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SEO - HTML Blog - Tutorial

We will from time to time attempt to include information we have found to be useful as a guide to Search Engine Optimization, beginning with basic HTML principals.

 

 

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Why Validate?

Validation is a practice sorely underused in modern web design, a fact that is unfortunate when coupled with the fact that most modern businesses rely on a solid web presence to enhance their bottom line. When a business creates a webpage with the sole purpose of driving customers toward their company, both their placement within a search engine's results, and the compatibility of their website with the hodgepodge of browsers and computers currently available, is crucial for survival. Validation ensures this survival, and instills the proper ethos of effective coding practice.

While validation is crucial on a broad scale, it is not imperative that every single webpage validate. It is however important that the designer understand precisely why a page does not validate, if it is not required to. Pages that are databased are currently not able to pass validation, and thus aren't typically indexed by the search engine spiders. The main players in the search engine race are taking broad steps to fix this problem, as large sections of the internet are in the form of databased pages; for this reason, a keen knowledge of the mechanics of page validation is imperative. It is also important to note that validators currently do not validate script, just the script's relative placement within the HTML. The same proper coding practices should apply to script, just as they do to HTML, as a matter of convention.

Shortcuts are some of the most common reasons for a webpage not validating, and proper formal coding can eliminate these problems before they crop up. Where a quick kludge might seem worthwhile, proper CSS coding and the use of legal, proofed code will nearly always result in pages which are largely free of problems from the beginning.

With this knowledge in mind, the designer can begin studying the fundamentals of proper, formal code and the methods of proper validation, topics which will be touched upon in later weeks.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

SEO and Validation Tools

Developing proper standardized, validated code and documents requires specialized tools. The days when it was suitable to code line by line in Notepad, or another simple text editor, are largely gone. Today's businesses and customers require fast turnaround, and efficient debugging. This document is an overview of the necessary tools for effective search engine optimization and validation.

Hardware:
Although the vast majority of computers connected to the internet are Windows-based PC's, Apple and *nix-based browsers are enjoying a healthy increase in market share. Beyond this, cross-platform browsers (Mozilla, Opera, Firefox) are growing at a fast pace, and cutting-edge web technologies like AJAX might soon render the specific operating system irrelevant. The computer system used to develop proper websites is thus less important than it once was; any system capable of running the latest version of every browser, and a decent graphical manipulation program, should be sufficient.

Browsers:
In a PC environment, the newest versions of Internet Explorer and Firefox should be installed, and consideration given to also installing Netscape and Opera (which share a smaller market percentage).

In a Mac environment, the most recent versions of Safari and Firefox must be installed, as well as the Mac version of Internet Explorer.

Linux users should implement whatever browsers they can, including Firefox and ideally an emulation of Internet Explorer. Linux-specific browsers (Konqueror, etc) are also recommended, although these represent a very small percentage of the total number of browsers visiting a website.

Coding Software:
Many professional-level packages exist for website design, and most insert proprietary code and use often-confusing methods for obtaining certain layouts. The code produced by these packages often needs to be cleaned up, and in most cases does not immediately validate. Having said that, the authors of this website have used various versions of Macromedia's Dreamweaver in the past, and found it effective in certain capacities.

For complete control over code, Metapad is a free program available from http://www.liquidninja.com/metapad, and seeks to improve upon Notepad in the Windows environment. Editplus, from http://www.editplus.com is another program that is effective in this regard. HTML-KIT, available from http://www.chami.com/html-kit, is a valuable program (when used correctly) for code validation.

Graphics Software:
Any sufficiently robust graphic application should suffice, ranging from the free GIMP (http://www.gimp.org) to the professional-level Adobe Photoshop. Whatever graphics program is used, the user must have knowledge of how various filetypes are interpreted by the browser, and how to optimize image files for use on the internet. A significant number of internet users are still on low-bandwidth connections and will not sit idle while enormous graphics slowly download to form a website.

Beyond these programs, the online code validator at http://validator.w3.org/ is indispensable for proper code optimization.

None of these programs are foolproof; all can be benefitial, but only if used properly and under the right circumstances. No program will substitute for the fundamental practice of TESTING, under as many different environments as possible. Methods of testing will be discussed in future articles.

 

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Mission Statement

In a world dominated by the internet, design and compatibility are crucial to a company's success. Care must be taken to properly and formally code a webpage, so it works across the board on a variety of systems, and is still fully compatible with the latest search and information management technologies. This weblog will teach designers the fundamentals of such coding, including the crucial need for proper validation, the methods in which one can create code which requires less debugging after the fact, and the methods in which Search Engine Optimization can be used to promote the stature of a company within a page of otherwise nondescript search results.

 

 

 

 

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