Iframe is the coined term for “Inline Frame” which means an HTML document embedded inside another HTML document on a website. In simpler terms, it is a frame to display another webpage on a page. The Iframe HTML element is often used to insert content from another source such as an advertisement into a web page.
An Iframe can contain a portion or all of the content on a page as they are used often to show information from another site or a frequently updated content. Iframes are frequently used on websites that they have become almost a permanent fixture on the web page. And it’s because they can be as seamless as they can get as they easily blend with the rest of the web page. Unfortunately, it’s not the same case for search engine crawlers.
Iframe Cannot Be Crawled
Unlike on-page content, an Iframe cannot be crawled by the search engine crawlers and this fact can have a significant impact on SEO especially if the information needed by users is contained within the Iframe. While the information can be seen by the users of the web page, such content will most likely not get crawled. And that means your SEO efforts will go down the drain because the content on the page within the Iframe will not be indexed for search results ranking. Even if the “Iframed content” is keyword-rich, it’s not likely to rank in Google.
In the unusual case where web crawlers were able to enter an Iframe, when they start crawling the Iframe, they may not get out of the Iframe to crawl the rest of the site. Again, this is not good for SEO because the other pages on the website may not be indexed at all if the crawlers are trapped within the Iframe. Ranking-wise with Google, your site will fail.
Despite the mentioned SEO-limiting qualities of Iframe, there are other solutions to Iframe which are friendlier with search engine crawlers. If you are using Iframes to present the information on your site, use content from another source. Search engine crawlers can detect the source of the information and they are not labeled duplicate by the crawlers. Instead, they will give the credit to the original source.
Another way to counter the SEO limitation is by writing your own keyword-rich, relevant and useful content, and post it on your website using a <div> tag which can be customized with a scrolling function to look just like the Iframe that was there before. Instead of pulling content from another website to the Iframe, you can use your unique content posted on your own website. Your visitors will barely notice the difference but Google’s engine crawlers will suddenly see you as a valuable source of unique and interesting topics and Google will rank you accordingly for that.
For web developers or programmers, they can use server-side or client-side programming, which requires a more advance understanding of programming principles. Using this solution, the content will appear as though it originated from the page even if it is being pulled from another source. In effect, the content will be crawled and it could improve the page’s rankings with Google. While this solution is possible, it is considered a Black Hat SEO technique and therefore not recommended.
To sum it up, if the foremost interest is SEO, Iframes should be avoided by all means. It can only help with your SEO efforts if you are pulling the content from your own website or domain to display on other pages. This can be useful if you want to share info on multiple pages without the risk of getting labeled as duplicate content.
It is also important to make sure that you maintain keyword-rich and crawl-able content on your site. If you are using Iframes on your site, you should always check to see if the pages have been crawled. You should remove the content from the Iframes if they have not been indexed. Place the removed content from Iframes on the web page (out of the Iframe). As everybody knows, strong on-page content will help boost the site’s rankings.