Contrary to what many believe, good SEO practice requires some level of coding skills. At the site of hundreds of lines of code in some cases even thousands, it is common to find those who will not take another second looking at code. As long as the site functions as best as how you know then everything is okay. It may be a lot of work optimizing your page and nobody needs to add to whatever you are already going through but all that work could be in vain if some certain aspects of code are not looked into.
Designers, marketers and programmers should take note, all these departments need each other to actually realise that source code plays a very critical role in SEO. We take a look at 8 examples of how source code affects SEO.
1. Canonical URL Tag Issues
You come across content which is similar to other URL’s. What this tag does is inform engines of duplicate content. When used correctly it works great, take for example a bike company that releases a new model of bikes with the option of different three different colors allowing visitors to change the color when viewing the product page but the URL changes.
But when each and every option has the tag it tells the engines that the attribute should be given to the original page that loads the original product. You can see how that would be catastrophic across a larger amount of products, right!
2.Server-Side Code Showing Up Client-Side
Server side code like PHP should not appear on HTML source code, it happens sometimes and should be acted upon immediately. Competition never sleeps so you shouldn’t either. Double check and make sure code appears where its supposed to.
3. CSS Manipulation & Hidden Content
4. Meta Robots Problems
Meta robot tags instruct search engines to not index a certain page or not follow any links on the page and so on. There is no telling how much good and harm could come out of this, understand how it works if at all you are using this tag.
5. Multiple Head Elements, Title Tags & More
HTML headers hold a lot of information within them, from the meta description, title tags, canonical URL tag etc. This requires correctly structured and well optimized elements put in place. It is common to find empty tags or malformed ones, a quick detection and correction could straighten this issue out. Go through your HTML head and make sure everything is structured right.
6. Excessive Script Code
When something is in excess, more often than not there is a high chance not everything is being used. Excessive amounts of script code could slow down your page load speed or worse throw errors. Get rid of unnecessary code and tidy up your client side code.
7. Analytics Tagging Problems
We all want to know how our pages are doing and having some kind of analytics to present to us stats in a way we can understand. Thats all well and good but you need to know which snippets are there and that they are giving accurate data. Going through your source code you can find which snippets are loading and more than that you can find improper tagging. Be very careful with your site data, it could get in the hands of someone with malice.
8. Malformed Anchors and Canonicals
Nothing rubs off visitors than broken links and worse off is giving out a bad user experience could be the death of your site. It is also important to maintain the flow of PageRank through your site, remember to link from high ranking pages to sibling and child pages.
An extra full stop and a link won’t work and detecting the problem could be a bit difficult and take quite some time. Same happens when canonical tags are not formatted properly, they kill SEO success on the page.
Make sure your links are working properly.
I guess now you see the point of having a look at source code every now and again and how it affects SEO power.