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By: Michael Southon
I ask myself that question about once a month.
My website looks fine to me, but what are other
people seeing? And what are the Search Engines
seeing? Here's a checklist of 10 ways to keep your
website at peak performance:

1. Browser Compatibility

The first thing is to look at your website through
other people's browsers. I do this regularly and I've
sometimes been shocked at what I saw!

ANYBROWSER
http://www.anybrowser.com

2. Broken Links

About 5% of all links on the Internet are broken. A
site that contains broken links gives a bad impression
to visitors and is a frequent cause of lost sales.
Also, the major Search Engines and Directories will not
list your page if it contains any broken links or missing
images.

Here are some free link validators:

LINK SCAN
http://www.elsop.com/linkscan/quickcheck.html

NET MECHANIC
http://www.netmechanic.com/maintain.htm

WEBSITE GARAGE DEADLINK CHECK
http://websitegarage.netscape.com/O=wsg uneup_plus/index.html

3. Web Safe Colors

Are the colors on your web site displaying properly on
other people's browsers? You may have a beautiful
shade of lilac on your index page but it could look
very strange on someone else's computer.

There are only 216 colors that you can safely use on
the Web. These colors display solid and consistent on
any computer monitor or web browser that is able to
display at least 8-bit color.

The Web Safe Palette contains six groups of colors
with 36 colors per group. These 216 web safe colors
can have any combination of the following RGB (Red
Green Blue) values: 0, 51, 102, 153, 204, 255 (each
RGB value must be divisible by 51).

Here's a good palette of web safe colors:

WEB-SOURCE SAFE COLORS
http://www.web-source.net/216_color_chart.htm

4. ALT Tags

ALT Tags allow you to give an alternative to people
who have the 'view images' function turned off in
their browser. Let's say the navigation system on your
website is a series of buttons that link to other
pages on your site. If you don't have ALT Tags, people
who have the 'view images' function turned off will
be unable to navigate through your site - in place
of your button they will just see an empty space.

But an ALT Tag allows you to tell those people what
that button does. For example, if the button is a link
to your 'Site Map' you could insert the following ALT
Tag: Click here to<br>view Site Map

ALT Tags also allow you to raise your keyword density.
For every image that is not hyperlinked you could
insert your main keywords. For example: SRC=bullet.gif BORDER=0 ALT="airfares cheap discount
flights">

5. Meta Tags

Meta Tags are so important they deserve a whole
article on their own. The most important Meta Tags are
the Title Tag, the Keywords Tag and the Description Tag.

The Title Tag should be no more than 64 characters
(longer than that and it will be cut off in some
Search Engines).

The Keyword Tag should contain about 5 to 10 keywords
that appear on your page. Never include words that do
not appear on that page - in some Search Engines your website
will be penalized for this. Do not repeat the same keyword -
this is called 'keyword stuffing' and is also frowned upon by
the Search Engines.

Separate your keywords with spaces (not commas). This
allows the Search Engines to combine your keywords into phrases,
for people who do 'phrase searching'.

The Description Tag should be no more than 200 characters.
Include as many of your keywords as you can. Remember also that
your Description Tag must be enticing - it must make people
want to visit your site.

Here are some programs that will generate your Meta
Tags for you:

WEBSITE GARAGE
http://websitegarage.netscape.com urbocharge/metatag/

META MEDIC
http://www.northernwebs.com/set/setsimjr.html

MULTI-META-MAKER
http://www.multimeta.com ools/multimetamaker.html

6. Load Time

A slow-loading index page is one of the main reasons
for lost sales. The generally accepted maximum time
for a page to load is around 15 seconds. Here is a
free service that tells you how long your web page
takes to load:

NETMECHANIC
http://www.netmechanic.com/cobrands/FutureQuest/load_check.ht
m

Your pages should be no more than about 30Kb in size.
To calculate the size of your web page, highlight the
HTML document and then click on 'File' and
'Properties' and note down the file size. Then do the
same for any graphics you have on that page. Then add
those figures together to get your page size.

If your page is less than 30Kb and takes more than 15
seconds to load, the problem is most likely with your
web host. The solution is to change web host. Here are
2 services that will check the speed of your web host's
server and compare it with other web hosts:

HOST COMPARE
http://www.hostcompare.com esttools.htm

CNET WEBSERVICES
http://webservices.cnet.com/ping/

7. GIF (or JPEG) Cruncher

Shrinking the size of your images is one of the best
ways to get a faster-loading web page. You can usually
reduce a GIF or JPEG image by 40% to 50% without
losing any significant definition or sharpness.

SPINWAVE
http://www.spinwave.com/crunchers.html

8. HTML Optimizer

Another way to make your page load faster is to
compress (or optimize) your HTML code. An HTML
Optimizer removes all blank spaces in your HTML code
and also removes certain unnecessary tags.

On average, an HTML optimizer will reduce the size of
your page by 15% to 20%. That percentage may not seem
much, but the saving in load time is much higher, as
your visitor's browser will parse your page much more
efficiently.

A word of caution: in most HTML Optimizers you will
find an 'Options' menu that tells the program to
ignore certain parts of your code. Make sure your
Optimizer does not compress embedded script tags - if
they get compressed, the script will usually not work.

ADVANCED HTML OPTIMIZER
http://www.pcbit.com/htmlopt/

9. WIDTH, HEIGHT and BORDER Tags

The WIDTH, HEIGHT and BORDER attributes are essential
for each image that you have on your website. When you
hyperlink an image, always make sure that the BORDER
attribute is set to zero (BORDER=0). If you don't do
this, your hyperlinked image will have an ugly blue
border around it.

The WIDTH and HEIGHT attributes allow your page to
load faster, as the browser knows in advance how
much space the image requires. To find out the width
and height of any image, just double click on the
image file. This will automatically open 'Microsoft
Photo Editor' - your image will appear, with the width
and height of your image (in pixels) displayed on the
tool bar.

10. HTML Validator

Always check the validity of your HTML. Some Search
Engines give lower rankings to pages that have poor
quality HTML (such as incorrect nesting of elements).

Here are some free online validators:

HTML HELP
http://www.htmlhelp.org ools/validator/

BOBBY
http://www.cast.org/bobby/

WATSON
http://watson.addy.com/


About the Author

Michael Southon is the author of the popular new
E-Book, 'Ezine Writer!'. Discover the #1 Secret of
Ezine Marketing - More Traffic, More Sales:
http://www.ezine-writer.com/

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