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Can website display issues on certain platforms affect a website's search rankings and potentially hinder any SEO efforts?

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Please edit out the irrelevant back story, bit hard to locate the actual question. –  Yannis Rizos Aug 14 '12 at 12:53
    
It's always a tough call with the Stack Exchange sites. If I ask a 1-paragraph question that doesn't explain the backdrop, I often get closevotes on the grounds that people claim I'm not showing enough research. If I go too far the other way then (as in your case) I irritate some people because I've been too verbose. How about this: once someone answer the question sufficiently, I'll go back and edit it down to a 1-paragraph question to reduce clutter and free up a little server space. Savvy? –  herpylderp Aug 14 '12 at 13:02
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Probably more appropriate for webmasters.stackexchange.com –  Anonymous Aug 14 '12 at 13:02
    
@herpylderp What your family thinks you do is not "showing enough research" ;) –  Yannis Rizos Aug 14 '12 at 13:03
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@herpylderp: Reading over the backstory, most of it fails to show research. Showing research would be, "I read Google's webmaster guidelines and they say X, Y, and Z about website display issues." Your back story is largely irrelevant to the question, with the possible exception of "an SEO expert told me that website display issues should be fixed before performing SEO." On the other hand, for example, "I am doing web development for my father" is not relevant. –  Brian Aug 14 '12 at 14:17

3 Answers 3

I don’t know what you mean by “even perform SEO”

The fact of matter is that if the Site doesn’t render properly on Mobile devices it will affect your position on Mobile search results.

That beings said, if by performing SEO you mean she is editing your HTML, then yes She is right to ask you to finalize you HTML prior to her changing it (or making change recommendations).

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Thanks @Morons (+1) - a few followups: (1) since I'm fuzzy on what specific list of "to-dos" are involved with optimizing search engine results (SEO), I use the term "perform SEO" to reference them vaguely! But yes, it probably, ultimately, boils down to editing HTML. (2) You are misunderstanding the situation. She is not asking me to finalize the HTML before she changes it (for "performing SEO"), she is saying she can't "perform SEO" until I fix the display issues first. Thus she is saying its a barrier for her to even begin working. –  herpylderp Aug 14 '12 at 13:40
    
In other words, she claims I need to fix HTML to display right, otherwise it will affect her ability to make SEO work. What I'm asking is this: if a site doesn't render correctly, will that affect its ability to rank in search engines. If so, why? –  herpylderp Aug 14 '12 at 13:42
    
@herpylderp Because Google cares about the quality of their search results. –  Morons Aug 14 '12 at 14:06
    
I'm not trying to be difficult here, but how does Google know that an image will display incorrectly when viewed in Safari, or that a div tag won't render properly in IE 7? This just doesn't make sense! In other words, I doubt very highly that the way a HTML page actually renders (visually) to an end user is something Google can calculate and take into consideration for PageRank (or whatever it uses). Are you sure you're understanding my question? Thanks again for all the help so far. –  herpylderp Aug 14 '12 at 14:29
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@herpylderp - For the most part Google won't know. Minor discrepencies (or even fairly major ones) will go unnoticed by search engines. They will see the content and not much more. However, search engines are wise to black-hat SEO techniques like placing a large white div over spammy, keyword-stuffed paragraphs and similar practises. Basically, you've no need to be worried if you or your SEO contact aren't trying to 'cheat' the system. –  Anonymous Aug 14 '12 at 14:47

It's possible that display techniques might cause problems with SEO. I'll go over a few but without more specifics it's hard to say if what you're doing will cause problems or be unimportant.

  1. URL - Your URL should include page specific keywords (yoursite.com/brandname-mens-loafers.php). The directory depth shouldn't be excessive, no more than about 3-4 levels at most. Querystring parameters should be avoided as much as possible since this can cause duplicate on-site content and other crawling problems. URL's should be easy for people to copy to share via social media, email, blogs and so forth.

  2. Content Layout - Insure meaningful, keyword relevant, content displays above the fold. Avoid using AJAX or other client side script techniques to show primary information although additional info can be shown using this technique. If possible, try to load as much textual content as possible at page load.

  3. Mobile - Use a responsive CSS layout rather than a separate subdomain for mobile. This prevents crawling errors, unintended content duplication and so forth. Include address, phone number and other contact info.

  4. Page elements - Avoid links to outside sites, especially sitewide footer/sidebar links. Use a clear title and description metatags. These aren't important for ranking but may be used to display info about your page on search engine results, thus improving click-thru. Include widgets for sharing your link via social media and email.

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For SEO it is best to keep your website with as much Plain as possible. Folks often make it complicated. But if you build a silo architecture with flat HTML background your website will get much better visibility to google.

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