Christmas comes just once a year, but terrible websites can be found all-year long! When it comes to SEO-friendly web design, here are a few practices that will have you asking Santa Claus for a new webmaster this Christmas. Feel free to sing along! (I would be amazed to see someone actually put this to music).
Credit goes to Jeff Call for the fantastic animation.
The 12 Days of Christmas: Website Disaster Style
On the first day of Christmas, my web guy gave to me:
A Website That Isn’t Ranking
The first, and biggest indication that your website isn't SEO-friendly is a lack of rankings for the keywords that would drive traffic to your site.
2 Spammy Tags
Stuffing your page title tags with keywords may sound logical, but it's considered misleading by search engines. It's better to make sure the title contains your top 2-3 keywords and build page content around those words.
3 Dead Links
The quickest way to force someone away from your site is to send them to a page that doesn't exist. Frequently run an internal link checker to make sure all of your links are valid. Create a custom 404 page so that visitors who do end up on an invalid URL have a quick and easy correction path back to your site.
4 Pop-up Ads
Hosting pop-up ads on your site may be profitable from an advertising standpoint, but they will infuriate your site visitors. There are more effective, less intrusive ways to advertise on your site.
5 Golden Rings
In addition to stuffing title tags with keywords, any similar practice in the body of your page content will also likely get picked up by search engines and will discount your rankings. Oh, and meta keywords are worthless.
6 Pages Flashing
Avoid flash animation on your site if you can. Written content that you would otherwise put in a flash animation should be turned into crawlable HTML text for maximum SEO benefit.
7 Keywords Hiding
Making links the same color as your page background or hiding them behind images is a serious black hat SEO practice that will only get you penalized. If your visitor can't see the text, you're better to leave it off the page.
8 Farms A-Linking
Don't get sucked into massive networks of promised links. While tempting, these link farms are often associated with black hat practices and spammy link building tactics that will penalize your site.
9 Pages Cloaking
Trying to deliver different content to a search engine spider than your visitors is just stupid. Cloaking is considered grounds for delisting by most search engines.
10 Links A-Buying
While some paid directories offer value, most take your money without providing substantial value. Search engines like Google are on the lookout for purchasers of paid links, which are often tied to networks of link farms and other bad SEO practices.
11 Blogs A-Spamming
Blog spamming is one of the least effective ways to build links. Most blog comments use no-follow links anyway, so do yourself a favor and build higher quality backlinks.
12 Sites A-Scraping
Taking content belonging to someone else and putting it on your own website will get your site devalued in the rankings, even if it does provide free content. If you have to use content already found elsewhere on the web, like quotes or technical specifications, make sure you have plenty of unique content to surround it.