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Spiders and Tables

Should content go first?

3:49 pm on Dec 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

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joined:Aug 17, 2002
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First, thanks for all the great advice and information. Without a single 'submission' our site is enjoying 3,000 visitors a month [after only a few months] online thanks to the tips I got here. Now I'm ready to get 'serious', designing a 'theme' and a few dozen more pages.

My question:

My page layouts have '2' tables - about 20% on left side for internal links, and the remaining 80% for 'content'. Viewing HTML and the left table is on top, while the bigger table is deeper down. I see many use this technique, but wonder if arranging the pages with main content on top would be a better idea?

I'm going to start learning CSS, and think that will help me out with layouts, but with such great rankings on many of my 'deeper' keywords, I'm scared to change!

Thanks again.

4:06 pm on Dec 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member jdmorgan is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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Yes, it would be better to "move your content up", either by putting a few paragraphs of content above the layout table, or by using the "table trick" to place the content section of the table first. The "table trick" for a two-column layout basically looks like this:

<td><your main content></td>
<td valign="top"><your navigation links></td>

Here, a blank <td> starts the upper-left corner of the page, and is then followed by the content on the right. At the end of the content on the right, the links section starts, but is top aligned to the content. So, it looks just like your original design, but the content section is moved up to the beginning of the file. The content section is then followed by another blank section, which is rendered below the content. Alternatively, you might be able to omit this <td> and just use "rowspan=2" in the content section to make the number of columns and rows match properly.

It is very important to specify the size of as many of the objects as possible inside the table when using this technique. Otherwise, redering can be extremely slow. This is because the content section must be processed completely before rendering of anything within the table can begin - The whole table has to be loaded and analyzed before it can be "printed" to the visitor's screen. Therefore, it works best with small tables in which all sizeable objects are given defined sizes - especially sub-tables within the table.


6:53 pm on Dec 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Thanks Jim. I can see I must graduate from front page express and brush up on my 'beginner html'. In fact, I believe I'll spend some time with a good html book [or download a good tutorial] before I think about CSS and stuff.

DW'r is on my x-mas list. Hope santa's listening:-)


12:07 am on Dec 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Just make sure it validates and you should be fine. You can search almost any serp, find some horrible table messes and clearly see that they have been indexed by the engines.

I still like the keep it simple stupid approach to design and tables however. You really can't go wrong.