Making Sure Your Website Development People Aren’t Ripping You Off
Use the Source, Luke!
(sorry, I couldn’t help myself)
So here it is. The best way to ensure that you have some understanding about what is going on on your small business web site is to look at your website’s source code. Here, you can learn a bit about your website’s build, and your SEO.
What is the source code you ask?
Well, that’s all the lovely details that go into making a website, and truly the only thing a web crawler sees when they visit your site to decide what ranking you get on various search engines.
So go ahead, check out the source code on your website. Depending on what browser your using, the steps to this will be slightly different. For example I use Google Chrome to do most of my browsing. To view the source code in Google Chrome you click on the little wrench icon in the top right corner, scroll down to tools, then click on source code. In Firefox, right-click on your mouse and scroll down to “View Source”.
A new window or tab will open and what you’ll see looks something like this:
Okay… Now don’t panic. I realize that at first glance you might think you have entered the Matrix. But give yourself a few minutes for your eyes and brain to adjust and suddenly you start to see words and phrases you recognize.
What You Are Looking For In Your Source Code
Title, Keyword and Content Meta Tag
The first thing I look for when read a website’s source code is a couple of SEO terms. The meta tags for “description” and “keywords”.
This is where you see where you get a chance to see what your website has been optimized for. Go on take a look at your website’s keywords. Are they still relevant to what you’re doing? Are they still terms people use to search for your product or service? Are your keywords even what you thought they were?
Too many times a small business owner has answered sheepishly that they don’t know what their website key words are. Now is your chance to have the answer ready for the next time you chat with your web people. And if the keyword section is blank (and this has been the case more times than I’d like to say) you’d better get your website person on the phone right now!
Another thing to look for when looking a web site’s source code is what is actually visible and readable to the web crawlers that run through your website.
Give the source code a scan and take a look at what’s written. A lot of time the content that is readable to the web crawlers is written in black.
Keep in mind that the web crawlers from search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo don’t care about pretty pictures and that super sexy flash intro you have. Web crawlers can’t even see that stuff! Take a look to make sure the pictures on your site are properly tagged and titled using your keywords, and that there is plenty of links and writing to keep a web crawler interested and on your site for as long as possible.
While you may not be comfortable doing these things, at least now you will be able to make sure that your web team has an idea of the direction you would like your site to go. And an idea of where to look to follow up!