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Re: "Think EUO, not SEO"/Google

From: David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
Date: Thu, 12 Jun 2003 21:54:53 +0100 (BST)
Message-Id: <200306122054.h5CKsrB09307@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

> ...Google [is] declaring all hidden links as
> bad and automatically checking every page for them...Most
> invisible links do fall into the spam category, but not all.  If you

Unfortunately every marketing department in the world wants to get 
their sites at the top of search engine results for any even vaguely
related search, but only a small proportion care about accessibility.

That means that any feature that allows content to be hidden from the
majority audience will be used to stuff keywords.

Traditionally Google has been relatively immune to keywords stuffing, 
because it relies on citation counts.  I wonder if what they are really
trying to block here is invisible cross-citations?

However, more generally, I feel unhappy with an environment that needs
such links.  At the first level, they should maybe be considered closer 
to the first entry in the short form table of contents in some books,
and called "main text" (also consistent with the principle that links are
nouns, whereas "skip navigation" is more in line with the marketing idea
that links are verbs).

But, why is there navigation to skip? 

Part of this is a desire to try and lock people into a site.

Part of this is limited support of style sheet positioning, forcing visually
early material to be early in the document.

But part of it is a dissatisfaction with the traditional publications
model in which catalogues and narrative books are separate.  Even where both
are in a traditional book, the navigation (References) are generally at the
end, rather than the beginning.

I think, to some extent, the problem is with the user agents, in not making
it easy to maintain a bookmark in the catalogue whilst reading the main text,
and thus forcing the use of framesets and embedded navigation.

However, having recently realised something that was too obvious to
consider was implemented by NS4, Mozilla and IE, I wonder if the problem
is really a failure to educate users in how to use their browsers.
The feature is that you can drag a link into another window and have
the link open in that window.  This means you only have to open a new
window once, for the first contents page.  You can then drag subsequent
content links from the navigation page into the same window.

Once you know of this mechanism, I could argue that it is a much cleaner
metaphor than the click to open metaphor, although it makes nonsense of 
the, too common, "click here" link text.

This is a pointing device based metaphor.  For the blind user or those with
limited screen real estate, I suspect that having pure navigation and pure
content pages is best, anyway.  For those where control of the pointer is
the problem, it might be desirable to have better keyboard options than
always to open in a new window.
Received on Thursday, 12 June 2003 17:24:11 GMT

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