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How Sloppy Website Coding Can Hurt Your SEO

August 17th, 2009 | | Advanced SEO Tips

When it comes to SEO, most people focus on on-site optimization, writing great page titles and meta descriptions and link building. While that’s all fantastic, it means nothing if your backend website code isn’t properly rendering in all web browsers and has errors.

Having an error in your coding can actually prevent the search engines from reading that line of code and processing it for SEO.

When the search engines come to your website, they scan or crawl your backend code looking for relevant keywords within your copy, image alt tags, anchor text and meta data. If there is any kind of error in one of these instances, the search engines are likely to skip these elements completely if it can’t understand the code.

For example, if you have your page title or meta descriptions in the body of your page instead of the header tags. Or if you misspell Title (like spelling it “Tilte”). In some instances even if you have an open tag like <p without the other “>” could cause major ranking problems. If this were to happen the search engines could possibly assume that all of the content is an attribute of the paragraph tag and may ignore the content in that paragraph.

A few tips for optimizing your back-end code:

1.  Hire a good programmer and request to see other websites he/she has programmed in the past. One of my favorite mottos is “you get what you pay for”.  So, if you’re paying a really cheap fee for a programmer you’re likely to get a cheap result. Not always, but likely.

2.  Be sure to conform to the W3C code compliance standards. You can submit your URL to the W3C website which checks the markup validity of web documents in HTML, XHTML, SMIL, MathML, etc.

3. Be sure to keep a majority of your content up higher on the page of your back-end code. The search engines don’t always read every word on the page, they may even stop ¾ of the way down. If a majority of your content is near the bottom of the page bring it up higher so the search engines can easily find your relevant keywords.

I think this goes to show that SEO is a process that can never be complete.  There is always going to be something you need to fix or improve upon in order to continue to get good rankings. Checking your markup is just another step in the process of getting great SEO results.

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