14 Common Technical SEO Issues that can Affect Your Website Rankings

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What is Technical SEO?

In layman’s terms, Technical SEO is the process to ensure that your website meets all the technical specifications of a search engine so that its rank can improve organically. Meaning, your company can have the best content, brand, and product on a visually pleasing website. Still, if search engines can’t find it because you’re missing important technical aspects that allow your site to be indexed, then your website won’t rank on their search results.

Under the Technical SEO umbrella are processes such as indexing, rendering, site speed, making the page easier for crawlers, creating sitemaps, conducting keyword research, etc. Technical SEO is part of SEO, as a whole, and along with on-page SEO, off-page SEO, Technical SEO helps improve elements on your website to achieve high rankings.

List of Common Technical SEO Issues

1. Site Isn’t Indexed Correctly

Having a hard time finding your page on Google, or is it missing altogether? Chances are your site isn’t indexed correctly, and therefore isn’t showing up or ranking on search engines. Indexing is the most important step to implement when creating a website; if it’s not indexed, it just doesn’t exist according to Google/ other searching engines.

Not indexed at all? First, start by adding your URL to Google.

If it’s indexed but not showing up, perform an audit of the website and the content. Check to see if there are older versions of your site that are indexed. Many Technical SEO processes help with site indexing. Working with a developer, hiring a specialist, or an SEO firm will set you on the right path.

2. Site doesn’t have HTTPS security

Google and other search engines prefer sites that have an SSL certificate, and it rewards them with a slight boost in rankings. Therefore, having an HTTPS site is essential, especially if your site is accessed on Google Chrome. Chrome users can get the dreaded ‘Not Secure’ warning when they click your link if it is not an HTTPS/SSL certified site – this could cause users to click off your site.

If your website already has an SSL certificate, the URL will be HTTPS, and a small lock icon will appear in the address bar when accessing your site. Don’t have one? Convert your site to HTTPS by purchasing and installing an SSL certificate from a reputed Certificate Authority.

3. Site has broken links/images

Google and other search engines prefer sites with an SSL certificate, and it rewards them with a slight boost in rankings. Therefore, having an HTTPS site is essential, especially if your site is accessed on Google Chrome. Chrome users can get the dreaded ‘Not Secure’ warning when they click your link if it is not an HTTPS/SSL certified site – this could cause users to click off your site.

If your website already has an SSL certificate, the URL will be HTTPS, and a small lock icon will appear in the address bar when accessing your site. Don’t have one? Convert your site to HTTPS by purchasing and installing an SSL certificate from a reputed Certificate Authority.

4. Site does not have XML Sitemap

Sitemaps aren’t just for users to navigate your website; that was its function back in the old days when users were first introduced to the internet. Nowadays, creating a sitemap is for crawlers so that they can see the organization of your website and understand the content it includes. XML sitemaps help Google search bots understand the technical aspects of your pages so that they can crawl and index your site.

Create one yourself if you’re tech-savvy, or hire a specialist who can do this for you. If you’re using a WordPress site, the SEO plugin, Yoast SEO, can automatically make an XML sitemap for your website.

5. Site has Incorrect Robots.txt

Incorrect Robots.txt is often overlooked, but it’s a blaring red flag and can hugely hamper your organic growth if it’s missing or incorrect. A simple “https://blog.zumvu.com/” out of place while developing your site can destroy the hard work you’ve put into growing and ranking organically.

Not sure if you have issues with your robots.txt file? In the address bar, type in your URL and add the “/robots.txt” suffix. If your site shows up with the result that says “User-agent: * Disallow: /” that’s when you know there’s an issue with the robots.txt file.

Sitting with your developer and going over the file, line by line will help rectify any oversights.

6. Incorrect meta robot NOINDEX

Apart from incorrect robots.txt, another red flag and potentially more damaging issue to search visibility is when incorrectly configured NOINDEX. When this happens, it removes all pages with that specific configuration from Google’s Index. No indexing means no visibility on SERPs – this is a huge issue when doing your website’s SEO and improving its rank. During the development stage of a website, it’s common to have NOINDEX pages; however, it’s essential to remove them when the site goes live. Ask your developer to run a “NOINDEX” check to ensure all of it has been changed unless there’s a specific reason behind it.

7. Site doesn’t have only one URL

URL canonicalization refers to a website that can be loaded from multiple URLs – this doesn’t seem like much of a problem because most users don’t care or even notice whether your company has different URLs (i.e., www.site.com or site.com/home.html). However, it matters to search engines, as they see each URL as separate and index them individually – affecting or diluting the visibility of your main website.

First, check to ensure that all versions of your URL link to the main website’s URL, including your HTTP and HTTPS versions. If you find multiple indexed versions of your site, you or your developer will have to set up 301 redirects. Additionally, add your official (canonical) domain in Google Search Console so that the main website URL is established and can be indexed.

8. Site has Duplicate Content

High-quality, relevant content containing relevant keywords is always integral to SEO rankings. Many developers and SEO specialists advise creating duplicate content that can help furnish your website, but this can also confuse search engine crawlers who see the content as similar or the same – Thus, impacting your ranking. If this is happening to your website, invest time in creating content that is relevant and works for your niche, keeping in mind SEO practices and user intent. If you find that you still have the duplicate content issue, then check the Rel=Canonical tag and ask your developer to set it up properly.

9. Site is not Optimized for Mobile

It’s no secret that the majority of users today prefer to conduct their searches on handheld or mobile devices. Google saw this behavioral trend back in 2018 and announced that mobile-first indexing represented almost half of the websites showing up on their results page. Nowadays, developers and companies create websites responsive on mobiles and give users the same desktop experience. If you haven’t optimized for mobiles yet, then it’s high time you do, since search engines prefer sites that are mobile-optimized and give them a boost on their search results page.

10. Site is missing image Alt Tags

Google’s algorithms and crawlers are getting more sophisticated by the day. They now read through image alt tags and attribute the keywords to the indexing processes. Images are great visual aids for content and to entice your users, but they can also be attention grabbers for crawlers. The image alt tag gives the bot additional information about the image and helps them index the page accordingly. Simply adding alt tags to your images can boost your SEO value, so why not do this easy step when creating the website and its content.

11. Site has a slow loading Speed

Google announced that site speed is considered when they rank websites, making it a major factor to implement when creating your website. Apart from search engines, users also prefer sites with fast loading speeds; they click off. However, many developers and SEO specialists don’t prioritize site speed even with these very clear guidelines and user behavior. The loading speed can be optimized with several practices after first doing a site audit to see what is causing your site to have a slow loading time in the first place. Reducing image sizes, reducing redirects, using a CNS, etc., are all valid ways to increase site speed that will greatly impact SEO and ranking.

12. Site is missing Meta Tags

Similar to a book, Meta tags act as a blurb to the website. These short 160-character descriptions explain to users what the site is about but also helps search engines index your page. When your site shows up on a search results page, it’s often the meta tag that entices the user and gives precise information about that particular article or your website, making them decide to click on your site instead of going to another competitor’s website. Simply put, Meta tags are an often overlooked but integral technical SEO feature that can greatly improve your website ranking.

13. Site has unwanted pages in XML sitemap

While creating your website XML sitemap, it’s important to review rogue pages that need not be indexed. Typically, hidden ‘Thank you for subscribing’ pages or PPC landing pages can cause duplicate content, making it harder for crawlers to discern and index your website. Only pages that you want search engines to find and index should be included in your sitemap – which is the main reason behind creating your sitemap. Google Search Console has a nifty report showing all pages contained within a sitemap via their ‘Inspect URL’ option, making the process of removing unwanted pages easy to identify.

14. Site doesn’t have SEO-friendly images

High impact images on a website can make a huge difference to users; however, it is just an image to search engines. For search engines to see the value in the image, it has to be SEO-friendly. Even if you use strong colors and text on images, it will still only be seen as an image file by crawlers; therefore, with a combination of HTML, CSS, and web fonts, it is possible to keep those same impactful visuals and make them SEO-compatible by making all those elements within the ‘live text’ banner.

Technical SEO FAQs

Q1: What is Technical SEO?

Answer: Technical SEO is the backend optimization of your website. It involves processes that fine-tune your website’s technical aspects for Google or any other search engine to index and rank your website. Site speed, usability, internal links, meta tags, etc., are all part of Technical SEO. These processes help crawlers understand your website better, leading to higher rankings on a search engine’s result page.

Q2: Is Technical SEO important for my website?

Answer: Even if all your on-page and off-page SEO strategies are successful, those efforts will be redundant if you prioritize technical SEO. Technical SEO is an important part of SEO as a whole; without it, your website will have a hard time ranking on search engines because crawlers depend on specific technical aspects of your site to understand how to index and rank your website.

Q3: Is there a difference between Technical SEO and Traditional SEO?

Answer: Traditional SEO is also known as SEO and encompasses On-page SEO, Off-page SEO, and Technical SEO. These three vertices make up what we know as SEO today, and each has specific practices and techniques that ensure your website’s success on search engines. In particular, Technical SEO is the optimization of all the backend/technical aspects of a website, i.e., robots.txt, site speed, XML sitemaps, alt tags, URLs, etc. These processes help bots/crawlers understand, index, and rank your website.

Q4: How is Technical SEO useful?

Answer: Your website might have the best articles, products, and content; however, if it’s structured so that search engine crawlers can’t understand, it won’t rank on SERPs. That’s where Technical SEO is useful, and it optimizes your website’s backend structure so that all the content you create has the best chance to be picked up by search engines. Technical SEO helps Google understand that your website is of high value and therefore rank it high on their results page. Thus, making technical SEO a highly important piece in the SEO puzzle.

Q5: How can I learn Technical SEO?

Answer: Technical SEO is part of SEO and works hand in hand with the other vertices: On-page and Off-page SEO. While you can learn it in isolation, it is best to seek online or offline courses that teach SEO as a whole. Once you have a good foundation, you can dive deeper into the various aspects that make up Technical SEO. Many online articles and comprehensive guides from reputed SEO specialists such as SEMrush, Moz, Search Engine Journal can help you learn Technical SEO.

Q6: Are there any benefits to Technical SEO?

Answer: The biggest benefit of technical SEO is that it helps crawlers index and understand your website to rank it on SERPs. High visibility on search engines is one of the main goals for any SEO endeavor; therefore, implementing technical SEO practices will help in that journey. Additionally, Technical SEO addresses website issues such as site speed, URL organizations, internal and external link building, duplicate content, etc. All these issues can hamper your website’s look, feel, usability, and visibility. So, you’ll find that Technical SEO is extremely beneficial to run your website efficiently and help it rank higher.

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