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Google SEO: Advice on application of microformats in tabbed pages


banana007

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Put the below on google webmaster forums. No takers. A Mr M. Egan of PC Advisor editorial was of the opionion i try here.

Just wanted some advice on this. I have added review microformat (schema.org version) on techworld.com reviews http://review.techworld.com/phones/3291121/htc-chacha-review/

Its only viewable on the overview tab as thats the page that has the most pertinant content for the review microformat i.e description, price etc http://review.techworld.com/phones/3291121/htc-chacha-review/?view=overview

So the questions are... 1. the later url is not the one that gets seen in the google search results - therefore i am guessing its pointless applying the microformats to it. (Search for "HTC ChaCha review techworld") in google.

  1. If i change the default page to be the overview tab would it be seen as a "thin" page and therefore not come back in results as much.

  2. Should i apply the microformats to all tabs and mark up what i can or should i keep just one tab a principle tab/page? I am guessing that some of you are thinking "you should redesign the page to be a single page with all the content in it." However the issue here is loss of impressions from the user clicking on the other tabs (verdict mainly i would assume is the other key tab) also poor user experience (uness dynamic tabs used - see next)

  3. If we restructured the page to be dynamic tabs i.e. using javascript and display:none and not doing page reloads similar to pcadvisor.co.uk does google see and index the display:none tabbed areas and if not do we effectively loose that content?

Thanks

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Forum Editor

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Your query on the Google webmaster forum was only posted yesterday - maybe it's a little early to give up on them?

When I run a Google search using your search terms (HTC ChaCha review techworld) I get the htc-chacha-review/ page, which seems to me to be the one that users will want. I can use the tabs for the other pages, and I agree that 'verdict' is the other key tab. No need to worry about lost impressions is there - any who is interested is going to click the other tabs anyway?

You could always try changing the default page to 'overview' and see what happens in the Google returns, but my advice would be to leave things as they are - 'review' is the more important as far as content goes.

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Ansolan

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Hi

As Forum Editor helpfully mentioned, you might still see a good response on the Webmaster Forum but no guarantee. Worth remembering the purpose of that facility, primarily to answer Google related questions, rather than general SEO questions, site reviews, or detailed reviews of site architecture.

To be honest, I wouldn't want to answer this one closely either, without quite a few hours to take a look and some discussion. One place you might start is this article by a very helpful member of Google staff:

Handling Duplicate Content

The principles there and detailed information via the links should help.

As a few vague, passing points:

How much unique and useful value do you think the Overview tab is offering, or a couple of other tabs.

Have you looked to see how Google are seeing the content e.g. regarding the two URLs below both offering the same content:

http://tinyurl.com/3wp4vkz

http://tinyurl.com/3z6hqal

Take a look at the visual caches and the text versions, from a search engine's point of view. Not neglecting issues such as same title and description, level of boilerplate, whether the different URLs are truly understood to be so.

This could be a long post but would still amount to the same core points:

Having content which is useful on each URL and unique to each URL is important. Each indexable URL needs to offer benefit within itself and therefore carry unique titles etc. which are justified by referring closely to the content.

Good search engines are long past just indexing pages, a clear understanding of the overall site is vital to them and your search returns.

You feel you need separate tabs such as Verdict. No idea why when this is one paragraph and half a ton of boilerplate.

1. If i change the default page to be the overview tab would it be seen as a "thin" page and therefore not come back in results as much.

As above, other tabs are thinner but that's not entirely the issue. Making sure you create the best possible scenario is.

2. Should i apply the microformats to all tabs and mark up what i can or should i keep just one tab a principle tab/page? I am guessing that some of you are thinking "you should redesign the page to be a single page with all the content in it." However the issue here is loss of impressions from the user clicking on the other tabs (verdict mainly i would assume is the other key tab) also poor user experience (uness dynamic tabs used - see next)

Why are you concerned over loss of impressions??

The current set up could be seen as a poor user experience in various ways e.g. the tabs themselves, the thin content on some tabs and the page itself. Most will just close this out (which makes the plan pointless anyway) but some will not like the level of ancillary as opposed to value added content. This incidentally is a bigger issue than the one you raised, not least looking to the future.

Redesigning the content to sit on one page isn't that bad an idea, a few other options mentioned below.

3. If we restructured the page to be dynamic tabs i.e. using javascript and display:none and not doing page reloads similar to pcadvisor.co.uk does google see and index the display:none tabbed areas and if not do we effectively loose that content?

You need to be careful about creating content available to users which is different to that available to robots, doesn't need to be an issue but can be. More importantly, search engine treatment of dynamic content, javascript in general, fondness of non standard approaches is still not ideal. You also create additional site/URL management issues which aren't needed.

Why do any of this when there are alternatives. You could simply have the content on one URL with CSS tabs. I would mention that tabbed content in search terms is a slightly grey area but as long as not deceptive will normally pass a manual review. In any event, better than what you have now, at least the entire content would be indexed as the content of one definable URL.

Other options include having the content openly on one page, maybe with less other content, or making two distinct pages with real value. Perhaps one for everything else with a more unique and intensive approach, plus another for the review. Wouldn't be my approach but feasible.

Much content is being indexed from your reviews site but not returned well. Reasons for that are complex in a competitive field, how unique the content is to your site occurs but there are many others and site architecture is amongst them.

Agree that the review content is important but more so when this is part of, or links to/from related content of quality on the same site. Not currently the case.

My suggestions here are basic, there will be ways of creating a better user experience for each product but as far as search goes, truly valuable, unique content on each indexable URL is the key. With that in mind, I would take your current architecture into the back yard, along with a very large hammer:)

P.S. If you do make structural changes, don't forget to 301 redirect any current URLs to their new equivalent.

P.S.2 This is still long and we haven't really scratched the surface, you see the problem others may have seen with replying.

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banana007

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Thanks to both of you.

FE: I agree that the user will want to most likely see the full review as the default page. That page probably comes up in search results as its got the most content. As Ansolan has shown all the links for each of the tabs is in google. So i think even if we change the overview to be the default tab its probable that it [overview tab] wouldnt come back in google listings and that ?tab=review probably would (assuming we changed the full review tab to be under that)

Still no reply on the google forums. I think once it goes on to the next page thats pretty much it. Gone forever.

Ansolan: I agree the annoying addition of the intcmp does create some issues re dupe content but i think google is smart enough to know its the same page. You can now specify in webmaster tools the nature of query string params and specify what they are for and if they effect content in any way.

The tinyurls show that all the tabs are indexed but are so "thin" as to be useless. So i think having the microformats on the overview page/tab only is useless. The thinking behind none dynamic tabs like these is page impressions caused by user clicks. Simple as that. Youll notice we have dynamic tabs on pca for reviews except the verdict which was dynamic but was resulting in loss of traffic (it gets clicked a lot).

Impressions is very important and a harsh reality of many sites like pca esp for content like reviews which advertisers pay a lot of cash for in comparison to other areas e.g. news. Ideally the pages are amazing and you get all the traffic you can eat and have no need to resort to such tactics as none dynamic tabs but hey ho.

I think tabs are a good user experience (mostly). They structure the data you have to show well and when they are dynamic they can be a pleasure to use. Doing a "fat" single page i.e. no pagination of content, everthing on one page would be good for google but a bit overwhelming and difficult to structure well. Plus you have the user reviews which can be alot of content. One approach with the dynamic tabs is detecting the bot and then showing all content i.e removing the display:none style on the tab contents (otherwise known as cloaking - which as you point out is frowned upon - although i think this sholdnt be the case always e.g. on pca we use disqus for comments but they are lost on a bot as they are javascript, so we detect a bot and show them staticaly - so we arent actually showing content that isnt there for average user)

If you used css tabs you would still have the display:none issue of hiding the tabbed content. Does google see display:none content?

Another option is doing ajax which in reponse to twitter and facebooks of the world is becoming indexable. This is what the #! in urls is all about. e.g. http://twitter.com/#!/mattjegan

I think as regards Techworld reviews it will need a slight rejig (its a couple of years old now). Ill ask the guv if its ok to tweak the main page and have items that you can use microformats on e.g. price displayed there.

Regards

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Ansolan

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Hi

As you are using structured data, imagine you are familiar with the information below but just in case:

Google Blog

Schema

Not a fan of CPM type models, in part for exactly the reasons highlighted here. There's also the thought that sacrificing clicks for better search position might then bring more clicks, along with more links/social recognition due to better content, which again will bring more clicks and better search position, bringing more clicks etc. That said, ad sales are not my field.

As far as search goes, adding structured data isn't a bad idea, also appreciate you have considered wider search implications and are trying to balance these against other needs. Even so, your pages at present could significantly be improved for search, to the extent of outweighing other considerations.

i think google is smart enough to know its the same page

Not perhaps in the sense you mean, smart enough to recognise duplication and see that as a sign of lower quality but not necessarily to work out your intentions or rationale. My impression on your site in search at present is that a better structure could have quite an impact, particularly ensuring each indexable URL holds good quality, in depth content, which is only available for indexing on that URL.

Agree you can use parameter handling, or canonical tags (a better option) to try to see Google treat the pages in the same way as they would with 301 redirects but leave them available for visitors.

Whilst both are steps forward, parameter handling is statistically less effective (often due to incorrect implementation) and canonical tags do require time, due to the need to crawl both URLs and see the system recognise the situation. Also worth noting both are classified as strong hints to search engines, rather than definitive.

In a perfect world, the best move is to avoid the need for either. Apart from search, this often holds benefit in terms of site management, error avoidance, for users, for link building.

If you used css tabs you would still have the display:none issue of hiding the tabbed content. Does google see display:none content?

Using display:none for legitimate reasons isn't an issue, or that rare e.g. numerous forms of navigation. As mentioned earlier, there have been suggestions of issues on occasion with tabbed content but if you are using tabs anyway, the CSS version won't be more of a problem. Google will index the full content of the page, you can see an example on this demo:

Css Tabs

The page indexed

Click through to the text version of the cache.

I wouldn't incidentally recommend the blank tab approach without initial content, for users and definitely not for search. Fine for Stu's demo I guess.

Beyond any of the above, whatever you decide to do practically, the first need is for the site to only offer high quality original content for indexing.

Along with a gradual increase in signals from users, quality of content is the future of search. The point is approaching when all the technical wizadry in the world will not make up for lack of that and ranking sites as much as individual pages is part of the measure.

Offering great content on a proportion of URLs whilst having a number available for indexing without that has never been good, in not too long could be classified as suicidal.

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banana007

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Thanks Ansolan The css tabs definitely looks like a better solution than the javascript version (assuming it has the browser support, we still support IE6).

Looks like google did indeed index all the content as when i search for Gauguin it comes up as a snippet even though its not shown http://tinyurl.com/3u233df

Out of interest when you do a "Fetch as googlebot" or the text version of the cached page doesnt it always look like just doing a page source view?

Still no answers on the google forum :-(.

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Ansolan

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Hi

They are slightly different, Fetch as Googlebot does indeed just show the HTML, plus server response, date and time. Cached page text versions show the visible text, links etc. essentially what would be available to a user but without styling, or some non standard input.

Both are good indicators of what Google are seeing and can help in many ways, from spotting hacked pages to content which Google may have a problem accessing.

That's one of the advantages, whilst Fetch as Googlebot is more or less like view source in a browser, not always. Along with that, you know whether Google can even access the page/site at the time you test. Being visible to users as you doubtless know doesn't guarantee this.

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