Title: Some links have moved...
Posted: February 02, 2008 (12:13 AM)
If you've been to the site's main page lately, you may have noticed that some links have moved. This has prompted some of you to ask what's going on, and to suppose that I was "just being a dumb dick." However, that is not the case. I actually had a good reason for moving things around.
"But Jason," some of you may say, "we were used to the links in their old places."
I know. I know. I was the same way. Then I saw the light. Then I came to understand the (potential) value of rearranging. Did I do it for the money? No, I didn't do it for the money. Or did I?
The reason the links has to move comes down to Google. As you know if you've been reading my blog, I'm looking for ways to bring more traffic to the site. I've come to the conclusion that the way to do this is to make sure that Google has a good idea just how much great content we offer. Our problem isn't a lack of content, not by a longshot. Rather, it's the limited traffic.
So basically, the time is always right to optimize the site for search engine performance. And as you might know, search engines like Google place less emphasis on meta tags than they did five years ago. That's because unscrupulous webmasters spam words that have nothing to do with the site, just in hopes of attracting an audience and satisfying advertisers. Therefore, search engines now pay particular attention to content, and particularly the content that first appears when a page loads.
For a site like HonestGamers, that content is the text that appears in the very top bar of the site. So basically, for awhile we've been giving Google mixed signals by promoting the different systems we cover. That's good, but it's more important that the site deliver a consistent message about its focus (which is less about a few systems listed in that bar and more about the reviews, guides, cheats and other content we offer).
So basically, switching things around was something I felt needed to be done for Google... so that we can bring in more users and share our excellent content with the people who will want to see it but don't know that we exist. As an added bonus, the consoles we cover now catch the eye more prominently as a person loads the site, so that should in theory improve the amount of interest from casual visitors.
These changes aren't necessarily final, but everything I checked online seems to indicate that within 3 or 4 months, this move will result in significantly improved traffic. It's worth trying, I figure, so I hope you'll understand why I made a change that must have been perplexing to many of you. I'm not just screwing around on the site for the heck of it. I'm making the changes that will have the best long-term impact possible. This was one of those changes.
Posted: February 02, 2008 (12:56 PM)
I was wondering if I was just being weird when I had trouble finding links I'd clicked a hundred times before. They HAVE moved.
Out of interest - and this coming from someone who knows little about web design, just about coding web apps - how does Google determine what the "top links" are? It'd seem sensible that it's based on what's at the top of the code, not what's at the top of the site visually - and if you wanted to make this tweak without changing the main page's appearance, wouldn't it be possible to change it in such a way that visually, nothing changes?
Posted: February 02, 2008 (02:35 PM)
That's theoretically possible, but it would also be something that Google and other search engines might consider deceptive. If it were brought to their attention, they would then remove the site from their listings (hardly a desirable outcome).
The other thing is that delaying how something displays might technically work in source code--say, if I were to assign the text to a variable and then display the variable later--but that would only be in the true source code, server-side. The source code that Google considers is whatever actually passes to the user's browser.
Posted: February 03, 2008 (02:54 AM)
*nods* I was thinking more along the lines of using absolute positioning (or, suggesting this before my more professional co-workers strangle me for the suggestion) stylesheets to determine that one object goes above the other, even though it is mentioned later in the HTML/ASPX/PHP/take your pick code.
However if that is considered a deceptive practice then obviously it's not a good idea. :) Better to just get used to this which we'll probably do within a week.