Whats wrong with John Chows new theme

Open topic | August 22nd, 2007 | 5 Comments

John Chow the dot com mogul somewhere between today morning and last night (late night) changed theme of his WordPress blog. The overall design is good, elegant and pleasant to surf, even tho many were annoyed that they had to scroll a bit down to be able to read the first post (for me that doesn’t matter much) because there are two blocks between the header image and the first post, as i said, it doesn’t mean much for me to scroll a bit and read the first post but to some it does.

After a quick view of the web design i took a look of the part that mostly interests to me, the code source of the layout. Well if the design was pleasant for me, the XHTML coding markup was lacking a bit. It does indeed happen many often that great designs lack in coding, and it has always been between Web Designer and Web Coder a relationship like between Tom and Jerry.

What i did not like in the code

These are few of the things that lack in the coding markup which will lead John Chow’s theme into poor SEO coding and break his validation markup (which already breaks and has something like 160 errors).

Excessive use of JavaScript

The excessive use of JavaScript will not only increase the code percentage of your page but it will also have impact on slow-loading site (indeed some of the users have already commented that the site loads too slow). It is recommended that you use as less javascript in your site as possible. I believe some of the javascript John Chow is using in his new theme are necessary for the advertising buttons he use, but he can still move the javascript in a .js file and decrease the code lines of his page. More content less code is what is recommended.

CSS markup within the html document

Yet another thing i did not liked, John Chow’s new theme does have a style.css file but yet he is using some of the CSS markups within the HTML file, by moving the CSS markup in the appropriate CSS file it will decrease even more the code lines of his page and increase the percentage of the content in the page.

Hidden text

Now this is something NO NO NO DON’T EVER DO IT, right before the container and the top menu John is using <h1> and a div for his description, both which by CSS rules have been hidden from the visitors eye but still Bots can read it. What can John Chow do is use the header image without the text and use the keywords in <h1> tag linked back to his homepage and display the description under it as well.

Lack of content in image ALT tag

John’s theme it does have a bit of images but unfortunately the designer of the theme has not thought about giving description to the images which in some cases help with search engines (i used to get search engine traffic for a typo of my keyword because i had made a typo on the alt image in one of my sites, this means it does help). Instead of giving a description to those images the designer has left the ALT tags empty (less content, less chances for SE traffic and XHTML markup break).

Empty divs

Ok this is the sweet part. On his sidebar blocks as well as on his newsletter block and popular posts block the designer has used empty divs for the title of the block because he has used the title text within image and has created CSS rules for each block title as background. What John could do is ask his designer TO:

  • Slice the image of the title with the needed height and maybe even 1px width
  • Use one single (or maybe two since there are different colors used for the title background) CSS markup for the background image of the titles and use as background the given image to repeat-x. Doing this John will decrease the size of the image files and it will be needed to load just two images instead of server loading more images for each title block.
  • Instead of using text within the image, now that we have the background image 1px width only john can use H2 tags as title of the blocks i.e. <h2>Popular Posts</h2> and increase content within his layout

These are few advices i can give to John Chow to improve his SEO optimization for his theme. I hope he does like the suggestions and will consider them, after all, it takes not much time to do that and it he will benefit from it. Wonder if he will pass by and say something in regard since the theme is in test drive.

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5 Responses to “Whats wrong with John Chows new theme”
  1. All fair points, except the alt tags. Microsofts various search efforts did at one time take great interest of the alt tag, Yahoo and Google less so but in the last 6 months things have changed. Over using your alt tags for SEO is as bad a mistake and gets punished just as harshly as hidden text.

  2. There is a big difference between giving a description to the image and keyword stuffing it. Take for example the rss button, if you just describe the button with the alt tag as alt=”RSS” is not overusing while alt=”This is my rss button, please subscribe to my RSS to read my posts through RSS” would be stuffing and overusing the alt tag.

    I did mention on the post that once i had a typo on the alt tag of the image, and i did received organic traffic (precisely from Google) from someone that had made a typo during his search query. I would say that even Google and Yahoo to give some weight to image alt tag.

  3. No argument there, they do take it into account but with MSN you used to be able to rank for competitive searches by careful use of your top 3 alt tags. It’s just not as important as it used to be and is easily punished (inlcuding a possible MS ban) if for example you use the same image on a number of pages but change the alt tag to suite each page. The terrible voice of experience talking.

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