In this post, I explore the process behind finding an issue using your browser and the free tools available to any user.
Rendered vs Source
A key part of diagnosing issues is understanding the difference between the first delivery of HTML and the rendered HTML.
- View source first to understand what’s served by the initial set of HTML
- View the rendered HTML and understand how different the two things are
- If they are both similar we would recommend using Diffchecker to compare each piece of code to be able to visualise the differences.
Using Foot Asylum as an example, we can see where the COVID-19 message isn’t available in the source but is present when the DOM has loaded.
After running the website through the tester we can see the validation messaging on the left and the rendered website on the right. The first thing that jumps out is that the image in the tester doesn’t match what we see on a mobile device:
The tester is never perfect as it doesn’t seem to go through the full rendering process that the actual Smartphone bot would, so the next step here is to look at the code available within the mobile-friendly tester to see if the HTML has been picked up. Let’s look for this heading tag:
To do this, we can search the HTML returned in the tester for the text to see if it was picked up by the Smartphone bot:
The content was not found in the mobile-friendly tester. This highlights that there could possibly be an issue with this content so we need to investigate further.
By looking at the cache, we can see if Google has managed to indexed this content:
Here we can see the content ready and in the index.
Any page within a property you’re verified against can be tested within Google Search Console to see the code that’s in Google’s index. You can compare this against the rendered code from your browsers as well as the Mobile-Friendly Tester to spot any issues:
Site: Operator Command
This is an awesome way to see if the content on the page has been successfully indexed where you don’t have to be verified in Search Console. If you take any page you’re looking to audit, you can add site: to the front of it and wrap the content you suspect of having issues in quote marks at the end. Let’s look for some content far down on our own About Us page.
site: https://www.impression.co.uk ‘supporting growth in our local community’
Below you can see the content has been pulled through from the page, from here it’s safe to say that this content is indexed and Google has been able to render it.
If you ever suspect that something isn’t indexed, then this is a really powerful way to check quickly.
[Ebook] Technical SEO for non-technical thinkers
- Mobile-Friendly Tester – Allows you to crawl as the Smartphone bot would to see how Google understands the page.
- Cache: operator – This operator lets you see what Google have cached for the page. Here you can quickly see if there are pieces of content which haven’t been indexed by matching this to the page you’re seeing in the browser.
- Search Console – Lets you query what’s in the index to see if it’s seeing the same as users are.
- Site: operator – Allows you to quickly check if the content is in the index by checking suspect pieces of content within the SERPs.