All on-site technical issues require attention and must be treated urgently otherwise the online presence of a business can regress. To sustain business growth and avoid losing customers, brands need to identify and solve common on-site technical SEO problems plaguing their websites.
This article will discuss 15 common on-site technical SEO problems you’re likely battling with and how to fix them.
15 Common On-Site Technical Problems and How to Fix Them
1. Broken Links
Your website might have hundreds of pages, however, the presence of broken links within these pages can affect a user’s quality perception of your website. Also, when search bots notice a lot of broken links on your site, they divert to other websites.
Thus, you’ll be left with important pages un-crawled and un-indexed. In addition, your site’s page authority becomes compromised.
Login to Google Search Console and click on “Crawl”, then “Crawl Errors”. It will let you understand the erring pages returning 404 responses. All 404 errors have to be resolved as soon as possible. Failure to do this and your visitors might be routed off your website.
2. Site Speed
SERPs check website speed as a criterion for ranking them. Thus, the faster your site is, the better the user experience. Websites that load slowly are penalized and forced to slide down SERP rankings.
If the server response time of your website is more than 2 seconds, Google will limit the number of crawlers sent to it. This literally means that fewer pages will get indexed. Well, we don’t want that now, do we?
To resolve this website technical issue, first, make use of Google PageSpeed Insights to track and measure your website’s performance on both desktop and mobile views. You get a notification for incorrectly optimized pages and the best part is that PageSpeed Insights gives actionable descriptions on how to resolve the problem.
For WordPress users, they can request assistance from their hosting providers. In fact, we recommend that you pick a good WordPress hosting service that is renowned for its speed and uptime.
3. Low Text-to-HTML Ratio
With a low-text-to-html ratio, you may likely be having deeply rooted problems with SEO or basically, your site’s on-page technical SEO. Basically, low ratios could be a result of;
– Hidden texts (these are huge red flags for search bots)
– Slow loading webpages due to dirty and excessive codes
4. Duplicate Content
Be sure your website doesn’t have duplicate content. Google frowns at it and might penalize your website if found. Having duplicate content on your site can cost you a good spot on SERP rankings.
With tools like Copyscape and Siteliner, you can easily analyze your web content and ensure its authenticity. If any of these tools highlight duplicate content on your website, you can resolve it in two ways;
– Go to Google Webmasters and mark the URL version of your choice. Go to settings at the top right of the page, choose “Site Settings” and pick the right URL format. By doing this, when next the search engine comes across a website linking to a non-www version of your own and your chosen option is www, the URL that is linked will be treated as the www one.
– If several URLs on your website share similar content, there’s a greater chance of website backlinking, link sharing, and parameter tracking issues.
To avoid these, utilize the canonical tag. This way, any bot that sees the tag will discover the link to its actual resource. Thus, each link to a duplicate page will be treated as a link to the original page. In essence, you’ll never lose SEO value from such links. You can add canonical tags by including a line of code to both the original and duplicate content.
5. Language Declarations Errors
If your website caters to a global audience rather than your local community, then language declaration becomes highly important so that search engines can easily be able to detect the language. This is very crucial, especially when it comes to text-to-speech conversion.
It helps improve the user experience as translators can easily read the content in the exact dialect of the native language. In addition, language declarations come with inherent international SEO and geo-location benefits.
You can fix these technical SEO issues by using the rel=”alternate” hreflang tag to declare your webpage’s region specificity.
In the <head> section of http://example.com/ng, include a link element that points to the French version of the page at http://example.com/ng-fr, in this manner:
Try not to use the wrong language codes. In fact, you should refer to the HTML Language Code Reference list here (https://www.w3schools.com/tags/ref_language_codes.asp) to choose the right code.
Keep in mind that language declaration is a vital aspect of web page relevance score, which is also important for SEO. Another popular mistake is the return tag errors. These often result as a result of hreflang annotations that don’t cross-reference each other.
Go to Google Search Console and then head to International Targeting to identify these errors. The annotations have to be confirmed from other pages, for example, if page 1 links to 2, then 2 has to link back to 1.
6. Title Tag Problems
Issues with title tags are not only quite common but they’re also very diverse. Below are some of the most prevalent ones:
– Unusually long or short title tags
– Duplicate title tags
– Missing title tags
The title tags of your web pages need to be compressed as 70-71 characters is the best fit as far as the display space of new devices is concerned. If you’re ever in doubt when creating title tags, simply follow this format below:
Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Name of Brand
Give every page a unique title tag, for example, for an e-commerce store, you can create title tags easily via this formula:
[Item Name] – [Item Category] | [Brand]
Place the keyword at the beginning of the title tag.
7. Missing Alt Tags and Broken Images
It’s not unusual to encounter problems with image optimization, however, unless your website is heavily reliant on them, you could probably save them for later. Broken images and missing alt tags are two of the most prevalent issues that must be fixed by website owners.
Basically, alt tags are HTML attributes to images used in describing their content. If a specific image component doesn’t render properly on your website, the alt tag for the image will describe not just the content but the function as well.
They also strengthen the required keyword by allowing search engine crawlers to make sense of the page information.
It is quite simple to implement these tags. Just locate the image component within your HTML code and include the alt tag. The image source should look like this below:
8. Issues with Robots.txt
Perhaps your website fails to get indexed by search engines. This can be quite a problem and the reason could be related to the robots.txt file.
Now, search engine spiders read the text file to decide whether they are allowed to index the URLs featured on a website. This basically implies that robots.txt acts as a rulebook for crawling websites.
The first thing you should do is to check if your website has robots.txt. Do this by entering yoursite.com/robots.txt into the Google Search bar. Although these files can look a bit different for everyone, you should still look out for this code – Disallow: /
If you notice it, then quickly inform the web developer so they can fix the problem. That “Disallow” line simply implies that you’re telling spiders not to crawl your entire website.
Note that making any sort of alteration to your robots.txt file can have big consequences on your website, especially if you’re not too familiar with the process. Your best move would be to leave this task in the hands of experienced developers.
9. Messy URLs
If URLs ending in something such as this – “..index.php?p=349504” don’t appear meaningful to you then chances are high that they mean nothing to search bots either. These types of URLs aren’t intuitive or user-friendly.
It is one of the most common on-site technical SEO issues that can be fixed by doing the following:
– Include keywords in the URLs
– Make use of hyphens to separate words rather than spaces
– Canonicalize several URLs serving similar or the same content
– As much as possible, try compressing long URLs (100+ characters) into less than 70 characters
– Make use of a single domain and subdomain
– Utilize lowercase alphabets
10. Low Word Count
Having thin content on your website can hamper your SEO efforts. In fact, search engines can misinterpret low word content as an attempt by you to bloat the number of pages on your website without delivering quality per page.
Engage in thorough research on certain topics and pick out related and relevant information you can include in your content. Also, make use of long-tail keywords in the form of questions to improve the voice-search appeal of your webpage. This also contributes to giving structure to your lengthy content.
For a blog post, the suggested average word count is between 2,250 and 2,500 words.
11. Poor Mobile Experience
This is huge because Google has commenced a soft launch of its mobile-first index as of 2018. Although its implementation is still a gradual process, however, the search giant is planning to rank websites based on their mobile versions.
Thus, being mobile-ready should be a priority. Unfortunately, many websites are not optimized for mobile browsing. Just so you know, mobile phone usage is at an all-time high. In the US alone, there are over 224 million people using smartphones.
When you think about this, you should realize that optimizing your website for mobile content is no longer an option, especially when you consider the fact that 40% of web users will skip your website immediately if it isn’t mobile-friendly.
Develop your website in a dynamic way such that fat-fingered smartphone users can tap on buttons conveniently and browse comfortably. Also, use schema.org to create structured data. This will create searches with rich snippets which will likely stand out on mobile devices and generate more clicks.
12. Non-Performing Contact Forms
If users aren’t filling your contact form then there could be something wrong with it. According to research by Formisimo (https://www.formisimo.com/blog/global-checkout-statistics-may/), only 49% of 1.5 million internet users attempt to fill out a form when they see one.
Furthermore, only 16% (of the 49%) actually submit a completed form. This means you have to go the extra mile to resolve this problem if you really intend to collect your customers’ information.
You’ll have to make the contact form as compelling as possible to users. Keep it short and simple while collecting only the information you need such as the names and email addresses. Additional fields, such as phone numbers and job titles should only be included if absolutely necessary.
Generally, it isn’t recommended to have more than five fields in your form. Be creative and use something interesting with your CTA copy other than the overused “submit”. Don’t forget to also experiment with the color, position, copy, and fields of your form.
Lastly, remember to measure the performance results using A/B testing to have an idea of what works best for your business and what doesn’t.
13. XML Sitemaps Errors
XML Sitemaps are important because they notify Google about the business or topic of your website. Thus, an erroneous or missing Sitemap would simply broadcast false information to Google about your page.
Search engines would not only have a hard time deciphering the contents of your website, but its hierarchy will also not be understood. You can use Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools to discover this peculiar problem.
The Sitemaps report landing page shows the list of Sitemaps submitted to Search Console. Simply click on one of them and then drill down for more information (that’s if it turns out to be a Sitemap index). You should see the listed errors along with other bits of information.
To fix this problem, ensure that the Sitemap generation and submission plugin available on your website is working correctly without any issues. This is why it’s recommended to utilize SEO plugins that are excellently integrated and have positive reviews.
14. Misconfigured NOINDEX
NOINDEX remains one of the most popular issues that website managers face. As a matter of fact, the destructive effects of this problem far outweigh those of a misconfigured robot.txt.
In essence, a misconfigured robots.txt won’t remove your site’s pages from Google’s index, but a NOINDEX directive is capable of just that. It can literally wipe out every single one of your indexed pages from the Google index.
The truth is that NOINDEX is important for sites in the development phase since the directive stops them from appearing prematurely in users’ search results. However, for fully grounded business websites, NOINDEX brings nothing but trouble.
First things first, locate the problem. Although it is quite easier and faster to just make use of an online tool, such as Screaming Frog, which allows you to scan several pages simultaneously, the best and most recommended method for finding NOINDEX on your website is to do a manual check.
Go through each code one after the other and if you discover NOINDEX, then just replace it with INDEX. In fact, you can even choose to leave it blank. As soon as you finish this step, Google will automatically get a notification to commence the indexing of your web pages once again.
15. Meta Descriptions Ending in Ellipses
Sometimes on Google SERPs, online users may see some of the texts from suggested results being replaced by ellipses ( a series of three dots). This appears usually because the text exceeds the pixel count or allotted words.
You’ll agree with me that this can be quite frustrating for any user especially if they’re trying to ascertain whether your website has the right information they’re looking for. It is indeed one of the common problems with SEO.
Try to control the pixel length of web page titles and meta descriptions to ensure that search engines don’t scout for the remaining sentences users don’t click on a different link.
We hope you’ve gotten a clearer understanding of the common technical SEO issues you may encounter with websites and how to fix them easily.
To ensure you don’t lose website visitors or potential customers for your business, take a proactive position and scan through each of these issues on your website. Feel free to contact Crank Digital for any comments or suggestions.