Guide: Web site setup

Which markup language…?


Choose the most advanced and strict language you feel you master.

Most web site designers start off coding their pages in sloppy HTML, using a free design tool like Frontpage Express. That's alright for quick results. But if you do that, you're bound to run into problems:

  • this kind of web design software is not suited for complex (visual) tricks
  • if you want to change to something more advanced, you'll have to rewrite/recode a lot of content
  • you don't have absolute control (on the pixel level) over your design
  • most tools are inadequate when it comes to scripting, and especially when you want to perform advanced on-page SEO

A good way to avoid future problems is to switch to a text editor (or a HTML editor that monitors the validity of your code) as soon as you're up to it. That will allow you to ditch all the excess code and make it more streamlined. Also you'll be able to insert all the scripts and tricks you need to make your pages look good and rank well.

To keep up with recent HTML developments [1], choose the strictest version of the most modern markup language to date. At the moment, a good choice would be XHTML 1.0 Strict, but there are more forgiving variants. The page you're reading now conforms to XHTML 1.0 Transitional, which allows some of the older tags to be used without errors popping up. A list of possible HTML variant or DOCTYPES can be found in the validation section of the WDG [2].

If you want to use a more powerful language to shape your web pages, it's wise to opt for PHP or ASP (the latter requires a Microsoft IIS Server). A good beginner's guide for PHP (and ASP) can be found in the PHP Tutorial section of W3 Schools [3]. A couple of good reasons for using PHP, illustrated with little how-to scripts, can be found in this SEO Chat article about PHP.

If you feel you're up to it, you can even use XML to structure your pages' content. However, XML doesn't render your pages in a way appealing to visitors. It's more like a flexible database. To format and show your XML content, you'll need one of the languages mentioned above (or an exotic alternative).



Contact us…

Feel free to contact us if you feel the information presented here is outdated or flawed in any way. Whenever multiple sources spot a new insight or trend, the information in this guide will be updated asap. But all other comments, especially suggestions, praise or other kinds of support, are welcome too…

Valid XHTML 1.0! SEO Expert-2-Be -- Guide and Case Studies