The other common manifestation of this problem is that many tables-based sites place their site naviga-
tion element on the left. This use of tables tends to push the primary content further down physically,
and because of this, may contribute to poorer rankings. If there are many navigational elements above
the primary content, it may confuse the search engine as to what is actually the primary content on the
page, because the navigational elements are higher physically in the document.
Search engines do try to detect repetitive elements, such as a navigation elements placed physically
before the primary content on a page, and at least partially ignore them. Modern search engines also
examine the actual displayed location of content rather than just their physical location in a source doc-
ument. However, avoiding the situation entirely may improve the odds of proper indexing regardless.
There are three solutions for this:
Instead of using a tables-based layout, use a pure CSS-type layout where presentation order is
arbitrary. An in-depth discussion of CSS is beyond the scope of this book. For more information,
you can consult one of the many books on CSS, such as
Beginning CSS: Cascading Style Sheets for
(Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2004).
Place the navigation to the right side of the page in a tables-based layout. Figure 6-11 shows an
Apply a technique that designers typically call
the table trick
, which uses an HTML sleight-of-hand
to reverse the order of table cells physically in the document without reversing their presentation.
Even if your site uses tables, typically, parts of a document can be rendered using CSS layout on a
selective basis. Doing so does not force you to abandon a tables-based layout completely. A good place
to look is in repetitive elements (that is, those generated within loops), such as navigational elements
and repeated blocks to shrink HTML size, because tables tend to have a large footprint.
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