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CSS vs HTML in Regards to SEO



2:06 pm on Nov 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I have been doing some reading and found that some say it is good to use a ton of CSS to design your page. They this helps because it generates less code for a SE crawler to view.

I want some second opinions. Do you feel you should use CSS to design tables and various other design aspects of your site? Or do you think HTML will cut it?

I have a pretty big site which can be found in my profile. It does use a lot of tables and I'm wondering if I should move those tables into CSS to generate less code.

Any opinions?



3:29 pm on Nov 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

To make a long answer short, I am in favor of CSS. But I must also state that it depends. If your site ranks well for your keywords/phrases, then I might leave the existing pages alone and only add CSS to newly created pages or integrate CSS slowly into a few deeper pages and see how and if it effects your rankings over a period of time.

CSS is also great because you choose what spider food should be eaten first. Instead of a bunch if navigational links, you can use CSS to have your content fed first and links last - this can't be done with tables, unless you design your site to have your navigational links on the right side of the page.

As far as code goes, a site designed in CSS will generate less code and in essence load quicker. But you need to know your visitor and target market because there can be browser issues with CSS. Hope this helps.


9:50 am on Nov 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

To add to what the previous poster said: yes it's better to use CSS.

A big thing about CSS is that it seperates the presentation from the meaty content, which is what search engines look through. If they don't have to look through tons of font and table tags, they index your site better.

CSS allows you to use HTML to correctly display the content through proper use of h1, h2, p, etc. This helps out spider bots even more by identifying the content. CSS allows you to properly use these tags because your not using these tags incorrectly by relying on them to make the presentation of the site (because CSS does that).

Sorry if that's a bit confusing!


2:17 pm on Nov 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

No that does make sense.

I am familiar with CSS but not familiar with using it instead of Tables. Do you know of any good tutorials on how to do this? If not I'm sure I could find one ;)


2:35 pm on Nov 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

how easy is it to convert html to CSS?

I have a client with a page built with tables and I have recommended they change to CSS rather that putting the table trick in place.

They want to keep the page layout as it is so I'm wondering how practical this will be.

Any ideas?


2:52 pm on Nov 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I am curious about this as well Stronkie


5:19 pm on Nov 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member caveman is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

CSS is not mysterious at all. Just takes a bit of time to learn, like anything else.

We build most of our new sites in CSS for the reasons noted above.

However, our old HTML/tables sites still flourish and I see little reason to change them until definitive signs start appearing regularly that the time has come. There are a lot of HTML/tables sites out there of high quality. The SE's cannot really afford to stop crawling them effectively, if the SE's want to maintain quality, which of course they do. At some point however, I assume the time will come to remake all those older sites.

Our current stance: Any older HTML site that's doing fine stays as is, except that we vary our approach as to whether newer pages on those sites use CSS or not. Most new sites use CSS. But, not all do.

BTW, WebmasterWorld.com ranks pretty well. ;-)


1:37 pm on Nov 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Nowadays I use CSS for most presentation stuff, and there are some neat tricks for doing a lot of layout in CSS. But some of the nice 'stretchiness' that tables can give you is not really possible with CSS. For a lot of layouts, even quite simple ones, you just can't get the same effect with pure CSS and no layout tables.

Usually I end up using a single table to create columns/sidebars, because you can set the widths as percentages or ems (dependent on font size) and the browser will scale it appropriately. I do all the other presentation with CSS.

One useful tip if you use a table for layout: if you've got a navigation column or something on the left, then (as pointed out earlier) it will be seen by search engines (and some browsers) above the page's unique content. You can adjust the table slightly so that the content comes first, using the 'table trick':

[edited by: caveman at 4:47 pm (utc) on Nov. 15, 2005]
[edit reason] Removed specific URL reference, per TOS [/edit]


7:24 pm on Nov 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

As much as I like a clean, 100% CSS-based webpage, I sadly had to give in on a recent web project and use a combination of CSS and tables. Not that I didn't try. And boy, did I ever try. It just got to where I was spending hours on hours of tweaking my CSS to emulate what I can do with tables in about 30 seconds.

So I'm thinking there's line you cross with CSS where a lot people are just not going to get a return on their labor. Besides, if you look at some of the most well-known sites on the Web, what do you see? Tables.

I'm not giving up entirely. I'll just need to learn more about CSS to make it worth my time.


9:10 pm on Nov 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Interesting. What about browser compatibility? Will I be shutting out some of my visitors by switching to CSS?

Can you give me some examples of sites using CSS instead of tables?

Also, what is this "table trick?" ;)


9:47 pm on Nov 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

The change to css can be painfull but i have made the jump due to the following

1 easier to create compliant code once you have it right
2 as others have said you can put the stuff you want se's to view as most important at the top of the page not after code for adds menu's etc.
3 pages load quicker and are smaller ( significantly )
4 easier to change something site wide

Now to the problems
1 this was suprising to me due to not expecting to have an issue you will need to relook at your keyword density and possibly have to reevaluate how to tune the page
2 Some SE's appeared to like a page that had a larger file size to believe page has more data no proof on this but gut feel
3 the lack of tables can make small changes harder than just slapping in a new table or column with tables

I believe I have lost a small amount of traffic due to changes but believe that it is just a question of getting the seo tuned again and it's very much easier to fall into an OOP trap with css

PS I did find I could have created an almost identical site using css but used the oportunity for minor presentation design changes at the same time

just my 2 cents


11:24 pm on Nov 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Okay JeffSela...and now for the table trick?


11:43 am on Nov 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I posted a link, but it got removed as being promotional. I'm not affiliated with the guy in any way, even though both the links I've posted so far have been to his sites. He just happens to write lots of useful stuff :-)

Anyway, google will tell you all about the "table trick".


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