Could Your HTML Code Be Costing You Traffic?

HTML Code to Success

HTML code could cost your blog or website organic traffic.  Do you think that could be true with the latest Google updates?  You may have heard one of my retail sites took a Google beating from the last Panda update almost 2 weeks ago. I do not use any black hat methods or even know what some of the terms they use are. I would not know how to cloak a link or hide text. I did receive a hint from my friends over at WebMeUp when I inquired. My HTML coding was a little messy.


HTML code

Messy HTML code

How do you write your posts and make the headlines stand out? Do you just scroll over the text? See below.


visual editor

Sometimes when you do it this way and make several changes it can cause your coding to be messy. I had to totally redo my home page and change the coding from scratch. It’s been almost 2 weeks and traffic is starting to come back.

The Right Way to Code Your HTML

  • You should use your text editor to check your posts. Make sure they are not duplicate HTML codes. I had for example used <p><span style=”font-size:22px;”><span style=”font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;”> If the font is just arial (it was helvetica prior) just use arial <p><span style=”font-size:22px;”><span style=”font-family: arial;”>

See the difference?

  • Always use h1 before h2 and h2 before h3 – There is a hierachy to the title tags. I had some h2 before h1. That is a no-no.

text editor


Other Possible Panda Hits

What else could have caused a drop in traffic?

  • Links. I have a resource page and I did find some links that were pointing to sites that changed and not for the good. I got rid of them. It made me think. Are resource pages a thing of the past? Should I ditch it entirely?
  • Heavy Pages – What are heavy pages? Heavy HTML coding – a product page with over 100 products. I learned this from my Bing Webmaster tools. yes, BING webmaster tools. I was afraid to seperate the page into several for products – say 30 products per page. I was afraid Google would think they were duplicate pages/content. I checked out some big retail sites and that’s how they do and they are on page 1.

So you know why I haven’t been to your blog lately to comment, I’ve been very busy fixing the retail sites to meet Google’s latest needs. The ironic thing is the site is ranking better on Bing even page 1 for some terms.

Another lesson: Never depend just on Google for your traffic. Thankfully we still had some sales from Pinterest, a relevant directory and Yahoo. I also learned you can request from Google why your site could be de-ranked. It’s called their reconsideration form.

What else do you think could case a drop in our blog or website search rankings today?


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Lisa loves helping others to thrive online through Content Marketing with Social Media, Blogging and SEO. What good is knowledge if you cannot share it with others? She has 20+ years experience in marketing/advertising with 6 years experience in content marketing, social media, blogging and SEO. Check out her latest eBook "Learn to Tweet and Thrive on Twitter" now on Amazon.

81 comments On Could Your HTML Code Be Costing You Traffic?

  • Thanks for sharing important tips regarding html coding. I never know that use of unnecessary tag may harmful to your blogs. I use H2 before H3 in my articles. I thought this may be right. May people are not aware of this. thanks for sharing.

  • Google helps, but it’s not my end-all. I was never fun of putting all my eggs into one basket, but girl I am so impressed with what you are doing. Bing is starting to come up fast on Google and I signed up for Webmaster tools to start learning what you just told us. I never thought half this, but I did hear about HTML codes messing up your site if you use it wrong. Thank you so much for this info girl. I sent you a message offline on FB.
    Sonia recently posted..Blogger Spotlight: Stacy Claflin, Grow With StacyMy Profile

    • Hi Sonia, yes, I will get there (Facebook- not my 1st choice of sites -LOL) Yes I may do a piece on Bing Webmaster tools because I found different things there than at Google Webmaster tools. Great stuff too. I’m glad I could help along the way. I’ve noticed Bing showing up more in what’s hot sites in Alexa recently too. Very cool. Talk soon my friend.
      Lisa recently posted..Page Speed – Which Website Formats Have The Fastest?My Profile

  • Hi Lisa, Sorry your blog got hit hard by Panda. I’ve taken a hit too, but I have no idea why. But when I get hit, my traffic usually rebounds from Google over a few weeks to a month.

    I am always diligent about cleaning up code, going back to my WordPerfect days. Superfluous code is usually the source of a problem with articles.

    I only use H1 for my title, then I use H2 and H3 for headers and sub-headers. I’m thinking it’s okay to use H3 above H2 sometimes? For example, in today’s post, I used H2 for headings such as Apps that Make You Look Better and then H3 for the titles of apps. That’s what they are supposed to be used for, right?

    Thanks so much for this eye-opening article, Lisa!
    Carolyn recently posted..Fun Apps to Make You Look Fabulous or Hideous!My Profile

  • I have actually realized that my HTML is just one of the things that are costing me a lot as I run my website. Thank you very much for providing the right guidelines for placing an HTML on your blog properly. Please keep writing, and thank you!
    Emilia recently posted..New Years Eve Cruise in Sydney 2012 Harbour Fireworks Cruise!My Profile

  • Your HTML is not the only thing that may cost you when you’re talking about your blog. As a webmaster, you really have to update yourself with what’s happening in the SEO industry every time you get the chance. There are other things that may cause you to shell out more money, like broken links, heavy pages, things like that. You just have to be extra careful, after all, everything is a risk when you take your business online.

  • To use HTML code on right way is really important, I see some people don’t use HTML on right way & due to this they don’t get success. Even I also used to commit some mistakes in HTML & faced some basic problems in HTML. I must say using html coding on right way is first step to get traffic.

  • Thankfully the google panda and penguin updates have not touched by pagerank. I do get the majority of my traffic from google and standing strong at a PR 4. Hope it rises 🙂

    Thanks for these tips!
    The Nerdy Nurse recently posted..Health Tips for Living with DiabetesMy Profile

    • Interesting Brittney, our page rank did not go down at all. It was the VISITS from Google that went down. I hope you get traffic from other methods too. It’s harder to climb pagerank, the higher you are the harder it gets. 4 is great. You really have an awesome site there. Thanks for coming by and commenting.
      Lisa recently posted..Link Shy After The Latest Google Panda WorkingsMy Profile

  • I guess I’ll have to organize my HTML so that it won’t look too messy in Google’s perspective. Thank you for this post. I’m a new blogger and I really didn’t expect that my HTML can somehow cost me my earnings. That feels horrible.

    Joy recently posted..Link Building Techniques You Should AvoidMy Profile

  • Hi Lisa, I did not know this at all. Thanks for making the point about headlines and H1 H2 tags so clear. I will definitely check that out. And your retail store site is way ahead of me! Good job. Blessings, Amy

  • Hi Lisa,

    This is kind of confusing to me. I don’t have a font plug in on my blog so I use HTML to highlight various subheadings. Could this be hurting my blog? This is the code I use “” .

    I am like so many others here – I don’t want to offend the big G but at the same time, I want to balance the “I didn’t know” with “oh crap, I’d better fix that.”

    Thank you! Suzanne
    Suzanne recently posted..How Much Are Financial Advisors Worth?My Profile

  • 😳 I have this site Lose Weight etc… that after I finished working
    yesterday….loads so slow…not funny…. just added some pictures to media and one page….but did a lot of rearranging on some of the post….guess I’d better go back anc check it out!

  • Lisa – Very good article on how HTML code in our blog can affect from google updates and thus drastically bring down the traffic. It made me go back and verify for the span styles and headers. Thankfully everything looks good and I do not have any Heavy html pages as well. So i think i should be fine for now.

    From reading the comments from Sapna, I too believe that having more than one font shouldnt adversely affect, but hey, you never can take a chance with google 🙂
    Praveen Rajarao recently posted..Four Gadgets that Can Improve Your LifestyleMy Profile

  • Hi Lisa, It’s definitely could just because visitors don’t see what you’re sharing which can really hurt them away or you can just choose not to display images too often and try to use text instead.

    Thanks – Ferb
    Ferb recently posted..Top 7 Important Facebook Page Resources That Boost Your Facebook ExperiencesMy Profile

  • Hi Lisa,
    This post is really and eye opener, the truth is that I didn’t know about all these things before, its really amazing how all these little things can sometimes cause us harm, can’t even imagine that.

    And yes, i agree with you that we should not depend on Google alone for traffic but it can be very disastrous.

    Thanks for sharing Lisa and have a great week.
    Theodore Nwangene recently posted..Success Through a Positive Mental AttitudeMy Profile

  • The more I blog, the more I realize I need to learn to speak HTML!
    Janeane Davis recently posted..Spring Into Action in the Face of FearMy Profile

  • Yes I am always checking my html code for errors and warnings. I get worried sometimes when I add CSS code but I usually try to add it to my universal stylesheet.

    Google traffic has become vital for my blog and I need to check everything, including the HTML code.

  • Hi Lisa!

    Thank Goodness I don’t rely on Google for traffic! I am not one to pay attention to html’s and things like that. So I don’t know what Google will do with me, and “Frankly My Dear I Don’t Give A Damn!” lol.

    I am more focused on building my list, engaging people there than I am with my blog. I do have enough readers that I can keep up with these days. However there is one post that keeps lingering on the first page of Google. It has become a thorn in my side because I am flooded with comments and emails. Most of the comments are not approved yet just because I don’t have the time.

    I like to answer everyone that comes to my blog and reciprocate. But because I don’t have time for that and it is not a place where people will come in and be part of my marketing system – I don’t care!!!! I know I am sounding like a horrible person but my focus is making money.

    Google won’t help me with that so to me it doesn’t matter. I don’t intend to advertise with them so what the heck.

    All these changes drive me nuts, it is time consuming to learn and once I learn it – it changes once again!

    Sorry for the rant, but I am getting fed up with Google not playing nice.

    Donna Merrill recently posted..10 WaysTo Set Coaching BoundariesMy Profile

    • LOL Donna, I always said never to have all your eggs in one basket but that Google basket is so darn big! I do agree about it being time consuming to learn and then once you do they change it up all. Very frustrating indeed, not sure how the little businesses can survive online. For those that didn’t rely on Google they relied on FB and then they made changes too with Edgerank. Best we can do is build our own blogs and building our lists Donna. Thanks for your input, I don’t mind the rant at all.
      Lisa recently posted..Could Your HTML Code Be Costing You Traffic?My Profile

  • Hi Lisa

    Never liked the sizes of the headings so have always changed the font to the size of the post and then added the heading tag. Did not know that the title was considered as h1 as it shows up above when you write the post and there is nothing you can do to change it. Now I shall have to go all through every post (ugh, as that is a lot) and rework all the “h” tags. Will relook at the sales pages also and see if there are some changes I can do there.

    Thank you for the valuable information…maybe it will help lower my Alexa numbers.


    • Hi Mary, I don’t think it will help Alexa #’s but it may help your ranking in Google – (which is even better). How many posts do you have? It’s frustrating, I know 🙂 You are welcome and have a great week.
      Lisa recently posted..Could Your HTML Code Be Costing You Traffic?My Profile

      • Hi Lisa

        With all the sites I am going to keep it is around 200, plus it is probably on article pages also. Just start working on one website at a time. It would be nice if it budged the Alexa ranking in the right direction. Shall keep an eye on that.


  • Hi Lisa,

    Wow, I tell you. This makes my head spin. Google is trying to drive us nuts, doesn’t it?

    What about if you use h3 on a post without using any h1 or h2 is it bad? After my title al I use is sub-headings and I set them up on h3. Was just curious.

    Thanks for this great info, and have a great week.
    Sylviane Nuccio recently posted..Beware Of Hubpages And How They Stabbed Me In The BackMy Profile

  • Yikes,
    I’ve been doing loads of H2 before H1. Need to go back and do some of my own clean up now. i never knew that it could effect my ranking in google. Make me wonder how the average person who might not know HTML will dare in the new panda update world..?
    Annie André recently posted..3 Popular Vacation Spots Where You Can Find Affordable Short Term Housing RentalsMy Profile

  • Oh, it is black magic to me, I was not a fan if coding at all but you wrote it is a friendly way that i even feel like trying it) thanks for sharing and writing it with a human words))) lol 😮 😮
    Evan recently posted..Best WordPress Themes with Slider 2013My Profile

  • Writing your articles first on Microsoft Word and then copying them onto to your blog is a sure fire way to get some ugly code happening. It’s good to know that WordPress has the import option available for this method. Just click on the little W icon, paste your text in the box that opens up; and your new post will be ‘relatively’ clean from junk code. The same goes for importing from Notepad.

    DreamWeaver has introduced the same idea when importing from Word to a web page. The problem was even worse there! Word HTML is a pretty nasty sight!

    Thanks for s great article!

    Kris Olin recently posted..Some Legal Considerations For Website Owners And BloggersMy Profile

  • Hi Lisa,

    You can use one SPAN tag instead of two of ’em too 😉 However using multiple font families have a reason too dear. In case the rendering device missing the first font family, it will rendered using the second specified font family. However Arial is available everywhere, so it’s alright to mention one only 🙂

    Search Engine bots are not smart enough, so we need to follow HTML guidelines for ’em to crawl easily 🙂 Even using headings are fairly easy, but we can see how bloggers ignoring ’em, no? Also I find bloggers misusing headings Lisa. To be search engine friendly, they even use heading tags with lists too 😯 That’s where hard work comes 🙂

    From my experience, doing formatting after writing the text is much helpful not to mess up with HTML tags Lisa 🙂 One thing I don’t like WordPress editor is that, in some cases, it doesn’t use HTML tags as intended. For example, using line breaks mess up with spaces.

    Mayura recently posted..3 Reasons to Use SlideShare to Promote Your BlogMy Profile

  • I wouldn’t worry about / tags hurting you per se, but utilizing them correctly could help your rankings in some cases. So I wouldn’t worry about the Panda update. The h1/h2 order is a problem with many wordpress themes though.

  • Thank you very much Lisa for this. I always read over www that messy html codes are not good for search engine bots but you have defined the same thing with examples. I loved it. Thank you so much! 🙂
    Atish Ranjan recently posted..Content Optimization: Optimize Content for Search EnginesMy Profile

  • I wouldn’t worry about / tags hurting you per se, but utilizing them correctly could help your rankings in some cases. So I wouldn’t worry about the Panda update. The h1/h2 order is a problem with many wordpress themes though. I would check that by viewing the source of your homepage (right-click in firefox -> view source) and control+f for h1 and h2 and see which comes first. It can be a real pain to fix depending on your theme, but is definitely recommended. Your page name should be the name of your blog on the homepage only. Blog post titles should be h2 on the homepage, but when viewing the single post page should be h1. Hope that helps.
    Paul Shapiro recently posted..Stand Out With Twitter’s New Line Break FeatureMy Profile

  • This is such useful information! Thanks! I usually just start typing my blog posts and don’t pay any attention to h1,2,3, but now I will! Btw, found you through triberr 🙂
    Martha Giffen recently posted..5 Simple Social Media Tips You Can Use Right NowMy Profile

  • Great post Lisa! Did you use Google Analytics to find out how your site was affected by Google ranking? My observation yesterday was that my referral sources were in a completely different order with Facebook being most impacted. It went from the top to the bottom. I wonder if Google had anything to do with this? Back to your post, where would I go to check broken or inappropriate links? Thanks for always giving timely information in a way that non-techy people can understand!
    Susan recently posted..Let the Creative Process Begin!My Profile

    • Hi Susan, yes and webmaster tools. No hints. Everything checked out fine in Webmaster tools, no warnings like I’ve heard others have had. No – Facebook edgerank is why your Facebook is down. Another company wanting you to pay for using them. In some ways I can’t blame them but in others, yuk! You can check broken links in your Google webmaster tools. It’s under Crawl Errors. I may file a request from Google about the site – reconsideration form. Thanks for coming by Susan 🙂
      Lisa recently posted..Could Your HTML Code Be Costing You Traffic?My Profile

  • Hey Lisa,

    I really need to take an online course or HTML for dummies because I get so confused with those and so intimidated that I don’t even try to learn it but it’s high time I did 🙂

    I can only imagine how much it sucked having to redo your homepage but then that sometimes sparks an idea for something new or different. 🙂

    I took a look at your site and it’s looking good, wish you all the success with it! You’ve actually been getting me motivated to start a retail website. I’ve been doing random searches to see what the hottest items are. Is there a lot of work involved? Hmm, maybe you can write eBook on how to start a retail site…just thinking 🙂

    Gonna have to do a little maintenance check on my site to make sure all is OK. Hope you got it all taken care of!
    Corina Ramos recently posted..Coming Soon – KOBO Arc 64GB GiveawayMy Profile

    • Hi Corina, it sure is a lot of work, getting the right products, suppliers, etc. Then getting found. I started a Twitter account for and no one except Bren is tweeting with me there yet. I forgot how lonely that be on Twitter when you first start out. Sometime I’d love to do an eBook on that one Corina. I need 7 days into 24 hours 🙂 Let me know if you have any questions. Hope your weekend is going well.
      Lisa recently posted..Could Your HTML Code Be Costing You Traffic?My Profile

  • Hey Lisa,

    If you can believe this, my blog took a hit and I have NEVER done anything underhanded to get traffic. Never.

    My HTML coding is fine and I always use the header tags. With my theme my fonts and sizes are preset so that’s not something I have to worry about.

    I just recently created my resource page again because people kept asking me for my affiliate links to sites that I use so all of them work fine and I don’t have a lot on that page.

    I also don’t have any type of product page or anything with a lot of coding or images on it so I’m still free and clear there too. I just get so upset with Google slapping me when I’m doing everything right in my opinion.

    Thank goodness I don’t rely on them for their traffic and the way they’ve been treating me these past few years I’m about ready to take my business elsewhere and to heck with them. I mostly get referral traffic anyway so I’m extremely pleased with that. My comments haven’t faltered so I’m still getting traffic. Oh well, another update bites the dust.

    Hope you’ve been able to get all of that straightened out and sorry you had to even deal with any of that. Now if I can just figure out why the heck they slapped me!

    Adrienne recently posted..UPDATE: Author Bio Box Solution FoundMy Profile

    • Of course I can believe it Adrienne – you would not do that type of thing. Me either, I would not know how to cloak a link or make text disappear, hard enough to make it appear! Sounds like you have a nice theme there Adrienne. Your page with affiliate links should be fine and they are no follow, correct? Mine on scrubs is a bit different but helpful nursing/health type sites. I did get rid of few that I was not sure on the other day.
      If I don’t see a better uptick in traffic soon I will fill out their reconsideration form. Did you ever go that route yourself? Thanks for your input Adrienne and I hope your weekend is going well.
      Lisa recently posted..Could Your HTML Code Be Costing You Traffic?My Profile

    • Hi Adrienne, Just jumping in here with a question. I thought you used Thesis, which does allow you to change the font, rather easily. Did you keep the default font?
      Carolyn recently posted..Grab Yourself a Gravatar!My Profile

  • This is the second article I’ve seen about this very thing in the past week. Thing is, the first article was generic; spoke in generalities. Yours was more personal and specific, and for good reason.
    I never use Heading 1 and Heading 2 on my site, because they look too big to me from an aesthetic perspective. They’re make-me-cringe big. I go directly to Heading 3, and only use it. Is that a no-no, do you think?
    At any rate, Miss Lisa, fantastic information. I am now off to check out your new site! 🙂

    • Hi Ellen, Heading 1 is your title anyways so best never to use it on WordPress. I do use 3 here on my bullet points and usually start with 2 for my subheading (as Yoast guides me). Let me know what you think of the new site, we just added some aprons today – more coming 🙂 Have a great weekend Ellen.
      Lisa recently posted..Could Your HTML Code Be Costing You Traffic?My Profile

  • Hi Lisa,

    Enlightening, if slightly worrying information – thanks. I don’t really ‘do’ HTML – I usually rely on the visual editor to translate stuff for me, so I don’t really feel I have the know-how to check if my coding’s ‘messy’, as you describe.

    The one thing I can check and that I’ve almost certainly got wrong on some posts is the hierarchy of the title tags – but how annoying is that! I just put them in so they look right, it’s irritating to think we have to re-arrange them just because Google doesn’t like their order. Hey-ho!

    Thanks so much, Lisa – always learn something new when I read your posts!

    Sue Neal recently posted..Google Reader Rest In Peace: Long Live Feedly!My Profile

  • HI Lisa,

    Great share!

    I’m well versed with HTML but didn’t know that because of certain tags wrongly placed could result in the site being hit by Google updates.

    Lisa, giving multiple fonts(in your span tag) shouldn’t be a concern, reason being we usually give that in code(as you have mentioned above), because if “ARIAL” is not supported by server then it will automatically start using the helvetica, if helvetca is also not supported then server goes for Sans-serif, this is the convention as a developer we use more often.

    Thanks for this great share.

    Sapna recently posted..My Blogging Report Card of my first 5 months in blogosphereMy Profile

  • Lisa,
    This is a great article. I know html code and know it fairly well but didn’t know that bad could effect Google! That sucks! 🙄 But thanks for sharing this great info. I’m sure alot of people will me able to use it. So many people are afraid of html and may need this to help them through. Now you’ve got me thinking and I need to go back and check out my posts! 😛 Thanks so much for sharing! 🙂
    Barbara Charles recently posted..4 Reasons Why Triberr Won’t Work For You – Part 3My Profile

  • Enlightening point of view Lisa!
    I never spared a thought towards HTML codes since I have very little knowledge about them. But now I think I need to brush up the basis little more after reading this post and realizing how it might be costing me!!
    Rashmi Sinha recently posted..YOUR FAVORITE KEYLOGGER FOR FREEMy Profile

  • Those are good prices on chef gear, and great photos. Clean, easy to use site. If I were a chef and needed work clothes, I think I would go for the bulk discount. Nice job.
    Astro Gremlin recently posted..Disneyland Bans Children Under 14 Alone, Disney World, California Adventure, tooMy Profile

  • Thanks Lisa. Invaluable information. Great post as usual.

    I check the html in my posts. I started doing this after WordFence, a free WordPress plugin that monitors a site for problems, informed me I had a malware link in a Zemanta image. I’ve also been having Google crawling issues with some 404 pages after my site was hacked and my hosting service had to reboot my site to a date three weeks prior to the hacking.

    I also use a paid service with an annual fee of $35, I think. It’s called They also update plugins.
    Lauren recently posted..The Hail Mary Hissy FitMy Profile

  • Educative post, Lisa!

    I never ever thought of HTML when I write and post my articles. I simply write on MS Word and just paste them up. The only place I use HTML are in the sidebar widgets that too occasionally when I’ve to put up some image, and I’ve a ready made format for that.

    I was told that the title of the post is h1 and there should be no other h1 in the post. Is that true? Also, I read about the HTML to text ratio. But I know you’re not referring to that here.

    MY blog was hit by Panda too long back and luckily it’s going fine now, though I don’t depend much on traffic through the search engines. Thanks. 🙂
    Harleena Singh recently posted..Will You Change Your Lifestyle For A CauseMy Profile

  • Hi Lisa! Great info! The only thing I really check on either one of my blogs, is the traffic coming too it. I still have yet to dabble into the analytics and the SEO stuff. I blog for fun on both so not sure how important all the “behind the scene” stuff is but really something I need to take time and dig into. I really need to check the rankings because guaranteed my newer blog is kicking the old one out of the park or so my traffic shows. Thanks for giving me more work to do! 😯 Just kidding, something for me to really think about! Thanks for the help!
    Bren recently posted..What? More Tests? Oh Those Tata’s!My Profile

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