I thought frame and iframe were bad for SEO, but today I was doing a search for "numismatica" on Google.it. The 3rd site is lemonete.com which is all made with frames. A competitor site (nummus.com) that has no frames ranks much lower when searching for the same word: "numismatica".

So can we use frames without taking an SEO hit now?

Any explanation (possibly simple) would be appreciated also about the fact the 2nd site ranks much lower. :)

  • 1
    I noticed the same thing on some documentation that I host, I didn't really even think about iframes. Interesting find :)
    – Tim Post
    Commented Aug 15, 2010 at 17:34
  • Since someone brought it up, it should be noted that the <frame> element, as well as <frameset> are obsolete as of HTML5
    – Rob
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 20:45

5 Answers 5


Just because the site with Frames outranks the site without frames doesn't means that frames aren't harmful. The site with the frames may simply rank well despite the frames. The frames may be hurting them but thanks to quality incoming links and/or poor SEO on the other site they rank higher.

Frames are still bad for accessibility and there is rarely, if ever, a good time to use them. Even if they no longer negatively affect SEO it doesn't make them ok to use.

  • You say: "Even if they no longer negatively affect SEO" could you provide some links to articles or something else stating tha same? Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 11:38
  • @Marco Demaio, I didn't say it was true. The questioner suggested it. That's why I said "even if" since there was no evidence presented.
    – John Conde
    Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 19:02
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    I would also note that the frames site looks like a spam site (just contains a "sponsored listing" of off-topic links and no informational content whatsoever), so they're likely using a lot of blackhat SEO techniques like link wheeling and spamdexing. That's why SEO is harmful, it DEoptimizes search engines and lets poorly designed, non-useful sites rank better than well-designed, useful sites that have superior accessibility. Commented Sep 9, 2010 at 6:39
  • @Lese majeste: you are perferctly right cause I wrote down the wrong address, I also updated the question with the right url, I'm very sorry for this. Commented Sep 12, 2010 at 15:30

According to this article,

The content in an iframe is not considered part of the parent page.

Seems like that would be pretty bad for SEO purposes.


I think there is a misunderstanding about frames affect SEO that I've heard from a lot of people. There is no inherent penalty for having iframes on your site, as there are several legitimate uses for them. There are iframes in GMail for example. but as tnorthcutt said, The content of an iframe isn't part of the parent page and isn't going to be indexed as such (if at all), so that could be problematic.

Also, there are a lot of factors that go into search rankings, which is why you can't say that one site should be ranked over another because of just one of them.

  • you are right, I also found this excellent article searchenginewatch.com/2167901 about frameset/frame, directly suggested on Google official guides google.com/support/webmasters/bin/… Commented Aug 22, 2010 at 10:26
  • An here is another very interesting article, but this time about IFRAME. blog.futtta.be/2010/03/03/… Commented Aug 22, 2010 at 10:41
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    Even if SEO applied to your Gmail inbox, which it doesn't, Google doesn't need to crawl Gmail to index your e-mails. That frames have legitimate uses doesn't mean that using frames doesn't impact SEO. Flash has legitimate uses too, but a 100% flash site is not going to rank as well as a non-flash site. Aside from offline webpages (e.g. software manuals, DVD libraries, etc.) and other non-search-engine-indexed content, you should not be using frames. Commented Sep 9, 2010 at 9:46

There is no SEO penalty for having frames... framed pages are just pages! Only the frame page itself is different... you usually only have one if using frames or a few with iframes.

At one time (early 90's) some search engines could not follow framed pages. Browsers have supported frames since IE3 and Netscrape 2. Search engines have followed frames for well over 10 years now! People read stuff on the web written sometime ago and rewrite it and another will read that and rewrite it again... on and on... net fiction! If used in an iframe or a frame it is still a page and crawlers find them and index them.

Framed pages do need some extra coding, noframes tag and javascript to open page inside of the complete site. Only the noframes tag has any bearing on SEO.

Frames have some SEO benefits also as there are usually more pages. I have also had good results with frame forwarding... the only way to safely forward a site without a 301 and still use it for keyword searches.

  • Can you cite a source for the claim that search engines crawl frame contents and rank frame pages as well as non-framed pages? Commented Sep 9, 2010 at 6:41
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    I'm the source for this as i have many sites using frames with hundreds of pages... these pages show up in the stats.
    – Michael Brown
    Commented Sep 9, 2010 at 6:59
  • 1. keyword phrases from search engines 2. spidered pages from search engines 3. entry pages 4. paths Also simply typing "site:www.mydomain.com" reveals pages indexed. Been using frames for well over 10 years. The pages are just pages to the search engine... the only real question is can the search engine find the pages. The answer is yes!
    – Michael Brown
    Commented Sep 9, 2010 at 7:03
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    After reading Google's FAQ, it does appear that they crawl frame contents, but they don't promise that it will be linked to the frame page itself. But that doesn't mean frame pages don't suffer a ranking penalty. If you use noframes you still have to either exclude the content of all but one page or combine the content from all pages--both of which will likely have SEO implications. Additionally, how many backlinks are you losing because your pages are hard to bookmark or link to? Just because you're listed doesn't mean you're optimally listed. Commented Sep 9, 2010 at 9:43

From my experience the only thing you can count on is that they will index the page that is held in the frame. These are just the same as any other pages they may index and will get the same ranking as any other page on your site. There is nothing on a page held in a frame that is different! Using the noframes tag has an effect on one page only the frameset page, and is used to add content that the search bots will read on that page only. I use a bookmark button with a script on each framed page so the backlinks are not a problem. Using frames in regards to SEO may not be for amateurs as there are some tricks to it but these are old tricks (javascript, noframes) well known and easy to use by the pros. If you don't know what you are doing... don't use frames! However there is NO penalty for using frames.

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