Pages on a website have two sides, the side that visitors see and read, and the side that search engines see and read. What search engines see is sometimes referred to as the “back end.” The back end of a website holds the basic foundation programming, otherwise called the “source code.” Search engines read source codes all the time. (Most visitors don’t care too much about it.) But for those who do, the programming behind a website page can easily be found. This is because every web browser allows viewing. Try it! If you use Chrome, “right click” on the page and select “view page source.” Like magic, access is granted! (Don’t worry, changes can’t be made to the code unless there is access to website credentials.)
If there are questions about what you may or may not have installed on your website, such as tracking, source code is a quick place to look. As an online marketer, I routinely refer to source code for information behind the web page content. There’s a lot of code to be found, and it’s easy to sift through. There are keyboard commands that make searching within the code effortless. (ex: command + F is the one I use most often when searching for something specific.) It’s a competitive game-changer when errors are identified quickly and fixed on the spot. Content management systems, (CMS), allow users to modify HTML coding. The more knowledge, the more one can do with the skill. It’s a bonus to for anyone who wants to learn about websites, advanced content techniques, or SEO.
Learn how to view the code and what things can be found there.
- Using Chrome, “right-click” your mouse and select “view page source”
- Go to “settings” in the right corner of Chrome to find “tools/developer tools”
- Go to the right corner of nearly any browser to find similar viewing options.
- Use the keyboard command to view source code on nearly every browser: Hold down the “CTRL” key while also pressing the “U” key on the keyboard.
- Title Tag: Google displays your title tag with search results, so if you want to be in search results, it’s necessary. It should be unique to each page, and 50-60 characters in length.
- Meta Description: This is your 160 character free advertising- make it work! (Or Google will pick one for you.) Also, make sure that this is unique for each and every page.
- H1 Headers: It’s the biggest headline on your page and opportunity for a “call to action. Just one good H1 tag on each page is all you need; be sure page keyword is there.
- Alt Tags: Robotic search engines can’t “see” images. The only way to maximize images for SEO is to ensure there is an alt tag associated with them.
- Structured Data Markup: This is also a language that helps search engines read the content on your webpage. It’s common to find mistakes in addresses, phone numbers, etc.
- GTM, GA & GA4: Quickly find out if a page is associated with Google Tag Manager, Google Universal Analytics or the new Google Analytics 4
- Google Analytics: You need analytics to view website performance after an analytics account has been established. This code should be found on every page of your website. Your GA account always starts with “UA” and is followed by a seven digit number.
- Google Tag Manager: Tag manager is just a Google product that allows you to manage multiple tracking codes in one place. Analytics, AdWords, and remarketing tags are managed from tag manager. Prevent double tracking: If you are using TM, there shouldn’t be an additional code for GA.
- Social Media: You may see codes for tracking Facebook, YouTube and other social media accounts. These are fine, just double check to ensure you need them. Tracking codes associated with your site take up Bytes, which means having more than you use could slow down your page load speed.
- Paid Ads: The trend is that PPC people are using Tag manager but there are other paid-related codes that may be found on your site such as doubleclick.net or call tracking.
To ensure optimal performance and speed, ask your digital team if they are reviewing source codes regularly. Or, if you see something that is questionable, ask for clarification. Contact The Leaning Tree Digital for more info.