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What's Wrong With My Website?

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I ask myself that question about once a month. My website looks fine to me, but what are other people seeing? And what are the Search Engines seeing? Here's a checklist of 10 ways to optimize your website for peak performance:

1. Browser Compatibility

The first thing is to look at your website throughother people's browsers. I do this regularly and I'vesometimes been shocked at what I saw!


2. Broken Links

About 5% of all links on the Internet are broken. Asite that contains broken links gives a bad impressionto visitors and is a frequent cause of lost sales.Also, the major Search Engines and Directories will notlist your page if it contains any broken links or missingimages.

Here are some free link validators:




3. Web Safe Colors

Are the colors on your web site displaying properly onother people's browsers? You may have a beautifulshade of lilac on your index page but it could lookvery strange on someone else's computer.

There are only 216 colors that you can safely use onthe Web. These colors display solid and consistent onany computer monitor or web browser that is able todisplay at least 8-bit color.

The Web Safe Palette contains six groups of colorswith 36 colors per group. These 216 web safe colorscan have any combination of the following RGB (RedGreen Blue) values: 0, 51, 102, 153, 204, 255 (eachRGB value must be divisible by 51).

Here's a good palette of web safe colors:


4. ALT Tags

ALT Tags allow you to give an alternative to peoplewho have the 'view images' function turned off intheir browser. Let's say the navigation system on yourwebsite is a series of button that link to otherpages on your site. If you don't have ALT Tags, peoplewho have the 'view images' function turned off willbe unable to navigate through your site - in placeof your button they will just see an empty space.

But an ALT Tag allows you to tell those people whatthat button does. For example, if the button is a linkto your 'Site Map' you could insert the following ALTTag: Click here toview Site Map

ALT Tags also allow you to raise your keyword density.For every image that is not hyperlinked you couldinsert your main keywords. For example:

5. Meta Tags

Meta Tags are so important they deserve a wholearticle on their own. The most important Meta Tags arethe Title Tag, the Keywords Tag and the Description Tag.

The Title Tag should be no more than 64 characters(longer than that and it will be cut off in someSearch Engines).

The Keyword Tag should contain about 5 to 10 keywordsthat appear on your page. Never include words that donot appear on that page - in some Search Engines your websitewill be penalized for this. Do not repeat the same keyword - this is called 'keyword stuffing' and is also frowned upon bythe Search Engines.

Separate your keywords with spaces (not commas). Thisallows the Search Engines to combine your keywords into phrases,for people who do 'phrase searching'.

The Description Tag should be no more than 200 characters.Include as many of your keywords as you can. Remember also thatyour Description Tag must be enticing - it must make peoplewant to visit your site.

Here are some programs that will generate your MetaTags for you:




6. Load Time

A slow-loading index page is one of the main reasonfor lost sales. The generally accepted maximum timefor a page to load is around 15 seconds. Here is afree service that tells you how long your web pagetakes to load:


Your pages should be no more than about 30Kb in size. To calculate the size of your web page, highlight theHTML document and then click on 'File' and'Properties' and note down the file size. Then do thesame for any graphics you have on that page. Then addthose figures together to get your page size.

If your page is less than 30Kb and takes more than 15seconds to load, the problem is most likely with yourweb host. The solution is to change web host. Here are2 services that will check the speed of your web host'sserver and compare it with other web hosts:



7. GIF (or JPEG) Cruncher

Shrinking the size of your images is one of the bestways to get a faster-loading web page. You can usuallyreduce a GIF or JPEG image by 40% to 50% withoutlosing any significant definition or sharpness.


8. HTML Optimizer

Another way to make your page load faster is tocompress (or optimize) your HTML code. An HTMLOptimizer removes all blank spaces in your HTML codeand also removes certain unnecessary tags.

On average, an HTML optimizer will reduce the size ofyour page by 15% to 20%. That percentage may not seemmuch, but the saving in load time is much higher, asyour visitor's browser will parse your page much moreefficiently.

A word of caution: in most HTML Optimizers you willfind an 'Option' menu that tells the program toignore certain parts of your code. Make sure yourOptimizer does not compress embedded script tags - ifthey get compressed, the script will usually not work.



The WIDTH, HEIGHT and BORDER attributes are essentialfor each image that you have on your website. When youhyperlink an image, always make sure that the BORDERattribute is set to zero (BORDER=0). If you don't dothis, your hyperlinked image will have an ugly blueborder around it.

The WIDTH and HEIGHT attributes allow your page toload faster, as the browser knows in advance howmuch space the image requires. To find out the widthand height of any image, just double click on theimage file. This will automatically open 'MicrosoftPhoto Editor' - your image will appear, with the widthand height of your image (in pixels) displayed on thetool bar.

10. HTML Validator

Always check the validity of your HTML. Some SearchEngines give lower rankings to pages that have poorquality HTML (such as incorrect nesting of elements).

Here are some free online validators:




Michael Southon has been writing for the Internet for over 3
years. He has shown hundreds of webmasters how to use this
simple technique to build a successful online business. Click
here to find out more:


Website Design Competition - MCWT  Michigan Council of Women in Technology

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Design Studies (Minor) | College of Liberal Arts  UNH's College of Liberal Arts

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