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July 2, 2007

Search Engine Friendly Web Design – 3 Ways to Use CSS

This article will point out 3 simple and highly effective web design techniques that use cascading style sheets to improve your web design and make your website perform better in the major search engines.

First of all, what is CSS? CSS stands for cascading style sheets and CSS is a way of separating presentation code from your actual content in web design. Usually you build up a set of CSS style rules that are stored in a separate file that has a .css file extension. You then link to the CSS file from your web pages using an HTML link tag.

There are many, many web design advantages to separating your presentation code off into separate CSS files and this article will tell you 3 excellent ways that you can use CSS to make your web design more search engine friendly.

Web Design Technique 1 – Us CSS to Structure Your Document

Let’s consider the facts that we know about search engines. They send their search engine robots to your site to read the content that you have there and the easier it is to find for them the better because they don’t waste much time looking. So having said this, what is the point of bogging down your pages with lots of un-necessary presentation markup that could quite easily be stored off in a separate CSS file. Most often this means removed any extraneous table tags and replacing them with a smaller number of HTML div tags which can be formatted using CSS rules. This removes the vast majority of presentational markup and leaves you with nicely formatted content that the search engines can easily find and index.

Web Design Technique 2 – Us CSS to Style Your Header Tags

We also know that search engines place a huge amount of importance on the header tags – h1,h2,h3 e.t.c. that they find in your pages. The thing that puts most inexperienced web designers off using header tags is that by default modern browsers render them in massive black text that looks really ugly. This is where CSS comes in. CSS can be used to easily make your header tags appear in nicely formatted, attractive text that both scores well with search engines and is pleasing to the eye of the user – perfect!

Web Design Technique 3 – Us CSS to Create Rollover Images

Traditionally rollover images are created using 2 graphics for the on and off states that are toggled on and off using some complex JavaScript code. This JavaScript code can bloat your web pages and since it is not content and just appears as gibberish to search engines it can adversely affect your rankings to have lots of embedded JavaScript in your web pages. A much better way to accomplish the same web design effect is to use CSS. Your still need your 2 graphics but you actually create a normal text link in your (that can also have keyword targeted anchor text) and use CSS to format its appearance. This is as simple as making the link a block level element in your HTML, setting it a height and width and then defining it 2 different background images, 1 for when the link is in its ‘off state’ and when for when the user is hovering over the link.

Conclusion:

Cascading style sheets are a very powerful way of separating presentation code from your actual content and the search engine optimisation benefits the CSS will bring to your web design are undeniable. Why not put these CSS web design techniques to work on your website today?

Author:  Stuart Mortimer is a freelance website designer in Doncaster UK who specialises in search engine friendly web design for companies of all types.

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