Optimizing HTML

by SEO Expert on 02/20/06 at 7:56 am

You’re not going to believe how the ‘Experts’ manipulate their HTML to increase their position in the search engine results pages (SERPS). This special technique has nothing to do with complicated code. In fact, your 3rd Grader in beginning HTML could probably do it for you. Read more below.

It use to drive me nuts when the SERPS returned results with links to pages that weren’t built with CSS, had only ONE PAGE, and yet managed to topple the Fortune 500 companies in the top 3 results. Then I discovered their secret, and I’m totally sold on the methodology.

Here’s the philosophy behind the process: Build the user appearance for the users and the source code for the search engines.

Learn Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)

If you’re not using style sheets yet, then chances are you have a ton of unneeded font tags and formatting in your source code. The more unneeded formatting you have, the more difficult it is for search engines to figure out what your topic is about. You’re probably not utilizing the heading tags (H1-H6) either, since without style sheets they appear huge and ugly.

Whether you have to take a class or learn from tutorials at W3 Schools, I highly advise learning Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).

Apply the User-View Formatting with CSS

Strip away those formatting tags and add custom styles to text you want your views to see emphasized. Remove all HTML formatting tags, such as Emphasize, Bold, Italics, Strong, Underline, etc. Make your webpage look exactly the way you want your users to see it using your Cascading Style Sheet tags.

Apply Optimized Formatting with HTML

Now get your 3rd Grader to format your source code for the search engines. Use these guidelines as a start:

  • Use the H1 tag once for your main topic (include keywords)
  • Use the H2 tag 1-3 times for your subtopics (inc. keywords)
  • Use the H3 tag 1-3 times to support your H2 tags.
  • Wrap formatting tags (bold, strong, etc) around your keywords.
  • Use the FONT tag to make one line (w/keywords) HUGE, like +7
  • Never (ever) use the same keywords twice next to each other.

There are a lot of other formatting techniques that help, but the ones above have the largest impact to this HTML / CSS scripting strategy. Please note that in order for this to work, you must comply with SEO Best Practices; which means no keyword stuffing, using 200 or more non-keywords on the page, compliance to META tag usage guidelines, etc

Apply CSS to Formatting Tags

So now your page looks goofy with huge header tags, funky bolding, underlining, emphasizing, etc. all over the page. Fix this using your Cascading Style Sheet by modifying your H1, H2, H3, Strong, Emphasize, and other tags until they match the appearance of your web site.

One of the CSS styles I’ve created I call .normalize. This style has the following attributes:

.normalize {
  font-size: 1em;
  font-style: none;
  text-decoration: none;
  font-weight: normal;
}

Apply .normalize anywhere there’s an instance you don’t want your views to see – like that FONT SIZE=+7 we discussed earlier. You won’t need this for your standard HTML formatting tags, as you should have already modified those in your style sheet.

Check Your SEO Work with a Validator

The best SEO #OOPS#yzer I’ve found is at ScrubTheWeb.com. However, Web Position also has suite of excellent validators. Both of the above validators check keyword density, keyword proximity, META Tags, and HTML tags. ScrubTheWeb.com actually offers a tool that simulates a search engine spider – so you can see (pretty much) exactly what the search engine spider sees when it visits your page.

The Result of the HTML / CSS Source Changes

The result from the above scripting will help you maintain your site’s look and feel, including formatting, while optimizing your source code for the search engines. Instead of reading a ton of font tags and strange emphasizing, the search engine spiders will now be reading h1-h3 tags and formatting tags that are wrapped around your page’s keywords.

Give it a shot. You should see a difference in ranking within a couple of weeks, so long as you’ve got a decent PageRank and are getting crawled at least once per month.


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