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Lost Google rankings following redesign
codeman




msg:3980123
 5:09 pm on Aug 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

Since our website redesign, we have lost some ranking, and the only major change is that text content is further down the page.

I am experimenting with using a Javascript to place the content from a hidden div at the top of the page to where it belongs in the page layout at the bottom - to anyone's knowledge, is there any danger to this technique? Does Google check to see if DIV's have a hidden attribute in their CSS? Or are there better ways to do this?

 

buckworks




msg:3980131
 5:18 pm on Aug 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

I don't understand: what would the javascript do that couldn't be done by straightforward CSS positioning?

codeman




msg:3980136
 5:28 pm on Aug 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

I did try that - I can't figure out how that would possibly work with the layout I have to work with - am I allowed to post a link to the live website here or no?

buckworks




msg:3980151
 5:55 pm on Aug 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

No, links are not allowed.

Please clarify: how is the content ordered in the source code?

codeman




msg:3980150
 5:50 pm on Aug 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

After our website redesign, I noticed that Google text only cache shows the background image - our rank dropped a bit so I'm wondering if that's indicative of any problem, or is this completely normal...

[edited by: encyclo at 6:07 pm (utc) on Aug. 28, 2009]
[edit reason] moved from another location [/edit]

Receptional Andy




msg:3980155
 5:56 pm on Aug 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

I think you're barking up the wrong tree, codeman. Google's cache view and highlighting function are separate precesses from their algorithm that determines relevancy. Both have many bugs and errors, and it seems like you've found one.

It may be a method of showing a background that the "stripped" view doesn't pattern-match correctly. But it isn't the cause of a drop in rankings.

You mentioned a redesign. If this is purely visual, then a change in rankings would be unexpected (and if it co-occurred, likely caused by something else anyway). If I had to guess, I'd say you had a redevelopment which presents different HTML code to search engines, and it would be natural for that to be reinterpreted - perhaps not favourably to you.

codeman




msg:3980299
 9:23 pm on Aug 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

@ReceptionalAndy - thanks for your help. We use an MVC structured website, so we consider changes only to the presentation layer as redesigns to distinguish them from changes that effect database or business logic, which require a different level of testing...but, if redevelopment is the widely accepted terminology on this forum or elsewhere, then I will gladly agree to say that this is a redevelopment in order to allow us to further the discussion. :-)

@buckworks: The code I am experimenting with works something like this:

I have this at the top of the page:


<div id="content" style-"visibility:hidden">
Main text of web page here
</div>

Then I have this at the bottom of the page, where the design calls for the text to appear:


<div id="placeholder">
<!--this space purposely left blank-->
</div>

I have a javascript doing this:


document.getElementById('placeholder').innerHTML = document.getElementById('content').innerHTML;

The new design does push the content down about 200 lines in the code, so this is why I am wondering if a solution like this might be helpful...

It occurs to me that content in a hidden div might be dangerous for SEO purposes - if that worked, why would any site not do this?

I suppose I could not hide the first layer, but set its innerHTML property to blank in the same Javascript...thinking out loud, open to any suggestions or feedback...

[edited by: codeman at 10:07 pm (utc) on Aug. 28, 2009]

Receptional Andy




msg:3980314
 9:49 pm on Aug 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

but, if redevelopment is the widely accepted terminology on this forum or elsewhere, then I will gladly agree to say that this is a redevelopment in order to allow us to further the discussion. :-)

I wasn't being pedantic, codeman. With the right underlying codebase you can endlessly change the visual design of your website - layout, colours, images etc. - without affecting the fundamentals delivered to the client (or web browser). Such changes will not affect search engine performance. If you change the code, then I would always consider this redevelopment, and in delivering different code to the client, you risk some clients not liking your changes - and that includes search engines.

If redesign involves redevelopment (as I am defining it, I know of no consensus), then that carries with it its own concerns.

Your code example is not clear to me. Are you hiding all of the text of your page via an inline style? That seems a strange approach. Similarly, it implies you have the same text repeated twice within HTML, but that may be just the way you have presented your example.

Leosghost




msg:3980315
 9:53 pm on Aug 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

The new design does push the content down about 200 lines in the code

and those who are now in serps above you do not have their content appearing 200 lines down in code ..Yes ?:)

so ..the answer is ..?

SE spiders like to snack ( unlike their real world namesakes )..not wade though ( non visible to the end user on their screen ) data to get to "interesting food" ..

indexing cost resources ..even to G ..make them eat 200 lines before they get to the meat and they will downgrade you ..

in favour of what is lighter on the stomach and takes less storage ..

because at their levels every bit less helps the bottom line ..in dollars and speed ..and you notice how for years they pride themselves on their speed ..

for a while it was the number of pages and speed ..

then they realised that no one was impressed with number of pages ..

now it's just speed ..

and milliseconds count ..

light pages still win over heavy ( all other variables such as inbounds etc being equall )..

you would rather that last line had been higher up the post ?

thats what search engines think about your content

..put content meat near the top to be near the top

proof ..I have pages that are light ..and at or near the top of serps ( and yet are keyword spammy ..and dont have as many inbound links as those below me ) ..they should be penalised ..they are not ..they float ..up ..to the surface ..

and they havent been changed in years ..

codeman




msg:3980331
 10:13 pm on Aug 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

I wasn't being pedantic, codeman. With the right underlying codebase you can endlessly change the visual design of your website - layout, colours, images etc. - without affecting the fundamentals delivered to the client (or web browser). Such changes will not affect search engine performance. If you change the code, then I would always consider this redevelopment, and in delivering different code to the client, you risk some clients not liking your changes - and that includes search engines.

If redesign involves redevelopment (as I am defining it, I know of no consensus), then that carries with it its own concerns.

Your code example is not clear to me. Are you hiding all of the text of your page via an inline style? That seems a strange approach. Similarly, it implies you have the same text repeated twice within HTML, but that may be just the way you have presented your example.

Actually, you are quite right - now I understand why I told the client the redesign would take three days but it really took me a week and half - it's because the new designs really did call for redevelopment! (sorry if my reply accused you of pedantry, subtle tones of humor are often regrettably lost in plain text)...

I corrected my proposed code above, the second div would contain no text until the Javascript is called...

@Leosghost - thanks for sharing your experiences with text placement and SEO - what you are saying confirms what I suspected and hope to remedy!

dazzlindonna




msg:3980512
 12:57 pm on Aug 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

I think you should run your page through a spider simulator tool that shows you what a spider sees. Sounds to me like perhaps Googlebot is not even getting to see the text on your page, and if there's nothing to see, there's nothing to rank. Or possibly, your hidden div has gotten you penalized. But first things first. Determine what the spider is really seeing.

BoBoMisiu




msg:3980581
 5:51 pm on Aug 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

Use a text based browser to verify what you think a crawler will see.

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