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How to Optimize Your Web Site For Better Visitor Experience and More traffic

December 1, 2007
by Javier A. Garcia © Copyright.

This article describes in simple terms, practical and effective tactics used to optimize your 
Web site that will result in a more enjoyable visitors experience and traffic. At the end of this
article there is a References and Resources section where you can find supportive information
and services related to each topic.

Compatibility With Web Browsers 

It isn't a surprised for Web site owners, webmasters and others who are involved in their
website optimization, to see how different the web pages are displayed in various web
browsers or between different web browsers version. Web pages might not even be visible
in some web browsers. Displaying differences it's the result of how the various available
web browsers (Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Netscape, etc.), or their versions, handle
HTML code, HTML errors or computer screen resolution used. Because of the above reasons,
I highly recommend to look at your web pages through at least three of the most widely
used web browser platforms: Internet Explorer, Netscape and Firefox. Alternatively, you
could use the available Web based service found in the References and Resources section
at the end of this article. (See Anybrowser viewer and Firefox below).

Title and Meta Tags

Meta tags are information inserted into the ‹HEAD›‹/HEAD› section of the HTML code of
any Web page. There are many type of meta tags. We will be considering only two of them
and the ‹TITLE› tag.

From the visitor's point of view, the only tag visible within the head section is the title tag,
which is not a meta tag itself, but a stand alone tag found in the head section of the web
page. The title tag is responsible of the wording displayed at the top left hand corner of
the Web browser window. You should always include this tag in order to name your web
pages. Think of the title tag as the subject of an email message.

The two most important meta tags are the keyword and description tags which are invisible
to the visitor's eyes but should be also included if you want your page information (title and
description) to be properly displayed on the search engine result page (SERP) listing. Specially
important is the meta description tag.

In the early days of the Internet, one could influence the search result by including keywords
within the meta keyword and meta description tags you wanted the search engine (SE) to
classify your page for, today you cannot influence the result of the SE by just adding desirable
keywords anymore due to the level of complexity the SEs have achieved which are able to
analyze your page, decide what it is all about and assign it the position in the SERP based on
those findings and other external factors, which are beyond the scope of this article. You could
do just fine without including a meta keyword tag, but including them won't hurt, on the
contrary, I think it would rather do more good than harm.

Keyword tag should contain between 5 and 10 keywords that appear on the body of your page.
You should never include keywords in the tag that do not appear on that page. It is worth to
say that some SE will penalized your website doing otherwise. Also do not repeat the same
keyword to avoid SE penalization. (See meta tags generator below).

The Importance of ALT Tags 

Many web surfer and visually challenged people browse the Internet with the image viewing option
of their web browser turn off or using text readers respectively. When one of these surfer visits
your site containing lot of images, and it happen to be that those images contain most of the
content your website is about, they won't be able to read the content of your pages if the
images do not contain the ALT="your image description" tags. The same situation applies to the
search engines since SEs do not index images, they won't index any text your web site has in
image format. ALT tags are essentially image descriptions that always should be added to your
images to make sure your visitors and search engines can respectively read and recognize all the
content on your website.

Browser Safe Color Palettes 

Computer platforms handle color differently, and the web browser limits colors significantly. In
order to move through the digital world with consistency, the web page designer must be well
aware of this fact.

While in the real world all colors are the result of some subtractive combination of three primaries
colors: red, yellow, and blue. In the digital world all colors are the result of additive color synthesis
or combination of three primary colors: red, green, and blue, referred to as RGB for short. Additive
color is unlike the tangible world's subtractive color.

RGB values are derived from a method that numerically determines how much red, green, and blue
make up the color in question. Each color contains a percentage of red, green, and blue.

A safe color palette is a palette containing 216 RGB colors that are going to remain as stable as
possible from one browser to another, between platforms, and at different monitor capacities and
resolutions. If colors outside the safe palette are used, many web site visitors will see the color
the computer has available instead of the color you have called for. In this case if you have asked
for a soft, pale blue outside the safe palette, you might end up having visitors who see that color
as bright neon. (See web safe color chart below).

Check For Broken Links 

Broken links are links that lead to nowhere, and clicking on the link will show you a 404 error code
page. It is said that about 5% to 7% of all links on the Internet are broken. A site that contains
broken links, including missing links to images, gives a very bad impression to potential visitors
and it is a frequent cause of lost visitors. Also, the search engines and directories might not list
your Web page if it has broken links. (See links checker and netmechanic tools below).

Check Web Pages Load Time

Many Web surfers today browse the Internet through a high speed broadband connection, it is fair
to say that those visitors won't have any problem accessing a heavy loaded page document, but
a significant percentage of those Web surfers still use slow speed dial up connection to access the
Web.

Surfers are known for having a very short attention span and will leave your site before the page
finishes loading. You'll lose many visitors and sales this way if you do not pay attention to the
loading time of your pages. Generally speaking, the maximum accepted time for a page to load is
about 10 seconds, and it is recommended that your page to be around 25Kb in size. 

One easy way to calculate the net size of your web page is by using Windows Explorer to find the
file of your HTML and any graphic it contains and looking to the size value for each file involved
then adding those numbers to get the size of the page in question.

Decreasing the loading time of a web page can be easily achieved by both, compressing or shrinking
the size of your images, and reducing the size of your HTML code. You will lose some sharpness after
compressing the image more than 40 percent but you'll gain in speed. Below you'll find more practical
ways to further decrease page loading time, keep reading. (See load time checker and image cruncher
below).

HTML Code Optimizer 

An HTML Optimizer removes all blank spaces in your HTML code, and this is another way to make your
page load faster. The result is shorter downloading time. Pages will be shown in a client's browser in
exactly the same way, but the file size will be smaller.

Please make sure that the HTML optimizer you use does not compress embedded script codes within
your page, which might be rendered unusable if they get optimized this way. (See code optimizer below).

BORDER, HEIGHT and WIDTH Attributes

The attributes used with the ‹IMG› tag to specify an image width and height are the WIDTH and
HEIGHT attributes indicating the exact size of your image in pixels. The other attribute that influences
the way an image is rendered on the user's screen is the BORDER attribute, which should be set to
zero if you don't want your hyperlinked image to show a blue border around it. There is not need to
specify BORDER="0" for a normal, non-hyperlinked, image since no border appears around an image
unless that image is a link.

One interesting advantage to adding the height and width attributes to an image tag is that when
you do specify the image size for all of your images, browsers take a lot less time to render your page
because the browser can determine the layout of the page without having to retrieve each image
separately to find out what size it is. To find out the width and height of an image, just open it with
any image editor and look for its property. 

Validate Your HTML Code 

Just as texts in a natural language can include spelling or grammar errors, documents using markup
languages like HTML may, for numerous reasons, not be following these rules. The process of verifying
whether a Web document actually follows the rules for the language it uses is called validation, and the
tool used for that is a validator. A document that passes this process with success is called valid and
complies with a specific set of rules. Different browsers, or versions of the same browser, will make
different guesses about the same illegal code; even worse, if your HTML code is really bad, the browser
could get confused and produce a mangled display mess, or even crash. Validating your HTML will help
ensure that it displays properly on most browsers. Always check the validity of your HTML code.

Look for a very versatile validator tool in the References and Resources section at the end of this article,
which is able to analize your web pages directly from your server, by file upload, and direct document
code input. (See validation service below).

References and Resources:

ANYBROWSER VIEWER

FIREFOX BROWSER

IWEBTOOLS METATAGS GENERATOR

WEB SAFE COLORS CHART

IWEBTOOLS LINK CHECKER

NET MECHANIC TOOLS

NETMECHANIC LOAD TIME CHECKER

SPINWAVE IMAGE CRUNCHER

HTML CODE OPTIMIZER

W3C VALIDATION SERVICE

About The Author

Javier A. Garcia is a successful Internet marketing expert and editor in chief of more than
half a dozen websites available for anyone interested to working from home and in online
business resources. With years of experience in online marketing, website optimization
and promotion.

Please note: Permission to publish this article is granted solely on the basis that you keep its content intact, and the links in the About The Author box alive.


        




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