Simple Search and Why CSS Design

Despite all the discussion, search engines are simple things.  They read web pages, decide what they are about, then categorize and rank them.

As business owners, we need to ensure that we’re getting good results from search.  The problem is, if we aren’t, we’re probably never going to know the opportunities we’re missing out on.

Take a few minutes to examine how your site is found by Google and MSN, the two primary search engines.  Here’s how you do it:

  1.  Fire up a spreadsheet program, and in the first column write down all the keywords you would expect a potential customer to use to find your products or services.
  2. Go to Google, and enter each keyword.  If it’s further back than the second page of results, give it a 0. 
  3. Write the number in the second column of the spreadsheet
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for MSN.
  5. Go back to Google and type in link:www.yoursite.com or even better exact pages.  Who’s linking to you and what text are they using in the link to your site?  

Now start to review the list.  If you have one page that is performing very well, take a look at it.  What makes it better than your other pages?  Is the keyword underutilized?  Or is that page better configured for search?

The big secret of search is that there isn’t one big secret.  It’s a game of increments, where the sum of the total is the key.  You don’t generally achieve success because you did one thing well, but more likely because you did everything acceptably.

Here’s a list of things to look for in your pages:

  1. Does the HTML title of the page contain the keywords?
  2. Even though meta keywords and meta description are becoming less used, did you make sure to put the keywords there?
  3. Are your keywords contained in the body text of the page, and are they used in html bold tags, as well as html h1 tags?
  4. Is the content of this page different than your other pages?  Search engines look for duplicate content and devalue or remove it.
  5. How many in bound links are coming to this page?  Can you get more links?

There’s also one big thing that most of us miss. As I said before, search engines are simple things.  It’s best not to confuse them, and the best way to not confuse them is to have a clean, well coded tableless CSS design. A simple example:

<table width=”300″ border=”0″ cellspacing=”2″ cellpadding=”0″>
 <tr height=”60″>
 <td width=”100″>
 <p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Maecenas luctus mauris sed nisl. Fusce ac.</p>
 </td>
 <td width=”200″ bgcolor=”#336699″>
 <p><font color=”#000000>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Maecenas luctus mauris sed nisl. Fusce ac. </p>
 </td>
 </tr>
</table>

Using an up todate CSS based design the code would be:

    <div id=”first_block”>
 <p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Maecenas luctus mauris sed nisl. Fusce ac.</p>
    </div>
    <div id=”second_block>
 <p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Maecenas luctus mauris sed nisl. Fusce ac.</p>
    </div>

Which one of those is easier to read?  Do you think that might have an effect on your over all keyword density? 

My point is simple, a tableless css design adds value to the searchability of your site.  It can also provide a more rich user experience, and a more pleasing site.  So why wouldn’t you want an up to date design?

Dig Deeper:
Getting Search Savvy to Land a Premium Position –  Portland Press Herald
4 Site Design Errors that Limit Search – The Street
Write for Your Visitors, Not for Google – SEO Only
SEO is Not a Magic Bullet: Bloggin’ Ain’t Easy – Chasing the Southern Cross

2 Replies to “Simple Search and Why CSS Design”

  1. I also use this in web site analysis for clients. If your perceived competition isn’t showing up in the first page of results for your key search terms – then that tells you something about their web savvy – or lack thereof. Adjust your web marketing accordingly.

    And, sure the competitor may look and sound great (to you) but they may be doing little to no business via the Web if they’re lacking Google juice. And, if they’re writing boring content, they’re even more vulnerable. Search engines don’t care about boring; they’ll take boring ol’ marketing speak as long as its got those keywords in it. People, however, want interesting stuff, not the same ol’ same ol’.

  2. Reminds me of the ROTC winter survival course I took in College – at tthe end of the film on Avalanches and how to avoid them, they say “Remember, Avalanches can be used as offensive weapons.” Got a huge laugh out of our group who was mostly trying to get out of the PE requirement easily.

    Yes, indeed, we must do research on our competition. I used to do exactly that in my previous position. When we merged with our big scary competitor, I was the only one who knew the real truth: they had no clue at all about internet marketing. I knew more about what was going on with their website than they did.

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