Make Your Web Site W3C Compliant for Better Search Engine (SEO) Results


    This page is a compilation of web searches.   The search links led to the "Dummies" book series.
    The "Dummies" data was combined to present a quick, easily understood document.   Links to the "Dummies" series are included.
    This document will be updated as new rules are discovered.

    One way to improve your Web site's search engine results is to validate your code. Validating code means making your Web site W3C compliant. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international consortium where member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. Their mission statement is 'to lead the World Wide Web to its full potential by developing protocols and guidelines that ensure long-term growth for the Web.'

    W3C goes about achieving this by creating Web standards and guidelines. It's basically like health code guidelines for a restaurant. A Web site needs to meet certain standards in order to be as least imperfect as possible. Since 1994, W3C has published more than 110 such standards, called W3C Recommendations.

    A compliant page is known to be spider-able and the links crawl-able, so although the search engines do not require W3C compliance, it's not a bad idea. If you have complex or just plain ugly Web page code, or you're having issues getting your pages crawled and indexed, validating your code to W3C standards might help.

    On the front page of the W3C's Web site is a sidebar called W3 A to Z, which contains all sorts of links. Bookmark this page: these links are a great reference to help you understand the standards that the Web is built on.

    Here's something about search engines: The harder they have to work to read your site, the less often and less thoroughly the search engines index your site. Because more content tends to mean more authority, you are less likely to receive top ranking. In fact, if a search engine has to work too long at reading your page, it might just abandon it altogether.

    So it's a good idea to follow the W3C standards, simply because they make for a faster, more efficient page that is set up the way a search engine expects to find things. It's like having your house swept clean and in order when the spiders come to visit: It makes them like what they see. (Internet spiders, that is. It doesn't work that way for the arachnid variety.) If your site doesn't comply with the W3C standards, the search engines might not crawl all of the pages on your site. Because you can't rank pages the search engines don't know about, that's a big problem.

To comply with W3C, every page should declare a doc type (document type) and validate itself. To declare your doc type, include a line at the very top of your of HTML code, which declares the document as an HTML document and identifies the type of HTML you are following. Because HTML has changed since the early days, some versions are different than others. Declaring a doc type is telling the search engine what it's going to be reading. It's important to comply with your declared doc type. If you don't, you confuse the search engine spider, and it takes longer to crawl your pages.

The W3C validator tools

The W3C validator tools

To validate your page, go to the W3C Web site and use the free tools on that page, as shown in the above figure.

These are tools that you can use to basically 'proof read' your site in order to make sure they comply with the W3C standards.

A Web site URL in the markup validator

A Web site URL in the markup validator

The first tool on the site is the MarkUp Validation Service, shown in the above figure. Also known as the HTML validator, it helps check Web documents in formats like HTML, XHTML, SVG, or MathML. Plugging your site's URL into the box allows the tool to check your Web site to see if the code matches the declared doc type.

The Link Checker validator from the W3C

The Link Checker validator from the W3C

The second tool is the Link Checker (shown in the above figure). It checks anchors (hyperlinks) in a HTML/XHTML document. It's useful for finding broken links, redirected pages, server errors, and so on. There are some options for your search, like ignoring redirects and the ability to check the links on the pages linked to from the original page, as you can see in the figure above, and you can also save the options you set in a cookie, to make it quick to run it again in the future. If you don't select summary only, you can watch it go through each link on the page. Most of the time, you just need to run the tools without making any adjustments so don't stress about the options.

Many other link checkers are also available out there. The Link Checker tool is great for checking one page (if you were putting up a single new page with a lot of links, for example), but for spidering a whole site, you may prefer Xenu's Link Sleuth, which is a great (and free!) link-checking tool that makes sure all of your links work.

The CSS Validation Service from the W3C

The CSS Validation Service from the W3C

The third tool on W3C's site is the CSS Validation Service, which validates CSS style sheets or documents using CSS style sheets. As shown in the above figure, it works a lot like the Markup Validation Service. Just put in the URL of the site you want to have validated.

Validating your CSS ensures that your site looks picture perfect whenever a standards-compliant browser (like Firefox) or spider (like Google) comes by and checks it out.

Search Engine Optimization All-In-One For Dummies Cheat Sheet

From Search Engine Optimization All-in-One For Dummies, 3rd Edition

By Bruce Clay

Effective SEO (search engine optimization) is critical for any business that has a website. You want your business's website to show up on that first page when people search for what you're selling, and that's where SEO comes into play. Here you'll find the key components of a website that should be crafted with care to help a web page rank, the server status codes that help or hinder SEO, and advanced search operators that will have you searching the web like a pro.

SEO Checklist for On-Page Optimization

Search engine optimization starts on your own website. Focus on ensuring that your content, server setup, and internal links communicate expertise and professionalism to search engines and visitors. Strive to make your website equal to your competitors first, and then focus on surpassing them. As you work to improve your website, stay organized by using this checklist to coordinate your SEO campaign:

1.01    Do keyword research.

1.02    Declare a (charset=utf-8) tag.

1.03    Create a Title tag (<title>).

1.04    Create a Meta description tag.

1.05    Create a Meta keywords tag.(This may be obsolete)

1.06    Create a robots Meta all, index, follow tag.

1.07    Create a viewpoint Meta tag.

1.08    Create a favicon Meta tag.

1.09    Create heading tag(s) in hierarchical order, headline style.

1.10    Create one h1 tag ( <h1>) and one or more H2 tags (<h2>). H3 ~ H6 tags are optional.

1.11    Have a minimum of 400 words of textual content.

1.12    Include descriptive Alt attributes on all <img> tags.

1.13    Include descriptive Title attributes on all <href> tags.

1.14    Consistently use Strong and Bold tags (<strong> and <b>).

1.15    Use fully qualified links (begin all links with http://).

1.16    Do NOT use inline style coding, use CSS or <head><style>*****</style></head>.

1.17    Use a sitemap to outline silos.

1.18    Never exceed 99 links on a page.

1.19    Use text navigation, rather than image maps, JavaScript, or Flash-based navigation.

1.20    Externalize JavaScript/CSS code.

1.21    Have a Robots.txt file.

1.22    Use web analytics tools to monitor traffic and ROI (return on investment).

1.23    Include image names.

1.24    Create a privacy statement.

1.25    Include contact information.

1.26    Check server logs or webmaster tools for server errors.

1.27    Use 301 Redirects over 302 Redirects.

1.28    Test mobile usability of your site (with tools like Google's Mobile-Friendly Test).

1.29    Check Google Search Console for reported manual penalties.

1.30    Improve site speed using tools like Google PageSpeed Insights.

Advanced Search Engine Operators for Power Searching

Search engine optimization (SEO) requires some technical knowledge about how search engines work and how to research what makes sites rank and find out how your competitor sites are successful. The advanced search operators in this table show you how to filter search engine results to find just the information you're looking for, including limiting your results to just a single site or getting back results where your keyword is used in a page title or URL.








Shows the version of the web page from the search engine's cache.




Finds web pages that are similar to the specified web page.




Presents some information that Google has about a web page.


define: or definition:

define: or definition:

Provides a definition of a keyword. You must insert a space between the colon and the query in order for this operator to work in Yahoo! and Bing.




Shows stock information for ticker symbols.(Note: Enter ticker symbols; don't type web sites or company names.)




Finds pages only within a particular domain and all its sub-domains.




Finds pages that include all query words as part of the indexed Title tag.




Finds pages that include a specific keyword as part of the indexed Title tag. You must include a space between the colon and the query for the operator to work in Bing.




Finds a specific URL in the search engine's index. (Note: You must include http:// in the URL you enter.)




Finds pages that include a specific keyword as part of their indexed URLs.




Finds pages that include a specific keyword in their body text.




Finds instances of the exact phrase within the quotation marks everywhere it appears within the search engine's index. (Note: Substitute [phrase] in the search operator with the exact phrase you're searching for.)




Removes results that contain the word following the minus sign. (Note: This search operator is added on to the keyword or phrase being searched for. It should follow the search query. For example, the query [] will give you all indexed web pages on the domain without the word training on the page.

Must-Know Server Status Codes for SEO

Your hard work on search engine optimization (SEO) won't matter if your server isn't set up to properly deliver pages and codes to search engines and your customers. You have to keep your server happy and healthy. Use this table to diagnose server problems, sort out redirects, and ensure that everything is working as it should, and you'll minimize SEO problems.




What It Means



The web page appears as expected.

You want to see this status. Your server and web page have the welcome mat out for search engine spiders (and users, too).


Moved Permanently

The web page has been redirected permanently to another web-page URL.

When a search engine spider sees this status code, it moves easily to the appropriate new page. A 301 Redirect status doesn't cause a problem for search engine optimization.


Found (Moved Temporarily)

The web page has been moved temporarily to a different URL.

This status should raise a red flag if you find it on your web server. Even though people claim legitimate uses for a 302 Redirect code, this code can cause serious problems for your optimization efforts. Spammers frequently use 302 Redirects maliciously, so if you don't want a search engine mistaking your site for a spam site, avoid them.


Bad Request

The server couldn't understand the request because of bad syntax.

A typo in the URL could cause this status. Whatever the cause, you don't want to block a search engine spider from reaching your content pages, so investigate what's causing this status code on your site.



The request requires user authentication.

Usually, this status means that you need to log in before you can view the page content. Not a good error for spiders to hit.



The server understood the request but refuses to fulfill it.

If you find this status code on your website, find out why. If you want to block the spiders from entering, have a good reason.


Not Found

The web page isn't available.

You see this error code as the Page Cannot Be Displayed page that appears when a web site is down or nonexistent. You definitely don't want a spider following a link to your web site only to be greeted by a 404 error! That's like visiting a house and finding the lights off and the doors locked. If your server check shows that you have a 404 error for one of your landing pages, fix it ASAP.

500 and up

Miscellaneous server errors

The 500~505 status codes indicate that something is wrong with your server. Check them out.


Landing Page Optimization For Dummies Cheat Sheet

From Landing Page Optimization For Dummies

By Martin Harwood, Michael Harwood

Landing page optimization means that you strategically craft your landing page - with images, layout, language, and links. By optimizing landing pages and the consumer experience, you can turn good search engine placement into sales conversions and real money.

Common Landing Page Optimization Terms

Landing page optimization terms such as conversion and SEO may look familiar but remain a mystery to you. Before trying to optimize your landing page, get to know some common landing page optimization terms:

2.01     Benefit statements: Benefit statements show how your product or service solves an immediate problem. Benefit statements often address base motivators like saving time, making money, increasing business, or improving looks.

2.02     Bounce rates: Measured in percentages, the bounce rate represents the number of visitors who leave your page within a specified period of time or pages viewed.

2.03     Call to action: Directions within an ad or landing page prompting a user to take a specific action.

2.04     Conversion: A desirable action taken by an online visitor, such as buying a product, signing up for a newsletter, joining a mailing list, and so on.

2.05     Cost per click (CPC): CPC represents the amount you (as an advertiser) pay each time a user clicks on your ad.

2.06     Click through rate (CTR): The CTR is a method of gaging success for online advertising campaigns. The CTR represents the number of clicks your ad receives divided by the number of times your ad is shown.

2.07     Demographic profile: Demographics refer to the statistical characteristics of a segment of the population. Customer demographics identify the specific characteristics of your customers, allowing you to segment your visitors.

2.08     Fold: The fold refers to the viewable area on the computer screen that visitors don't have to scroll to see more content. It is known by several names, including the fold, above the fold, or viewable area.

2.09     Landing page: A landing page is the Web page your visitors arrive at after clicking an online ad, e-mail link, following a search engine result, or any form of offline advertising campaign such as radio ads.

2.10     Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Increasing visitors to your Web site or landing page by improving positioning within browser search results.

2.11     Split test: A test that randomly divides traffic between two or more landing page designs to identify the one which generates the most conversions.

Essential Landing Page Optimization Tips

Follow these optimization tips to keep visitors who land on your Web page from moving to other sites. Optimize your landing page as part of your Web design and conversion strategy, and you'll be well on your way to online marketing success:

3.01     Choose keywords carefully. Your conversions will ultimately suffer if your keywords aren't researched and tested. Keywords provide the framework from which your advertising campaign is built.

3.02     Keep key information in the fold. The fold area is where you capture your reader's attention. Put key content and enticing elements here, starting with your heading.

3.03     Use trust elements. To increase conversions, gain visitors' trust with trust elements. If they don't trust you, they won't buy from you.

3.04     Know your demographic inside and out. Your landing page is designed around your demographic. The language, navigation, and pictures are all done with the demographic in mind; if not, your conversions will suffer.

3.05     Be upfront. Fees should never be hidden. Don't spring any unpleasant surprises on your customers. For those that really want your product, they'll gladly pay that little extra in shipping - if they know about it in advance.

3.06     Write persuasively. Write to appeal to your audience; this includes an ethical appeal, a rational appeal, and an emotional appeal.

3.07     Use contact information. Don't hide yourself away. Visitors gain confidence when they know how to get a hold of you.

Web Resources for Landing Page Optimization

Want to find out more about landing page optimization? Use this list of Web resources to increase your understanding of landing page optimization:

4.01     SEO Chat: Use this site to check out the keyword density used on your site and the competitor's site.

4.02     Google Keyword Tool: Google AdWords Keyword Tool is the landing page developer's best friend.

4.03     Google Webmaster Tools: Get all your Google Webmaster tools right here.

4.04     Yahoo! Site Explorer: Google is the Big Cheese in the search engine field, but Yahoo! has some great tools as well. Follow this link for some quality Yahoo! tools.

4.05     Bing Webmaster Tools: MSN Web tools? Oh yeah they're out there. Follow this link to find out what MSN has to offer.

Optimize a Landing Page by Troubleshooting the Fold

A key landing page optimization strategy is to keep critical content above the fold. In landing page optimization lingo, above the fold means that important content appears on the first screen so viewers see it immediately. Otherwise, they'll have to go below the fold by scrolling down to the next screen. Stay above the fold with these strategies:

5.01     Match fold content and advertising: To reduce bounce rates, tie in your advertising with the content in the fold. Not matching the customer's expectations will create high bounce rates and low returns.

5.02     Match fold content and keyword search: Visitors will often use specific words in their search engine to find what they're looking for. Focus your keywords in the fold to match the keywords used by a visitor's search.

5.03     Put key content in the fold: Don't save the best for last; many visitors won't scroll past the fold, so get their interest quickly.

5.04     Avoid oversized images: When trying to impress your visitor, it's common to put too large of an image on a page. This presents a problem for a couple of reasons: One is if the customer has to scroll to see the image, it loses much of its effect, and two, if it takes too long for the image to load, a visitor may just give up and leave.

5.05     Craft the best heading possible: The heading in the fold has to be engaging and catch the reader's attention fast. Test, re-test, write, and rewrite your heading.

5.06     Don't get too fancy: Fancy elements, such as Flash and heavy graphics, can delay load times and draw visitors away from the content they're looking for.

5.07     Watch your header size: A header that's too large may distract or leave little room for important fold content. This will force the visitor to scroll just to get the basic information.

How to Show Up in Local Search Results on Yahoo! Local

Yahoo! is an extremely popular home page for many people on the Web and, as a result, their local product receives a fair amount of traffic. Like Google, Yahoo! also integrates their local results into map searches and incorporates them in blended search results.

Follow these simple steps to increase your site's exposure for relevant local searches:

6.01     Go to Yahoo! Local (
Enter your company name or type of business, your city, or ZIP code, and click the Search button.

6.02     Scan the results to see if your business is already listed.
If not, go to

6.03     Click Sign In near the top of the page and sign in to your Yahoo! account.
(You would have a Yahoo! account if you've ever created a free e-mail or My Yahoo! account.)
If you are a new user, click Sign Up instead and create an account.

6.04     Create your listing using the online form.
You can specify hours of operation, payment methods, and so on. Be sure to pick the two best categories for your business.

6.05     Verify the listing and submit it.
Yahoo! offers a basic listing for free, but if you want to add coupons, photos, a logo, and so on, you have to upgrade to an 'enhanced' listing with a small monthly fee. Note that Yahoo! has no official verification system in place, so to protect your business from being added incorrectly by someone else, you might want to jump on this.

  1. Dummies
  2. Web Design & Development
  3. Search Engine Optimization
  4. Web Marketing: How to Avoid Duplicate Content

Web Marketing: How to Avoid Duplicate Content


Related Book

Web Marketing All-in-One For Dummies, 2nd Edition

By John Arnold, Michael Becker, Marty Dickinson, Ian Lurie, Elizabeth Marsten,

Duplicate content should be avoided in web marketing and Google provides a tool for detecting the repeated information. Nothing hurts a search engine's quest for relevant content as much as finding the exact same words on two different pages. Duplication is bad for these reasons:

7.01     Duplication used to be another tactic used to fool the search engines. Webmasters would take one website and replicate it across many different domains, linking them all together. That would fool early search engines into seeing many relevant sites interlinked, and therefore cause the engines to artificially inflate rankings. You don't want to risk being associated with this tactic - penalties are rare but severe.

7.02     Duplicate content creates confusion. If a search engine finds the same content on two pages of one site, or two pages on two different sites, it has to basically guess which page should be ranked. Having duplicate words also makes it hard for a search engine to decide which page should be ranked.

7.03     Other webmasters who link to your content might link to either version. All links to your site are votes. If half of all webmasters link to one page on your site and the other half link to the duplicate, you've split your vote and lose authority.

Most of the time, duplication is an accident. It's created by inconsistent linking, bad pagination scripts, or other sloppy website-building practices.

Google says that it can handle duplicate content for you. It's true - Google will often remove duplicates from its index, and it doesn't penalize you for it. The problem is, though, that Google still has to spend time crawling all of that duplicate stuff. That wastes what's known as crawl budget, and that hurts your SEO.

You can find duplicate content on and off your website by using search engines. To do so, follow these steps:

8.01     Go to Google and type site (Type your actual website address.)
Doing this shows all pages from your site that are currently in the Google index.

8.02     Click through all the result pages.
If you get to a message that reads "In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar",
you have pages that Google considers duplicates.

8.03     Click Repeat the Search with the Omitted Results Included.
The additional pages are your duplicates.

You can also find duplicate content with a more basic search. Copy one sentence from somewhere on your website. Make sure that it's not a sentence that others are likely to use. On Google, search for that sentence, in quotations marks.

The results page for a search of Google.

Google returns all pages in its index that include those words, in that order. This lets you find other sites that have copied your writing as well as pages on your own website that are duplicates of each other.

No matter how hard you try, you can never create a site that is 100 percent duplication free - it's impossible. The important thing is to make sure that you don't duplicate entire pages or sets of pages from one page to the next or, even worse, one website to another.