During my webinar last month I received a lot of questions both before and during my presentation on website architecture. I'm trying to answer a handful of questions each week until I get through the whole bunch of them. If you have any questions of your own I'd be happy to answer them. You can either post a comment for me to respond to or email me and I'll add them to the list here.

On with the answers...

What books or websites would be good for beginners who have a website with decent traffic that will be funded to get a lot more soon?
-- Tim

A few years ago there wasn't much to offer in the way of printed books, but today, a search on Amazon will give you quite a bit of options. Before you buy, be sure to read the reviews as this can give you great insight as to the value of any of these books.

A bit on the self-serving side, this site will give you a wealth of knowledge. Search Engine Guide has a number of authors from different areas of experience. I suggest you look through the archives and maybe pick your favorite author and read all of their stuff (hey, I warned you I was going to be self-serving!) You can also read Jennifer Laycock's ebook on search engine marketing, or even my own ebook, E-Marketing Performance.

How have techniques migrated recently. For example, search engines no longer look at keywords in meta-data because of people abusing that technique.
-- Scott

Search engines change daily. They do so for many reasons, sometimes to combat aggressive manipulation of algorithm loopholes, fix things that aren't working they way they had hoped, improve relevance of results, or rolling out a new feature. As search engines continue to evolve there are many SEO strategies that must adapt along with them. It's quite difficult to nail down all the SEO techniques that have changed over the past few years and a big part of that is simply because where some make changes to "adapt" others continue on using the same techniques because they have proven successful for them.

The main thing to keep in mind is that search engines ultimately attempt to mimic humans. They don't want pages that are designed for an algorithm, they want pages that are designed for humans. Therefore, what's good for your human visitors is, in theory, good for search engine rankings. Obviously it isn't so cut and dry as that, we do things specifically for search engine spiders that we wouldn't do for humans, but overall, our goals should be to make a better site that attracts people.

Instead of wondering what has changed, what's more important is to pay attention to what works. If you focus on good website architecture, visitor usability, and focus on creating a fantastic sales message, you're well over half way there. Keep an eye on sites that provide solid SEO advice like this one and you'll have the information you need to keep up with whatever changes the search engines are making that will affect your SEO strategies.

But also keep in mind that good SEO is pretty much universal and not subject to the minor adjustments of the search engines. Keeping up with every little change of the search engines is largey unnecessary, provided you're doing what's best for your visitors.

What are the pros and cons of using CSS to create a website ? What is a good HTML to CSS ratio for a website's code ?
-- Sharyn

There is no "ideal" HTML to CSS ratio for a web page. The value of using CSS is that it allows you to move a good deal of your formatting code out of the individual page. When the style elements are within your HTML code they have to be downloaded with every page. With CSS that information only needs to be downloaded once, where it is then applied to every page as the visitor navigates. This speeds up page download times and reduces the amount of code that search engines have to sift through to find your content.

When looking at code to content ratio, there is no perfect percentage. Every site is different, having different coding structure needs. But it is always a good idea to reduce your code as much as possible so the content can be parsed by the search engines more quickly

This helps in a number of ways. One, the less code the search engines have to download going from page to page of your site, the more likely they'll continue moving from page to page grabbing the code and storing it in their index. If your code is over-bloated this will slow down the process and encourage the spiders to leave sooner rather than later.

Second, minimizing your on-page code as much as possible makes your content much more prominent. Many believe that the "higher up" your content is in the code the better this will help you perform in the search engines. I don't necessarily think that it's a significant boost, unless your content is otherwise buried deep into the code. If you have over-bloated site code then removing it can certainly help improve the overall relevance of the content itself.

Is there a difference in site architecture based on whether you are selling a tangible product or service versus an intangible (I ask because we are a marketing consultancy typically selling to unrecognized needs.) -- Richard

Ultimately your website's architecture is going to be built to best meet the needs of your audience. Different sites, and different styles of sites will have a different base architecture. You'll lay out your navigation differently, different core topics, different paths to content, etc. But there are some core architectural principles that should be adhered to.

The issues that I discuss in my Website Architecture presentation (which I'll be presenting again at Small Business Marketing Unleashed in September) are pretty much universal concepts. Things like how to set up your URLs, internal linking and page coding can be applied to any kind of site regardless of purpose or content.

What is the small image called again?
-- Michael

I think you're referring to the favicon. Favicons are typically .ico files but you can also use .png or .gif files. I recently posted more about favicons, and you can read comments from someone with much more knowledge about favicons.

June 3, 2008

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.


HTML to CSS ratio is an interesting one. CSS is nice because you keep it off page and once loaded it helps speed the loading of other pages. Also the biggest benefit of keeping the CSS in separate files is that you only have to update one file and the changes are global.

The real issue isn't HTML or CSS but useless code. Is the code needed on the page, then it shouldn't do any harm. If it's just taking up space, get rid of it. Always design your site for human visitors. Remember that they are even less patient that the Bot. I've read a lot that would suggest that download speeds may affect rankings or may do so in the near future. But the easier and quicker you make it for the bot or human to use the better.

Excellent comments Robert. I was definitely thinking about off-page CSS, which is always best to do rather than have it on the page.

Thanks Stoney.

I started life as a flat HTML programmer many years ago. I quickly learned the value of being able to use included files to keep coding at a minimum. Call me lazy or efficient. :) But I'd guess I'm more the former.

I think true laziness IS finding ways to be more efficient! Lazy peole get more done! Sometimes ;)

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Search Engine Guide > Stoney deGeyter > Website Architecture Questions Answered, Part IV