8 ways to build a really bad web site for Search Engines

Some web sites receive hundreds or thousands of unique visitors a day, whilst others only get a handful or none. The reason is often because the web designers or Webmaster has built the site in one 'really bad way' or other. This can end up hindering the potential success of the web site. If you want to make sure your site is not a 'traffic flop' then here are some simple rules to follow.

Bad Move 1: Build the site using a frameset.

Framesets may save designers time but are bad news for search engines. They can struggle to follow links into the web site or read text on the page unless you use a no frames tag effectively. In addition to this, if an engine does keep a cache of a site with frames it will often pick up the individual frames/ pages and not the complete frameset. The downside of this is that you may lose your navigation for many of your pages, which is likely to turn visitors off. Whilst one or two partial fixes to framesets are out there, it's still no wonder that many web site promoters still cry "Please No Frames". For more information on why framesets can cause problems visit http://www.html-faq.com/htmlframes/

Bad Move 2: Build the site purely in flash.

Flash intros and web sites can be visually stunning, but at the same time they can be rather limiting when it comes to search engines. If your main site is all one flash site it will typically play in just one html page. Some search engines simply can't read Flash and so your web site to them is just one relatively empty HTML page. If your competitors web site has 15 or 20 pages in HTML talking about their good sand services then they will have a big advantage on you. If you must have a Flash site for graphical reasons then it would be wise to budget for a separate HTML web site to have along side the Flash so your site content can be read and indexed by search engines.

Bad Move 3: Decide that graphics are more important than words

Be careful. As great as some images can be, try not to let designers convince you that you don't need copy on your web site or that a few lines is enough. Only very occasionally is there ever an excuse to fill your web site with graphics at the expense of text. If the graphics look great, then match them with great copy. Sales copy is important to tell your audience why your goods and services are important. Search engines also like to index plenty of useful copy too. 250-500 words is a sensible starting guide for most pages or ½ of the amount you would place in a brochure. Text copy is important and will always be so make sure web site has some!

Bad Move 4: Leaving out the Meta tags

This is a bad move as Meta Tags are important to search engines. Clear and concise title tags should be written for every page reflecting what it contains. Avoid writing things like 'Home' or 'welcome' as it's fairly meaningless. If you page is selling blue widgets then get 'blue widgets' in the title and keep the title to 10 words or less.

In addition to this create a well-written objective Meta description for each page, and list your Meta Keywords. These keywords should also reflect the content on your web page. Leaving these 3 things out, or doing them badly can be disastrous. The impact of Meta tags on rankings may vary from engine to engine, but without them your pages could be ignored. Most HTML editors allow you to easily insert Meta Tags into your web page and it only takes a few moments to add to a page. So there are no excuses. Make sure you have good Title tags, Meta Description and Meta Keyword tags on your pages today!

Bad Move 5: Use lots of JavaScript

Search engines have a few problems understanding JavaScript in pages. At the best of time they struggle with it, at worst they may even ignore it. On its own, it can be an unreliable way to make web site navigation. If you must use JavaScript for your navigation make sure you have some alternative ways to get to pages by using HTML text links at the bottom of the page. If you have a large amount of JavaScript think about linking to it as a separate JavaScript file.

Bad Move 6: Don't have sites linking to yours

Unless you want your web site hidden from the outside world you want to be found right? Well search engines ideally find a new web site by following a link from another site. This happens when people link to you and this kind of underpins the Internet. By having sites link to you search engine crawlers will find your web site and you never need to submit your web site to the likes of Google. It is still the case that web sites that rank highly on Google and Yahoo for relatively competitive key phrases often have scores if not hundreds of web sites linking to them Google help to explain the importance of linking here http://www.google.com/technology/. So "think links" and be sure to get your site listed in some quality web directories as part of the process.

Bad Move 7: Focus on submitting your web site to thousands of search engines and forget the ones that matter

Now and then you will see some companies attempting to promote this idea - often by using Bad Move 8! It is true that there are thousands of search engines but the highest volume of traffic comes from less than 10 major search engines. The logic of "If I get one hit a day off each of the 1000 mini search engines I'll get a 1000 visitors a day" unfortunately in practice does not ring true. It is a fact that a huge volume of search engine traffic comes from a small handful of search engine: most notably the Google, Yahoo and Msn.

Bad Move 8: Using unsolicited/ Spam email

This may seem obvious that this is not the best way to promote your business but is always worth stating. If you're in any doubt simply ask yourself: "Do I like getting Spam emails?" It's common sense to avoid using techniques that annoy people or damage your brand. Using unsolicited email campaigns could result in complaints and at worst your ISP could ban you. If you want a successful email campaign it is advisable to target genuine opted in newsletter subscribers and to always offer an opt-out button in every email.

Written by Gareth Davies 2005. You are free to reprint this article with both disclaimer and copyright notice in tact. Gareth Davies is a web promotion consultant working for GSINC Ltd based in North London, UK. For feedback on how to build better sites for search engines email Gareth via garethskettyATyahoo.co.uk or visit http://www.garethsketty.com

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