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Old 07-07-2006   #1
everett sizemor
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Is sIFR Safe?

For those of you who don't know what sIFR is, please see:
http://www.mikeindustries.com/sifr/
...and please don't come back and try to answer my question after reading that if you didn't know what it was in the first place.

I am especially interested in hearing what any of the search engines have to say about this and will probably be asking it at SES in San Jose if I get to go.

I have ran the pages that we used this on already through a program that mimics what a spider might see and everything seems to be fine in that respect.

The only problem I can see at this point is a slight increase in load time, but most of our sites are extremely clean and not at all flash heavy.

Should I be concerned about anything else, or should I give our designers the Green Light on this?


Cheers,

Everett Sizemore
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Old 07-07-2006   #2
randfish
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Everett,

My impression is that this is simply using Flash as a replacement for text, simliar to how many sites using CSS replace text with image elements. The nice part is, you don't have to actually create the images, the software does it for you.

I don't think the search engines would frown on this, as technically, you're not cloaking. You're instead showing search engines text in HTML format and visitors the same text in nice, pretty Flash format. You could certainly abuse it easily, but if used as intended, it should be perfectly fine.

I've asked Matt, our developer, to take a quick look and make a determination on the codebase and true search-friendliness (as well as the load times), and I'll try to report back when he gets it to me.

Great question!
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Old 07-10-2006   #3
everett sizemor
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"...and please don't come back and try to answer my question after reading that if you didn't know what it was in the first place. "

I realize that might have been a little too much to ask for, considering this is such a new design tool. Also, I'm sure many people here have some valuable input, even if it's just speculation at this point. I would like to hear what anyone has to say at this point, and apologize for restricting the comments like that. You know how it is when you want to know something, ask in the forums, and get thousands of opinions and no fact. We've all been there, and we've all contributed.

Thank you Rand for looking into this. Yes, some before and after load times would be fantastic, as would any other information you can provide. Thanks!

Here are a couple of examples where we use sIFR for the H1 tags:
University Park Smiles

West Side LA Medical Spa
(This site has not been optimized yet, but design has used sIFR on the home page)


*** I can see the spammers preparing to abuse this as I type. Should we thank them in advance for once again ruining it for everyone else, or wait until it actually happens.

Last edited by everett sizemor : 07-10-2006 at 10:30 AM.
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Old 07-10-2006   #4
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Everett -

Matt and I reviewed Mike's test site use the system and it looks completely clean. It uses the same type of image replacement for text that many CSS sites use and since technically, they're showing users and search engine the same thing (albeit a prettier version for humans), it's not cloaking.

The load times don't appear bad at all - particularly when used sparsely.

I'd give a thumbs up endorsement as a nice, easy way to accomplish the task of beautifying CSS text.
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Old 07-10-2006   #5
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Hi Everett,

I suppose the issue I have with sIFR is similar to many other methods of 'image replacement'. My issue is more philosophical than anything.

Web Standards are about many things - one is the separation of presentation and content - separating the markup.

So at the core - things are either 'presentation' or they are 'content'.

We had a similar discussion a while back here: http://forums.searchenginewatch.com/...ad.php?p=51328

Quote:
what any of the search engines have to say about this
I suspect that sIFR is less of an issue than other methods e.g. Farnher.
The closest Google recommendation is probably:
Quote:
Try to use text instead of images to display important names, content, or links. The Google crawler doesn't recognize text contained in images.
http://www.google.com/intl/en/webmas...uidelines.html

I suspect as long as the H1 is identical to the sIFR text - and isn't stuffed with keywords' - then you aren't too far from the guideline - but note it says "use text instead of images' - rather than 'use images with a H1 text replacement'
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Old 07-13-2006   #6
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From The Horse's Mouth

Ok, just a few things here:

1. We invented and released sIFR about two years ago so it's not new and it's perfectly fine from a search engine standpoint. Take it from me... I'm the #2 Mike on Google now .

2. sIFR is used by thousands of sites already including ABCNews.com, Nike, the U.S. Navy, and plenty of other major destinations so it's definitely "proven in the field".

3. To the gentleman above who was talking about web standards and separating presentation from content: that is the very embodiment of what sIFR does in the first place. The content stays in pure, valid HTML, exactly as it is without sIFR. The presentation is completely outside this layer and is a result of interplay between CSS (style), JS (behavior), and gracefully-degradable Flash (custom typography). That's the whole point of the method.
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Old 07-13-2006   #7
everett sizemor
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Thumbs up

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeindustries
Ok, just a few things here:

1. We invented and released sIFR about two years ago so it's not new and it's perfectly fine from a search engine standpoint. Take it from me... I'm the #2 Mike on Google now .

2. sIFR is used by thousands of sites already including ABCNews.com, Nike, the U.S. Navy, and plenty of other major destinations so it's definitely "proven in the field".

3. To the gentleman above who was talking about web standards and separating presentation from content: that is the very embodiment of what sIFR does in the first place. The content stays in pure, valid HTML, exactly as it is without sIFR. The presentation is completely outside this layer and is a result of interplay between CSS (style), JS (behavior), and gracefully-degradable Flash (custom typography). That's the whole point of the method.
I would never assume that something is tested in the field and works because huge brand names like Nike use it. They can get away with A LOT more than the average site... unfortunately.

But we use it, as evidenced by my links above, and I feel a BRAVO is in order to the pair of Mike's who gave (yes, for free) this tool to webmasters, SEOs and web site owners around the world. Thank you.
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Old 07-14-2006   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by everett sizemor
I feel a BRAVO is in order to the pair of Mike's who gave (yes, for free) this tool to webmasters, SEOs and web site owners around the world. Thank you.
No problem, my pleasure... but who is this other Mike you speak of?
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