Cardinal Sins of SEO


This post started out as just another 2008 recap post, and then it took quite the interesting turn. Basically I went and pulled the top 5 blog posts for this year, and I pulled their names out of Google analytics. Because of the fact that it is hard to just jump right to the page with Google analytics I copied and pasted the titles into Google and searched for them. There was just one problem though, I couldn’t find any of them! I would see my post titles linked from dzone, dotnetkicks, and many other people’s sites, but not my own.

This was the point at which I started to freak out a bit. I went to Google analytics and confirmed that over the past few months my search traffic had dropped off to almost nothing. I was still getting many referrals, so I hadn’t really noticed the drop off in search traffic. I started to wonder, what happened. I noticed that it started about 2 weeks after my new theme had gone up, and so I started looking at the site to see if I could find anything.

After about an hour of combing through html I remembered one of the rules that I had forgotten to follow. Whenever you are optimizing for SEO, turn off javascript! So I turned it off, and within about 15 minutes I believe that I found the problem. You see, on my post pages there was a div with a display: none tag on it surrounding the comments, and there was some javascript that displayed this div if the comment count was greater than zero.

Are you starting to see the problem here? When Google’s crawler came to my page they saw a huge chunk of text at the bottom of every post that was inside of an invisible div. They thought that I was trying to game the search engine! Argh! It makes me sick thinking about how much traffic I might have given up because of this. 🙂

I guess the moral of the story is, make sure that your site displays all of the content properly without javascript. Otherwise you might end up getting banned from Google. Here’s to hoping that my Google link juice returns soon. Oh, and if you’d like to help out, go ahead and link to this post. 🙂 Have a happy new year, and always pay attention to your site traffic!

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