Read how you can properly validate your website and look at your current website validation for errors or flaws.
The 24 + things it takes to Validate a Website
Throughout my articles on “How to create a custom WordPress Website”, its best to know all aspects of development from start to end. In this article, I’ve created a list, which I’ve dubbed “The 24 + things it takes to Validate a Website”. Ironically, 24 is a fictitious number, it’s a number I’ve came up with to get you thinking about website validation & development. Anything that I do discuss and do not go into depth with, simply Google the term or phrase and you should find some helpful information related to the term.
In this website validation article you’ll learn:
- Proper website validation techniques to be on the talking end of Google
- Learn how to possibly get your brand to the top of the search engines search results.
- There’s much more to SEO than SEO, what you really are after is for your website is called Validation.
- I do offer FREE website validation testing to help steer you in the right direction.
If you’ve been in the website development industry long enough you start to notice things between you, your competition and your clients competitors. There is something very important that I have to explain to you all.
I came across an interesting article that explained what Google really looks for when building your perspective audience and today, I would like to take some time and explain some of the things I’ve seen that actually count to you. Most of what I am going to tell you may be considered foreign language, but the idea here is to understand that you are not complete when your website is complete. In fact… your job has literally just begun.
Lets start by talking about why you’ve landed on my website today, proper website “Validation”. If you think of validation and your thinking that validation is the idea when something is validated to something else, than you are correct. The idea with website validation (at least in my eye) is that you have to let search engines such as Google know who you are, what type of service you offer, and anything else that may help Google understand your brand so that it can help you get your product or service in the eyes of your perspective clients or customers. It also shows Google that you are aware of any issues related to the website and that you are doing your best to ensure the website has very few errors.
When you properly validate a website your looking for those things and if it is not hardcoded into your website, you are chugging up a long, drawn out, up hill battle that will ultimately leave you confused and most importantly exhausted for your efforts.
If I explained everything to you than I would be giving away some of my most hardest learned secrets, but what I can do is give you what you need to push that SEO, or website development company harder and give you the results that you truly need.
You can personally email me, find me on your favorite social network or want to contact me via my online form to discuss these things, I would be more than happy to put together a website analysis for you to help you understand why you aren’t actually hitting the top landing spot in Google. I can also give you some things to start, but as I had mentioned earlier, if you are not a person who codes or a developer than you will need to find one or let me assist you.
Now, with all of that being said, I will never actually say “I can get you on the #1 spot on Google” because I think that is silly. Your companies name should always be the #1 spot on Google, but my job would be to validate your website and try to get your keywords or key phrases (most likely phrases) in the eyes of those whom are searching your products.
Lets dig into what these website validation techniques are:
- Schema.org website validation – “This is a direct quote from schema.org and I think it does a well enough job to start here: “This site provides a collection of schemas that webmasters can use to markup HTML pages in ways recognized by major search providers, and that can also be used for structured data interoperability (e.g. in JSON). Search engines including Bing, Google, Yahoo! and Yandex rely on this markup to improve the display of search results, making it easier for people to find the right Web pages.”
- What schema.org is trying to say, very technically is Google, Yahoo, Bing and all of the other search engines are finding ways to minimize the crawls and organize the information that you are pushing out to the search engines. If you are offering a product or service specific to your industry or organization than you need to tell the search engines that. If you have reviews on your site, you need to tell Google that. If you are offering a product than you need to tell Google that. Catch my drift?
- The ironic part is this is probably the most important part of SEO, however very few if any website developers that I’ve seen and checked out take the time to do this, or for that matter do it correctly. The basic idea after all of this is that when you have someone develop your website, embedding the schema profile directly into the code when its built will ensure when you add anything new related to content, the information will automatically appear to the search engines as it should be.
- W3C Validation – W3C is HTML Validation – In short its a way that you can properly tune your websites code to ensure that you are throwing out as minimal coding errors as possible. A great example of this may be the HTML <bold> tag, now you should actually include any techniques such as <bold> right within your CSS stylesheet, and use <span>, <div> or other tags to structure this, however if you do choose to use bold as part of your HTML than use <strong> instead. W3C Validation will give you those types of examples specific to your code, but again… if you do not know the code of your own website your better off going to your developer again and asking why there are so many errors.
- Errors in general – Along with W3C Validation, you can actually do some other error checking within the website by using Google Chrome. Google Chrome has a console that can be used whenever you right click anywhere on the page, and click “Inspect Element”. When the console appears you will see the code of your website, but if you click “Console” on the far right tab, you can see other errors that the website may be giving its users right away.
- Speed – Page load speed is just as important and lets think of this rationally here. If your website was loading slower than a turtle running a marathon than do you think Google or any other search engine wants to put your website ahead of others that may have the same information, but the page load is much more efficient than yours? It will. In short, look at those huge images you have on your website and consider consolidating them.
- The same can be said for your CSS stylesheet code that you are using, try to merge it into one spreadsheet if possible. Check the speed of your website and see if there are any improvements that you think you can do internally because there could potentially be that one image that may be slowing down the whole site.
- My favorite speed test website is: http://tools.pingdom.com/fpt/
- Page Fold – I talked about the page fold in a previous blog post (read here), but something you really need to understand is that Google looks at this too. Google wants to show its users the very best in layout. Now… obviously this isn’t a huge ranking factor, it is something to seriously consider though. Keep the website from becoming too top heavy and focus on what you need and want, especially for the homepage. Minimize the amount of ads you have above the fold and focus instead on the idea that when a user visits your website, what can you “sell” them right when they enter.
- Sitemaps – In short, a sitemap is a complete map of your whole website. Simple enough, if you do not have one… than you need to get one ASAP.
- Webmaster Tools – If you do not know if your website has Webmaster Tools than ask your developers. If you do not have this already working on your current website or new website, than fire those developers, and hire a company that will do this as a complimentary service.
- This is very important because this is where you can see almost everything that I’ve mentioned here already for free. It shows you errors which are very important to help perfect the website and its code. It is considered a “must have”, do some research, look at its huge value, then go get it and implement it into your own website. Yahoo/Bing (together) and Google offer these webmaster tools. Both Google & Bing offer great website validation & error checking assistance.
- Image naming, ALT & Title Tags – I know I’ve mentioned this before in a previous blog (SEEN HERE), but when creating a proper website its best to name your image exactly how the page is representing the image. I remember a company that I did some work for in the past and that is how their images were “pre-formatted” right from the website. Their website actually renamed ALL of the images before they were embedded in the website. It was a nightmare! I’m just glad I didn’t have a chance to meet that companies original developers.
- Lets take for instance you are selling a White Coffee Cup, be sure to name the image as such. Do not use 124324adje.jpg because Google has no clue what that means. Google does know what white-coffee-cup.jpg means because the name is clearly labeled. Continue this with a brief description, alt and title tag.
- An ALT tag is defined as when an image loads or in this case, does not load, what will a user see in place of the image.
- A Title tag is defined when a user hovers over the image what they will read.
- Mobile Visibility – With the rollout of Googles new search algorithm Mobile visibility is another key element that I now include in my package rates. Why? Because Google looks at this and may show your website above another competitors website because of the way that it will appear to a smaller device. Is your website mobile friendly? Is your website Google mobile friendly?
- There’s more… yes, there is actually much more that you can do to improve the visibility of your website through validation. Here are a few additional quick things that I haven’t even covered yet and need much more explanation than my simplistic list I have below.
- Google + for Business (or Google My Business)
- Local search queries are very important if you have a brick and mortar storefront. There is way too much to go into here, but… this subject alone could take over an hour to explain.
- Google Maps
- Just as mentioned above “Google + for Business” this is again just as important and would take way too long to go over in this article. I’m sure I’ll go through why Google + & Google Maps is important in a future article.
- Bing Maps
- Facebook & other Social Networking
- Link building & crosslinking
- Valid inbound and outbound links
- Side note: NEVER duplicate a website with a different domain name thinking it will bring you more “page views”. Just do not do it won’t work and could get your ranking website black labeled.
- Domain Authority
- Proper Domain name & age of Domain name
- Basically, ask yourself: With the content I have… is it a value to others. Or ask yourself, can I produce content that is educational or informative to my customer or client based. If you do… than start typing!
- I should note, domain authority although content related has much more to do with everything I’ve mentioned in this article not just one thing.
- Favicon & Apple Icon
- Geo Tags & Location
- Dublin Core
- MicroData (in depth schema.org & rich snippet encoding)
- Feeds (RSS)
- # of pages & blog postings
- I’ve read 50 pages total, but I’m sure that can be debated specific to your needs.
- Good text to HTML ratios
- 301 Redirects
- Basically when building a brand new website, make sure your old pages do not go stagnant. Use redirect code (typically entered in the .htaaccss file) to point Google to the new page or new page with domain name.
- 404 Error page
- “Page not found”
- DO NOT USE FLASH – EVER.
- Flash is not SEO friendly, there really is just no clear way to do this properly so if you can, try to stay away from it.
- Original images
- Google knows if there is another image on the Internet like yours. Although not a huge factor, its always best practice to use your own generic, original photos or images.
- Tracking your website users is key to knowing what they are doing on your website and most importantly how they are getting there.
- PDF’s – Have documents online? Could they be created into a page instead? If they can, do it. It works in conjunction with #24 on this list.
- Research, research and research
- Should I go on?
- O… I probably shouldn’t forget rich, generic & purposeful content
I like to tell my clients, “Rome wasn’t built in a day, a good website wont be either”. I know, I know, it’s a bit cliché, and probably annoying to hear, but it’s honestly true. Depending on your website, if you want a productive & visible one, do not expect it to be completed in a day or two. There is A LOT of validation that should be completed first to ensure you are getting the very best out of your site. If it is not developed correctly you’ve wasted a lot of time, energy and most importantly money.
With everything I’ve mentioned above, did you see how much I actually talked about content as it relates to SEO? That’s because although “content is King” (I love that by the way), content is just part of the SEO plan that you should have for your company.
Validation is SEO and SEO is validation.
~Dustin Face (yup, that’s me)
SEO is defined as Search Engine Optimization, not “content is the only thing you need to get on Googles radar”. That would be an interesting acronym though, CITOTYNGOGR. Here is a real website acronym that you may have heard of: WYSIWYG – It means “What you see is what you get”. It relates specifically to coding within HTML. WordPress has a WYSIWYG editor and I’d relate it to the editor as you would see on Microsoft Word when formatting.
One of the most important things that I would tell any of my clients is I will do my best to get you on the top search results, but… that doing so is a long drawn out process that can typically take 2 to 3 months to show the appearance of the hard work you’ve put into it. I should also note that hard work could be for just one page or post. When working with my clients I generally ask for anything and everything as it relates to the company including advertisements, brochures, mailers, images & text. That way, I know exactly what they are really trying to sell their users.
Can you see the big picture now, we are literally building content, using website validation techniques and improving the way that users and browsers alike see the website. Just remember a user sees one thing, while a browser see something else and both are just as important as the other.