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A Match Made in Heaven: CSS & SEO

Apr 2, 2009 / by David Scoville

Believe it or not, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) can make a tremendous difference to your website's search engine rankings. Simply put, CSS simplifies the code on your website, making it more readable or "indexable" by search engine spiders.

One example of "un-indexable" code is your site's images. Search engine spiders are pretty smart, however, they are still not smart enough to read the text in your images. With CSS, you can convert your textual images into selectable text while still retaining most of its graphic look. Check the heading and navigation text on your website by doing what I call the "Selectable Test." Here's how to put your images against the Selectable Test.

Try selecting the text below with your cursor. Do you notice any difference between the two boxes?

Search Engine Spider

search engine spider

One of the headings is an image while the other is an actual heading with CSS styling. Even with the proper alt attribute (alt="search engine spider"), the first, selectable heading receives higher approval by search engine spiders. Why? Search engine spiders have a hard time trusting that what is placed in your alt tags are relevant and not spammed with keywords. Headings are not inherently hidden from web browsers. Therefore, they can receive more trust.

There are oodles of quality on-site optimization techniques such as passing the Selectable Test. Talk to your website developer. If any answers to the following questions are yes, provide the following solution to your website developer:

  • Have you used images instead of an unordered list for the navigation links?

    Solution: Rebuild menus with CSS

  • Have you used tables in the underlying website layout?

    Solution: Rebuild the layout with CSS (it is theorized that clean, concise code, capitalizing on indexable content, may positively benefit your search rankings)

  • Do you have CSS styles and JavaScript in the body of your site?

    Solution: Use script and link tags to reference to JavaScript files and stylesheets.

  • Have you used an extensive amount of flash? (Yes, I know Google indexes flash content but I'm not yet convinced of its quality as pertaining to search engine rankings)

    Solution: Use Google's swfobject to add proper text.

  • Do you have any hidden text on your website? Have you matched colors of your text to the background color?

    Solution: Remove hidden text!

Feel free to tweet me if you'd like me to take a look at your website. You can also post it on the forums and get some advice from our expert forum members.

Topics: SEO Blog

David Scoville

Written by David Scoville

David is the former Creative Director for PRMarketing.com. He pursues innovative design and transparent marketing. On the side, he builds things like the SEO Rank Reporter Plugin for Wordpress. Scoville has a degree in Advertising Communications from Brigham Young University.

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