And yet, as a digital marketer, I find myself looking at the source code of websites all the time.
When I’m in marketing analysis mode, when I hit a customer’s site, hit option + command + u on my MacBook’s keyboard. With this, I am face to face:
Big block of source code
It does not matter how many tools you have for SEO campaigns at your disposal, at some point you are looking at the source code of a website to examine a particular item or conduct a large SEO audit. Huh.
This is a smart practice for any marketer.
If you know what to look out for you can find opportunities for improvement as well as SEO errors that can cause problems with organic visibility down the road.
Do you need to be a web developer to be able to read code? No. Some basic understanding of code and SEO elements are sufficient to ensure that things are working as they should.
Source code is important because it displays your website and how it works. It works the same way with other types of software, such as video games.
The code behind the scenes is required to run the functionality, mechanics and animation of those games. If you want to make sure that everything is doing what it is supposed to, then you go to the source.
View source code
Pulling source code is relatively simple, and there are many ways to access it, depending on your platform, browser, and operating system. Here are some ways:
If you use a CMS like WordPress, you can access all your template files within the admin dashboard. The same applies to many ecommerce platforms such as BigCommerce and Shopify
Right click with your mouse inside the tab you are working on and select “View Source”
Press CTRL + U to open source in new tab (Windows user)
Press Options (Command + U) to open Source (Mac User)
Keep in mind that while you may be able to see the source in full, some platforms limit what you can change. If you use hosted platforms such as Shopify or Bigcommerce, Wix or similar hosted CMS, you will be limited in what you can change within the source code.
The major reasons to dive into the website’s source code are:
1. Slow load times and excessive scripts
Some kind of script
Unfortunately, loading scripts can cause a tremendous amount of latency for the entire site to load, and this is a problem – especially when you have too many scripts.
One second delay page loading time
For every additional second of load time, you may see a 7% decrease in conversions as people bail out of your site.
Checking the script on your site is important because you may find scripts that have not yet been used even while sitting in your source. This can create additional errors and will unnecessarily slow down that load time.
I recommend moving the script to the end of the page, so they load the last if they don’t need to be loaded before the rest of the content. You can also separate the code into your own file, so there is not an excessive amount of script code on every page.
2. Meta content
The meta content for your website pages contains some important elements that you should audit to ensure that they are properly coded.
While meta content such as titles and descriptions do not directly contribute to search rank like they used to, they still play a role in the organic traffic coming through your site.
Meta content, which is displayed in search results when a user queries, is the first conversion point for a prospective customer or user. The keywords that they use, which appear in the meta content, are highlighted to establish relevance and help the user choose the right result.
In addition to the content of the title and description on each of your pages, you also want to review other items such as the use of canonical URL tags. Check your meta elements to ensure that they are not properly structured, optimized, and highly duplicated.
Duplicate Meta Content
If your site contains duplicate meta content, or elements that are not formatted correctly, it is easy to confuse search crawlers.