The term “SEO” stands for Search Engine Optimization. This refers to the practice of optimizing websites or web pages so they rank higher in search engines like Google.
There are several ways to optimize a blog post. One way is to include keywords in the title, body text, and tags. Another way is to create unique content that ranks well in search engines.
While there are a myriad of solutions to the main problem of making sure your site is free of technical SEO mistakes, there are also many potential mistakes.
Here, we take a look at the most common technical SEO mistakes that one can potentially run into throughout the blog creation and optimization process.
Your Site is Not Being Indexed Correctly
When you type in keywords related to your industry, do you find yourself getting results from your competitors rather than your site? Chances are you’ve been caught out by one of the most common reasons why–your site isn’t being properly crawled and indexed.
If you’re seeing less than what you’d expect based on how often people use those terms, it could mean that your site isn’t being indexed correctly. This happens because Google doesn’t consider certain types of sites to be relevant to searches. Your site needs to be crawlable – meaning that it must contain HTML code that allows Googlebot to read and understand your content.
Google uses several factors to determine whether a site is crawlable, including:
- Whether the URL contains a keyword phrase relating to the page
- Whether the page includes a sitemap file containing URLs for each page of the site
- Whether the URL points directly to the desired page, such as www.example.com/page-name
- Whether the page has a robots meta tag telling Google about the page
- Whether the page has an XML Sitemap file containing links to all pages of the site
- Whether the page has any special tags or attributes that tell Google which parts of the page should be indexed
- Whether the page has links back to other pages within the same site (this helps Google know where to start crawling)
- Whether the page has internal linking between different sections of the site (this helps Google understand the structure of the site)
- Whether the page has external links pointing to other websites (this tells Google that there’s more information available elsewhere on the web)
- Whether the page has images or videos (these can help Google better understand the content of the page)
These are just some of many factors that are considered in the indexing process.
There Are No XML Sitemaps
Googlebot crawls your entire site every day looking for things it needs to index. To make sure it finds everything, it starts with the root URL of your site, then works its way down.
When it gets to a specific page, it looks for links pointing to that page. Then it follows those links and repeats the process until it reaches the bottom of the tree. If it encounters a link to another page, it follows that link too. And so on.
XML sitemaps are a great way to tell Google what pages exist on your site and how to find them. They’re especially useful if you’ve built custom URLs or dynamic content. For example, say you sell shoes online. You’d want Googlebot to know about all of these paths. An XML sitemap tells Googlebot all of this information.
The reason why most sites don’t bother creating an XML sitemap is because it seems like a lot of work. In reality, though, it’s pretty simple. There are several tools out there that will do the hard work for you. One such tool is Screaming Frog, which we’ll talk about later in this article.
If you have a large website, you may not want to create an XML sitemap for every single page. Instead, you can create one for the home page, and then add additional ones for each section of your site. That way, when Googlebot visits your site, it knows exactly where to go.
You can also create multiple XML sitemaps for different languages. For instance, if you have a Spanish version of your site, you could create two separate XML sitemaps: one for English and one for Spanish. This would allow Googlebot to crawl both versions of your site at once.
Ideally, you want to have at least one XML sitemap that includes the most important pages of your site that are organized properly.
Google’s Web Developer XML Sitemap documentation covers all the requirements you will need to include in your XML Sitemap.
Your Robots.txt File is Incorrect or Missing
A missing robots.txt file can destroy your organic site traffic. This happens because some webmasters forget to add one to their sites. But what does a missing robots.txt do to your rankings?
If you don’t have a robots.txt file, Google assumes that you want people to index everything on your site. So it gives you full access to crawl every single page on your site.
However, if you’re trying to keep certain parts of your site off limits to spiders, you’ll want to make sure that you include a robots.txt file.
The problem with having a missing robots.txt file isn’t just that it makes crawling your site easier. It actually destroys your organic site traffic. Why? Because the crawlers aren’t allowed to follow links within your site. And without following those links, the bots won’t see anything else on your site.
How to Fix It:
There are several ways to fix a missing robots.txt. You can either add one manually in the root directory of your domain, or you can use a tool like Screaming Frog to automatically generate one for you. Either way, make sure that you name it correctly.
You might think that adding a robots.txt file is easy. After all, you’ve seen plenty of tutorials online about how to do it. Unfortunately, most of those tutorials assume that you already understand basic HTML coding. They also assume that you know how to edit files on your server.
In reality, creating a robots.txt file requires very little technical expertise. All you really need to do is copy and paste the code into a text editor. Then save the file in the root directory of the website. Finally, upload the file to your server.
Your Page Has a Meta Robots Noindex Tag
When the Noindex tag was introduced in 2004, it was intended to signify that certain pages are of less importance to search engines. But over the years, webmasters have abused the tag by configuring it incorrectly, which can damage a site’s search visibility. A recent study found that nearly half of all sites use the NOINDEX tag incorrectly.
The problem is compounded because many people mistakenly believe that the NOINDEX tag prevents search engines from crawling a page. In fact, the opposite is true; the NOINDEX tag tells search engines NOT TO crawl the page. If you’re concerned about the impact of the NOINDEX tag, don’t panic. There are ways to correct it without damaging your site’s search performance.
How to Fix it:
To fix this issue, simply remove the NOINDEX tag from the meta robots tag. The easiest way to do this is to open up your robots.txt file and locate the line that reads “User-agent: *”. Simply delete the word “NOINDEX” from that line. Save the file and reload the page. That should be enough to get rid of the error.
Your Site Has Many Broken Links
The web is constantly changing. Pages are being added, deleted, moved, redirected, etc., all of which require us to monitor our sites regularly. We do this by performing periodic audits of our sites, looking for broken links and fixing them whenever we find them.
Broken links interrupt the searcher’s journey and reflect lower quality and less relevant content, factors that can affect page rankings. In addition, broken links can cause issues with crawlability, affecting how well your site appears in search engines.
While internal links should be confirmed each time a page is removed or a redirect is implemented — and the value of external links needs to be monitored regularly — the best and most scalable way of addressing broken links is to perform regular site audits. This helps identify the pages where these links exist so you can replace them with the correct/new pages.
An internal link analysis will help identify the pages where these broken links exist. Once you know what pages contain those links, it becomes much easier to fix them. For example, if one page contains a list of products, you might want to add a product description to that page. Or maybe the product information is already there, but it’s buried under multiple navigation items. If you know exactly where the broken links reside, you can make sure that the data is displayed correctly and is easily found.
A good practice for ensuring that your site is free of broken links is to perform a weekly audit of your entire site. You can use tools such as Screaming Frog to scan your site for broken links and to generate a report that includes URLs pointing to 404 errors, 301 redirects, 302 redirects, and canonicalization problems.
You can also use Link Detox to check your site for broken links. This tool also generates a report that lists the URLs that lead to 404 errors, 301, 302, and canonicalization errors.
You Are Ignoring HTTP Status and Server Issues
One of the most important technical issues you must address is making sure that your website works properly. If it doesn’t, visitors won’t see anything on your site and you’ll lose out on potential conversions. You’re likely already aware of some of the common problems that can cause serious issues with your website, including broken images, missing files, and outdated code. But there are many others that aren’t quite as obvious.
HTTP status codes are a vital part of how web browsers communicate with servers. They provide information about what happened during a connection between a server and a client, and whether the communication was successful or unsuccessful. For example, if a visitor makes a request to view a specific URL, the browser sends a GET request to the server. This tells the server that the browser wants to retrieve data from the specified location.
If the server receives the request successfully, it returns a 200 OK status code. However, if the server fails to respond within a certain amount of time, the browser displays a 500 Internal Server Error error. A 500 error indicates that something went wrong on the server side, usually due to a programming bug.
In addition to providing useful information to clients, HTTP status codes help search engines understand the state of your website. Search engines use the status code to determine whether your website is functioning correctly. If the server responds with a 400 Bad Request, for instance, it could mean one of three things:
- Your server isn’t configured correctly.
- There is a problem with the way you’ve set up your website.
- You haven’t published the page yet.
It’s important to note that not all websites return a 200 OK response when they receive a request. Some sites return a 404 Not Found error instead. The reason for this is simple: It’s impossible to predict every possible scenario in which a user may attempt to access a particular resource.
For example, imagine that someone tries to visit your website by typing www.example.com into their browser. If the index file exists, the server will return a 200 OK response.
Otherwise, it will return a 404 Not Found message.
Again, the server will look at the requested URI (the path after the domain name) and decide whether it matches any resources available on the server. If so, it will send back the appropriate content. If not, it will send back an error message.
You can read our guide on HTTP status codes for more information and best practices.
You Are Under-optimizing Meta Tags
The meta description tag provides a brief summary of what visitors will find on your site. This helps Google understand what your page is about and displays it in the search results. To make sure your meta description is optimized, follow these best practices:
- Use the same keyword(s) throughout the entire piece of text. If you use different words in each sentence, Google won’t know how important those sentences are.
- Include the main keyword phrase in the beginning of the meta description.
- Avoid long paragraphs and excessive punctuation. Keep the description concise, clear and compelling.
- Be specific. Don’t say “We sell products.” Instead, write something like, “Shop our latest collection of men’s shoes.”
- Use heading tags sparingly. In general, headings are meant to highlight sections of text, not describe the whole page.
- Write the description for mobile devices first. Mobile searches account for 60% of all searches conducted online, so optimizing the meta description for mobile devices makes sense.
If you’re using WordPress as your CMS (content management system), you’ll be able to edit the meta description directly from the post editor. Simply click the Edit button next to the title field and type your desired description.
You Are Creating Duplicate Content
Duplicate content has the potential to hurt you in many ways. For starters, it could cause problems with Google’s algorithm. If you have duplicate content on your website, chances are you’ll end up having some duplicate pages indexed in Google. This means your website might show up in searches even though it doesn’t actually exist. Having duplicate pages indexed by
Google will lower your overall domain authority, and therefore decrease your ability to rank well in search engines.
Another problem with duplicate content is that it makes it harder for people to find what they’re looking for. When someone types a keyword into Google, they want to see relevant results. They don’t want to see dozens of different pages about the exact same thing. So, if they land on one of those pages, they probably won’t come back again. In fact, if they do find what they’ve been searching for, they’ll likely just bookmark it because it’s easier to remember than a whole bunch of unrelated URLs.
Finally, duplicate content can lead to a loss of traffic. People aren’t interested in clicking around randomly. They want to find something specific. If they land on a page that isn’t related to what they wanted, they’ll move on to another website. And since they didn’t find what they were looking for on your site, they’re less likely to return.
You Are Making Things Difficult for Crawlers
Crawling is a necessary part of ensuring that Google knows what’s important about your website. However, there are certain things that make crawling difficult. For example, certain types of images are hard to recognize and process. This makes it harder for bots to understand the context of your webpages.
Another issue is how many different URLs you use for each page on your site. When you use multiple URLs, it becomes much harder for crawlers to know where to go next. This can interfere with crawling, and can cause Google to be confused when crawling your site. To fix this, just make sure that you always have one version of your page’s URL loading everywhere.
The canonical tag can help with this, but doesn’t solve the issue entirely. For example, if you set one version of your URL as the canonical URL, this can send a signal to Google that it should not crawl other versions. To further increase your chances of Google crawling that correct URL, make sure that any potential additional versions of that URL randomly redirect back to the canonical URL.
Finally, if you block access to specific parts of your site, it will become very difficult for crawlers to find those areas.
If you want to improve the visibility of your website, you must take into account the crawling issues that you face. After all, if you don’t tell Google anything about your site, it won’t know what to do once it gets there.
You Are Ignoring Indexability
Indexability is one of those things that seems simple enough in theory, but there are lots of ways that it can go wrong. For example, Google might decide not to index some pages because they contain duplicate content. They might choose not to index pages because they don’t meet Google’s quality guidelines. Or they could ignore the site altogether if they think it’s spammy or low quality. But how does Google know whether something is good or bad? And why doesn’t everyone just fix the problem themselves? Let’s take a look at some common causes of indexability problems and find out what you can do to improve your chances of getting indexed.
– Duplicate content – Pages containing duplicate content are often flagged by Google because they don’t add value to users searching for information.
– Missing canonical tags – A canonical tag tells Google whether multiple versions of a piece of content exist. If one version is deemed better than another, Google will use the best version.
– Poorly written HTML – Search engines look for well-written HTML code to understand how a page works. If the code isn’t clear, or contains errors, it makes it harder for bots to index the page properly. Also, if you have invalid HTML in your headers, it could make it impossible for Google to index your page.
You Are Utilizing “Load More” Buttons Instead of Correct Pagination Implementation
The “load more” button is one of the most important features of any blog or news site. However, it seems like it’s becoming increasingly difficult to implement correctly. In fact, many sites are using “load more“ on the blog page and on all category pages, which by design displays only 4 blog posts per category. This way, you don’t need to scroll down to read the rest of the article.
To solve this problem, we recommend implementing pagination instead of “load more”. You could use WordPress’ native pagination functions to make sure that this pagination is implemented correctly.
A Website’s Work is Never Done
These are just a small sampling of the issues that one can encounter. There can be many technical SEO issues that crop up during the course of a website project.
The key is making sure that you tackle all of the issues that arise, rather than just a few.
And this is where a prioritized technical SEO audit comes in.
When will you audit your site next? Our Ultimate SEO Audit Template is a great option for you to explore when you do.