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Monday, September 21, 2009

Why Use of Frames is Discouraged

While the use of websites built upon the use of frames was popular in the 1990's, they have fallen out of favor for a number of reasons, and it is recommended that any site that still uses frames be redeveloped to eliminate their use. There are a number of reasons for this.

First, search engines can't crawl a site with frames because each frame is treated as the same url as the home page, at least in simple terms. However, each frame requires its own separate html file. This is hard on the server load as well. When a search engine crawls your site, it may only the outline of the page but not the page content.

From an aesthetic point of view frames can make a site look cluttered. Frames can be hard to navigate because of scrolling options such as up/down and left/right on the same page. If each frame has a scroll bar, the site will be very distracting and hard to use, which can result in higher bounce rates and lower conversion rates. Put simply, a site that is hard to navigate will result in user abandonment.

Bookmarking a site with frames typically results in bookmarking of the home page url, as the url doesn't change when frames are included. Persons interested in bookmarking interior content, or linking to specific content on your site, find it impossible to do as the main site url is the url that appears on all pages of the site, and deep links to the interior of the site fail and link to the main url of the site.

For @Burnsie_SEO and @remarkablogger, frames were very useful. @ArteWorks_SEO held a contest about frames and asked contestants to find an example of a website built with frames so that he could show examples of sites with frames during an html training session. The two winners got a sexy and very stylish ArteWorks SEO t-shirt, calendar magnets, and a handful of business cards so that CEO Matt Foster's contact information would be close at hand. Wow, that’s better than winning a trip to Hawaii!

@Burnsie_SEO offers over 15 years experience in web site design and search engine optimization. To ensure the highest level of service and results for clients, she continues to monitor and study the ever-changing requirements and procedures of the search engines. She has optimized over 2000 web sites during her SEO career and has achieved top 20 placements and increased exposure for all of them. For more information please visit, the SEO consultant to the world.

@remarkablogger is a blog coach. He has been making websites and exploring online since 1997. For more informtion please visit BLOG

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At 11/11/2009 11:20:00 PM , Anonymous michael said...

Hello Matt,

Just happened upon this link and thought I'd send off my observations which result in a simple belief that as far as people usefulness, there isn't anything really good or bad about using frames - not that I have recommended that web architectural design practice for quite some time - beyond your mention of the 'potential' bookmark issue.

With .css, browser, mobile appliance and even flash implementation providing a far richer content delivery mode and therefore user experience, frames - not withstanding the occasional "red-headed" iframe version - reek of antiquated practices.


AS an SEO, I routinely see countless client competitors happily engaging in the use of frame dependency and frame worship in an almost frame-aholism ethic. I saw one as recently as ... well, this morning's latest competitor analysis report for at least ONE client.

So if the end user is an SEO, and frame-like content seem to be providing the sort of search engine results he/she is fond of, why should YOU discourage happiness in a world so bitter?

It's nice to see some antiquated, user experience unfriendly websites still kicking some serious ass in the SERP's: HEAVILY STEEPED in frame voodoo.
I sometimes contemplate utilizing them myself.

Ahh... To be young again.



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