Join David Booth for an in-depth discussion in this video Interpreting the code behind webpages, part of SEO Foundations.
- [Instructor] The end goal of a search engine, when it's crawling a page, is to try to determine what a web page looks like to regular people. But the search engine can't see a page like we do. Instead, it sees the code that web servers send back to our browsers, and to help illustrate this, let's take a look at the Explore California home page. To us humans, we see a rich and colorful web page with lots of content on it. Pictures, text, menus, and videos, and all kinds of colors and styles. It's visually appealing, and we know how to absorb all of this information and navigate through it.
But to a search engine crawler, the same page looks like this instead. This may not look like the same page to the untrained eye, but it is. All of this markup and code is really just a bunch of instructions web browsers can follow in order to render a great-looking web page onto our screens. And the important part is that this is what search engines look at when trying to understand what your page is about, and how it should be ranked. Web pages are ultimately created with HTML code: scripts and other markup, which helps browsers figure out where to find and download all the files needed to produce this pretty page, where everything is visibly placed on the page, how things are laid out, which fonts, colors, and sizes to use, what side menus will look like, where links will point to, and where content elements are going to be placed.
If you take a close look, you can see that there's lots of stuff in the HTML that may not end up on the screen. And these items provide us with extra opportunities to help search engines understand our content better. HTML, or hypertext markup language, is also responsible for referencing and loading styles sheets, which are extra instructions that help define the visible attributes of a page: font coloring, content sizing, line spacing, background images, page conventions, all kinds of rules for the visual representation of a page can be found here.
While we as humans can watch that video and hear its message, this block of code is all that a search engine can see. While this isn't the course on web design or programming, it's important to understand the perspective of a search engine as we examine what it sees. As you can probably guess, making sure that your website's code is clean, efficient, and free of any coding errors, will help ensure that your pages are displaying properly to your users, but also save the search engine some confusion. The cleaner your code, the easier it will be for you to make adjustments to improve your on-page optimization, and the more search engines will trust that your pages will be a good experience for your users.
- What is SEO?
- Reading search engine result pages
- Researching keywords
- Optimizing pages for keywords
- Optimizing code and site structure
- Optimizing nontext components of a webpage
- Analyzing content quality
- Defining your audience, topics, angle, and style
- Building links to your content
- Promoting your content via social media
- Measuring SEO effectiveness
- Optimizing ecommerce sites for search
- Leveraging local SEO
- Configuring sites for mobile