Website once-over – 5 red flags that scream “I’m going to give you SEO nightmares!”

By Bekka Palmer

Watch out for these red flags (red flag) when starting SEO for a new website. Certain problems can give you SEO nightmares, but not-to-worry, as most of the problems have fairly straightforward solutions.

1. View page source

flag-16 <frame src=""></frameset>

SEO Nightmare: This means the website is being framed in from another site. The robots literally see nothing here, and if they did see things it would all be duplicate content anyways.

Conclusion: Don’t even try to optimize this page, no amount of links can make this look good. SEO nightmares are sure to ensue.

Solution: Get a new website, preferably a CMS with options to customize title tags, meta description and urls.

2. Analyze the URLs


SEO Nightmare: That URL is practically meaningless to the robots, the only information it gives is the domain name

Conclusion: 9 times out of 10 this is a fairly easy fix, depending on the site size. Move forward with caution, this could be a little or a lot of extra work depending on site architecture. This will give you a varying degree of SEO nightmares.

Solution: If it is a CMS, enable the server to rewrite URLs and add a plugin for clean URLs. You will also need to 301 redirect all of the old URLs to the corresponding new ones. If it is a basic html site, re-write all of the URLs and 301 redirect the old to the new.

3. Look for robots.txt

flag-16 User-agent: * Disallow: /

SEO Nightmare: That means that all of the robots/crawlers/spiders (except malware ones who ignore the rules) aren’t allowed in your site. When the robots.txt file looks like this, no amount of anything will get your content indexed for great keywords.

Conclusion: Move forward, but make sure to change this and re-submit a sitemap via webmaster tools before link-building. SEO nightmares will be minimal if you fix the problem first.

Solution: Rewrite the robots.txt allowing robots to the front end of your site, and keeping them out of the administrative areas. See for more information.

4. Meta robots tag

flag-16 meta name='robots' content='noindex,nofollow'

SEO Nightmare: Similar to the robots.txt file, sometimes you will run into this where a developer, designer, or webmaster has heard a dirty rumor that all pages should include this robots meta tag so they disallow the robots from crawling or indexing each and every page of a site.

Conclusion: This can be an easy fix depending on how said person got that code in there. Hopefully they wrote it into a template which can easily be edited to fix the whole site. SEO nightmares should be mild, unless you have to go through hundreds of html pages and fix this.

Solution: Remove the noindex and nofollow tags from all pages that you want indexed and followed.

5. Do a simple Google search for:

flag-16  The results page says - did not match any documents

SEO Nightmare: This means the site is not in the Google Index.

Conclusion: If the site is brand new, don’t fret, it just hasn’t been indexed yet. If the site is 5 years old with 6,000 inbound links, run for your life. This site has probably been kicked out of the index and your SEO nightmares will become reality as a re-inclusion request is not a process for the weak-of-heart.

Solution for a brand new site: Indexation takes time, be patient, submit via Webmaster Tools and build quality, organic links.

Solution for a site that has been de-indexed: Find out where the problem lies (maybe it’s one of the red flags mentioned above), or maybe there was some link buying going on. Either get a new URL and discontinue the bad SEO practices, or fix the problems and beg for mercy at the hands of the Google re-inclusion team.

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