Competitor web company scrutinises our new rapidweaver build, advice needed please

(Gabrielle Vickery) #1

Hi all,

Our newly designed site is here:

My client has been contacted by another web company saying that there are all sorts of problems with this site, so I just wanted to get the opinion of you experts out here, does this web company have a point or have I built this site to a satisfactory standard? Some of the things mentioned are as follows and I guess they relate to the home page:

  1. My title page is 139 characters, should be 70 characters
  2. My meta description is 231, should be 200 characters.
  3. After regular intervals some back=links get broken (what does THAT mean?)
  4. I haven’t used HTML headings ie h1,h2,h3.
  5. 64 html coding errors, 73 html warnings.
  6. No Microformatting (another ‘what’s that?’ moment).

If you could give me some feedback that would be MUCH appreciated, thank you!

(Jon C. Munson II) #2

Sounds like they’re trying to snag you on some SEO garbage, as well as throw technical jargon, that may be meaningless, at your client to provide some discredit.

However, you might want to check up on what length your page titles should be, perhaps the description might be too long, etc. Generally, you want to keep them as short as possible.

Regarding item 4, have you increased font sizes here/there to simulate what ought to be those tags? It is possible they’re using an SEO site checker tool, and, honestly, I wouldn’t rely on that data. Just because you haven’t used that tags doesn’t mean your page is “invalid” in any way.

Regarding item 5, do you know what the errors are, have you run your site through some checking mechanism? If you haven’t done any hand-coding, and just used the straight-up formatting that RW provides, this would be beyond your control anyway, and, actually, may be useless information. You could always pull your site down into Dreamweaver (it is somewhat thorough on code-checking), and see if it shows any errors.

I’ve not heard of “microformatting” either, but, then, I’m no expert… :wink:

(Jon C. Munson II) #3

I did pull up your site in Firefox and checked it in Firebug - no obvious errors reported.

(Doug Bennett) #4

Page titles more than 70 characters are OK from what some SEO folks say search engines will ignore anything after approx 70 characters. Same goes for 200 character descriptions.
So if the need to be that large, make sure search terms are up front.
H1 H2 H3 should be used again for search engines.

As for checking your site for HTML errors I would recomend the W3C org validator.
It will show some errors on most sites, stuff like “should use CSS” but go through it to check.
I agree with @JCMII sounds like a hard sale with some SEO garbage scanner.

(Mike) #5

I’ve just run one of my own sites through Validator Teefers, and there is no hand coded HTML, just straight “out of the box” stacks and it has come up with 53 “supposed” errors. Hey ho. I can live with that. I like my site and so do my clients and it still comes up at the top of Google with those errors. :smile:

(Joe Workman) #6

My title page is 139 characters, should be 70 characters
My meta description is 231, should be 200 characters.

Same as others have said. make sure important words are towards the beginning. I am not sure if its absolutely known that Google ignores after a certain amount of characters. Its just speculation. This is a very minor thing…

After regular intervals some back=links get broken (what does THAT mean?)

This does not really make sense. Broken link are obviously link that point to a page that no longer exists. However, why would links be broken on regular interval? I say bullshit. I you use the RapidWeaver link tool to link to pages inside your project, you will NEVER have broken links. Now if you change the URL to a webpage and other site link to that, then you should set up 301 redirects to the new page. But that is a completely other story.

I haven’t used HTML headings ie h1,h2,h3.

Yes. You should be use H tags to break your pages into sections. You can do this with the default Header stack or many others that are out there. You can also format headers inside Styled Text.

64 html coding errors, 73 html warnings.

The HTML validators are a bunch of crap! Look at this…

Google: 36 errors
Apple: 24 errors
W3: 7 errors

No Microformatting (another ‘what’s that?’ moment).

This is like Google Structured Data. My Foundation stacks have this built in now with my v1.5 update. I plan on shipping a non-Foundation version sometime next month that can be used in any theme. This area is still very young and does provide a richer data set for search engines.

(Rob Beattie) #7

As we say in the UK, they’re ‘chancers’. I’m sure that every site we build has flaws and the occasional error but this kind of thing is just a fishing expedition. Ignore it. If your client is happy with what you’ve done and you’re confident you’ve followed best practice, then I wouldn’t give it a second thought.


(Peter Danckwerts) #8

If you know who the other company is, you could run some tests on their pages. They’re sure to show many of the same ‘problems’ as yours!

(Gabrielle Vickery) #9

Thanks so much people, much appreciated :wink:

One thing, I’ve never really used header tags because I find them limiting design wise. Is it REALLY necessary to utilise these tags visually on the page?

(Rob Beattie) #10

It certainly helps in two ways.

  1. It keeps the page organised for visitors
  2. It helps Google understand the structure of the page.

That’s my understanding.


(Gabrielle Vickery) #11

Teefers, I’ve had a look at that validator site, but it really is a mish mash of code instructions isn’t it. As I’m using Rapidweaver as a WYSIWYG tool mostly, I wouldn’t have the courage to now start messing with the code of the site in order to clean up those errors.

(Jon C. Munson II) #12

Those “errors” may not even be problems, so I wouldn’t worry over it.

Yes to header tags!

(Peter Danckwerts) #13

You can always modify the css to make the header tags look any way you like. I have to say that you are damaging your SEO by using graphics for the main headline, the New Year Offer, ‘Come and visit us…’, etc. The first and last of these could easily be achieved with embedded fonts and even the New Year Offer could be.

(Gabrielle Vickery) #14

Embedded fonts? Curious, I didn’t know you could achieve a highly ‘graphic’ look with fonts without using flat jpgs. I’ll do some more research, thank you.

However if I have the code in the back of these images in the image description, doesn’t that do the same job?

(Peter Danckwerts) #15

It may do but I doubt it. In the case of ‘Come and visit us…’, you have a whole paragraph as a graphic. That’s certainly not going to be an adequate substitute.

(Jon C. Munson II) #16

And one other issue for the jpg paragraph - it isn’t mobile friendly (necessarily)…

For that one, you could indeed achieve that look with css & fonts. The trick will be finding the closest font to what you have that is usable on the web. One has to be careful with fonts like that, as they can be rather difficult to read at smaller sizes…

(Will Woodgate) #17

I don’t think a single week goes past when I don’t get at least one email from an unscrupulous company offering to rebuild my website or promise to get my site to the top of Google or make it mobile compatible etc. Most are scammers and would probably do far more damage than good to your website.

A high proportion of them are automated - they often get-hold of website administrative contacts via domain WHOIS data and then mail-shoot millions of website owners. For this reason, registering domain names with companies that provide WHOIS protection often makes things a bit more difficult for them.

(Gabrielle Vickery) #18

Peter sure I get that using a whole sentence as a graphic might not be best. But I counter it by having an html alternative at the tablet/mobile break point so the content is still readable by Google. That sorts it doesn’t it?

(Jon C. Munson II) #19

Again, graphics aren’t readable to the search engines, and having alternatives does not always get you the results you want. In fact, I’d bet those alternatives are ranked very low. I also risk stating that using fonts results in performance improvements.

(Doug Bennett) #20

I hope I didn’t confuse anyone, I wasn’t suggesting that we scan our sites. I was just giving you a free scanner probably similar to what you competitor was showing you client results from.
I would use it only as information so you would have some idea as to what the competitor is telling your client. Since you don’t have any custom HTML, I would ignore the error report. But as @joeworkman pointed out most all sites will produce errors. The scanner I provided is from the W3C( World Wide Web Consortium) and their own site has errors.

As for page titles - this is what shows at top of some browsers, or the tab windows, short would be better as longer will get truncated. Thats why I suggest whats important about that page be at the beginning of the title.

As for the page description - as has been pointed out no ones know if search engines ignore or not any length. However the description most of the time (Not always up to Google or Bing, etc) is what shows up as your search results. This is your sales pitch to get the consumer to click on your site and not the other results. I really think this is were the 139 chars comes from. Google will only show so much and then truncate. So again put your pitch up front. Just as important as getting found is getting clicked.

headings h1 h2 - h6 - Are very important. The crawlers that gather data from your site are not very smart. For the most part they are text based and strictly send data about your site back to the mothership(google) were the results are determined.

As a rule of thumb I would suggest the following:
h1 - page title ( usually one per page)
h2 - page subtitle (can have more than one if needed)
h3 - section heading
h4 - subsection heading
h5 - small heading (sub subsection)
h6 - very small heading

It is important to segment you page this way, you’re telling the readers how to find your info on your site. and the search engines how to catalog your data.

Using headers as text does not mean you can’t make them fancy with shadows and background images. If you’re using stacks there are a number of options available.
I personally like joe Workmans Impact stack. It will allow you to put content on images that is text like headers.

If you want a fancy text you can use something like his letterbox stack that uses h1-h6 or p tags, or a combo of a letterbox on a impact stack.

Using images that have the text on them even with descriptions alt-text titles still doesn’t segment the page. It also doesn’t rank the importance of that text as it relates to the rest of the page.