Doctype and Charset head tags

Gwen of Complete GPS writes:I have followed your SEO blog with interest since it’s launch. I strive to apply ethical SEO techniques and have found the Kenkai website information and free SEO tools invaluable in helping my learning curve - Does your Company provide SEO training?I recently took over the management of a website - much of the page code is generated either from .asp includes for navigation and footers; also for a CMS style news feed. None of the web pages have a ‘doctype’ or ‘charset parameter’ statement. I can’t recall not seeing web pages without these. I asked the guy who programmed the pages originally and he said it would be fatal to add them as the spiders would attempt to validate the markup and see it isn’t valid - Does this make sense or is it nonsense?

I would guess the spiders would much rather have the doc type and charset in the code - surely they would score the pages lower without?

If I should add them what are the correct statements for both based on the pages having a .asp extension with a DHTML menu but no XHTML?

Hope you can help - Please keep up the great SEO blog.

Thanks for the kind words Gwen, If I may, I’ll answer your questions individually:

SEO Training

Yes we can offer SEO and CSS training to individuals or companies. We charge a flat rate of £650 (plus VAT) per day, plus travelling and hotel expenses. We don’t advertise SEO training or CSS training, as we are booked solidly at present with SEO projects, but if anyone approaches us for training, we are happy to fit them in, although there is usually a lead time of around a month.

Doctype and Charset Parameters

All websites should feature a Doctype and Charset parameters and all websites should be W3c compliant. If your designer is worried about adding a doctype or a charset statement head tag, the answer to him is simple – stop being so bloody lazy and make the code valid and compliant! You haven’t mentioned the site in question, but unless the designer is incompetent, he should be using valid, compliant code. It’s true to say that nobody is perfect and that as well as missing an odd alt tag here and there, there are occasions when code can’t be 100% compliant, but if a designer is worried about using a doctype and a charset tag, it must be pretty poor code! You can check how compliant your code is by using the W3c validator. Google take compliancy into consideration in their algorythm and Yahoo and MSN take page size and the speed of loading into account, so by using a doctype and charset tags in the head and ensuring your code is W3c compliant, you win with all engines.

Correct Doctype to use

Don’t worry too much, as far as optimisation is concerned, about which doctype you use for specific code. The doctype that we use on most sites is <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN”
but you can read more about different doctypes at w3schools. You can read more on the Kenkai site on our useful Meta Tag article and HTML Coding Errors article.

With regards to posting more regularly, I’ll try. I always answer questions, but with only six of us here and with someone always on holiday or ill, finding time away from clients’ SEO projects is difficult. Thanks for your questions Gwen.

One Response to “Doctype and Charset head tags”

Yee Hore Says:

Much appreciated. Thanks for putting this up.

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The Big Man's SEO blog is primarily aimed at website owners looking for ethical SEO tips, optimisation advice and who are interested in reading articles and opinions related to search engines, the internet, technology and software.