Weighing Options for Improving Website Code/SEO

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Ragriz

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Hello Biz Warrior community,

Over the past year, I have had great success with my website. While I am tracking extremely well with 90% of SEO, I still have one persistent ball and chain holding me back. This is the code quality of the website. WC3 and that sort of thing.

I used a website builder via WordPress when I started, so I figured before hand that the code would suffer. Now though, I want rectify this last issue. Better code, better upload speed, and better SEO rankings.

I would like to inquire as to the best way to move up?
- Drop the WordPress builder for an established theme that has great code?
- Have a professional design the WordPress site?

I am planning to eventually drop WordPress aspect and have a completely custom site on its own server, but I do not want to make that move now if it can be helped.

Weighing my options before making a move, so any advice would be most appreciated.
 

azgold

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WordPress is great but it's not the fastest loading, as you've pointed out. Can you have someone take a look at it, see if there's any bloat and just tweak it? (Yeah, I know - I make sound easier than it probably is)

Sounds like you have a pretty good handle on websites and I don't code (sorry, can't help you there) but the questions that came to mind when I read your post are:

Are you using a CDN?
Do you have a lot of pictures on the site?
Are you using shared hosting?
Do you have a lot of plugins installed?
How about your browser caching?
Minify?

I know that javascript can be an issue too but I've no idea how to fix that, even on my own sites. :D

Guess what I'm really saying/asking is, do you have alternatives to dealing with the code that can help with your load speed until you're ready to make your move?

I would like to inquire as to the best way to move up?
- Drop the WordPress builder for an established theme that has great code?
- Have a professional design the WordPress site?
I don't know about the best way but if it were me, I'd go for the established theme with great code until I'm ready and can afford to hire a pro.
 

djbaxter

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Speeding up WordPress isn't difficult, actually.

The key is
  • a well-optimized theme: don't just grab one that looks pretty
  • the right plugins: install and activate what you need to add functionality, not fancy features that just add to bloat
  • specific plugins that are designed to optimize your site, e.g., image optimizers, code and script optimizers, a good caching plugin, etc.
  • make your posts and pages smaller - divide topics up into smaller chunks
  • don't overuse images and slide shows: every image that needs to be loaded adds to load time and that includes your logos and header images
  • just because you CAN add some feature doesn't mean it's a good idea: ask yourself what benefits that feature adds to your site
 
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djbaxter

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Look for reviews - that's one way. Maybe the best way if you don't know the creator.

Check out the comments others are making.

Look for the support forums for that theme: What do people say about the support?

Learn WordPress at the Speed of Light - How to use Wordpress reviews themes and plugins.

Other sites do as well... just google WordPress themes and look for review sites.
 
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Ragriz

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Thank you for the replies.

I suppose I should have been more clear. I am not looking to increase website speed. So far, I have received no complaints in that regard.

Rather, I am looking to clean up my code. I know that it influences SEO to a minor degree, so I want to make sure that I have that all squared away.
 

djbaxter

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What code are you talking about and why do you think it needs cleaning up?

WordPress our of the box is pretty good in that regard, although some styles are suspect.
 

Edvin

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Ragriz, if we are "not" talking about website performance, then the only thing left is the HTML markup.

Markup optimization 1 of 2
The most important element is to make sure your pages are valid by using a HTML validator tool. Assuming that the page has valid markup, did you remember to add image alt attribute.
If you are already vaildating the pages, then the only remaining item is managing content location within the HTML markup, which I will discuss next.

Markup optimization 2 of 2
There is situation where unique content appearing early in a webpage "may" have higher weight than content appearing later in the page. Thus, creative html/css markup that places navigation markup after unique content can be beneficial. For example:
Code:
...
<table>
   <tr> <td><!-- empty placeholder  --></td> <td> Main content </td></tr>
   <tr> <td> Navigation Markup here    </td> <td></td>
</table>
Today's algorithm already account for markup-content-location; so, your time is better spent in content SEO management than markup restructuring.
 
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Ragriz

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What code are you talking about and why do you think it needs cleaning up?

WordPress our of the box is pretty good in that regard, although some styles are suspect.
When I run various SEO audits or reports, quality of code is always the thing that is poor scoring. I figured It was a by-product of using a front end webpage builder.
 

Edvin

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The audit reports on the quality of the HTML markup code, which is rendered in the browser.

Your first action item is to find and use a validated wordpress theme.

The site themecheck.org can help since it scores wordpress themes; I'm not aware of any other resources.

I must admit that I was suprised to find wordpress default theme Twenty Seventeen has a score of 97%.
However, if I run it through a validator I get many warnings (though the warnings/errors can safely be ignored).
A quick search revealed the following:
The current high level thinking at WordPress about W3C validation is that it is no longer really meaningful.

It has a lot to do with HTML5. While HTML5 is now supported by all major browsers, it is still not a final, locked-in-stone standard. So what has happened at W3C is that they can’t write a validator that really works right all the time for HTML5. So you end up having to ignore certain flags on stuff like ‘pubdate’ or ‘rel=’ fields, etc…

Unfortunately, it may be incredibly difficult for you to find any current theme that does completely pass the W3C validation test.
To get 100% validation, we can attempt to create a custom wordpress theme.
However, the website may "not" render properly on many browsers.
To get around this, we have to add HTML markup that is invalid from W3 perspective; but, are needed for certain browsers to maximize page rendering compatility.
As a result, we endup where we started; that is, we have a website that gets warning through validators when we try to get most browser compatibility.


Unless someone has a better suggestion, I'ld run your audit against demo site of top themes (paid or otherwise) and then make your selection for the wordpress them.
 

djbaxter

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Excellent post, Edvin.

I can't even remember the last time I bothered to use an HTML validator. If it works, doesn't throw errors, loads quickly, and does what you want, stop there. Although that WordPress themes validator is interesting and new to me.

I do pay attention to the Google speed tests, though, and follow what recommendations they give where possible, but even then the goal is to get a site to load as quickly as possible and that's not all about coding. Hosting is at least as important much of the time.
 
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