There are key things to avoid in SEO-friendly website design. These include:
- Headings and text in graphics: Google can’t read these. At the very least, use alt tags on your images, to explain to search engines and disabled visitors what it says, if you are stuck with graphical headings. Make sure you are using great keywords as you describe your images in your alt tags.
- HTML frames: They cause the search engines to index only portions of your content (such as the right column of a page only with no logo or left navigation column).
- All Flash sites: Flash sites do not index nearly as well as HTML sites and are bad for mobile users largely due to Apple not supporting it. Use HTML5 and JQuery instead.
- Dynamic content: Dynamic URLs have long names (and use lots of numbers and special characters like “?” and “%”), which are difficult for the search engines to crawl. That said, today dynamic URLs are easier for search engines to index than back in the 1990s, but the cleaner the URL the better.
- Image maps for navigation: Use text-based navigation, even if just in the sitemap to ensure that crawlers can find your inner pages.
- The Robots.txt file: This is a file containing instructions for search engine crawlers telling them where they can and can’t go. If the web designer accidently blocks the root folder of the website in this file it prevents the crawlers from crawling the entire website. If your Robots.txt file says “Disallow: /” then you are blocking your entire website.
- Duplicate, shallow, or poorly written content: These were the focus of Google’s Farmer/Panda algorithm update. Avoid copying even small amounts of other people’s content or making multiple versions of your own.
- Doorway or splash pages that load before the main site: Your first page should be rich with text and part of your main site structure.
- Pages you want Google to index that require registration, cookies, or passwords: These can turn the search engine crawlers away.
- Too many graphics, too much code, or lots of multimedia above your text: Make sure your important keywords don’t get skimmed over because the search engine’s spider bailed out before seeing them because the page loaded too slowly.
Any other thoughts on things to avoid?