This is crucially important but probably one of the areas we have to address most frequently. I can’t possibly get into all the various areas of search engine friendly design so I’ll simply list off a couple of the most common issue we encounter and then provide references to other reading.

Enormous amounts of code on the page. For some reason, even some new designs are coming to us as though they were out of 1998 as far as the page code is concerned. All skilled web designers should have a solid grasp of CSS and should be putting all the main formatting into this file(s). Way too often we’re getting sites with dozens of font tags, color tags, size tags, etc. etc. etc. This just gives the search engines a lot more to dig through to find what they want – the content. I’m not even going to get into tables as that open a whole other can of worms. If your site is table-based (your designer or SEO will be able to tell you this if you don’t know) there are some basic practices to insure that the code these tables add is minimized. Unfortunately I can’t get into the myriad of different situations this can entail and will have to save it for a future article (so be sure to bookmark our SEO blog to keep up-to-date on that and other developments in the industry).

Bad internal links. You want your internal pages to rank. Most sites will generally target the highest priority phrases on the homepage of the site but the internal pages are the ones that will rank for specific products, services and long tail phrases. To maximize the rank ability of the internal pages you need them to be easily found by the spiders and you need to associate these pages with the keywords you’re targeting. In short, you need to link to them with text and you need that text to include the keywords. This isn’t some deep, dark mystery of SEO and has been well documented and commented on but we’ve seen tons of instances where internal links are image only or worse, an unspiderable script-based navigation system.
If your designer is using image or script-based navigation for aesthetic reasons that’s fine. In fact, it’ll likely leave you with a more appealing site visually however you need to make sure your key pages are linked to in the content of you homepage or from text in the footer to insure they get found and spidered quickly and easily.

Over-optimized pages. I love seeing websites that were developed by a web designer who “knows SEO” and has stuffed so many keywords and header tags into the pages that it reads more like an eye chart than sales copy. I can’t list all the abuses that exist out there but here’s a quick sample of what your page shouldn’t read like (and I’ll use digital cameras as the example again):