You may consider using iFrames as a tool to link to a separate website without risking creating duplicate content. An iframe is part of HTML syntax. It stands for “inline frame.” iFrames allow you to embed another website in the code of your website, like a page within a page.
But since you use the content from another website, do you risk lowering your website’s SEO ranking? We’ll answer this question and more so you can choose to use (or not use) iFrames with confidence.
How do you use iFrames?
You can create an iFrame by inserting code like the following:
<iframe src=”URL of page being embedded”></iframe>
You can even customize the height and width of the embedded website and give it a scroll bar.
When would you use an iFrame?
Websites use iFrames for various reasons. You can use it to embed videos from Youtube, slideshows from SlideShare, maps from Google, or content for advertisements. You can even use an iFrame to embed a PDF so users don’t have to download a separate document. iFrames act like an inline image, allowing you to use the content from another site without duplicating it on your site.
What problems are associated with iFrames?
In the past, Google and other search engines couldn’t crawl through content in iFrames. While users could see the content, the robots would not be able to access it, and so couldn’t index the content in the iFrame to improve SEO rankings. In some cases, once the robots entered the iFrame, they couldn’t get out of it again and didn’t index the content in the rest of the website.
However, today web crawlers can usually travel freely between regular website content and iFrames. In fact, iFrames can sometimes improve SEO rankings so long as the content in the iFrames are SEO friendly.
Do iFrames cause duplicate content problems?
Since iFrames reference a different web page rather than replicating the content from the page on your site, they shouldn’t create duplicate content. Tweet This The crawling robots recognize the <iframe> tag and don’t register the content afterward as duplicate with another web page. Instead, they see the source URL within the HTML syntax and give the SEO credit to the original webpage rather than to the page where you embedded the content.
Does Google consider iFrames to be the same as “cloaking”?
“Cloaking” refers to a black hat practice in which you present different content to search engine robots than you do to users who visit your page. This tactic can lower your SEO ranking. The purpose of rankings is to give users the best results for their searches, and cloaking can obscure poor user content with good SEO.
Since iFrames clearly mark the source of the content in the HTML syntax, search engine robots understand that the content the user sees is the same content referred to in the source URL. iFrames are not the same as cloaking.
How can you make iFrames more search engine–friendly?
Make sure search robots can access the content in your iFrame. You can do this easily by indexing the iFrame with robots.txt. With this tool, you can choose to allow or disallow search engine crawlers to access the content of your page. However, this may not be necessary as the robots’ default setting is to crawl through all content on a website. For more information about robots.txt files, see our blog Robots.txt and SEO: Overview & Implementation.
We recommend using Google Webmaster Central to find out more about this and other potential crawling errors on your site. See our blog How to Properly Set Up Google Webmaster Tools for a tutorial on using Google Webmaster.
So, how do iFrames affect my site’s ranking?
Since search engines consider the content in iFrames to belong to another website, the best you can hope for is no effect. iFrames tend to neither help nor hurt your search engine ranking. Tweet This
It’s best to refrain from using iFrames on main pages that you want to rank highly in search engine results, because the content in those frames doesn’t help your SEO. Instead, fill high-priority pages with useful, unique content and save iFrames for other pages.
And that’s all you need to know about iFrames and SEO. For more SEO tips, tricks, and hacks, check out our blog for regular updates.