SEO advantages of CSS websites

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If you are already tired of leading a life filled with acronyms, you’d better get over it! There are two acronyms that we can guarantee that you will be hearing more of in the future: CSS and SEO. These two acronyms represent topics that are currently changing the way websites operate.

Most of us already know what SEO is, but CSS is an even newer topic. CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, is a new design tool that allows website builders to create fast loading, original, attractive, and easily maintained websites. Best of all, CSS is incredibly search engine friendly, which means that a lot of potential customers will be viewing your mean, clean new website. Here are just a few of the many SEO advantages that CSS has to offer.

  1. Prime placement of important SEO text. The unfortunate fact of web design is that what is meaningful to readers is not always so with search engines, and vice versa. With CSS, important wording can be moved to the top of the HTML file. Search engines automatically give more importance to text at the top of the webpage, so this can have a huge positive impact on how different search engines index and rank your website.  You can even place items in the HTML file independently of how they will actually appear to the viewer, allowing you to have a more natural flow without ‘burying’ important items in the eyes of search engine crawlers.
  2. High weight HTML tags. CSS uses the familiar HTML tags that we are all used to, such as <h1>. This allows you to use headers as a way to show search engines what text is the most important to your page and thus to use important keywords to increase your site’s rank. It also allows you to construct menus using HTML tags, which yields the same SEO benefits while making it easy for users and search engine crawlers alike to access different parts of your website.
  3. Easy to load pages. Your code to content ratio is very important both in loading speed and in search engine rankings. CSS creates beautiful, full featured websites with relatively low amounts of code to crawl through. This is because many CSS style sheets are externally linked instead of embedded. As with the other benefits we have listed, this makes it easier for users to access different areas of your site while giving you yet another SEO boost. Your readers and the search engine crawlers alike are more likely to explore your website thoroughly if it is quick and easy to do so.
  4. Easy updating. CSS pages are incredibly easy for the webmaster to modify. This makes it easy for you to keep adding that all important fresh content while freeing up time for other endeavors. If you pay a webmaster to maintain your website, CSS will increase the amount of bang you get for your buck and prevent unexpected charges. In this way, as in many others, CSS offers the best of all worlds to both experienced users and total newbies.
  5. Customizability. This is related to the previous benefit. Often, minor changes can be difficult to implement because you have to completely rewrite the HTML. With CSS, you can make minor changes to optimize success with visitors, however you define that. These changes can be made with a minimum of effort and without affecting your style or your SEO. With CSS, style, text, and SEO are completely different domains, making it easy to play with one without affecting the others.
  6. Compatibility with a variety of browsers. Search engines are not currently ranking sites according to their compatibility with different browsers, but you will definitely benefit from being accessible to a variety of devices. CSS works well not just with computer users, but with PDAs and cell phones as well.

As with all innovations, it is easy to misuse CSS in ways that may be disastrous for your website. Here are a few “grey hat” or “black hat” techniques to avoid when using CSS to build a website.

  1. Keyword stuffing. Many people think that the ease of using CSS to place keywords is an invitation to place a ton of them. It’s so easy to fill a page with words and then type the magic words, {display: none}, which hides them from viewers but leaves them perfectly visible to search engine crawlers.  However, search engines are getting better at detecting techniques such as this, so keyword stuffing just might get your site blacklisted altogether. Stick with placing keywords that make sense and using them sparingly to avoid getting red flagged.
  2. Inappropriate image replacement. CSS allows you to use a technique known as image replacement, in which you basically tell search engines and text based browsers what is contained within an image. However, many people use this feature for keyword stuffing, which is not its intended use. Keep in mind that there are legitimate reasons to use image replacement, such as when you have a logo design with text in it that is important for SEO purposes. This is an example of a time when a CSS technique can be used for good or bad reasons. However you are using image replacement, there is a good chance that a search engine reader will interpret it as black hat and punish you with zero rank. Proceed with caution if you decide to use image replacement. A better way of dealing with the example given is to use an alt tag on all images.

CSS is gaining popularity quickly because of its easy use, unlimited style possibilities, and prime search engine management. This is due to the separation of content and style that the method has to offer. While CSS offers the perfect combination for web developers, it also gives almost unlimited possibilities for misuse. If you can resist the urge to trick search engines (and potential visitors) while using CSS to its best advantage, you will find that you get a result that is totally worth your effort.