As we’ve pointed out before, no matter what keywords you target, there are likely to be thousands, if not millions, of websites that are competing for the same keywords and that important first page Google ranking.

A good SEO strategy will improve your chances, but the best strategy can’t help you if your sites web design makes it difficult for search engines to crawl your content. With that in mind, here’s a list of common design flaws that might affect your sites ranking.

Web Design Matters

Although search engine optimisation should improve your online visibility, site structure, design and useability play a vital role as well. And they don’t only play a role in SEO aspects either. A positive user experience is a critical factor in optimising your online conversion as well.

But a poor web site design can also impact your search engine ranking. If search engines can’t get an accurate picture of your page, they won’t be able to justify including you in results for relevant search terms. So bear the following in mind when designing your site:

Design & SEO Must Work Together

One of the simplest, and yet most common, mistakes is a lack of synergy between the design and the search engine optimisation of websites. If you only begin trying to optimise _after_ the site has been designed and finalised, important architecture like titles, headings and internal links may not incorporate important keywords and effective URL structure. This makes it hard for users and search engines to find relevant information easily.

Overdoing The Flash

Too much Flash animation on a site can cause problems for your search engine optimisation. While Flash can be visually appealing, it can also prevent search engines from getting a good picture of your site. Although they’re getting better at reading Flash code, meaningful HTML and text content is fully crawlable by their spiders. It’s not wrong to use some Flash, but don’t use it for navigation and important content.

Using A Splash Page

Using a splash page as the landing page of your site, whether for it’s visual appeal, or its potential for highlighting special offers or promotions, is something we’ve all seen. Sometimes it’s a flash video, sometimes its just an image, with a link through to the main page. The problem is that the lack of keywords and related content, as well as cross links, makes the page almost worthless to search engines, and impossible to leverage for on-page optimisation.

Session ID

A session ID is a unique identifier that lets sites keep track of a users movement and actions. It’s particularly useful in e-commerce sites, where items get added or removed from carts or baskets. Unfortunately, a session id, because it’s a dynamic identifier that gets added to each URL, effectively creates duplicate pages for every click a user makes. Because search engines can’t tell that the URL and page is identical every time, it thinks you’ve got vast quantities of duplicate content. Something that search engines usually penalise. A viable resolution to this problem is extremely difficult to find.

Bad URL Structure

URL Structure needs to be planned during the design stage. It needs to keep important keywords and phrases in mind, otherwise badly structured URL’s can quickly become rampant in your site. Avoid things like session ID’s, characters like &, %, and #, using _only_ keywords, using numbers, and too many parameters or levels.