CSS Fix for Text Widget Without Title
I previously wrote about using a Text Widget without a Widget Title or Name as a way to gain a small improvement in SEO for a WordPress.com blog (see WordPress Widget Headings) by using a lower order <h> attribute than the <h3> standard mark-up used by the theme.
Some themes play nicely when the title is blank by collapsing the space used by the title if it is missing. More themes however keep the space intended for the title resulting in a large blank space that spoils the appearance of the blog. This can be fixed fairly easily using CSS styles to reposition the widget content.
Cache Pre-load Improves Google Page Load
Using a cache pre-load system can improve Google crawl page load speed substantially as clearly shown in the infographic below. Google considers page load in it’s SERP algorithm as an indicator of site quality: Where two similar ranked sites exist, the site with faster load speed will usually get better SERP than a slower site. With this in mind surely it’s a good idea to make the effort to improve page load speed as much as possible.
Page load speed can be improved in a number of ways; moving the site to a better hosting service, optimising the site technically, including getting rid of unnecessary plugins, keeping image size as small as possible, and using an effective caching system are some of the things we can do.
No matter how well all the other technical aspects are improved, caching the site, and especially pre-loading the cache, will make a big difference to page load speed.
Does Validation Failure Affect SEO Negatively?
The simple answer is NO. Html that fails W3C validation does not necessarily adversely affect search engine ranking. I do not mean to imply faulty html is OK, it is not! Common reasons for validation failure are attributes not included in the standard, simply because they did not exist at the time the protocol was created, or back then caused display problems with early web browsers. HTML validation is more about consistency in displaying content uniformly across browsers and less about search engines parsing content.
Major websites throughout the world often do not have valid HTML, either throughout the site, or for a high percentage of pages. Google.com included
Experts Discuss Validation and SEO
Don’t take my word though, instead see what the experts have to say. Matt Cutts of Google answers the question “Is HTML validation necessary for ranking?”
WordPress SEO guru and creator of the excellent WordPress Plugin WordPress SEO by Yoast, Jooost de Valk considers minor validation errors irrelevant to SEO in this article “W3C Validation: why you should care, and why not” on yoast.com Read the rest of this entry
Should I use Google Webmaster Tools?
YES, you should! Google Webmaster Tools is a suite of useful utilities to help get your website rocketing. First of all, you can submit a sitemap – or as many sitemaps as you want, confirm Google bot is able to read the file, and there are no errors in the file, e.g. to broken links or missing content. If you don’t use any of the other webmaster tools, sitemap submission is essential.
Then there are other useful tools; You can monitor for Broken Links Google has indexed (broken links will really harm your site ranking if left unattended.) You can ask Google to delete entries from the index. Webmaster Tools can tell you how Google bot crawls your site; if there are access problems for the bot or page load speed issues. You also get Google Plus1 analysis.
Thesis Great When Released
The Thesis theme for WordPress self hosted blogs has been very successful since being released in the previous decade. Online reviewers rave about Thesis. This author asks the question, “are these rave reviews justified?”
When the theme was released it may have been a masterpiece of simplistic styling and compact code. When compared to many other WordPress themes of the time, it may have offered superior performance, and several well developed built in standard features.
Is this wonderful rating still justified in 2012. If we look at the way WordPress has developed since the mid to late 2000′s, becoming a fully fledged CMS system for web sites, instead of just an easy to use blogging platform, I think not!
In response to all these reviews, many of which date back to circa 2008, I published a new review today titled Thesis WordPress Framework Theme Debunked on my company website concentrating on the more technical aspects. This article continues with commentary and my personal opinions.
The main points discussed in the article are summarised next. Read the rest of this entry
A Basic WordPress Widget Heading Error
WordPress is mostly a SEO friendly system, yet there is one critical error that will reduce the optimisation of a WordPress blog or website: WordPress encloses Widget Titles within <h3> header markup. WordPress is not the only system theme developers make this basic error – I’ve also seen Drupal themes using h3 and worse still h2
This is one of the things I would really like to see changed in the next version of WordPress (WordPress.org) as well as WordPress.com.
The three primary heading markup tags really should only ever be used in content.
- <h1> markup should only be used for page or post TITLES
- <h2> should be the introduction content heading, with occasional use to separate really important sections of articles.
- <h3> should be used to separate subsections included under <h2> markup tags…
Widget Titles in Lower Priority Heading Markup
Ideally, Widget Titles and the widget content that follows should use the lowest possible heading tag markup; preferably <h5> or <h6>
For WordPress self hosted sites (WordPress.org) we have the option to change the default header tags by modifying the theme or core files. For WordPress.com blogs this option is not available.
The only way to get round this issue is to remove all the provided widgets, and only use text widgets (without a Title). Not an ideal situation at all, as many of the widget functions are impossible to recreate using a text widget. This is also a way round the problem for self hosted WordPress sites whose owners don’t want to hack into the theme or core files (not a good idea unless one really knows what they are doing)
Clearwater Beach Website Re-vamp
The last job of 2011, which is also the first job for 2011 started yesterday. Clearwater Beach Real Estate, a Florida based real estate company needs their website SERP improved. This job is a holistic web management undertaking that includes on-site optimisation of content and code, upgrading basic site security, structural changes and improvements to the visual impact of the website.
A few of the areas under the microscope include simple security improvements (why do commercial theme authors violate the most basic recommendation that no mention should be made of WordPress CMS anywhere in the code or text content, and add admin links to the footer area?), several page and menu items needing nofollow attributes, a more organised primary navigation menu, a feed from an external site (required) that is wrecking page load speed – it takes more than 30 seconds to load, and stops the rest of the page loading (That one is going to be fun to fix… might need a code hack to force it to load last!)