Search Engine Optimization (SEO) with CSS HTML Validator
The essence of SEO is communicating to the search engines what your webpage or website is all about by using (mostly) HTML tags and attributes. This makes SEO right up CSS HTML Validator's alley.
Haven't heard of CSS HTML Validator? It's a commercial desktop software application for Microsoft Windows, and a command line (console) tool for Mac and Linux. It's been helping web developers since 1997, and it can help you with SEO (and much more).
We've spent a lot of time reading and listening to expert SEO advice and strategies, and have taken the best of it and condensed it into a number of important tips, to-do items, and not-to-do items. We then integrated this into CSS HTML Validator.
The Home, Pro, and Enterprise editions of CSS HTML Validator include search engine optimization (SEO) tips and analysis when this option is enabled in the Validator Engine Options.
Keep reading to learn how to take advantage of the features that can help you improve your website's SEO and search engine rankings.
Keyword Density Checking Tool
CSS HTML Validator (Home+ edition) can check a web page's keyword density. This tool can help you optimize a web page for certain keywords and related themes and phrases. Keyword optimization will make it more likely that the page appears in the search results (and appears higher) when the keywords or related phrases are used in a search. However, be sure not to "over-optimize" (unnaturally use too many keywords) or search engines may penalize your website. If a keyword is used too many times, then that can look spammy.
NOTE: Where and how keywords are used is much more important than how many times they are used. Therefore, strive for good placement and natural usage over packing in the keywords.
Find & Fix Broken Links
Use the link checker tool in CSS HTML Validator to check for moved or broken links on your pages. This is important because over time links can change, move or break. Not only are broken links (like 404 page not found errors) annoying to your visitors, search engines may penalize websites that contain broken links. The link checker in CSS HTML Validator will also notify you of permanent and temporary link redirects, as well as miscellaneous server issues that you don't want on your website.
Find & Fix Misspelled Words
Use the spell checker in CSS HTML Validator to check your website for misspelled words which can give a bad impression to your visitors, cause a loss of trust and reputation, increase your website's bounce rate, and even affect search engine rankings. This is because a lot of misspelled words can signal a low quality site. Make sure your website's grammar is correct as well.
SEO Tips and Strategies for Improved Search Rankings
NOTE: Only the engineers behind the "black box" of search engine algorithms can truly know all the details of how pages are ranked, and these details are constantly changing.
Below are some SEO tips and strategies provided by CSS HTML Validator (if SEO checking is enabled). Note that some tips may be debated by SEO experts.
- QUALITY CONTENT IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER! The actual content of a page (the text that a user sees) is critical. Content should be written with a user-first strategy and fulfill a user's search intent (what users are looking for). Ensure that the content is high-quality, useful, well-written, and information-rich so that users will want to read, share, and link to it. Include keywords and search terms throughout the content when appropriate (preferably sooner in the text rather than later) but avoid fluff and keyword stuffing. The more quality content on your site, the better.
- DID WE SAY QUALITY CONTENT? Check spelling, grammar, and punctuation so content appears professional. Some search engines may use advanced spelling and grammar checkers to detect quality content and eliminate junk, so be sure to check spelling and grammar. It should go without saying but we'll say it anyway: users also benefit from proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation. You should also read the page slowly out loud to make sure it sounds and feels right to users.
CSS HTML Validator will check page's spelling and let you know if it finds any misspelled or repeated words.
- USE UNIQUE PAGE TITLES WITH KEYWORDS. Page titles are critical from an SEO perspective. Each page on a site should have its own unique, informative, and eye-catching title specified by using the title element in the head section. Titles should contain appropriate keywords and search terms that are relevant to the page (but don't just mindlessly stuff keywords into the title). The first words in the title are more likely to result in higher rankings than subsequent words, so use important keywords at the very beginning when reasonable.
Page titles should also appeal to a user's search intent so that users will want to click on the title when it's seen on a search engine. Titles should be concise and typically be no longer than 60-70 characters. A good title is also important when a visitor bookmarks a page.
CSS HTML Validator will check the page title length and spelling, and warn you if it's missing or might be too short or too long. It will also warn you if it detects an inadequate or non-descriptive page title.
- USE GOOD HEADLINES AND HEADINGS. It's usually a good idea to repeat a document's title, keywords, and search terms in heading elements (like h1, h2, h3, etc., with h1 being the most influential), but make sure it looks natural and don't overdo it. Headlines and headings should attract a user's attention and should always be used appropriately. Proper use of headings will also help search engines understand your page better and will make your page more accessible. Use CSS styling to make headings look good, but don't change the meaning of the heading elements (like making a heading look like regular text) because that can be considered cheating and may result in a penalty and a less accessible website.
CSS HTML Validator will let you know if there aren't any h1 and h2 headings on your page. It will also check the spelling of headings.
- USE KEYWORDS, SEARCH TERMS, RELATED PHRASES, ETC. Use keywords, search terms, and related phrases and themes throughout the page, including in regular text (but preferably sooner rather than later). However, don't overdo it. Make sure that it reads naturally and isn't cluttered with terms and phrases that make it seem written for the search engines rather than for users and visitors.
- USE META TAGS. Use meta description and keywords tags in the head section. While some search engines may not use these tags (especially the meta keywords tag), some do. For example, Google often (but not always) uses the page title and meta description in the search results, so make sure each page has a unique title and meta description. A meta description should accurately summarize what a page is about in 70-200 characters while also appealing to a user's search intent.
CSS HTML Validator will check a meta description's length and spelling, and warn you if it's missing or might be too short or too long.
- SPEED UP. STAY RELIABLE. Speed up your page using the Google PageSpeed Tools (like PageSpeed Insights for mobile and desktop). Make sure images are optimized for size while still maintaining good quality (try Smart PNG and JPEG compression). Make sure your web server is fast and reliable with excellent uptime, and upgrade it if it's too slow, easily gets bogged down, or can't handle the traffic. If your webpages take too long to load then your visitors will be frustrated and your rankings could drop.
Also good: GTmetrix website speed analyzer
- MAINTAIN CONTENT QUALITY. Provide fresh, unique, original, and relevant content from time to time to keep your site content from "decaying". Avoid "thin content"; most content should contain at least 300 words in each page. For best results, aim for 3000+ words of quality content for significantly more traffic, shares, and backlinks.
- DON'T TRICK OR HIDE TEXT. Never do anything for the purpose of trying to trick a search engine. Tricks can often be detected or be reported to the search engine by a competitor. For example, do not use hidden text or keywords, small text, comments, popular but unrelated words, or any other shady SEO practice to try to trick a search engine into giving your page a better ranking. This is dishonest and considered to be a type of search engine spamming. Many search engines penalize sites for spamming as soon as it is detected.
- DON'T PLAGIARIZE. Search engines are getting better at detecting similar content, even when changes are made to avoid detection. Ensure that your content is unique by varying topic order, using multiple sources, and adding to or improving the content.
- DON'T OVERDO IT OR KEYWORD STUFF. There can be a fine line between good optimization and over-optimization that looks spammy. Don't try too hard (like using keywords too many times) or you could 'over-optimize' which could (possibly) result in a penalty. Also, don't keyword stuff. Keyword stuffing is inserting blocks of keywords to increase a page's rankings by increasing its keyword density. This is considered spamming and can easily be detected. Example: keyword1 keyword1 keyword1 keyword2 keyword2 keyword2 keyword3 keyword3 keyword3, etc.
- WATCH WHAT YOU LINK TO. Be careful what you or your users link to. Avoid linking to bad or untrustworthy sites that might damage your site's trust and rank. Add rel="nofollow" to any links that are in untrusted content, like user comments, forum posts, or guestbook entries. Similarly, use a meta robots tag with content="nofollow" where appropriate.
- USE SEMANTIC HTML ELEMENTS. Use semantic HTML elements to help search engines (as well as web browsers and accessibility software) understand your website better. Semantic HTML elements clearly describe their purpose and/or meaning in a human and machine-readable way. Such elements include header, footer, main, article, aside, figure, and more. Never use a non-semantic element like div or span when a semantic element is more appropriate.
- USE THE "REL" ATTRIBUTE. Consider tagging links in user-generated content with rel="ugc" and links that are sponsored (paid) with rel="sponsored".
- USE THE "ALT" ATTRIBUTE. Using the alt attribute for images is not just good for accessibility, it's good for search engines too. Use the alt attribute to concisely describe images using relevant keywords and search terms in the description when appropriate, but don't overdo it by cramming in too many keywords. Consider giving your website a relevance boost by adding images, photos, or illustrations on important keyword-targeted pages with the important keywords used in the alt text. Try to limit alt text to 125 characters or less.
CSS HTML Validator will check alt text length and spelling, and warn you if your alt text is missing or might be too short or too long.
- USE THE "TITLE" ATTRIBUTE. Many elements support the title attribute that is used for annotation (do not confuse the title element with the title attribute). Consider annotating tags like a with something like title="Read more about keywords". Annotate with keywords and search terms. Many browsers will also display the value of the title attribute when the user hovers the mouse over content with a title attribute.
- USE STRUCTURED DATA. Learn about and use structured data on your website wherever it makes sense to do so. This will help search engines understand the content of your web pages and may also have significant SEO value. You might even get a featured snippet!
Understand how structured data works
- USE SEO-FRIENDLY SCRIPTING. Avoid using client-side scripting to insert or write tags and content into web pages. Don't use client-side scripting to link to other documents. Search Engines don't run client-side scripting. It's also a bad idea because it should not be assumed that scripting is available (and turned on) in the user's browser.
- STAY ACCESSIBLE. Following accessibility standards may improve search engine rankings. Use alt, title, and table summary attributes whenever relevant and possible. Use keywords and search terms in them but keep them accurate. Using this program's accessibility checking can help.
- BE MOBILE FRIENDLY. Make sure your website is responsive to browsers on smartphones and tablets which have smaller screens. Users should not have to zoom in and out with their fingers to use the page. Websites that are not mobile friendly may be penalized, especially for searches done on mobile devices.
Google Mobile-Friendly Test Tool • Mobile-Friendly Websites • Responsive Checker
- CONSIDER THE QUERY STRING. Don't use "&id=" as a parameter in URLs as some search engines like Google won't include these URLs in their listings.
- LINK TO QUALITY SITES RELATED TO YOURS. Consider linking to one or more high ranking sites that are related to the site you're promoting. Use your site's keywords in the link text if you can.
- USE YOUR SERVER LOG. Look at your site's referral logs to see what keywords people are using to find your site. Use this information to improve your site. For example, you may want to add content related to keywords that have been overlooked.
- DO KEYWORD RESEARCH. Do thorough keyword research and understand what keywords and wording people are using when searching. Incorporate these keywords and wording into your title tag and web pages wherever natural and appropriate (but as always, make sure it doesn't look spammy).
- WHEN NAMING NEW PAGES... When creating and naming new pages, consider using important keywords in the page name but don't overdo it by making the name too long or by using too many keywords. Also, use hyphens (not underscores) to separate words. Search engines can misinterpret underscores.
- USE SHORT URLs. Shorter URLs may perform better in search results and are more likely to be copied & pasted, linked-to, and shared.
- REMEMBER IMAGE SEARCHES. Image searches can be a significant source of visitors and traffic. Therefore, try to use keywords when naming images, and separate keywords with hyphens (not underscores), but don't overdo it by stuffing in too many keywords.
- USE RELATED VARIATIONS. Try to use related keyword, term, and phrase variations throughout the page, but remember to keep it natural. Read the text aloud to make sure it sounds normal and natural.
- STAY CRAWLABLE & USE SITEMAPS. Keep sites and content crawlable and discoverable. Don't rely on content and links in Flash, Java, Ajax, etc. that is difficult for search engines to see and follow. Content that search engines can't access cannot be indexed. Also, use sitemaps (an XML file with a list of the pages on your site) to ensure that search engines know about all the pages you want indexed.
- DON'T DUPLICATE CONTENT. Never use duplicate content just to try to improve search engine rankings or to fool search engines. Search engines do not like duplicate content and will try to filter such content out from search results.
- REPEAT NATURALLY. It's a good idea to repeat a document's title, keywords, and search terms throughout the page (preferably sooner in the text rather than later), but do it appropriately and make sure the page sounds natural when read aloud.
- GET GOOD BACKLINKS. Get sites that are authoritative, popular, and relevant to your own site, and have good rankings to link to your site. The anchor text that is used to link to your site is also important and should contain your site's keywords and search terms. Building incoming links gradually instead of all at once (which can look spammy) may also be better. Note that you'll likely have to build relationships before you can link build.
- MORE ABOUT BACKLINKS. Be careful when link building! Quality is much more important than quantity. Try to get good backlinks from authoritative sites and avoid bad backlinks. Backlinks should look natural and should never be bought. Beware of keyword rich anchor text because this can look spammy (use the page's title, domain name, or bare URL over spammy looking anchor text). And yes, competitors can attack your site with bad backlinks.
- GET GOOD REVIEWS. Ask your happy customers to write honest reviews for your service or products on major review sites.
- MONITOR WHAT PEOPLE SAY. Use Google Alerts or a similar service to monitor what people are saying about your website, service, or products. This is an opportunity for you to reach out and knowledgeably address any complaints, criticisms, comments, praise, or discussions regarding your offerings. Try to resolve any complaints and say 'thank you' for compliments.
Google Alerts (new window)
- DON'T CLOAK. Cloaking is delivering search engine optimized content to search engine spiders while delivering different content to actual human visitors. Many search engines can detect this type of spam and may even completely ban a site if cloaking is detected.
- DON'T USE FLASH. Flash is obsolete and causes issues for search engine spiders because they are unlikely to be able to see and index the text content in a Flash object. If you're going to use Flash anyway (you shouldn't) then use alternate ways of making Flash content available to search engines, such as including links to alternate pages that do not use Flash objects. This will also be helpful for visitors who are unable to view Flash content.
- DON'T WASTE TIME COMMENTING. Don't waste time stuffing content or keywords into HTML comments (comments in <!-- -->) because it appears that search engines ignore text in HTML comments.
- AVOID INTRUSIVE POPUPS. Don't annoy your visitors with intrusive popups. Search engines may also penalize your website for intrusive popups. If you must use them anyway, try to minimize their annoyingness (like only showing them to visitors that have been on your website for at least 5 minutes).
- AVOID BAD BACKLINKS. Avoid backlinks from link farms that are designed to deceive the search engines and never pay for backlinks. Having these and other low-quality backlinks may result in your site being penalized. Instead, strive for quality backlinks from a wide range of high quality, relevant pages.
- AVOID DOORWAY PAGES. Do not create doorway pages that don't add clear, unique value for the user. Do not create pages simply designed to funnel search engine traffic to the actual usable or relevant portion of your website.
- USE CANONICAL URLs. Ensure that search engines think you have only one site by using 301 redirects to a canonical (preferred) URL when appropriate. For example, if using the www form of a site name, like
www.domain.com, then redirect requests for
https://www.domain.com (or vice versa if using the non-www form). Do not use two different URLS (like
https://www.domain.com) for the same page.
Consolidate duplicate URLs (new window)
- USE CANONICAL LINK TAGS. If you have multiple pages with identical (or near identical content), use a <link rel="canonical" href="URL"> tag in the head section to point to the main page/URL that you want ranked on the search engines. Otherwise, extensive content duplication could harm your rankings.
- USE A SITEMAP.XML FILE. Use a sitemap.xml file that lists all indexable pages, and update it regularly. Make sure search engines know about it. A website can still be indexed without this file, but a sitemap.xml file can help crawlers find content that they wouldn't have otherwise found.
Check your sitemap links using CSS HTML Validator
- KEEP GOOGLE HAPPY. Make sure your website stays in compliance with whatever Google thinks and says is good. Comply with Google's terms of service and stay in conformance with their webmaster 'best practices' guidelines (note that this can be a constantly moving target).
Use Google Search Console to resolve issues and help keep Google happy.
- JOIN FACEBOOK GROUPS. Consider joining Facebook groups that can help you with your SEO. Try to join groups that have a focus that is relevant to you. Give back to these groups when you can (don't just take).
- REGISTER YOUR DOMAIN FOR 3 OR MORE YEARS. Register your domain name for at least three years. A longer registration time is evidence of a more credible site (it's less likely to be considered a spam site by search engines). A shorter registration time could indicate a throwaway or illegitimate domain. Note, however, that there is debate about this and some people think this is a myth or that registration length is not significant... but if you have a legitimate site then why not register it for at least 3 years?
More SEO Resources
Visit the SEO section of our resources page for more helpful SEO related websites, tips, and other resources.
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