Are you guilty of making these common SEO foul-ups?

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As a web developer, you want to launch that site as quickly as possible. But if your operation is a one-person job, it can be difficult to find time to brush up on SEO best practice. With clients’ expectations rising, designers and developers will always benefit from familiarising themselves with a few canny SEO tactics — like these ones …

Not Using Web Fonts

Web fonts are useful for making more of your content indexable. Whether you are using @font-face or Google’s web font collection, you can bring style to a page without sacrificing indexability. Review your page to see where employing a web font tag can help your SEO efforts.

Creating a Code-heavy Page

Search engines (and users) would love your site that much more if the text loaded before anything else on a web page. Not only does this allow the user speedier access to the things he or she wants to see most, but structuring the code of a page to display content and navigation before all else is better for SEO efforts.

Forgetting h1 Tags

h2 and strong tags are not substitutes for an h1. A web page should only have a single h1 tag, and the tag should be related to the content of the page. Getting use of an h1 tag correct can improve a site’s relevancy in aggregate with other fixes.

Forgetting alt Tags on Images

title and alt tags make site navigation better for any user. Forgetting to use these tags often comes down to a simple mistake, especially on an image-heavy page. Add alt where appropriate, and use descriptive terms.

Overlooking a Sticky Footer

A sticky footer is one that is present on every page. It is useful for a few reasons: to house links that are important to only a segment of your audience (like press releases), contain important data like a business address or phone number, or feature a link to a sitemap. However you choose to use them, it’s a good idea to have footer links.

Calling Too Many Images at Once to Load a Page

If you use Photoshop regularly, you might have too many images being called on a page load. The time it takes for the browser to communicate with your server and back again counts in milliseconds, but pile that up 300 times and performance issues start to creep in.

Creating Obstacles That Slow Page Speed

Having too many elements loading at once, or loading the wrong objects first, creates unnecessary obstacles to page loading time. Page Speed Insights is a plugin for Chrome that uses the developer console to analyze a page and discover areas for improvement. It even ranks them in order of priority while assigning an overall score to your page.

Going For Any Old Web Host

Choosing a server that has consistent uptime and delivers good response speeds in your area is more difficult than you might imagine. If your site is seeing large volumes of traffic, choose your hosting options carefully to deliver the best possible user experience with the fastest times.

Leaving meta Keyword Tags

Google has stated that it does not care about your meta keyword tag. Yahoo and Bing might, but in the professional world of SEO, optimizing for Google usually ranks you pretty well on the other engines too. Remove the keyword tag you put in before one of your competitors comes by and steals your hard-earned keyword list.

Not Optimizing the Load Speed of Content

Allowing ads to load before content is not only cruel to users, it’s bad for SEO. As it turns out, trying to force ads on users before content actually leads to a higher bounce rate and a decline in repeat traffic. Load the content first; setting the priority of the ads to trigger only after the user has begun reading.

Creating Confusing Navigation

Main navigation is made up of categories, which should lead vertically to subcategories if applicable — related fields or terms. For example: in the category of “Games,” one might find the subcategory “NES Games,” which might lead to a product page like “Super Mario Bros.” Subcategory pages should also link horizontally to related subcategory pages. The subcategory for “NES Games” might also include a sidebar link to “SNES Games” or “N64 Games”. Products would also link horizontally in this way.

Using Too Many Redirects

The purpose of a 301 redirect is to permanently alter the page that the search engine bot should view. Reasons for using 301 redirects include removing important pages and redirecting users to another page instead. For example, if you remove a series of stories from a news section on your blog, redirect users that are searching for those stories instead to the news page of your blog. Do not use redirects to pass “link juice” to other pages, and avoid redirect hopping (where one 301 page leads to another 301 page).

Leaving Pages That are noindexed in a Sitemap

If you have chosen to noindex a page, avoid confusing the search engine bot and remove it from the sitemap. Resubmit the sitemap when you are sure the offending page is gone.

Forgoing Keyword-rich Copy

There is nothing wrong with using keywords profusely in the copy of a page, unless it interferes with readability. If you read your copy aloud and stumble, or feel strange about the amount of keywords in there, you have used too many.

Overreliance on Flash or JavaScript

Flash is nonindexable, and JavaScript means more time for the browser to communicate with the server and back again. Avoid overuse of either.

Keep the amount of external and internal links on a page to 100. If you have more than 100, ask yourself whether they are necessary.

Forgetting to Link to Other Pages in Content

Use relevant anchor text to link to pages deeper in your content. This helps reaffirm the page you are linking to is what you say it is.

Misusing robots.txt

If your position suddenly dropped, and you recently messed with your robots.txt file, chances are you messed something up. Go back and review your file, especially if you are using expressions.

Using Dynamic URLs For Vital Content

There is nothing wrong with a URL parameter that Google can understand. Webmasters should still avoid them at all costs, but pageids and productids are helpful variables to track. Using dynamic URLs with parameters that don’t make sense isn’t smart. Don’t give a search spider cause to walk away from your page before it reads your content.

Over-optimizing a Page

If your title is “Free shoes”, your URL is and your free shoe content talks a lot about free shoes and shoes for free … chances are you’ve used your keywords too often. Keyword-rich content does not mean you should use the same two keywords repeatedly.

Using a Free Template to Launch a Site

More experienced developers will create their own, but entrepreneurs looking to launch a product might be tempted to launch with a free template. In short, don’t do it.

Not Using Localization

Adding the city that you do business in or blog from can only help your ranking. It reduces your competition, makes you more accessible and opens doors for other opportunities, like meetups coordinated through your Google Local Page. Legitimate identity concerns aside, it’s worth looking into.


Richard BasharaRichard Bashara
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Richard Bashara is writing on behalf of PSDDiced, a service for converting PSD designs to HTML.

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