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  1. #1
    SitePoint Member Rowan Cook's Avatar
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    CMS site uses external domain for internal URLs :: Bad for SEO?

    Hi, I know of a web developer who hosts all his clients websites on his own CMS system located under his own domain, so that all their internal page links refer to his domain, here is an example of a site ::

    http://www.beachpalacehotel.com.au/

    Aside from the aesthetic / readability issues, I wondering if there were any more significant / real problems with this technique, such as SEO significance?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    SitePoint Enthusiast Mongoose.wa's Avatar
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    He's using frames, which is terrible in terms of code and SEO.

    SEO-wise, using frames makes it harder, if not impossible for search engines to read the actual content of the page. If you view source on any of those pages, you see hardly any code; just links to other pages set in frames. There's nothing there for search engines to deal with.

    Avoid frames like the plague.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Member Rowan Cook's Avatar
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    Yes, I see now that's why the links are the way they are.

    Thanks for the info.

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    That practice is also decpetive IMO. He is cheating his clients of any advantage they have for obtaining their own URL. I hope he is charging less than $10 per decade for this "service".

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    Whilst frames aren't really optimal for SEO, the URL structure is almost irrelevant in this case. The client has a domain, and it points at the "http://www.compad.com.au/cms/beachpalace/topstrip_mainpage.html" page in this guys CMS system. That's all the search engines will see. Once they're on that page, they'll be able to follow all the links, which are relative anyway.

    As long as the bots have a way to get to any page in the folder to start them off, perhaps through direct links, it will have no effect on his clients rankings. Google will be familiar with this type of CMS and I strongly doubt they'll penalise his clients because the actual pages are several levels deep, otherwise no one would be able to design sites more than 3 (?) or 4 (?) levels deep, it wouldn't be workable. The site is contained within 4 levels anyway and in this case we have a domain which points straight at the 'top' level folder of the site in so the bots get straight to where the pages are.

    If you Google 'beach palace hotel' you'll see that they come up No1, so it clearly isn't affecting their rankings.

    So the problem with this CMS is the use of frames, not the URLs.
    It's 530 people, but do you really get it?
    ImgWebDesign - Web design in Buxton, High Peak, Derbyshire UK.

  6. #6
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    Yeah, but if you do Google site:beachpalacehotel.com.au you'll see that there are only 9 entries for beachpalacehotel.com.au -- consisting of the home page, left frame, right frame, bottom frame, a swf, and a couple other pages that no one would want.

    If you Google site:compad.com.au the beachpalace pages start turning up at around 677.

    The developer is getting the client's entire site indexed under the developer's own domain.

    At best it's poor practice. Looked at less charitably, it's unethical, if done this way on purpose.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by sonjay View Post
    Yeah, but if you do Google site:beachpalacehotel.com.au you'll see that there are only 9 entries for beachpalacehotel.com.au -- consisting of the home page, left frame, right frame, bottom frame, a swf, and a couple other pages that no one would want.
    Yes which why I said that it was the frames that were the problem not the URLs.

    Do you know if he includes SEO as part of his package? Because if he doesn't then he's not being unethical at all, it's just that his sites aren't very well built for search engines. If that wasn't part of the deal then it's irrelevant, not very good web design, but irrelevant.

    When the pages are indexed, yes they'll show his domain but unless the client has specifically asked for that not to happen it's not unethical. He does mask the domain if you use the URL to go straight there.

    Quote Originally Posted by sonjay View Post
    The developer is getting the client's entire site indexed under the developer's own domain.
    Yes but so what? How does it benefit him unless he runs a rival beach hotel? His site won't show up for webdesign because it has a beach hotel site in it's folders. These sites just aren't well built for search engines.
    It's 530 people, but do you really get it?
    ImgWebDesign - Web design in Buxton, High Peak, Derbyshire UK.

  8. #8
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    those who provide cheap services and charge very less fees alway cheats his clients...

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJMcClure View Post
    Do you know if he includes SEO as part of his package? Because if he doesn't then he's not being unethical at all, it's just that his sites aren't very well built for search engines. If that wasn't part of the deal then it's irrelevant, not very good web design, but irrelevant.
    the title tag for compad.com.au reads: "SEO friendly CMS - Editable web site builder. Sydney, Australia"

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    SEO friendly CMS
    In that case, I vote unethical.

    In either case, I believe that, given the general cluelessness of so many people who hire web developers, the web developer has a responsibility to educate the client about what his services do and do not include. I also believe that if you're structuring a client's site in such a way that all of their content is indexed your own domain rather than the client's, the developer should make that clear to the client, and make it clear to the client what that will mean to the client's site.

    I don't think it's right or fair or just to do things like that, when you can be nearly 100% certain that if the client knew what's what, he would object to it. I think that's simply taking advantage of the client's cluelessless.

    Then again, back when I worked in the corporate world, my boss used to refer to me as "our resident ethics expert" -- perhaps my ethical standards are somewhat different from what seems to be the norm.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by matt.s View Post
    the title tag for compad.com.au reads: "SEO friendly CMS - Editable web site builder. Sydney, Australia"
    So it does, well spotted.

    He's either unethical or clueless then and given the extent to which his sites are search engine unfriendly and how hard that would be to explain if he actually knew anything about SEO, I'm voting for clueless.
    It's 530 people, but do you really get it?
    ImgWebDesign - Web design in Buxton, High Peak, Derbyshire UK.

  12. #12
    SitePoint Member Rowan Cook's Avatar
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    When you guys say his technique is bad for SEO, do you mean when searching for ancillary terms relating to the site ( ie: hotel, entertainment, venue, etc.. ), its rankings for these types of terms will be worse off than if it was built using correct techniques?
    Because as pointed out by JJMcClure, the ranking for a specific search on 'Beach Palace Hotel' still comes up as no 1.

    [ Also, my employer will probably be informing the venue to inform them explicitly about this, so the developer may be up for a re-build ]

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan Cook View Post
    When you guys say his technique is bad for SEO, do you mean when searching for ancillary terms relating to the site ( ie: hotel, entertainment, venue, etc.. ), its rankings for these types of terms will be worse off than if it was built using correct techniques?
    Because as pointed out by JJMcClure, the ranking for a specific search on 'Beach Palace Hotel' still comes up as no 1.

    [ Also, my employer will probably be informing the venue to inform them explicitly about this, so the developer may be up for a re-build ]
    That phrase comes up number one because there's no more relevant competition for it. If you're not coming up number one for your own domain name you've really got problems. Try finding them using any other relevant phrase though....

    His sites are search engine unfriendly because he uses frames.
    It's 530 people, but do you really get it?
    ImgWebDesign - Web design in Buxton, High Peak, Derbyshire UK.

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    I'm voting for clueless.
    And isn't it just a tad bit unethical to claim to offer a search-engine friendly CMS if you're that clueless about SEO in general, and about how unfriendly your CMS is, specifically?

    I still vote unethical.

  15. #15
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    Jumping in again -- I knew there was something I wanted to respond to specifically, and forgot:

    When the pages are indexed, yes they'll show his domain but unless the client has specifically asked for that not to happen it's not unethical.
    I just can't image the typical web design/web development client (at least, not my typical client) specifically asking me to not use frames, and/or if I use frames, to do it in such a way that the content of the framed pages is indexed under the client's own domain and not mine.

    With most of my clients, a mention of frames draws a blank look of incomprehension, and I can only envision massive failure if I tried to explain to one of them how it would be possible to use frames to have their site indexed under my own domain rather than theirs.

    It's way unreasonable, IMO, to think that such a practice is OK unless the client specifically asked for that not to happen.

    If I hire someone to install electrical wiring in my house, I shouldn't have to specifically ask them to avoid installing the wiring in a way that will cause the house to burn down. I'm hiring the contractor for his expertise in selecting the right gauge wiring, installing it properly, making sure it's insulated properly, grounding it properly, and the many other aspects that I don't know enough to ask about. That's why we hire professionals, darn it!

    If web developers and designers want to be treated like professionals, we should act like professionals. Part of that, IMO, is not having the attitude that anything is okay unless the client specifically requests that we avoid it.

  16. #16
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    He's clueless I'm sure. There's no point in providing non SEO'ed sites if you know SEO because it requires very little to do half decent on page SEO so I guess he just doesn't know any better.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hostpitable View Post
    He's clueless I'm sure. There's no point in providing non SEO'ed sites if you know SEO because it requires very little to do half decent on page SEO so I guess he just doesn't know any better.
    Exactly. My point only explained better
    It's 530 people, but do you really get it?
    ImgWebDesign - Web design in Buxton, High Peak, Derbyshire UK.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sonjay View Post
    Jumping in again -- I knew there was something I wanted to respond to specifically, and forgot:



    I just can't image the typical web design/web development client (at least, not my typical client) specifically asking me to not use frames, and/or if I use frames, to do it in such a way that the content of the framed pages is indexed under the client's own domain and not mine.

    With most of my clients, a mention of frames draws a blank look of incomprehension, and I can only envision massive failure if I tried to explain to one of them how it would be possible to use frames to have their site indexed under my own domain rather than theirs.

    It's way unreasonable, IMO, to think that such a practice is OK unless the client specifically asked for that not to happen.

    If I hire someone to install electrical wiring in my house, I shouldn't have to specifically ask them to avoid installing the wiring in a way that will cause the house to burn down. I'm hiring the contractor for his expertise in selecting the right gauge wiring, installing it properly, making sure it's insulated properly, grounding it properly, and the many other aspects that I don't know enough to ask about. That's why we hire professionals, darn it!

    If web developers and designers want to be treated like professionals, we should act like professionals. Part of that, IMO, is not having the attitude that anything is okay unless the client specifically requests that we avoid it.
    Hid domain is appearing because the sites are in sub folders on his domain, nothing to do with frames.

    He could have set up sub-domains or even hosted the sites on their own webspace to avoid his URL showing for indexed pages (not that there are any) the fact that he didn't also supports my feeling that he's clueless about SEO.
    It's 530 people, but do you really get it?
    ImgWebDesign - Web design in Buxton, High Peak, Derbyshire UK.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JJMcClure View Post
    Hid domain is appearing because the sites are in sub folders on his domain, nothing to do with frames.
    Yes, yes, true. But by using frames, he is in effect "hiding" that structure from the client, who probably doesn't look at the status bar and doesn't know how to check for the source of the framed pages.

    Using frames is almost never a good idea anyway.

    But this combination of frames in conjunction with the hosting structure, is bad news, period.

    And at the risk of repeating myself: I consider it unethical either way. If he knows what he's doing, it's unethical. And if he's that clueless about it, it's unethical to claim he knows what he's doing.

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    [QUOTE=sonjay;3754720]Yes, yes, true. But by using frames, he is in effect "hiding" that structure from the client, who probably doesn't look at the status bar and doesn't know how to check for the source of the framed pages.

    Using frames is almost never a good idea anyway.

    But this combination of frames in conjunction with the hosting structure, is bad news, period.

    And at the risk of repeating myself: I consider it unethical either way. /QUOTE]

    It's an assumption that he's doing it on purpose.

    Quote Originally Posted by sonjay View Post
    If he knows what he's doing, it's unethical. And if he's that clueless about it, it's unethical to claim he knows what he's doing.
    By definition, people who are clueless are rarely aware of their clueless nature.
    It's 530 people, but do you really get it?
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    It's an assumption that he's doing it on purpose.
    No, it's not. Repeating myself yet again, I consider it unethical whether it's on purpose on not. If it's on purpose, it's unethical because he's doing it on purpose. If, OTOH, it's a result of cluelessness, then it's unethical to hold himself out as offering an SEO friendly CMS when he's so clueless that he wouldn't know SEO-friendly if it bit him on the gluteus maximus.

    I maintain that it's unethical to hold yourself out as an expert on something when you're clueless about that something, or to advertise a service that is clearly not what it claims to be. Regardless of your intent or general all-around cluelessness.

    I continue to maintain that it's unethical regardless of the reason or the intent. Unless he first educated the client about what he's doing and the ramifications thereof, and the client has agreed. Somehow, I doubt that's the case, but I guess it's possible.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by sonjay View Post
    No, it's not. Repeating myself yet again, I consider it unethical whether it's on purpose on not. If it's on purpose, it's unethical because he's doing it on purpose. If, OTOH, it's a result of cluelessness, then it's unethical to hold himself out as offering an SEO friendly CMS when he's so clueless that he wouldn't know SEO-friendly if it bit him on the gluteus maximus.

    I maintain that it's unethical to hold yourself out as an expert on something when you're clueless about that something, or to advertise a service that is clearly not what it claims to be. Regardless of your intent or general all-around cluelessness.

    I continue to maintain that it's unethical regardless of the reason or the intent. Unless he first educated the client about what he's doing and the ramifications thereof, and the client has agreed. Somehow, I doubt that's the case, but I guess it's possible.
    Don't assume that because I'm disagreeing with you that I haven't understood what you're saying. I do.

    I think if someone is clueless, they can't be unethical since that requires intent. This guy is clearly clueless since no one would promise what he's promised who actually knew what they were talking about and fall so short in delivering it.
    It's 530 people, but do you really get it?
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    You and I will just have to disagree, then.

    It seems to me that by your reasoning, I could consider myself an expert in open-heart surgery, proclaim myself an open-heart surgeon, operate on someone, botch the job, and kill them -- and there would be nothing unethical about it as long as I didn't realize I wasn't an expert in open-heart surgery.

    Would that be a fair assessment of your position? (Leave aside for the moment the issue of medical licensing -- I could come up with frinstances that don't require licensing.)

    I just can't consider it ethical when someone claims expertise in something they're clueless about, they take other people's money who believe their claim, and the customer suffers as a result of their cluelessness.

  24. #24
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    Off Topic:

    Quote Originally Posted by sonjay View Post
    It seems to me that by your reasoning, I could consider myself an expert in open-heart surgery, proclaim myself an open-heart surgeon, operate on someone, botch the job, and kill them -- and there would be nothing unethical about it as long as I didn't realize I wasn't an expert in open-heart surgery.

    Would that be a fair assessment of your position? (Leave aside for the moment the issue of medical licensing -- I could come up with frinstances that don't require licensing.)
    No it wouldn't since you clearly know that you're not an expert on open heart surgery, so if you did claim that you would have intent to deceive and that would be unethical. If it's not intentional, it can't be unethical.

    You're assuming that this guy knows he's not delivering what he's promised.

    Get it now?
    It's 530 people, but do you really get it?
    ImgWebDesign - Web design in Buxton, High Peak, Derbyshire UK.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JJMcClure View Post
    You're assuming that this guy knows he's not delivering what he's promised.

    Get it now?[/ot]
    You're still assuming that I'm assuming something that I'm not assuming.

    It's immaterial to me how clueless this guy is. I consider it unethical to sell a service that you can't deliver. Period, full stop. Ignorance of your own ignorance is no excuse.

    Apparently your only criterion is intention, while I consider that action and intention must go hand in hand. As I said earlier, I think we'll have to agree to disagree on this one; I'm not going to change your mind, and you're not going to change mine.

    But don't forget -- this guy might be doing this on purpose!


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