Structuring, Formatting, & Making Information Accessible

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When dealing with catalog type websites focused on conversion, it sometimes makes sense to not place too much content on the page, yet it helps to have a page unique enough to not get hit by duplicate content filters.

Some sites use multiple pages for different types of information related to a product, like reviews and feedback, official editorial reviews, manufacturer information, compatibility issues, related news and products, etc. etc. etc.

In some cases it makes sense to split up that information on many pages, but in many cases it would likely make sense to place that information on one stronger web page, which had hidden divs (or some other information structuring technique) which were only displayed to end users when they showed more interest in that type of information, for example by clicking on a tab that said reviews, or a link that said more.

Clearly one can be excessive and deceitful with the hidden divs, but is there a search engine friendly way to code a page both for optimal accessibility and conversion? Where do the search engines stand on the issue if the intent is legitimate? Or would they prefer to have a bunch of lower quality pages in their search indexes? And does their view of the techniques depend upon brand strength or any other variables?

Comments

Ahhh... Aaron is busy with

Ahhh... Aaron is busy with real work and encountering the tough questions :-)

This is a classic competitive webmastering issue. It depends on your SERP, and your apporach to the issue is defined by your competitive strategy. I learned CSS the Eric Meyers way... start with content and then style it one step at a time. That led me to explore this very issue, and it depends on your SERP where you stop after the unique content.

Sometimes the unique data (however minimal) rules the SERP. Other times it can be enhanced with ancillary content with no ill effect, sometimes that dilutes the strength, and other times it is a necessary ingredient. You can guestimate based on SERP analysis, especially LSI-like stuff, but always test. And always be prepared to alter the page content according to the competition ----> which leads one to heavily mod today's CMS systems (to provide that level of control).

I used to say there was no CMS worthy of the task, but nowadays I have solved that problem. You need granular control of URLs and template-like structure that is not available in most canned systems, but can be developed with some of today's really good/flexible/well-architected CMS's.

The clue of the day is that duplicate content is your friend.

Why hide it then?

The only reason I can think of to use hidden divs is not to have too long sites. But with good anchors navigation put between those different types of info it's not a problem really as long as accessibility and usability are concerned and... if those different types of information aren't duplicating themselves actually.

Different people react to

Different people react to different calls to action. What one person considers a must might be considered noise or offensive by others.

That is just an example of a reason to not show it all, but there are really lots of them...to some people maybe just seeing the mile long scroll bar scares away prospective customers.

And doesn't it awe you?

And doesn't it awe you, that you have to think and decide how to split content not only for the user, but for the search engines too?

Hopefully in some time those true user-friendly and accessible sites with true content will be indexed the right way with none of this problemes.

It doesn't really awe me

It doesn't really awe me that you have to consider multiple groups when structuring information. It has always been that way if you have had the goal of being seen / profiting / spreading influence / spreading ideas / etc.

The word true might be arbitrarily used in your comment. It has the assumption of some universal truth to content quality and user-friendliness. But if people do not openly discuss this issue, or hide behind rhetorical universal truths then it will have a shifty effect where "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."

bumpity bump bump bump :)

bumpity bump bump bump :)

Off page calls for boilerplate content

Aaron:

I can't speak for the engines and I didn't do enough testing to prove the SERP improved significantly, but I have recommended to clients that they serve some information on a catalog page (warranty information or reviews) by calling off page JavaScript to avoid duplicate content and keyword density dilution.

This is a bit of a hack, but it works without fundamentally changing the database catalog.

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