Learning SEO: Five Site Design SEO Faux Pas

No one ever said that designing a website was easy. If they did, they were probably trying to sell a CMS (content management system) to you. Some of the biggest web design/seo faux pas are listed below. Not only are they problems from an end-user experience, but from an SEO perspective as well.

Granted these are just the tip of the iceberg, but many of us who have been involved with site design for any length of time have probably been guilty of at least a few of these practices ourselves. In my opinion these are five major ones that should be avoided:

  1. Splash Pages: Nothing says the year 2005 like a large graphic on a useless page. Typically these are graphically intense; textually-light pages that only have a few links in to your site. Not only do these large graphics (and usually Flash animations) slow down load times, but they also keep people from getting immediately to the information they are looking for.
  2. Frames: In a perfect world (or perfect Internet), frames would have been outlawed many years ago. Despite the logical organizational benefits, this archaic practice looks to bots as multiple pages and cause very difficult problems for them trying to parse the linking structure between them.
  3. Bad Code: This one can’t be stressed enough. Keep things light, clean and simple and semantically defined ( http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/ ). What is valid code? Any html document should be able to pass through the validation service provided by the W3C ( http://validator.w3.org/ ). This ensures that Google’s bots will have the easiest time possible parsing your website data. It also helps to ensure that the page will load as quickly as possible due to the fact.
  4. HTML Tables: An increasingly outdated practice is the use of tables to format the layout and structure of html documents. At this point in the game, everyone should be using only CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) for all page layouts and formatting of text.
  5. Flash: Flash created a revolution in terms of site design. No longer were we destined to look at boring static html pages. Now we could have animation, lights, glam and pizzazz! It was a web design trend that many wannabe web designers got caught up in (including this writer).

The Sad fact is that Flash has next to 0% SEO merit. There are times and places were the interactivity of Flash aids in site flow or user experience, but use it sparingly. Even though the user feels they are browsing a site of many pages, the truth is that Google only sees it as one big page, devoid of content.

Surprisingly, many people still incorporate many of these design/seo faux pas today. Most of these practices are out of antiquated and have been replaced by better technologies and practices. Yet much to my chagrin, I still come across many newer sites using these practices.

Remember to always ask yourself: “WWGD?” (What Would Google Do?)…or more importantly, “WDGL?” (What Does Google Like?).

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