HTML is a fairly clumsy language; like the camel, it was designed
by a committee.
Then the software companies got their two cents worth; editing
programs, online editors, 'off the shelf' code ... all made extra complicated
by the need to match browser requirements.
Plus there is pressure to move
to XML and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), which although designed to simplify,
can also complicate.
So a simple web page may carry twice the instructions
it needs, slowing download time for visitors and for Search Engines; classic Sick
Cascading Style Sheets
For example, This
Green Phrase requires a fair bit of on the page HTML code:
FACE="Courier New, Courier, mono" SIZE="3"><B><FONT
COLOR="#008800">This Green Phrase </FONT></B></FONT>
with CSS, that code can be reduced to:
CSS allows you to set up chosen styles and place
them in an separate file, so the browser can show content as you require, on every
this has many advantages, including the ability to adjust that
file for instant site-wide changes, but for our purposes, we're looking at the
sheer volume of 'code' that even a simple page design may need.
do add up over the length of a page - if you use css, you should be able to do
without them. As you learn, CSS can be used to reduce numbers of bold / italic
/ strong / emphasis and other tags, and reduce the complexity of others; you can
control the size of H tags, and their color and style, with just the H tag on
Templates and Databases
Templates and content management
systems using databases can make a webmasters job much easier, but can bring problems
of their own.
For example, a template may have common titles, headers, footers,
navigation and much else besides. Look at the page source, and there may be two
of three feet of code, that is common to every page.
And in amongst it,
on some sites, some 50-100 words of copy, described by the webmaster as 'unique
content' - and the page as a 'unique page'. Leaving identical titles and meta
tags aside for the moment, it is not unreasonale of Google to see such a page
as little different to its 5000 siblings.
Because you no longer see each
page as it is created, it is easy to lose touch with the size of the page. Plus
to make the template work site-wide, there is always tempataion to include more
and more navigation and information, as the site develops.
Code bloat is
a major cause of 'duplicate content issues', because it makes differences (relatively)
Tragically, I know of no way to quantify the ratio or absolute
amount of genuine unique copy needed, but common sense can see Google's POV!
you suspect the problem - or supplementary listing suggest it is a factor, then
it can easily be dealt with, depending on the site:
1. Add more copy to
2. Merge two small pages (eg red widgets + green widgets = Widgets)
Reduce code bloat
Reduce navigation from whole site to 'local' and section indexes
out sloganeering and repetitive promos
(iv) Use more css, and fewer HTML markups
(v) Simplify the site layout to reduce code-heavy table formations
long and hard at whatever is left!
This doesn't just help SEs, it helps
visitors too; it makes for a cleaner, more elegant, less crowded, more reader-friendly
And for those on dialup - they see the page before Christmas!
sites place large pictures in small spaces - so the visitor gets the worst of
both worlds ... they must wait while the large picture downloads ... then they
get to see the small one!
Pictures should be resized to fit the space they
are to fill, and the file size can be optimized too; often ending up with 20%
of their original download times.
The picture size should also be included
in the code, or loading may be uneven and unreadable until the last image has
Learning about HTML enables you to identify
a common cause of Sick Site Syndrome, and make a start on fixing it. With
just a little reading, every webmaster can take the first steps of css, and turn
a Jumbo Jet with Sick Site Syndrome into a Harrier Jump-Jet with the agility
of a gazelle!