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How Your Website’s Code Affects Your Search Visibility

by Ben Marston

Everyone wants their website to rank well in search engines. SEO should be an essential piece of every web strategy. Most businesses have spent time researching SEO best practices and work to improve their sites via content structure, quantity and key phrase use. But an often-overlooked element of solid SEO is coding. That’s right, the way your site is coded can have a serious impact on how well it performs in search.

There are many coding best practices to consider when developing a site or creating an SEO analysis. Even the cleanest code can deteriorate over time as updates and additions are made to your site. Be sure that someone on your web team is periodically going through the code to clean up white space, check for broken or open tags, and remove invalid URLs. Furthermore, make sure that appropriate 301 redirects are in place, that you are using canonical tagging to eliminate duplicate content, and that no index tags are used to prevent users from landing on pages that are not intended to be site entry points.

But wait, hold it right there. We want to pause on those no index tags for a second to highlight the serious implications that even one line of misplaced code can have.

Example of How an Unintended Code Mistake Will Cost You Web Traffic

Last year, we became concerned when we saw one of our client’s web traffic drop to zero. One of our clients, a global technology company, has been using our search consulting services for several years. They have an excellent website, are an exceptional company with a stellar reputation, and yet suddenly, their search-generated web traffic had dropped to nearly zero. As their digital marketing partner, we immediately jumped in to see what went wrong.

We found that they had accidentally added a site-wide no-index tag to the robots.txt file. The result was that their website was communicating a site-wide no index to the Google web crawlers. This meant that gradually over time as Google revisited the site, it was eliminating every single page from the search results. As you can see from the graph above, it didn’t take long until that resulted in virtually no web traffic at all from organic search.

Simple Problem, Simple Solution

Luckily, the solution was simple. By correcting the use of the no index tag, Champ was able to get Google to begin re-indexing the site with essentially the click of a button. However, you can see from the chart that it took a little bit of time for the site to become fully indexed once again.

This example highlights the importance of using care when creating code on your website. Just a small error (that anyone could have made in a rush) can have a major consequence. It also highlights how important it is to regularly monitor your web traffic so that you can catch unexpected changes as early as possible and address them where appropriate.

At Champ we are well-versed in code clean up and optimization. If you are having an issue or are looking to avoid one, reach out to us today to learn how we can help make your website work at its best.

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