Reviewing My Website With Google's Webmaster Guidelines Part 1

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25th day of the epic 100 posts in 100 days challenge

I discovered that my website's ranking was getting worse since I started blogging on a daily basis. So I devised a 3 point plan to see if I could find out why: 1. Use Google's Webmaster Tools. 2. Investigate the speed of my site; and 3. Revisit Google's Best Practice Guidelines.

So I dealt with Webmater Tools in this post and speed in this post, in this article I'll start point 3. I am going to start going through Google's Best Practice Guidelines and see if my site is still complying with their guidance.

They divide the rules into three sections:

  1. Design and Content
  2. Technical
  3. Quality
I shall go through each point they make in each section in turn ( this might take more than one post!)

OK, lets start with Design and Content:

1. "Your website should have a clear hierarchy and every page should be reachable from at least one static text link"

I was pretty sure that I had this covered. My article headings are always H1 and then sub-headings are H2 and occasionally I will have an H3 sub-sub-heading. So I had a quick look through my site at the heading tags I have used.

Tip: This is really easy to do (if you use Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer) hit your F12 key and you will get an "inspection panel. "

Then you need to click the inspect button which looks like this (in the various browsers):


Then anything you click on will be highlighted in the inspector window, so you can see if it's an H1, H2, H3 or whatever, and you will be able to tell whether you have a good hierarchy to your web page.

(You can do the same in Opera too but you will need to enable Developer Tools in the menu and then you can get to it by clicking Ctrl-Shift-I. Opera's icon is a magnifying glass too, like Chrome's. Safari does also have a web inspector but I have never used it ( or you can install an extra: Firebug Lite which will also do the trick))

So, looking through my site I discover that the beginning of the comment section on all my blog posts begins with an H4 so that means that the hierarchy on a lot of pages, probably the majority, will be going from H1 or H2 to H4. Which is wrong, it's missing out an H3, and wrong in a lot of places. So that will go on my list of remedial actions. I will change it to a <span> tag styled the same as the H4. I suppose I could have made it an H1 tag to demarcate a definite section on the page but it only contains the word Comments which isn't a key word I am interested in.

And yes, as far as I know each page is reachable from at least one static link. It's only a very small site too so I can't see this being an issue. ( I could write a simple tool that checks this: it would look at the sitemap and then scan each page in the sitemap for internal links to the other pages and count them thus discovering if any were unlinked)

Anyway, I've run out of time and I've only got to the first point in the first section of the guidelines! But I also need some time to act on the decisions I make based on the guidelines, so I need to go and sort out my hierarchy issues now.

Clearly this is going to take some time, so if I am going to go into it in detail I'll need to do it point by point and this could take quite some time and quite a few blog posts. But at least I won't be stuck trying to think of something to write for the next few days, or even weeks!

What kept a website developer busy in Leeds today?

My timetable:

8 hours 15 minutes This website: writing 4 blog posts; replying to comments on blog posts; adding inividual images to blog posts for the open graph protocol; checking web site rankings; commissioning some graphics work; fixing css on navigation of my MODX blog
48 minutes Networking: Hootsuite, promoting blog posts; browsing tweets; making notes
36 minutes Admin: email
43 minutes Other: reading other people's blog posts

Total: 10 hours 25 minutes

Good day in that I wrote four blog posts, FOUR! unfortunately two weren't for the 100 blogs in 100 days challenge, they were just technical blogs for my convenience (and possibly others) for future reference.

Exercise: 10 minute warm up followed by a 5 mile run.

Tomorrow: Return to a pet project that I have been neglecting for far too long. Plus, quite a few small jobs to catch up on.

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Mike Nuttall

Author: Mike Nuttall

Mike has been web designing, programming and building web applications in Leeds for many years. He founded Onsitenow in 2009 and has been helping clients turn business ideas into on-line reality ever since. Mike can be followed on Twitter and has a profile on Google+.