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Identifying and Fixing 13 Common Technical SEO Issues

Katherine Barrington

Optimizing your website for search engine rankings is essential if you want to drive traffic to your site. Unfortunately, the process of search engine optimization is complex and even small mistakes can lead to big problems. Take the time to identify and fix common SEO issues with your site so you can optimize your site for maximum profit.

In this article, we’ll explore the subject of technical SEO. We’ll talk about what it is and the most common technical SEO problems you’re likely to encounter and how to fix them. Read on!

What is Technical SEO? 

Search engine optimization or SEO is a multifaceted concept. It is the process of optimizing a website to obtain traffic from free, organic, and natural search results on search engines. There are many components that go into a strong SEO strategy, but many people overlook the importance of technical SEO. These are updates you make to a website or server which have a direct impact on search engine crawling, indexation, and search rankings.

Technical SEO includes components such as title tags, page titles, HTTP header responses, 301 redirects, XML sitemaps, and metadata. It is entirely different from things like keyword research, analytics, and social media strategies, the components of SEO that most people are familiar with. Just because technical SEO is different, however, doesn’t make it less important. In fact, finding and fixing simple technical SEO problems can have a significant impact on your search engine rankings.

Fixing the Top 13 Technical SEO Problems 

Optimizing your website involves a number of complex processes. Before you even launch your site, you need to complete your keyword research and develop your content. You’ll need to focus on small details like headings, metadata, and image optimization that come together to make a big impact on your SEO. Once your site is launched, you still need to maintain it and make key updates and changes to ensure that it is performing at its maximum potential.

This is where technical SEO comes in. Technical SEO issues may be minor, but they can directly impact your rankings. Here are some of the top technical SEO problems you should look for and fix:

  1. Missing HTTPS security – As of a 2017 update, Google now issues a “not secure” warning in the Chrome browser each time a user lands on an HTTP site. If your site isn’t HTTPS secure, users will receive this warning and may choose to visit a different site. To check, type your domain name into Google Chrome and look for the “secure” message. To convert your site to HTTPS, you’ll need to obtain a SSL certificate.
  2. Improve site indexing – Unless the pages on your site are indexed, they don’t exist as far as Google is concerned, so they won’t show up in results. Try searching for your brand name and see if it shows up in the results. If it doesn’t, start by adding your URL to Google. If your site is indexed but you see too many results, double-check for older versions of your site or site-hacking spam.
  3. Missing or incorrect Robots.txt – The only thing worse than a mixing robots.txt file is an improperly configured one. To check your robots.txt file, type your website URL into the browser and add “/robots.txt” at the end. If the results read “User-agent: *Disallow/” then it means robots are being prevented from entering your site and you may want to fix it.
  4. Slow page speed – Unless your page loads in 3 seconds or less, you may be at risk of losing traffic. Site speed matters greatly for user experience and for Google rankings. To check your page speed, use Google PageSpeed Insights to identify speed problems and resolve them if you can. Common page speed issues include poor image optimization, browser caching issues, and slow server response time.
  5. Multiple versions of the home page – If you type “yourwebsite.com” into Google, it will take you to the same place as typing “www.yourwebsite.com.” If you have multiple versions of your homepage, it may lead to Google indexing several URLs which could dilute your visibility. When checking, be sure to look for HTTP and HTTPS versions of the site as well.
  6. Duplicate content – Content is extremely important when it comes to SEO rankings, but it needs to be high-quality content and should contain relevant keywords. Duplicate content may help you fill out your website, but it can also confuse search engine crawlers and negatively impact your results. If you have duplicate or similar content on your site, check the Rel=Canonical.
  7. Incorrect Rel=Canonical – This is particularly important for sites with duplicate or similar content to make sure Google sees each page as an original. Check your source code and, if you notice a problem, you may need to double-check your content structure and web platform.
  8. Broken links – It is important for your site’s ranking to include both internal and external links. This shows your users and search engine crawlers that you have high-quality content on your site. Over time, however, links can break, and that creates a poor user experience and can also affect page ranking. Perform routine site audits to check for broken or outdated links.
  9. Missing alt tags – Even if images don’t play a significant role in your SEO, missing alt tags and broken images are a missed SEO opportunity. Alt tags help search engines index your pages by telling the bot what each image is – it is a simple way to boost the SEO value of your page while also enhancing user experience.
  10. Optimize for mobile devices – In 2018, Google announced that mobile-first indexing represented over half of the websites appearing in search results. In some cases, Google transitions sites independently but you should double-check and do it yourself if your site hasn’t been optimized yet for mobile users.
  11. Non-optimized meta descriptions – Metadata plays an important role in SEO, though it is less up-front than keyword research. Your meta description is a short blurb of up to 165 characters that describe the page – it appears below the site name in search results and helps users determine if the content on the page is what they’re looking for.
  12. Poor use of structured data – Structured data is a simple way to help Google search engine crawlers understand the data and content on your page. For example, if you have a recipe on your site, the ingredients list would be presented as a bulleted list – that is structured data that helps Google understand the data on that page.
  13. 301 and 302 redirects – Dead pages can negatively impact your SEO, so it is important to utilize redirects to manage them and consolidate multiple pages. 301 redirects are permanent while 302 redirects are temporary. They work very well, but you need to understand how to use them properly so do your research before you try.

Now that you have a better understanding of what technical SEO is and how to optimize it, you can take what you’ve learned and apply it to your own site. Keep reading to receive more simple tips for improving your website’s technical SEO.

Other Tips for Improving Website SEO

According to a 2015 report, the most prevalent SEO issues were image issues. The most common problems identified were broken images and missing alt attributes. Though images are certainly more important on some sites than others, Google image search receives over 1 billion page views per day, so it is worth paying attention to your image optimization.

Some of the other most common issues with website SEO were duplicate content, meta description issues, problems with structured data, and link issues. Google generally does a good job with duplicate content, identifying and prioritizing the most authoritative version of the page. For missing meta descriptions, however, Google may just fill in content from the top of the page which may or may not be enough to encourage users to visit. Other issues happen as well, and it is up to you to identify those issues and to decide which are the ones to prioritize.

The success of your website does not hinge entirely on one aspect of SEO. Technical SEO works together with keyword research, website optimization, and other strategies to create a site that ranks well and keeps customers coming back for more.

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