If Google Ignores You, Try CSS
CSS can boost your search engine rankings. This article explains how — no programming knowledge required. Promise!
Whether you are planning to develop a website or you already own one, you undoubtedly will want your site to appear prominently in search engine results.
As you probably know, efforts to improve organic search engine rankings are called search engine optimization or SEO.
This article explains why sites coded with cascading style sheets, or CSS, outperform sites that don’t use CSS.
Behind The Scenes
Even if you have no interest in website programming, it is helpful to understand just a bit of what happens behind the scenes, so let’s begin with a quick and simple explanation.
Web Page Components
Most web pages contain a combination of text and images. Some guidance is required to instruct your web browser where, on the page, the text and images should appear. Coding (programming) provides that guidance. In essence, these are the three primary components of a web page: text, graphics, and programming instructions.
What Do Search Engines Do?
Search engine companies, such as Google, have automated computers that crawl around the Web looking for web pages to add to their enormous list. Each time these robot computers stumble upon your website, they attempt to read the text to determine how to index or categorize your web pages, which means they try to figure out what topics your site discusses and to what degree your site would benefit someone seeking information about each of those topics. If they decide your site is an outstanding resource, your site has satisfied a major requirement to appear prominently in search results for that subject.
What Do Search Engines Appreciate?
What have we established? Search engines determine your company’s ranking, to a large extent, by how assessing how relevant your content is to the search phrase your potential visitor enters.
Exactly how each search engine determines which site is more relevant than the next is a carefully guarded secret. But parts of the process are not a secret. Here’s what we know.
Search engine crawlers don’t read images, so text embedded in graphics will not improve your search results. If search engines can’t read the text, they won’t factor it into their rankings.
Search engine crawlers do index plain, non-graphical text. They also interpret HTML and CSS code, which are text-based.
CSS Is Search Engine Friendly
When used with expertise, CSS enables your code-capable web designer or front-end web developer, whoever is writing the programming instructions, to remove most of those instructions from your web page files and place them in a separate file.
Herein lies the reason you need to know what CSS is, even if you don’t plan to code a website yourself.
How Does CSS Improve Search Results?
Your site must be considered relevant to whatever phrase your potential customer or target visitor enters in the search box.
If you sell purple plastic frogs, you will want high search rankings for the phrase, purple plastic frogs. You’ll probably also want to rank well for purple frogs, plastic frogs, and maybe purple plastic reptiles. You get the idea.
Okay, so how does this impact my overall marketing objective and lifelong dream to dominate the purple plastic frog market? How does CSS help my website climb to the top of the search results for my keyword phrases?
CSS eliminates the clutter.
It is that simple. CSS allows your code-capable web designer or front-end web developer to place most of the programming instructions in a separate file.
So, when Google “crawls” your website, most of what their robots index is keyword-rich text, not computer instructions.
The result? Ten years ago, converting to CSS could boost a site’s rankings considerably. It is harder to move the needle now. But CSS still outperforms sites woven together with table-based instructions.
Moving the presentation-related programming instructions to a separate file may not be enough to push your site into the #1 slot, but it can still have a positive impact.
CSS Bonus Benefits
Improved search engine ranking is sufficient to make converting to CSS a sound investment. But, there’s more. Your pages will load faster. Your site will be easier to maintain. Your layout (design) will be easier to modify. And, your site will be available to a wider range of visitors because it will be accessible on alternative devices.
The layout and design variations achievable with CSS are virtually limitless.
CSS Bottom Line
For those of you who are bottom-line types, here it is. If your company or organization is planning to develop a new website, insist that the coder uses CSS. If you already own a site and want to improve your search results, convert your table-based programming to CSS.