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Since I must fix all this code anyway, I'm wondering if anyone has more information about the role of the paragraph tag in SEO -- especially why it would be true.
Also, would consistently using </p> tags help?
I work on the basis that the SE spiders follow the coding standards and, when they see the <p> the know it's some text to feed off. The same goes for </p> - "stop feeding."
I still make use of H tags in a similar way. I have to assume that the spiders like to have food placed nicely on the page to avoid irrelevant code being read. I'm sure the spiders are not so basic these days, although, it doesn't do harm to keep things tidy.
The more I study about strict HTML, the more I'm amazed that MSIE and NN ever manage to show us anything at all. Outside of simple text markup, it looks like most of the code on the web is a witches' brew.
It's clear, from my experience, the simpler the <p> and <h> coding, the better chance of a well positioned page. I'm having a devil of a job with sophisticated pages produced by other web design firms. They seem to lose the plot the moment the client asks for a website.
It is still possible to produce a good looking, sophisticated site and employ the basic tags to maximise spider food. Flash is often over-used and employed for the sake of the designer's ego. IMHO
I know this as well -- although it took me a bit to grok it, since I came rather late to the web (1996) and learned a lot early that I had to unlearn later.
I've been using Flash for my own education for almost a year, but I have yet to use it on a site. I think, at this point, I'm clear enough to use it wisely. Now I just need a client who doesn't want Ben Hur on the home page and is willing to experiment a bit.
Here's some Flash tidbits:
Compaq introduced a new super-duper enterprise level server last year with a 30 second Flash movie on their home page. The Flash got pulled a few days later, even though they spent many thousands to develop it -- the website traffic was dying!!
Storage network king EMC used to have Flash elements on their pages. Tasteful little bits, not whole page extravaganzas -- if you had the plug-in, you barely noticed any download time. Nevertheless, the new EMC site has no Flash.
So, I'm still not ready to recommend Flash to a client, much as I love to play. We are about to begin a site for a cartoonist, and I'm tempted. Still, I think it's going to be gifs all the way!
Yeah, I'm looking forward to this one. It's like getting paid to goof off!
This cartoonist/illustrator has done some contract work through us for our clients. He's a well respected veteran in the print world, but he's not really web savvy and he never tried animation of any kind before two years ago.
Even so, since his visual imagination is fantastic, we've partnered to come up with several gif animations that are full of personality. Converting those to Flash should be easy, since we already have the optimized gif frames -- and Flash tweening will make the motion look so much better.
I think the key for SEO will be keeping the Flash off the main pages - I'm thinking of an exact size pop-up page. As we've been discussing on this thread in the Google Forum [webmasterworld.com], having keywords in the link text can gain some ranking there.