Looking at your web page through Google’s eyes

There is a tendency for websites to get ever more complicated driven by better functionality, better design etc, but this is often at the expense of the site’s search engine friendliness. So have you looked at your site through Google’s eyes recently?

Googlebot (Google’s spider that visits your site and collects all the information on it that Google needs to match a page with a search query), is a simple fellow and can’t cope with images and other fancy stuff.

A quick and easy way of getting a good idea of what Googlebot sees is to

    Turn off images

    Turn off JavaScript

    Turn of CSS

    Disable Flash

then see what your page looks like.

Using Firefox

To turn off images and JavaScript

Go to

Tools → Options → Content → untick Load Images Automatically and Enable JavaScript boxes.

To disable CSS

Go to

View → Page Style and tick No Style.

Now just refresh the page.

Using Internet Explorer

I tried to do the same thing using Internet Explorer and my advice is to download Firefox if you haven’t already, it will be quicker. But if you really do want to try the same thing in IE, then

To turn off images

Go to

Tools → Internet Options → Advanced, then scroll down to MultiMedia and untick Show Pictures

To disable JavaScript

Go to

Tools → Internet Options → Security → Custom Level, scroll down to scripting and click disable javaScript.

Now restart IE.

Microsoft removed the ability to disable CSS in version 5 so the only way is to edit the registry files – not recommended!! – just use Firefox.

Using Firefox

To disable Flash

Disabling Flash is rather different. You can download a Firefox extension, FlashBlock.

This will then show a place holder wherever there is a Flash element on the page which, when clicked, will enable the Flash element and the page will then appear as the designer intended. FlashBlock is intended to block Flash generated ads and once downloaded you will need to click the place holder every time you load a page that contains a Flash element. This can be annoying when using Google Analytics, for example, since GA relies heavily on Flash.

Now what does your web page look like?

With images, javaScript and CSS turned off and Flash disabled, then what does your page look like?

If you can’t make head nor tail of the page, then probably Google can’t either, and if you can’t follow the links then you have real problems, because neither can Google and linking, including internal linking is key to search ranking success!

Also bear in mind that Google looks at a page by directly reading the code and not through a browser, so even disabled images, javaScript, CSS and Flash only gives a indication of what Googlebot sees – but it can be quite revealing though.

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