Guide to Understanding CSS and SEO Benefits

When people think of website design, they think of colors, fonts, images, style, and layout. Although within HTML, the process for stylizing a web page involves understanding the inner workings of CSS.

CSS provides the necessary language for properly formatting and visually presenting a web page to viewers. The CSS code provides a set of formatting rules to apply to all pages on a website, allowing for consistency and better crawling capabilities. CSS styles allow greater flexibility and control of the page appearance from layout to fonts and styles.

Let’s take a closer look at CSS to better understand why it matters for the user experience and from an SEO standpoint.

What is CSS?

CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets and is responsible for providing the template to label styles and apply them to web pages. CSS is used to define spacing, color, fonts, and the overall aesthetics of the website. In comparison to HTML, which is viewed as the foundation of the house, CSS involves the style choices like paint colors and landscaping—that help make the home visually appealing for visitors.

CSS consists of two primary building blocks known as properties and values. The properties specify the stylistic features that are being changed. They indicate the font, width, background color, etc. The values are given to properties and explain the specific ways that you want to change the features. For instance, when changing the font, the value indicates the specific font type that you want to change it to. The example below outlines the use of all these features to generate CSS code:

When properties are paired with values, they are known as CSS declarations. The CSS declarations are put within declaration blocks and are then paired with selectors to produce CSS Rules. The selector points to the HTML element, for instance, the h1 heading. The declaration block contains declarations or specifications for the style. The blocks that are declarations are grouped within an opening and closing curly brace ({ }). The declaration inside the block must be separated by semi-colons for the code to be processed and applied to the site. In order to tell the declaration blocks which element to change, you need to use the selector.

To learn more about CSS structure and how to implement this code on your website, check out Code Academy’s CSS courses.

How does CSS apply to HTML?

CSS affects the style of web pages by interacting with HTML elements, which are the components of a web page like headings and paragraphs. CSS code can be external, internal, or inline when added to HTML pages:

  • External style sheets: These sheets are linked to HTML by saving them as .css files and are used to specify the aesthetics of the entire website through one file. In order to use this method, HTML files need to include a header section that links to the external style sheet.
  • Internal style sheets: This method of CSS code allows you to write the CSS instructions in the header of the HTML page. The style is then applied to all elements written in the CSS code.
  • Inline styles: This technique only applies to one coding instance and is written directly into HTML code. Inline styles are typically used when styling a unique page separate from the aesthetic of the other pages on the website.

Why is CSS important?

CSS is imperative for web designers, developers, bloggers, and internet marketing strategists to use because it improves the design and visual appeal of the website. CSS provides an easier and adaptable technique to create, layout, and design unique websites. CSS makes it simpler to navigate and design sites because it separates the style structure from the HTML structure into different files.

How does CSS affect SEO?

While CSS is responsible for the style of the site, the code also greatly impacts the website from an SEO perspective. Implementing CSS improves the functionality of the site which results in better rankings, maintenance, and page speed.

Improved crawlability:

Utilizing CSS makes HTML code clean, resulting in happier and more efficient search engine spiders. Some websites are table-based for design purposes, which make the documents more complex to navigate. The tables make the HTML code difficult to read, which increases the potential to reduce the accuracy of results. With CSS, the style of documents is separated from the content, making it easier for search crawlers to navigate through them and improving the site’s rankings. The easier it is to index the content on the website, the faster and more effective it will appear on search engines result pages for relevant search queries.

Page speed:

In addition to happier search engine spiders, CSS makes downloading faster for users who are browsing the site. The files are lighter because the style code is not embedded in the HTML code, resulting in faster downloads. CSS files are also shared by multiples pages, which means that when a new page is loaded, the crawler sees the link statement and does not reload it because it already knows it. This aspect of CSS makes the pages even faster to download.

Page speed impacts both the user experience and is an SEO best practice. The page speed is one of the factors that Google uses to rank pages. Pages with longer load times have higher bounce rates and a decreased amount of time on the page.

Easier site maintenance:

CSS makes it easier and faster to maintain your website because of the division of the CSS code from HTML. This characteristic of CSS allows you to focus more attention on implementing SEO best practices. In addition, changing the appearance of a page can have major impacts on customer conversion rates. Using CSS makes it more efficient to make changes to the design of the website, saving you time and therefore improving the performance of the website.

Accessible on different devices:

Utilizing CSS also makes websites more accessible on different devices. With the increased use of phones and other mobile devices to look up content, CSS is necessary for designing for different devices. CSS separates document structure from presentation allowing the ability to create separate CSS document specifications for different devices. Having fast and responsive accessibility on different devices is imperative for SEO best practices.

Now that you understand the basics of CSS and the ways it is important for search engine optimization, check out these additional sources The Ultimate Guide to CSS or How CSS Works and get started using CSS.

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