The SEO Benefit of Simple HTML
Although for an outsider, HTML appears to be very complex, there is a lot to be said for the beauty of simplicity, especially in terms of your business site’s information architecture. In a previous post on the mystery of the Google search algorithm, I mentioned that the first tenant of successful search engine optimization is:
- “A clean, well laid out HTML, XHTML, or HTML 5 website built to standards and WC3 compliance”
What does this mean? It is very simple:
HTML is the language used to tell web browsers how to display the contents of the page. Good HTML is sparse and lightweight. It can be elegant in its simplicity. What makes HTML interesting is that it can be done poorly and still render a decent page. Since HTML is the language of the web, it is very easy for search engines to understand it. That is, unless you put a lot of extraneous elements on the page that the search engines can’t read. An example: While Flash can add great animation and motion to websites, sadly, it was abused and beaten like a rented mule in countless terrible websites across the web for nearly decade. Remember those websites where a person would actually walk out onto your browser and try to sell you stuff? Weren’t those neat? The trouble with that misguided approach was that SEO and page ranking worked into the lexicon, and people found themselves with useless websites that were unreadable by search bots. Building a site with well-structured HTML makes it easy for your site to be read and indexed by search engines. It also results in faster load times and an overall smoother experience for end users.
Other aspects of a well-built site are WC3 compliance and flat architecture. WC3 are the overlords of the web and set these exact standards your website must follow. Part of being compliant is correctly and clearly identifying every part of your website, from media like images and video to buttons and navigation. By giving “alt” tags and “title” tags to everything on your site, you allow visually or hearing impaired people to navigate your site. When their special web readers come to your page, let’s say it’s about your favorite car for example, instead of seeing the image for the red Porsche you have on the page and reading it as IMG_2011319.jpg, it will read: Picture of a red 2011 Porsche 911. This helps people with disabilities understand your content, but it also tells search engines what is there. If the images work to support your keyword-rich content, it will help SEO. It will also allow your site images to show up in relevant image searches, thus creating another way to lead users to your site.
Flat architecture refers to a site that has simple and intuitive information architecture (IA). This makes it easier for people to move through your site without going down the proverbial rabbit hole, where you can lose interest and potentially your customer. This also makes it easy for search bots to cruise through your site and index more content. If your content is easy to find, it improves the your site’s ranking and the overall usability for the customer.
In my next post, you’ll learn how a smart keyword strategy helps your website’s rank.
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