Archive for the ‘SEO’ Category

SEO and Validation

I was reading The Truth About Validation and I felt the need to respond. First off, Tim makes some valid points but only if the article is renamed “The Truth About Validation and SEO”. I agree, if a web developer tells you that you can’t be much of an SEO if you don’t write valid code then that developer is a clown and should be ignored. If they are just saying that you are not a valid coder then that would be true. From a coder’s point of view they could go as far as saying that you are a hack, would they be wrong? That said, there are many other reasons to write valid code.  Some of the best SEO gods, gurus, evangelists, provide detailed change requests to web designers and this is often preferred on a valid site so the SEO does not break the valid code. Maybe SEO specialists should inform the client that there is such a thing as validation and let them decide. It’s similar to an auto mechanic letting the customer decide if they want a factory replacement part or an aftermarket part, is it worth the extra money? Determining that invalid pages are ranked high for certain terms does not tell the complete story but it does tell most of the story. What if a search bot reaches a certain point on a page that is so invalid it stops parsing? At that point the rest of your content would be ignored. What if the next algo revision applies more weight to valid code or is modified so that it halts when a missing end tag is encountered (is Bing already doing this)? You would have partial page results in the index which means you have wasted copy.  More important is the fact that invalid code might not render properly on the next update to your audience’s preferred browser. At some point the invalid code will probably rear its ugly head and then you will need to pay the piper to write valid code, or at least new code, so why not let the coders get paid for what they do?

We could argue that having a shade tree mechanic use bailing wire to fix a dragging muffler will allow you to use the car again but for how long? Yes it will cost more money to order the new muffler hanger and have a muffler shop install it properly but when you hit that big speed bump at the grocery store which one do you think will hold up? At that point did it really cost more money to have it done right?

I agree if you charge someone to do SEO work and you don’t write valid code then you aren’t ripping them off. What if you are upfront and tell them, directly, I am going to make the changes using invalid code, will they care? Should they have a choice or is OK to leave them in the dark since it is to your advantage?

One point Tim implied that I disagree with is that it’s more expensive to work on valid sites. It is much easier to work on a properly designed CSS and XHTML site than a hacked, table infested, monstrosity. We charge a lot more, well actually, we usually require a complete redesign before we start working on a hacked site but this is strictly related to design work, not SEO. Let me repeat here that I agree that validation has little to do with SEO if anything. I say if anything because we don’t know if any search engines pay greater weight to valid code and there can be a case made for a parser getting stuck or stopping after a bad or missing tag. Maybe not Google but can we guarantee this won’t happen with any search engine?

I give the thumbs up to valid code because without validation then you have to set some other standard for when the code is acceptable. It would be much more difficult to create a list of what code is bad or invalid but acceptable. Why not follow the standards that are used to design every web browser?

I also read “source code validation common sense” over at SEOBook by Aaron Wall. Wow! He really goes off and I don’t blame him but I have never personally heard a good web designer that is proud of his ability and trade claim that validation is an integral part of SEO work. I say ignore those monkeys but let the design experts maintain their status of elite, or cream of the crop, by writing valid code and proving they are at the top of their game just as you are at the top of yours. Here are some of the top reasons to validate.

added: I would be considered a hack when it comes to XHTML and CSS. If I perform onpage SEO I check to see if the client site is valid. If it is then I make sure it’s valid when I finish. Often I find errors that I have caused and then I have to employ someone from our design team to fix it. I have been known to render this site invalid just by blogging 🙂

—David Blizzard

Does Size Matter for SEO Consultants?

Bigger is better, right? Not necessarily when it comes to internet marketing companies and SEO consultants.  Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have a team of 20 employees to put on a project and a million dollar budget just for office supplies. But would the results produced for my client  be that much better? I doubt it. Two of our clients have had remarkably similar experiences with large SEO consultants and internet marketing firms and both have had less than stellar results. One of our customers discovered a large, well respected California firm and contracted them to perform search engine optimization, Google AdWords management, press releases, and other services with a large down payment and a healthy monthly fee. Several months elapsed with no results for the customer. There was no increase in traffic, PPC was going nowhere, and 1 press release had been issued and forgotten. The “project manager” for our client was unavailable by phone  and many times would not even respond to repeated emails. There was a response, however, when the bills stopped being paid.

Fast forward two months. The  client came to us  for “AdWords Managment only”  due to the state of the economy, a tight budget, and the natural reluctance to fork out more money for SEO services. In the past two weeks we have doubled his click through rate and now have a PPC campaign that is pulling its weight. As a smaller firm we are able to provide the type of constant contact and reassurance that somebody who has been burned by the big boys needs. Communication and realistic expectations will go far in any internet marketing project to help it go smoother and make the client feel like they are using their dollars effectively.


Pagerank Sculpting and the NoFollow Tag

There is a renewed buzz on some SEO blogs about the nofollow tag and pagerank sculpting that I would like to address. First let me say that I am often amazed at the different ways people find to take advantage or to expand on the use of something new. rel=”nofollow” is about 4 years old now (Search Engines Join Google and Adopt nofollow) and the ways it gets used sometimes seems to be a long way from the initial design. It’s almost like people are always after an angle. It wasn’t always that way but you see it in almost every industry now. New laws are put under a microscope as soon as they are passed and someone always seems to find an angle to use it in ways it was never intended. This is how I feel about some of the recent articles I have read about using “no follow” for sculpting or to improve internal pages. What happens is a few start using something in ways it was never intended and then others join in because they feel left out or at a disadvantage because they aren’t pushing the limits. On one hand you get the big sites that horde juice while we all let the juices flow freely back to these big companies. On the other hand you get new blogs popping up daily that turn off nofollow and in an attempt to give the big boys the finger they encourage everyone to post comments and “feel the love”. Worse yet is the misguided use that results from ignorance. My recent readings and observations have helped me establish the following guidelines for nofollow.

  • Un-moderated user added comments, posts, and guestbooks should be rel=”nofollow” by default. (original intent)
  • Moderated comments and posts that require no follow should be considered for editing or deletion.
  • Even moderated blog comments should have A nofollow on the poster’s website link (usually linked to their name). If his or her website is relevant then the comment should have an embedded link to the relevant content. (We are currently working on this at
  • If  a web editor creates an internal link and feels the need to add a nofollow he should question where he ever got this idea from and then consider using his robots.txt file or consider adding valuable content to the linked page.
  • If a web editor creates an external link and feels the need to add a nofollow tag then he should question the need for the link.
  • If a link is pointing out something like a spammy site or malpractice or anything negative then nofollow is probably the right choice.
  • If a webmaster has a links page or friends page and is using nofollow tags then he should probably just dump the whole page, obviously they are not relevant links, if they are relevant then pass the pagerank they deserve.
  • If you have paid links on your site then you should use nofollow unless you have a well designed and organized site like a directory or product finder. Just be sure the site’s main purpose is to drive traffic to the links and not juice.
  • The benefit of passing pagerank should always be a by-product of quality content. Content should never be created just to pass pagerank or “link juice”.

Let me know your thoughts.

—David Blizzard