Many times, well actually most of the time, when I try to explain on-page optimization to clients I get a blank stare. So I spend a lot of time educating them and one of the search optimization techniques I stress is “Search Friendly Code”. This is a phrase we coined about 5-6 years ago, it is how the page code is presented to the search bots. And to get in good with the “bots” you need to serve them the page code in the way they want to see it. By ‘bots’ I mean everything from Google to the Russians that crawl through your website every day. In this article I will take you into the guts of a website to explain.
There are two main sides to a web site the side we see which is the pretty design, the navigation, the content, and the pictures. Then there is the backside that we don’t see but the bots do and that is the code side. The code is the glue that pulls it all together. It places all the elements and controls how the website looks, navigates, plus how fast the site loads and performs its functions. Through the use and placement of certain tags within the code you can tell the bots where and how you want to be indexed.
The visible side is very important because elements like design, navigation, and content all contribute greatly to conversion rate. But, none of that can work its magic if the site is not found or seen by your audience and for that you need the on-page optimization. There is great debate, in our shop anyway, which is more important. I lean toward the code side of the battle because like I said it doesn’t do any good if your website is not being seen. I used the word battle because that is exactly what it is, there is only so much room on the front page and everybody wants it. There are only so many keywords and everybody is using them.
So what can you do to make your page more attractive to the search engines than your competition? Simple, by how easy you make if for them to list your site. What I am touching on today is call Strategic Code Placement. There are a several parts to this but one of the more important points is the order of the page elements.
When a web page opens the page elements appear in a certain order. First is the banner across the top, navigation links down the left side or across the top, copy and content in the center then the text links followed by the trailer. In the old days the code order on the page would equal the visible order. First the bots hit the banner then the navigation column followed by the content or body and finally the text links and the trailer. What is wrong with that?
If you have looked at optimizing your website at all you have learned how important the content is. The search engines are content driven. The problem is that many times the bots never reach the content. Why? Because the bots only read so many words or characters deep in to a page. This is done for speed. The search engines have literally thousands of pages a day to index. How many words varies between search engines but it is never more than a few 100.
New code standards have changed the way we can piece together these elements. You can still have the elements on the visible side appear in the same familiar order but the back side, the code side is totally different. The new code order is first the banner with relevant search engine information added to it followed by your important body copy then the navigation, the text links and the trailer.
Now you have your hard crafted content right on top for the search engines to find. Then, through the manipulation of copy and tags within this block we tell the search engines what we want them to do, but that is for another time. Most code editors when used in WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) mode will not deliver this type of code or element placement. Generally the better code is hand written in text mode or with text editors. This is another good reason to seek out a professional web developer.Share on Facebook