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Aidan
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Well this has the possibility of turning into a long thread but in the interests of kicking things off I’m going to nominate crawl-ability as one of the structural elements.

In order for SE’s to index (and hopefully rank your site) well, they need to be able to crawl it easily i.e. navigate easily from page to page to see all your content. This issue therefore means an SEO will be checking for any blockages and looking to see that the content is indeed readable and has some meaningful structure as to it’s layout on your site.

You’d be amazed how many sites have their robots.txt files still asking SE’s not to index the site after construction has been completed! I still also come across some folk who have put their text into images in the interest of making it look nice but unwittingly hiding it from the SE’s. I still see home pages with only flash navigation particularly in the fashion industry which is still not a good idea.

All of those sorts of issues can be mean your site never gets started in the rankings competition.