RT Cunningham


Website Enhancements for Search Engines and Social Networks

enhancements I’m removing the so-called website enhancements suggested by Facebook and Google. I’ve had enough time to know they don’t help me on this website at all.

More importantly, these website enhancements do nothing to improve the visitor experience. That’s what it’s all about, right? Isn’t that what Google has harped on all along?

Website Enhancements?

The two I’m focusing on are the open graph protocol and structured data markup. As far as I can tell, the only real thing either of them do is add bloat to each web page. Bloat makes web pages larger than necessary and potentially causes them to take longer to download.

Facebook developed the open graph protocol and other social networks latched on to it. Only search engines use structured data markup. And there’s the rub.

The social networks and search engines benefit from these things and in appearances only. The only websites that seem enjoy benefits are the huge commercial players, like news sites. To me, it seems these so-called enhancements do nothing to help small website owners.

Mistakes with Website Enhancements

If you make a mistake with the open graph data or structured data on any given webpage, your page rankings can take a nosedive quickly. With Google and Bing, it doesn’t take long for the wrong information to appear on the search engine results pages. It takes at least twice as long for them to re-crawl those pages. In my experience, it can take weeks for everything to show up correctly.

For me, it seems much more reasonable to avoid those mistakes by not including those enhancements in the first place. So… if you view the source of this page, you won’t see any open graph data in the head of the page and you won’t see any structured data markup near the end.

How does this affect Appearance?

As far as the search engine pages, it probably won’t change anything at all. With the social networks, the thumbnail will appear instead of a big image. The big image is usually too big anyway.

I’ve posted the links to my articles on Facebook with and without the featured image the open graph protocol selects. Without actually looks better.

Since the day I created this theme, I’ve tried to balance the appearance against functionality. I know there are things I can do to improve it and I’ll probably do so eventually. That is, if this website lasts that long.

My website traffic went from bad to horrible in mid-September. I seriously doubt the removal of these so-called enhancements will make it any worse.

I’ll keep this website going until at least the beginning of 2018. If things improve, I’ll renew the domain in March. If not, well, I guess I won’t.

Okay, I’m getting way off track here. Back to the original point: I’m removing the so-called enhancements I’ve been told to include to make my content more attractive to potential visitors. In my opinion and my opinion only, it doesn’t do that for this website and probably doesn’t do it for other small websites either.

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By RT Cunningham
November 6, 2017
Web Development