The beginning of the year is a time for resolutions. Polls show that going on a diet is the number one resolution Americans make. After all that holiday eating we start eyeing our waistlines and promising ourselves to do something about it. It occurs to me that this same resolution should apply to search engine marketers this year.
So raise your right hand and repeat after me: "I hereby resolve to slim down my Web pages so I can get a better search engine ranking."
Experienced SEOs know that you can boost your rankings by moving your page content as close to the start of your HTML code as possible. Search engines consider words near the start of your HTML code to be more prominent, and therefore more important, than words buried deep inside the file.
Unfortunately, many web pages are hurt by using layout templates that downgrade the prominence of the page's primary content. Elaborate HTML tables used to create the page's masthead and left navigation areas end up pushing the page's content section - and therefore its keywords - far down in the file.
In other words, scan your Web pages for appearances of the <SCRIPT> tag. Remove anything between that tag and the closing script tag. Place it in a separate file and save it. You should then reference that file with a SCRIPT SRC tag like the above example. Upload your changes when you are done.
Now modify your web page to reference the external CSS file, like this:
<LINK REL="stylesheet" HREF="mystylesheet.css"
To follow proper HTML coding, this LINK tag should be in the HEAD section of your page and before any references to the defined CSS styles.
It's also a good idea to assign different file extensions to your external files, such as code.js and style.css, to distinguish them from your HTML files.
That's it. Be sure to backup your pages before making any significant changes, and to test your new pages when you're done.
Not only that, but you'll only have to make changes to your script in one location. The changes will then be reflected in all the pages that reference the script, making maintenance much easier. This is another example of how SEO techniques can also improve the usability of your web pages.
To sum things up, our New Year's resolution can improve your search engine ranking, improve your page's load time, improve maintenance, and it's easy to implement. That takes a lot less willpower than a real diet!
Christine Churchill is President of KeyRelevance.com, a full service search engine marketing firm offering organic search engine optimization, strategic link building, and pay per click management. She is on the Board of Directors of the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO), the professional association of the search engine marketing industry and serves as co-chair of the SEMPO Technical Committee.
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