These are various ways in which your average web designer/developer can cause havoc to the mental health of your average SEO. Here it goes, in no particular order:
Forget to place a robots.txt file on the dev server.
It’s great that Google is already picking up pages and that our dev server is ranking for “cute puppy clothing”.
Ever heard of duplicate content? Have fun writing out those 301 redirects. If you are not going to secure the dev server with a client login, then at least have the decency to place a robots.txt file that disallows bots from indexing a site before its in its final resting place.
Link to www and non-www versions of a site.
Search engines are great at figuring out which version of a url to use. No need to worry about a stupid prefix.
To all designers out there: If you are not going to use a .htaccess file to redirect everything to one or the other, then do not link to both throughout the website. Also: Link to a website using an https prefix without any need to do so. Why on earth would you do this?
Use tables instead of divs and place sidebar coding above page content.
I really love it when the first 200 words on an html document are just links to other pages. And I especially like it when all you see are a bunch of table width attributes, colspans, <tr>’s and all that good stuff. Reminds me of the old days.
Today is about clean code and flexibility in design. The fewer the lines of code the better and being able to move elements around freely is key to successful SEO design. Please place the content of a page as close as possible to the <body> tag.
Incorrectly set up a 404 page so that any url gives a 200 status.
Google loves it when it checks to make sure that your 404 pages do indeed display a 404 status and finds that in fact your server is totally okay with nonexistent urls. That doesn’t look fishy at all.
If you want to send visitors to a custom 404 page, do so correctly or don’t do it at all.
Link to different pages using the same text.
We have 10 pages on our website about “free poker”. Let’s link to them all with those words so that users can really see the difference between each page!
Please only link to a page using anchor text that describes its content most accurately. Make sure Google understands which page truly is about “free poker”.
Create a sitemap that uses images as links instead of page titles.
Rollover images are a great way to make a sitemap truly captivating. Also, add some Ajax action in there to make it more interactive.
Hello designer, just keep it simple and link to pages using words that mean something and give spiders and users a clue about what may be on that page.
Create urls that say nothing.
What could possibly give more insight to a user about a page than the following url: www.mybadasswebsite.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/category1_10251_10201_12559_-1_12551
(BTW: Don’t bother, I just purchased that domain name.) Either setup your dynamic urls so that more information is passed (while keeping the number of parameters to no more than 2), or just create a rewrite engine that will fix them for you. And don’t use multiple urls to display the same content. One url, one page.
Link to the /index.php page from all pages on a website.
You cannot imagine the joy that I feel seeing high PR given to the /index.php page. It makes me proud to know that both versions of our home page are doing great.
Why the need to link to this page? Just link back to “/” and everything will be okay.
Use an entire paragraph as a link to another page.
This is an awesome way to pack a lot of anchor text keywords into one link…
….NOT! Use few, well-chosen words when linking to pages. The subject of a page is a good place to start.
Use H1, H2, H3, or H4 tags in navigational menu links.
I love seeing the same H1 tags used across an entire site. It really gives it that consistency that I look for.
Unless you want to say “the most important thing on this page is in fact on another page,” then don’t do this. Please use Hx tags the way they were originally meant to be used: to designate priority. Also, while you’re at it, please do not use <b> or <strong> tags on links either.