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Codes before content? Best order of elements to feed Google.
which is much better for on page optimization?
red_hot




msg:3163612
 12:15 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

which is much better for on page optimization?...to have an order form first on your page followed by contents...or vice versa?which is much better for Google?...and does this have a full effect on the over-all "crawlability" of your website?

Thanks!

 

AndyA




msg:3163866
 4:33 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

I've often wondered if it helps in the HEAD section to list things in a particular order, i.e., title before description, then keywords, then robots, etc., or if it really matters.

It would seem after the mandatory info needed to display the page, the title should be the first since it's the most important.

But what the heck to I know, my site has been on Google's "this site sucks so we aren't going to index it even though no other sites have this information and it has what you searched for" list since November 2004.

g1smd




msg:3163885
 4:48 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

There are some things that might be useful to consider for the page header.

This is the order that I eventually settled on:
- Character encoding: "UTF-8"
- language: "en"
- title
- meta description
- meta keywords (if used)
- robots directive (if a negative)
- links to CSS files
- links to JS files
- anything else

AndyA




msg:3163893
 4:55 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Robots directive if a negative? So you don't list it if you want the robot to index and follow? I've been using "NONE" or "ALL" for most of my pages, which is supposed to be acceptable.

Is it best to use nothing unless you don't want the robots to index and follow? Should I use "NO INDEX, NO FOLLOW" on those pages instead of NONE?

g1smd




msg:3163897
 4:59 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

The default action is "index, follow" so if that is what you want then you can safely omit the tag and save a few bytes per page view.

I regularly use "noindex" to fix duplicate content issues, but rarely find a use for "nofollow".

tedster




msg:3163954
 5:41 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

A few years back I know for sure that placing the content higher in the HTML document helped. I made that my standard operating procedure once I saw the benefits in ranking and especially in the snippets. In recent times, I think Google is a bit better at finding the "real" content block on the page no matter where it is.

But even if Google has improved, I still prefer to put the important stuff at the top of the HTML using css positioning. That way, if I think the visitor needs to see something else first on the page (like a form or some scripted thing-a-ma-bob) I still can have the important text at the top of the <body> section.

pmkpmk




msg:3163960
 5:46 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

I went to great lengths and CSS-tricks for one site to get the content as high as possible in the code, and forms and navigation towards then end. The site was picked up fast and high in the engines. However I never managed to get the layout centered. So recently we relaunched that site, and I gave up the content-high-in-code concept in favour of a centered layout. I saw no difference in rankings before and after.

pageoneresults




msg:3163963
 5:48 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

This is the order that I eventually settled on:
- Character encoding: "UTF-8"
- language: "en"
- title
- meta description
- meta keywords (if used)
- robots directive (if a negative)
- links to CSS files
- links to JS files
- anything else

Mine is very close to g1smd's with a change on the CSS and JS file order, and also the robots directive. I place the JS files before CSS since I use the @import method and this prevents the FOUC (Flash of Unstyled Content) issues.

- Character Encoding ISO-8859-1
- robots directive (if a negative)
- title
- meta description
- meta keywords (if used)
- links to JS files
- links to CSS files
- anything else

The very first thing I want to serve is the character encoding. Then the robots directive. From there I want title, description and keywords. Next comes a link to the global js file. And then a link to the global css file. There are times where I might have additional js and css files which would come after the global files.

I'm one of those SOC (Source Ordered Content) groupies. ;)

g1smd




msg:3163967
 5:55 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Oh yes, I also use @import instead of the <link> tag to pull in the CSS information.

Where do you specify the page language? I see that W3C now recommends to add it as an attribute to the <html> or <body> tag. I have always used a separate meta tag for that.

pageoneresults




msg:3163968
 5:56 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

However I never managed to get the layout centered. So recently we relaunched that site, and I gave up the content-high-in-code concept in favour of a centered layout. I saw no difference in rankings before and after.

Ah-ha, but there is a way to center the design and still utilize Source Ordered Content. Utilize a containing div...

div.container{
position:relative;
margin:0 auto;
padding:0;
width:95%;
}

pageoneresults




msg:3163976
 5:59 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Where do you specify the page language?

Custom HTTP Headers at the server level. I'm also considering moving all of my charset tags to a custom header. No need for the additional code on the pages.

BigDave




msg:3164036
 6:49 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think Google has been able to recognize the content and navigation blocks for a couple of years now.

I did an experiment over a few months, changing between standard table layout, content first table layout (yes, it is possible) and CSS content first.

Content first table layout came up ever so slightly higher than the other two on most searches that I was tracking.

When comparing CSS and standard table, standard table did a little better in searches for things in the H1 in the content, CSS did better for things in paragraphs in the content (long tail)

I have found almost no difference in the ranking based on the amount of HTML code in the file before the content. Copying the .css file info into the HEAD made no real difference.

This was all at least 18 months ago, so current mileage may vary.

My conclusion: put the page together however you want, using all the tools available to you. It just isn't worth the time or effort to worry about. Just make sure that your navigation is consistent enough that Google (and Y! and MSN) can figure out what is navigation and what is not.

pmkpmk




msg:3164089
 7:26 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Ah-ha, but there is a way to center the design and still utilize Source Ordered Content

I think that's what we did, but it clashed with absolute positioning. But I'll have a look at it again.

I'm also considering moving all of my charset tags to a custom header.

Sounds like an interesting concept. Why do you only "consider" it? And would the amount of data to transfer not be the same - so the pagesize gets smaller but the header gets larger. What is to win?

jetteroheller




msg:3164104
 7:39 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Since my whole content is with <DIV style position:absolut
I have total freedom to order the html code like I think it's best.

Most of the optimization was also done for perfect ad targeting at adsense

content

AdSense code

keywords for page

link to next page
link to prev page
link to prev chapter
link to next chapter

navigation links to same chapter
navigation links to thems on the site
navigation links to new articles, rss feeds, sitemap
navigation links to other theme oriented sub domains

The idea is to have the most relevant parts first
and the last relevant parts last

pageoneresults




msg:3164459
 2:06 am on Nov 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

Sounds like an interesting concept. Why do you only "consider" it?

I've added the Content-Language custom header. I tried adding the Content-Type to set the charset and I'm not too certain that it worked. Since the validator through up an error that no character encoding was detected, I'd have to assume that I did something wrong or this is best left to a metadata element on the page? I've never really messed with the custom HTTP headers before in IIS, tis not my forte. ;)

red_hot




msg:3164480
 3:05 am on Nov 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

thanks for all the answers...learned a lot from it...by the way who among you uses the "If Modified Since HTTP header"...how can this help me on my on-page optimization process?

tedster




msg:3164566
 5:15 am on Nov 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

"If-Modified-Since" is an HTTP 1.1 request that is sent in the server header by the bot. If your server responds to it properly, then the bot doesn't bother getting any page that hasn't changed since the last crawl. So if-modified-since saves bandwidth for both you and googlebot -- and it can, theoretically, result in deeper and more thorough crawling. But it's not "on-page", it's a server config.

pmkpmk




msg:3164664
 7:58 am on Nov 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

And it might be one of the "101 signals of quality".

red_hot




msg:3164748
 10:38 am on Nov 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

But it's not "on-page", it's a server config.

...so basically if i wanted to use this i would have it configured on the server itself not on the codes of the page?

pageoneresults




msg:3164941
 2:18 pm on Nov 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

But it's not "on-page", it's a server config.

That's what concerns me about moving things from on-page to off-page (from the server).

I've given this some thought and am going to use my method of using an include in the <head> to populate my static metadata elements, the language and charset being two of them.

If I do this from the server, and that page is copied, those two elements are not going to travel with the page. I think it might be best if they stay on-page to prevent anything from breaking in the process.

Any comments from you server gurus on this one?

g1smd




msg:3164951
 2:21 pm on Nov 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

Just make sure that the server doesn't already send any of that information by default in the HTTP header.

It is not good to have duplicate tags, once in the server header and again in the <head> section of the page.

red_hot




msg:3165613
 11:29 pm on Nov 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

so which is which?

will the tags be better on the server header or on the <head> section of the page?

g1smd




msg:3165643
 12:14 am on Nov 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

It doesn't matter until such time as you move the site to a new server and then suddenly have duplicate tags or zero tags. You just have to remember which way you did things on the old server if you ever move.

pmkpmk




msg:3165884
 7:57 am on Nov 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm still not getting the benefit. The standard setup is:

Server header: 1%
Page header: 99%

Now we are switching this to:

Server header: 5%
Page header: 95%

The page size does decrease slightly, but the overall amount of data stays the same.

Am I missing something?

g1smd




msg:3166397
 8:59 pm on Nov 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

No. There are just two places to put the information.

In the server header: where you can change everything for the whole site by editing one file, or in each individual page which makes the settings portable per page, but if ever needing to be edited means that every page needs to be edited.

red_hot




msg:3166891
 10:43 am on Nov 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

dont they have an automated script for this one?...like if ever i update a page on my website the entries would automatically increment or change?

Wlauzon




msg:3167019
 1:12 pm on Nov 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

I might be missing something here, but it seems to me that Google and the other SE's are looking for CONTENT, not the stuff in the head tags.

I have seen sites place number 1 with NO head section at all, and I have seen them place number 1 with over 200 lines in the head section.

Which leads me to believe that whatever is in the HEAD, aside from maybe a couple of meta tags, is totally irrelevant as far as SEO goes.

Reid




msg:3167556
 1:19 am on Nov 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

It seems to me that there are different types of bots to perform different functions. A bot is a very simple animal, it can't do everything but it can do a few things very well. Some bots look for 'content'. They record text strings in other words. Some look for blackhat, they search for code snippets like viruses. like if the text and background are the same color, thAt will raise a flag with one bot but not with the 'content' bot. Another bot might perform some other function - like check server headers for known blackhat tricks like keyword stuffing or maybe an adsense bot matching keywords with the adwords database in order to publish relevant ads.
All of these bots affect the 'index' (where your ranking is kept) in fact they build and maintain the index. The search engine searches the index, the bots don't talk to the engine other than their affect on the rankings.

So the content bot, the one that records text strings is able to find the text strings, it doesn't look at the code, the security (or others) look at the code.

[edited by: Reid at 1:26 am (utc) on Nov. 25, 2006]

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