SEO and Well Formed Code Validation

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You can find a lot of information on the Internet about SEO or Search Engine Optimization.  Sadly, most of it is wrong information that one so called “expert” copies from another so called “expert” who had just copied it from another so called “expert!”

They almost always say something like, “it works for me!” But rarely do they have any insight into WHY it worked for them. They will use a lot of buzz words like “page rank”, “SERP”, “keywords” and one of my favorites, “stop words!”

Although with Google Hummingbird, “keywords” should be replace with “key phrases”, each of these have there place.

The Elephant in the Room

The Elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about is called “Well Formed Code!” A Search Engine, like Google or Bing, boils down to just a computer. Or more precisely, a network of computers.  Nonetheless, it is still a computer that runs on computer code – Your Computer Code!

The Language Barrier

I have traveled all over world, and sometimes I have run into the language barrier! That is, a person who does not speak my language and I know none of their language as well.  Worse, is when you miss interpret what people say.  Let me give you an example.

Salt is A Sin!

Before I started to be come a Vegarian, I had high blood pressure.  One day I went to my doctor and when I got home my wife asked me what the doctor said.  I replied, “He said that salt is a sin.”  Her reply was, “What does that have to do with your health?”  You see, she had heard me say “Salt is asin!”  In her native language, the word for salt is “asin.”  But I had meant “A Sin” like something one should not do!

Song Miss Sung

It reminds me of words to a song by David Tait…

You say that water’s “too big” (tubig)
And yellow (yelo) well that’s ice,
You’ve turned my salt in to a sin (asin)
And cannon (kanin) into rice!

The words in parenthesis are Tagalog.  Here are the meanings:

  • tubig = water
  • yelo = ice
  • asin = salt
  • kanin = rice

 

How Languages Work

The way language works is that we all agree on the meaning of something. For example, we all agree that a banana is, well, a banana.  Banana is not a fruit, it is a word that represents a fruit, in the English language.

The “code” of language is what we agree on!  If one day, we all agreed that “apple” would mean “banana”, then we could send our children to the store to buy some “apples”, and expect them to bring back bananas!

Language is Code

In HTML “<strong>bold</strong>” is code that represents the starting and ending of some text we want to make darker – bold!  Within a paragraph it may be used like this…

<p>I love <strong>chocolate</strong> ice cream!</p>

And we would expect to see something like this…

===
I love chocolate ice cream!
===

But what if I decided on my own, that it made more sense to me to code it this way…

<p>I love <strong>chocolate<weak> ice cream!</p>

What would you expect?  The first sample is well formed code, the language of the human programmer <strong>chocolate</strong> was understood by the computer browser.

The second example, <strong>chocolate<weak> is not well formed code.  The human programmer did not communicate in a proper language to the computer browser.  So the computer had to make a guess what the human meant!  In the case of the Firefox browser, you would have gotten something like this…

===
I love chocolate ice cream!

And every word after that would also be in darker bold letters also.
===

Firefox basically ignored the <weak> tag because it did not understand it!

Well Formed Code

The key to well formed code is what is called syntax.  It sounds like saying “Sin Tax!”

“Sin Tax” is a tax the government puts on things that you do not really need, and are usually a determent to your health, like cigarettes and alcohol.

However, “Syntax” actually means… “the arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences in a language.”  It applies equally well to English, French, Spanish, Tagalog, HTML, PHP, and CSS!

Wikipedia says this…

In computer science, the syntax of a computer language is the set of rules that defines the combinations of symbols that are considered to be a correctly structured document or fragment in that language.

The Start of SEO

The real start of SEO is making sure you have well formed code. Fortunately, the people over at W3C have online validation – you can use for free! Just plug in the URL of your webpage and it will validate the code. There are three types, for your three main code problems on a side…

Validate HTML
Validate CSS
Validate Links and Anchors

Get your site so it has no errors with these three tools, and you will be on your way to better SEO

In coming post I will tell you how to use these…

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