Google’s Search Console Tips: HTML Improvements


HTML Improvements

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The HTML Improvements report can be found in the Search Appearance drop down menu item found in the left hand menu of your Search Console account.

This report is extremely handy in identifying problem areas with Meta descriptions, Title tags and non-indexable content.

HTML Improvements: Meta Description

Three key areas are reported on in this area of the HTML Improvements report:

  • Duplicate meta descriptions
  • Long meta descriptions
  • Short meta descriptions

The duplicate meta descriptions report shows what pages are using the same meta descriptions. Correcting your meta descriptions to be unique per page may improve your search term ranking results and help to identify pages that may contain duplicate content. Google makes reference that correcting duplicate meta descriptions may improve your user’s experience, however, it is unlikely that your pages with duplicate meta descriptions will appear on the same page in the SERPs.

Change the duplicate page titles if possible or indicate with the rel=”canonical” tag which page is the most important for the content, if you find that you do have pages with duplicate content. There are volumes of results for a search query for the term rel=”canonical” if you want more information about this tag and duplicate content. Believe it or not, there are still websites existing and being created with duplicate title tags. Pay attention to this detail when creating a new website or you may find yourself hiring a search engine optimization (SEO) consultant to provide recommendations to correct this issue.

The long meta descriptions report shows what pages have long meta descriptions. Remember that this is according to Google and they do not indicate what is ‘too long’ so you will need to experiment with this to get it to be removed from this report. We have a set amount of characters to use for the creation of our meta descriptions, which has a minimum and maximum character limit. Having meta descriptions that are too long may cause Google to disregard your meta description in the results snippet and provide a results snippet pulled from your page, created by Google, and usually, not to your liking.

The short meta description report shows what pages have short meta descriptions. Much like the long meta description report, this will help you identify pages with meta descriptions that should be examined and will also need to be experimented with to get these removed from your Google Search Console HTML report. Remember that meta descriptions may show in your search query results snippet and short meta descriptions may be too uninformative to entice a visit from a searcher who viewed your results.

HTML Improvements: Title tag

Well, this is the big one isn’t it? The data in this report should be fairly self explanatory. This report contains data on:

  • Missing title tags
  • Duplicate title tags
  • Long title tags
  • Short title tags
  • Non-informative title tags

First, an understanding of the title tag aka the page <title> in the <head> area is needed. We feel that the title tag is of utmost importance in our key ranking factors. It is the leader onto the page and should be an indicator of the content to be found on the page. Missing title tags are simply that, missing! No page should be without a title tag. Believe it or not, this still appears on websites today.

Duplicate title tags are another search results query no-no. Duplicate title tags indicates no distinction from one page to the next page with a duplicate title tag. Title tags should be unique. Duplicate title tags, much like duplicate meta descriptions, can be an indicator of pages with duplicate content.

Long title tags are simply too long in the eyes of Google. You will need to experiment with your character usage. If you can find the page with the long title tag in the search query results, most likely your title tag will be truncated.

Short title tags are just that, too short. Again, you will need to experiment with character usage to find the sweet spot to make this error reporting go away.

Non-informative title tags are questionable. Are they really non-informative? You may think that you have created a great title tag for your page, but, in the end, Google says you haven’t. The best bet here is to re-examine your page’s content and revise your page title.

HTML Improvements: Non-indexable content

Generally, this relates to videos, images or rich media files. Some consideration may be in order to change the format of the information that is non-indexable. Of course, if you have done everything right, when you click on the HTML Improvements menu item you should see the following message, “We didn’t detect any content issues with your site”.

Some things to think about when using the Search Console is that it is only a tool. It may not tell you everything. It may be slow to update. It may need to be supplemented with other software tools to confirm or deny the information provided. But, the really big one is that it’s a Google tool and if Google is providing you this information, then it is important to Google. If it is important to Google, then it should be important to you as a site owner or manager. I’ve heard and read that there are problems with Search Console and sure I have had my own issues. But again, if things are reporting here they need to be reviewed and corrected if the data is accurate and current.

In closing, there are still many site owners and managers that are not aware of this tool or any of the other tools that are available for site evaluation and optimization for organic search. If you happen to be in this crowd, you may want to consider speaking with a That Company! search engine optimization marketing representative. After all, what good is your website if it doesn’t produce any revenue or leads?

Here at That Company! We provide world class SEO consultations as just one of our digital marketing services. We also provide social media marketing, Pay Per Click (PPC) paid advertising marketing and award winning print media services.

– Mark Gray, Senior SEO Manager