5 Website Factors That Can Hurt Your SEO

It’s a given that great website design is critical to any business seeking success online, but if your website cannot be found by search engines, your website may as well live in a black hole. Whether you are building or updating your website, it’s vital to understand some basic SEO principles and content development best practices in order to reap the benefits of having your business online. 

 

 1.     Don’t assume your web developer will optimize your website.

Assumptions will get you into trouble. If your web developer does not specifically outline what they’re going to do regarding SEO on your site, then your site likely won’t be SEO-optimized. SEO is mainly a marketing function, not an IT function, although there are some technical aspects to it. Most web programmers don’t know much about search engine marketing, but they should be able to tell you whether or not your website is search-engine friendly and ready to be optimized.

 2.     Simple is not stupid.

If your IA (interface architect) has done a good job, your site will be easy to navigate.  The trick is to remember that a website must meet the needs of your customers and search engines simultaneously.  You can lose the opportunity to rank for important keywords if search engines can’t understand your websites navigation. Although some aesthetically pleasing design choices, such as Flash or image-based navigation, may appear to offer a visitor an enhanced experience, they are generally not considered SEO-friendly. Flash menus can prevent search engines from exploring your site. Flash also tends not to work on Apple-based and other brands of mobile devices. Image-based navigation also raises a red flag because search engines cannot directly see images unless they are optimized with alternative text attributes (“ALT” text and tags).  To avoid SEO setbacks, navigation should be developed in HTML, which allows for anchor text and internal linking.

 3.     Quick pages are happy SEO pages.

In 2010, Google incorporated page load time into its ranking signals to determine website usability and visibility.  PageSpeed Insights by Google is an extension that allows you to test the speed of a website. It gives you a score out of 100 and pointers on how to improve your score.  To improve your SEO and decrease your load time, reduce the use of 301 redirects, minimize server queries and optimize your images for the web.  If you use Photoshop this can be done by simply clicking “save for web” instead of “save” which automatically formats the image in a smaller and web-friendly file size.  Also, slower sites just plain annoy the heck out of users and they will run from your site faster than we run from a Justin Bieber song.

4.     Splash pages are so 1999.

“Splash” pages are used sometimes as an “intro” page. It would be the first page the user sees before they actually get to a website. They are typically built in Flash or JavaScript and offer some kind of branded introductory animation.  A splash page’s lack of text makes the page nearly invisible to search engines. To complicate matters more, search engines generally rank top-level URLs first, so having your home page under a nested directory structure like “/us/wpcontent/home/” can really injure rankings.  In terms of SEO, splash pages are a complete waste of your best online real estate.

 5.     Submit your sitemap to search engines.

A sitemap is an XML file that is full of your individual webpage’s URLs.  Site maps are most commonly used for the purpose of letting search engine crawlers follow the links to all your webpages so that they won’t miss out on anything important on your website.  Search engines are designed to index all the pages visible in a sitemap. The more pages they index from your site, the more trust and reputability your site gains.  It’s simple to create a sitemap manually or generate one automatically and has high SEO impact for little effort.

Executionists has a team of web designers, programmers and SEO folks who can design and code your website to be both human- and SEO-friendly.  By integrating social media marketing, on-site SEO, link building, press releases, blogging, videos, metadata, micro data, and online marketing best practices, your website has the best chance of survival in the web jungle.   Contact our team to evaluate or strategize the design of your next web project today.

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Posted: January 24, 2013