Each of the major search engines issue certain guidelines on how your website should be created. They aren’t telling you how to build your site, but for best results with them, it may be wise to follow their suggestions. The Webmaster Guidelines issued by the major search engines are generally very generic with some occasional specific info.
Many SEO problems can be traced back to Webmaster Guideline violations even if it seems like you are doing everything else in your SEO campaign right. Vanessa Fox and Matt Cutts of Google have suggested to people that they should review the Webmaster
Guidelines when answering questions about poor ranking.
Some of the more common pitfalls include too many links on your pages or having an HTML file that is too large, so the search engines may skip it or may not place much value on it. What are the limits, you ask? While all of the search engines mention “keeping the number of links to a reasonable limit”, Google specifically indicates 100 links as that limit. This is something important to all of the search engines, but one of them actually mentioned a specific number.
Does this mean that Google will not handle a site with over 100 links? I believe this is not quite true since an older site of mine has many more than 100 links and rank well with the Google index.
The size of html document should be “kept reasonable” according to all of the search engines guidelines. MSN even mentioned a specific file length – 150KB. This does not include your external images and CSS files or scripts, but if you use dynamic pages, it is hard to measure just by scanning through your files. You will need to test every page on your site to be sure that none of them are showing up as “over the limit”.
Other tidbits released by search engines over the years include bad 404′s. Does your site return a 404 header when the page cannot be found? Many don’t do this properly. You may see something on the page, but in many cases, these return http Status codes that
spiders interpret as meaning your page is really there. Can you imagine the mess involved when the search engines become clogged with useless URL from your site that all say the samething…”Page Not Found”? There are many utility on the web that can test your site’s page headers.
Yahoo has a specific crawler that visits websites and looks for this specific issue. Don’t let them catch you sending the wrong info when they request a page that is obviously not on your website. Some quality checker tools are available to scan every folder that find on your website and run tests automatically. They can make sure that nothing is forgotten or slips through the cracks when testing your entire site for issues. Don’t let Yahoo catch you “lying” about the HTTP Status Codes on your site.
Another topic covered by the Webmaster Guidelines of various search engines is the use of “well-formed code”. What is well-formed code? Well, there’s W3C compliance, then there’s well-formed code just below that, then there is broken code. W3C loves to complain about alt tags on images. While using this may help your SEO, skipping it won’t hurt your SEO. If everything else is right on your site, then this page is not W3C valid, but it is still probably a “well-formed” document. If your html is at least “well-formed”, then Search engines can more than likely understand your entire webpage.
If your code is not at least ‘well-formed’, then it is because the structure of the html code is not correct. It becomes quite possible that any ranking issues you are having are happening because your code is broken to the point that it makes no sense. It may work in your browser, but your browser was only designed to load so many pages in time and isn’t as “stripped down” as a web spider. Spiders are designed to load billions of pages and keep them updated and current on a constant basis. I have seen many sites where the code was so broken that links below the worst spots were not viewed as links at all.
You may want to use some webpage quality checker tool to save your website. These tools will check the html structure of your pages and help to guide you into making your website very spider-friendly, which makes it so much easier to rank as you pursue the other aspects of SEO.