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Duplicate Content, Images Used for Text, and Valid Markup

Posted on 11.07.2007

The Web Design SEO Checklist  (Part Five)

Welcome to part five of our Web Design SEO Checklist. Today we are covering Duplicate Content, Images Used for Text, and Valid Markup.

Because in the past spammers have developed “fake sites” loaded with similar or stolen content life has become more difficult. Search Engines have created what are referred to as “duplicate content” penalties. This means that when a page has a lot of content that is very similar or identical to another page there is a risk that the page will be held lower in the rankings.

Duplicate content is an especially difficult issue to avoid for real estate sites or sites using products with similar descriptions. But creating fresh content (or creating different ways of saying the same thing), although difficult, is important and is a good use of time. If you’re not a wordsmith then think about hiring one. Or another option is to build your site in a way that allows for users to generate content for you by having them write reviews or leave feedback in one form or another.

Another flaw I quite often come across is where a website uses images in place of text. The reason why this is terrible is because Search Engine spiders don’t read images - at least not very well. Real world addresses (i.e. 123 W. Street Ave) are the most common place I see this mistake. And this could be one of the biggest mistakes. Here is why; as local search becomes more prevalent a real world address can help a site rank well for keywords mixed with a zip code or street names. And if your address is listed on your website as an image then it’s unreadable to Search Engines and you can miss out on those types of rankings.

The last topic I’d like to cover is the use of Valid Markup and Clean Code. Using valid markup and clean code can facilitate the accurate reading of website content by search engines.

W3C valid sites follow a set of agreed upon web semantics. And just as with language, the more advanced grammar you use the more advanced ideas you can convey. So while a poorly coded page can rank well by chance, a properly coded page can rank well by design.

Besides just following the coding protocol striving to have the code be “clean” is another goal. “Clean code” means that you increase the content to code ratio as much as possible. This makes it easier for search engines to parse the content from the page. This is accomplished by moving java script and CSS to external files as well as by cutting down on table tags by using tableless design techniques.

So whether you are designing a site yourself or having it built for you addressing all the issues mentioned in our Web Design SEO Checklist series can save you time and money paying an SEO company to do it in the future.

Quick links to the previous Web Design SEO Checklist series:

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John Fitzsimmons is a Search Marketing Manager with He also consults on web development projects and social media.

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