search engines to find the content.

    Rather than 'alt' attributes, I would make sure that you have values for the 'title' attribute on all of your links describing what the link is linking to. That in my opinion is one of the most important SEO tips to follow.

    Your links would look something like:

    HTML Code:
    <a href="/link-to-a-page-somewhere-on-your-site" title="This is an informative title attribute value">this is a link to a product</a>

    This is what I have:

    HTML Code:
    <td><strong><span style="font-size: large;"><a title="Toshiba" href="http://www.websitename.com/Toshiba/">Toshiba</a></span></strong></td>
    I wonder if this is good or I should change something?

  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    I would change the title to something more descriptive like "view our selection of fine Toshiba office, home audio, etc... products". That will be better search engine food than just the brand name.
    Andrew Wasson | www.lunadesign.org
    Principal / Internet Development

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by awasson View Post
    I would change the title to something more descriptive like "view our selection of fine Toshiba office, home audio, etc... products". That will be better search engine food than just the brand name.
    Hm, but I'm not selling Toshiba products just providing free PDF files with specifications.
    And this info is in the on home page table so writing this long of a tittle would look bad in a table (3 columns x 10 rows).

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    Well, you want the title attribute to indicate something relating to your business needs then like: "click here to access our technical docs for Toshiba products"

    The title attribute is the part at: title="this part here is the value of the title attribute".

    Nobody sees the title attribute except for screen readers and search engines so the "look" doesn't matter. The title attribute of a link also shows up in a little yellow box when you hover over a link for a while like a 'tool tip'.
    Andrew Wasson | www.lunadesign.org
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  9. #9
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    Thank you: awasson

    Ok, I just changed it to:

    HTML Code:
    <td title="Get your free Toshiba copy today"><a title="Toshiba" href="http://www.mywebsite.com/toshiba/"><strong><span style="font-size: 
    large;">Toshiba</span></strong></a></td>
    But when I scroll over a link I get a gray box that just says "Toshiba" it doesn't show title attribute. (I'm sure something with table setting what shows on scroll over)
    I really don't mind what it shows when scrolled over the link a long as it shows in the code and it helps my SEO.

  10. #10
    Mouse catcher silver trophy Stevie D's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jim99 View Post
    Ok, I just changed it to:

    HTML Code:
    <td title="Get your free Toshiba copy today"><a title="Toshiba" href="http://www.mywebsite.com/toshiba/"><strong><span style="font-size: 
    large;">Toshiba</span></strong></a></td>
    But when I scroll over a link I get a gray box that just says "Toshiba" it doesn't show title attribute. (I'm sure something with table setting what shows on scroll over)
    I really don't mind what it shows when scrolled over the link a long as it shows in the code and it helps my SEO.
    Put the title you want on the <a...> instead of the <td>.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevie D View Post
    Put the title you want on the <a...> instead of the <td>.
    Why because this is no good for SEO? or just to get a box with attributes when I scroll over a link?
    I'm doing this from the front end of WP plugin TinyMCE Advanced, and not sure if I changing actual code would impact other things in that plugin and table.

  12. #12
    Mouse catcher silver trophy Stevie D's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jim99 View Post
    Why because this is no good for SEO? or just to get a box with attributes when I scroll over a link?
    I'm doing this from the front end of WP plugin TinyMCE Advanced, and not sure if I changing actual code would impact other things in that plugin and table.
    I don't know for sure, but the chances of the title text making any difference to SEO are tiny. Why? Because it's very easy for webmasters to hide "spammy" text in titles, which most people will never see. (That's a good reason not to put important information in titles).

    No, the reason I said to put the title on the <a...> is because at the moment you've got two titles there, one on the <td> and one on the <a...>, and when you mouseover the <a...> that is the title that comes up, but you want the other one.

  13. #13
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by jim99 View Post
    Why because this is no good for SEO? or just to get a box with attributes when I scroll over a link?
    I'm doing this from the front end of WP plugin TinyMCE Advanced, and not sure if I changing actual code would impact other things in that plugin and table.
    As Stevie D mentioned, you'll want to put the title within the link <a> tag. The reason for that is that the link or <a> tag is the one that is responsible for that particular piece of information and search engines do pay particular attention to the attributes on links.
    Andrew Wasson | www.lunadesign.org
    Principal / Internet Development

  14. #14
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    Using tables is not bad for SEO.
    Google can perfectly determine tables in the sourcecode.
    I use tables all the time (for many different websites). Some pages with tables are doing very good in the searchresults.

    There are a lot more things to invetigate when you want to optimize your website. And the use of tables is not one of them.

    Kind Regards,
    Johan Santamaria
    Last edited by Stevie D; Jun 4, 2013 at 08:05. Reason: Fake signature deleted

  15. #15
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    This is valuable information about changing <td> to <a> for attributes. (Thanks Steve D and awasson)
    I hope this manual change on plugin will not created problems with my plugin working correctly.

    "search engines do pay particular attention to the attributes on links" makes me as you another question.
    I will have 2,000 links for downloading PDF files and I'm not using tables but I'm using "WP filebase" plugin to add the files to my site.

    What do I have to do? Add attributes manually for 2,000 files, or if I don't add attributes is that really bad for SEO.
    Or perhaps there is a easier solution to all this?

  16. #16
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    There's nothing particularly bad for SEO except outright keyword spamming, link farms and all the scam related SEO techniques. In broad strokes, the trick to organic search engine optimizing is to do things that improve your site content to make it more valuable to search engine rankings.

    That said, adding descriptive information to links via the title tag makes your content more useful than it was prior but it isn't the be-all-end-all to SEO. I've long felt that for SEO, content is king, meaning that you need to write compelling and useful information about the subject your site is about. If you have a table full of links, you will also want to have a paragraph above that list of links providing some context so that the search engine indexing algorithm can evaluate and index your content against other similar information in the same subject.

    If you want to get into more SEO info, I would check out the Internet Marketing Section of the site. I know the basics of SEO which are really based on common sense but I'm sure you can find real expert advice over in the Internet Marketing Section.
    Andrew Wasson | www.lunadesign.org
    Principal / Internet Development

  17. #17
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    Tables are not bad for SEO, if they are used reasonably. If there are more tables that it will surely create problem for search engines to crawl the contents. You have to used the contents before or after the table so it can be easy for them to crawl.

  18. #18
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Provided that you use tables in a semantic fashion to mark up tabular data and don't use it for non-tabular data it should have a positive effect for SEO by allowing the search engines to more correctly identify what your page contains.
    Stephen J Chapman

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  19. #19
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    Used to hear that tabular form is not preferred as s.engines can not read data but today its different, i believe it can be used but not excessively. The use of div is more standard.

  20. #20
    SitePoint Zealot lutrov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jim99 View Post
    Why because this is no good for SEO?
    No, it's no good for people. If a table cell contains a link, the title belongs with the link, not the table cell.

  21. #21
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by royrobin View Post
    The use of div is more standard.
    Not for tabular data where the correct tag to use is a table - as that's what that tag was originally added for.

    The best tag to use in each instance (for seo and any other purpose) is the most semantically correct tag for identifying what the content actually is. Using div would be the last choice which you'd use only if no other tag was semantically correct.
    Stephen J Chapman

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