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Benefits of Using CSS

In order to make web sites as search engine friendly as possible, webmasters are forced to do without visually pleasing design elements. With the development of CSS, however, good site design is no longer a detriment to search engine status. Learn more about how using Cascading Style Sheets can improve the look and even the rank of your web site.

Win-Win-Win Situation
Cascading style sheets, when used properly, can enhance your site design for viewers, ease the maintenance load for the webmaster, and improve search engine rankings. We'll get to how one tool can do so much, but first- the basics on CSS for those who have not yet met the web design superhero.

CSS- What is it?
CSS is a style sheet language that allows web designers to attach style (fonts, spacing, colors, etc.) to HTML documents. Cascading style sheets work like a template, allowing Web developers to define a style for an HTML element and then apply it to as many Web pages as they'd like. CSS separates the presentation style of documents from the content of documents simplifying site maintenance. (We won't cover the technicalities here, but check out our recommended reading at the end of the article for more on the actual implementation of CSS.)

A More Beautiful World (Wide Web)
Call it vanity if you like, but the Web shouldn't be subject to unaesthetic web sites just to please search engine ranking powers that be. As search engine optimization has called for simpler HTML sites, web designers have struggled to maintain viewer friendly web sites using simple HTML. It is difficult- if not impossible- to do so. But CSS allows designers to do what they want with design without risking clouding up HTML code.

Using relative measurements in a style sheet webmasters can style documents to look good on any monitor at any resolution. Web pages today need to be versatile for viewing on various media (computer monitor, printed, PDA's and handhelds, cell phones, etc.) CSS has the capability of determining how a page is viewed on different media and designers have a more predictable control over the presentation.

How CSS Blesses the Lives of Webmasters
Webmasters can define the look of a site in one place, and change the whole site by changing just the one file. With CSS, when you want to make a change, you simply change the style, and that element is updated automatically wherever it appears within the site.

What About Browsers? Do They Recognize CSS?
While the relationship was rocky at first between browsers and CSS, CSS is now recognized by all major browsers (Netscape, Explorer, Mozilla) Because CSS is so very functional, browsers have struggled to keep up. But improvements are being made, and it is definitely safe for web designers to use CSS now.

Search Engine Optimization with CSS
Lastly, the benefits of using CSS for search engine optimization purposes- because it doesn't matter how lovely your site is if no one sees it!

To put it simply- search engine spiders are lazy. They don't like to sift through mountains of garbled HTML design code to get to the indexable content. Tables, font tags, and formatting code require more time to spider through and decrease the relevancy of the actual important content on the page. Using external CSS files to determine design attributes, HTML code can be clean and concise- just the way the spiders like it.

How to Begin Using CSS
Webmasters who've spent years patching and functioning with HTML may feel hesitant to 'learn a new trick', but beginning to implement CSS into web design is not as difficult as one might think. If you want to learn more about using CSS to enhance your web pages the following two resources have (free) cutting-edge information and tutorials. W3.org, AListApart.com