Last week I discussed deceptive . These are ways to optimize your website with the purpose of tactics the search engines for higher rankings. We determined that honesty is the policy in everyday life and your SEO plan. Today, I will focus on the other side of the negative SEO coin: tactics that are not outright deceptive, they’re just neglectful. These neglectful website design elements may not get your site banned from the search engines like blackhat SEO, but they can certainly damage your rankings.
Poorly optimized meta data
Meta data is not the magic key to higher search engine rankings. As with any SEO plan, you will need to do dozens or hundreds of things right for better rankings, and properly optimized meta data is just one task on this long laundry list.
There are 3 core elements to your meta data: page title, meta description, meta keywords. Honestly, the meta keywords tag doesn’t carry much weight. The search engines do not take this information into account when crawling a site. The meta keyword information was abused for so long (by people who were keyword stuffing and trying to game the system) and this is why the search engines no longer put any weight in this data.
On the other hand, the page title and meta description are crucial for proper optimization. This can be easily overlooked as you design the rest of your site. But don’t neglect these easily-optimized and important SEO tactics.
Not having a sitemap is very neglectful. The benefits of having a sitemap are numerous. Having an XML sitemap can help your site get crawled by the search engines faster. A sitemap can speed up the crawling process but it can also make it more thorough as well.
When launching or maintaining a website, this tactic can be easily overlooked. However, creating an XML sitemap is not extremely difficult. There a few services available such as gSiteCrawler and XML-sitemaps.com that can help you create a sitemap quickly.
And not uploading your sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools, Yahoo Site Explorer and Bing Webmast Center is also neglectful. Why make the search engines hunt for your site? Go ahead and provide your site’s information directly to them so that your website can be index and ranked more quickly.
Overuse of Flash
Much like drinking whiskey, Flash should be used moderately. Otherwise, it can get out of control. I’m not saying Flash is bad. In fact, I think Flash can be a great way to make a website look more professional, convey messaging and engage users. However, Flash can be the nemesis of search engine optimization.
In July, 2008 Google announced a new algorithm that would allow them to crawl and index text within flash images. However, this system does not work optimally so you shouldn’t count on this content for rankings. This means that you should stick with old HTML text in order to talk directly to the search engines. You can spice up your site with Flash to make it more appealing to humans. But don’t over do it.
Having little or no text on each page
This goes hand-in-hand with the overuse of Flash. Designing a website solely in Flash renders it mostly invisible to the search engines (with the algorithm an all-Flash site isn’t completely invisible but it’s still a bad idea). However, even if you’re not utilizing Flash on your site, it’s still possible that you don’t have enough great content that will attract the search engine crawlers to your website, as well as keep them coming back. The fuel for search engines is content so you need to make sure you have plenty to offer.
Too few or too many internal links
Internal site linking can help users and search engines understand the flow of your website. Internal links tell the search engines where additional content resides on your site which will make this information more accessible. This also goes hand-in-hand with having too little content your site. You need quality content in order to include quality links.
And keep in mind that there can be too much of a good thing. Or, we can call it over-optimization. Including too many highly-optimized cross linking within a site can also result in a Google penalty. Unfortunately, there is no golden rule as to the number of links you should have on each page, but just use common sense.
Bad neighborhood links
Google pays attention to the company you keep. If you run with a bad crowd, you’ll damage your own reputation (just like in high school!). By this I mean your website’s reputation can be damaged by linking to poorly regarded websites, or websites that have been banned by Google. There are ways to locate and evaluate the sites that you are linking to as well the sites that are linking into your website. Don’t neglect bad links, they hurt your SEO efforts.
These are just a handful of easily neglected SEO tactics that can hinder your search engine visibility and rankings. Your site may be guilty of all or none of these. Have you reviewed your site to check your links yet? Made sure your sitemap is up-to-date and submitted to the search engines? Go ahead… stop neglecting these things and get to it!