Could Unseen Site Errors Harm My Traffic?
15 June 2012 16:05 | Posted by Anne
When setting up and maintaining your business’ website you might be surprised to find that no one is dropping by for a visit to view what you have on offer or are leaving before you can say boo!. You have the flash effects, great colouring, really convincing written content, and images that would wow National Geographic photographers, but something is not working and you’re not quite sure what. It’s kind of a case what’s lurking in the basement; that eerie presence that makes the children of the neighbourhood give the creepy house at the end of the street house a wide berth. The same goes for websites – if it’s a case of haunting by site errors, such as poor interlinking between pages, many people will not want to venture further than the landing page (if it manages to load that is). So we had a chat with one of our developers about ‘what lies beneath’ in terms of site errors and what you can do to chase those development ghosts away.
Unseen site errors can affect how search engine crawlers index your site (via UM Reviews)
Interviewer:How can on-site errors affect SEO and search engine crawlers?
Developer:There are numerous on-site elements which can impact SEO and indexing, an important one being the website’s development code. Google claims that having a perfectly validated website with “clean” code doesn’t have any effect on page ranking and SEO although it's thought by some that invalid HTML may slow down the search engine crawlers and make an impact in that way.
Interviewer:Tell us about some common site errors.
Developer:A common site error is broken or “un-clean” code which can get in the way of a search engine’s attempt to crawl a site, sometimes even resulting in pages not being indexed at all. Another common error is having excessive or unnecessary code which not only slows the page’s loading time, but also increases the possibility of errors. This won’t have a direct impact on the site’s SEO but can still cause issues for search engine crawlers. Also it can make your site less accessible to people with disabilities or people accessing your pages on handhelds. Having valid HTML from the start will help your site run better. It is also a good investment for the future as newer versions of browsers are being continually introduced.
Interviewer:What about images? Is it important to optimise them?
Developer: If you don’t optimise images and other media for the web this can result in slower page load times. People also forget to include alt tags on all images using descriptive words, e.g. they end up using “Image 1” instead of the much more search friendly “Young man holding red flag”. Broken links/images are probably the most common site errors - these bring down the quality of your site and are just plain annoying for users!
Interviewer:How can these site errors be resolved?
Developer:Ensuring the code used to build and maintain a website is fully optimized and written using best practices will drastically reduce the possibility of errors or mistakes that might affect search engine crawlers. This will in turn reduce loading times and will make it easier to not only maintain the website but also to find and remove broken links, missing alt tags, and other elements required for good SEO.
MundoFox's amusing 'Page Not Found' message. (via Smashing Magazine)
Interviewer:Have you got any tips in regards to ensuring the code is inputted correctly and errors are avoided?
-Use W3C validation to ensure site is valid and viewable across all major web browsers.
-Pay attention to errors or programming mistakes and try to avoid them in the development of your website.
-You should have a customized 404 page (‘Page Not Found’). This can be used to retain visitors to your site by redirecting them to other pages that might interest or help them.
Ensuring that site errors don’t affect how your website runs is a complex task that requires the skills of experienced developers. If you’re looking to have a clean SEO-friendly site, contact us today.