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Optimising Your Site: Using CSS

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CSS, or cascading style sheets, is not a new technique, but as you look through your site for ways to improve your SEO campaign, this can be an area that you can target for improvement.  CSS makes it easier for search engines to get to the meat of your site; it defines how the HTML elements will be displayed. In addition to boosting clarity and visibility, it can make your site lighter, which is always a plus.

HTML is great for defining content like headers and paragraphs. <h1>This is my title.</h1> <p>I’m starting a new paragraph here. And ending it here.</p> As websites grow more complex, you begin to add tag after tag for fonts, colors, and other design details.  This can quickly clutter up a page and make it unreadable, even for those bots.  CSS address this problem; all of those space-taking cluttering formatting tags could be pulled from the HTML document and stored in a separate CSS file.

A header with HTML formatting might look like this:

<td width=100%><font face=”verdana.helvetica.timesnewroman”size=”+1” color=”#CCCC65”><span class=”header”><b>I Love SEO!</b></span></ont></td>

Whew!  With CSS, that example is slimmed down to:

<h2>I Love SEO!</h2>

CSS has its own syntax, just like any language.  In general, there is a selector (the HTML element you want to style, such as your header, or h1) and one or more declarations (property or value, such as color, font, font size, etc.).  So again to use our example, it might look like this:

<h1> {color:purple; font-size: 14px; }

There is a big, big word of warning here: you do not want to use CSS to hide content. This perfectly legitimate technique can be used for more nefarious purposes.  For instance, some might use {display: none}, which is like using white text on a white background; this way, you can sneak in endless keywords. The problem is that this “trick” is not so tricky; Google can spot misuses of CSS algorithmically, and your site can be blacklisted.

Using CSS correctly, though, will help you gain visibility within the search rankings; it should be part of your regular SEO tune-up.

For more information on CSS, check out W3Schools.com.  It is an excellent site with tutorials, examples, quizzes, and more on CSS, as well as other HTML, XML, SQL, PHP, ASP, and JavaScript.

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