Most Common Technical SEO Issues and How to Fix Them

There are many things at play when it comes to winning the SEO game.🎮 If you want to be the winner you need to utilize all the aspects that make up a successful SEO strategy. And one of them is technical SEO.

Technical SEO is the lifeline of your other optimization efforts.

Let me give you an example.

You create a new page. You’ve got exceptional content, great use of target keywords, a few high-quality backlinks, the design looks great. A potential customer finds your page and then BOOM, this shows up on the screen:

common technical SEO issue: not secute

Do you know what this means? Other than meaning your website is not secure, it also means an instant NO ❌ from the user.

So that’s why in this article we’re gonna discuss the most common technical SEO issues, including: 

#1 Duplicate Content

#2 Incorrect Rel=Canonical

#3 Incorrect Language Declaration

#4 Incorrect Use of Redirects

#5 Broken Links

#6 Missing Alt Tags

#7 Slow Load Speed

#8 Poor Mobile Optimization

#9 Poorly Optimized or Missing Meta Description

#10 No HTTPS Security

#11 Indexing Issues

#12 Poor Site Navigation

#13 Missing XML Sitemaps

#14 Missing or Incorrect Robots.txt

#15 Poor Use of Structured Data Markup

along with some insight on what technical SEO is and why is so important. Let’s do this! 🚀

common technical seo issues on website

What is Technical SEO?

Technical SEO is a related part of SEO that involves optimizing technical aspects critical to the structure and functionality of the website. It involves elements like sitemaps, load speed, 301 redirects, URL structure, metadata, site navigation, etc.

Search engines favour websites that have certain technicalities in check, hence ranking them higher in the search results. But a common misconception is that you should focus your technical SEO efforts only to please search engines. 

Making sure the user has a pleasant experience and finds your site easy to use should always be your top priority. Thankfully, if you build a strong technical foundation it will often work well for both humans and search engines.✔️

Why is Technical SEO Important?

If your business operates online in any way, shape or form, SEO is simply a must. It’s should be just as important for your business as any other operational strategy. Without technical SEO efforts, your website wouldn’t even appear on Google, let alone rank amongst the competition or get organic traffic. 

As the SEO game continues to evolve, the necessity for a clean website is even greater. People are using the internet more than ever, so it’s essential to have an optimized website free of technical issues to attract your target audience. 

Once your site is launched, you should periodically check it for bugs or issues in need of fixing. To get the most out of it, make sure to update your site regularly so that visitors are able to find what they’re looking for.

A misstep here or there is bound to happen at some point, so finding and fixing common technical issues is crucial. It can be frustrating if you frequently encounter technical problems because small mistakes can lead to a huge mess later down the line.

Most Common Technical SEO Issues:

Before we start, I just want to mention that these most common technical SEO issues are not listed in any order of importance, difficulty or by how common they are. They’re all very common (hence the title of this article 😁), important and difficult to deal with in their own way. 

Now let’s break down the most common technical SEO issues and how you can fix them. Of course, there are many types of issues that can arise and not all of them are listed here, but these are typically the most common and you can fix a lot of them by yourself if you don’t have a professional to help.

#1 Duplicate Content

Duplicate content issues are common not just in technical SEO, but all aspects of SEO. This is a very widespread problem that prevents the original content from being shown to the audience. 

This issue is most common for eCommerce sites, sites with dynamically-created pages, international sites that have multiple versions of the website in different languages, sites that have multiple versions of the homepage or websites that straight-up copy-paste content from other sites onto theirs. 

Duplicate content issues also arise if you have multiple versions of the homepage. They can be created if you have both HTTP and HTTPS versions of a page, pages with and without www. or if your site has the suffix /home.html.

How to Fix this:

For duplicate content issues, a good thing to start with is a tool like Ahrefs’s Site Audit.

site audit duplicate content SEO issue

If you have an eCommerce webiste that sells a product that’s for sale on other websites, make sure that the content is at least 300 words and is not copied word-for-word from other sites. Write a unique product description while still explaining the features and value of the product. 

Another important thing to note here is the proper use of rel=canonical tags within your source code. These tags let Google know that a certain page is the original one so Google will crawl and index that specific page. 

For international sites with multiple versions of the website in different languages, use rel=”alternate” hreflang tags within the source code of your pages to make sure the content is shown with a more targeted language according to the geolocation. You can also use IP detection to incorporate the appropriate language and currency. 

With multiple versions of your homepage, you’re splitting the traffic that would’ve otherwise visited your main homepage. The best way to fix this is to set up proper 301 redirects that lead to the main homepage and also have a canonical domain set up in Search Console.

#2 Incorrect Rel=Canonical

Rel=canonical tags let search engines know that the page with this tag is the original one and the one that should be indexed. It also limits duplicate content and improves your standing in the SERPs. 

However, if you misuse this tag it will confuse the search engine and it will not rank your pages. So you need to make sure it’s used properly and only for the pages that need it. 

How to Fix this:

As I mentioned before in the Duplicate content section, placing a rel=canonical tag within your source code will let Google know that a certain page is the original one so Google will crawl and index that specific page. This tag is very useful for pages that search engine bots might consider to be duplicated.

A reason why a rel=canonical tag might not be effective when it’s placed in the code is if it also has a NOINDEX meta tag. The two contradict each other as one of them tells the search engine to index your page and the other one the opposite. Remove the NOINDEX tag to make sure the rel=canonical tag does its job.

Another thing you should look out for is if a page has multiple rel=canonical tags. If your sites’ code has more than one of these tags, Google will ignore all rel=canonical hints, meaning that you won’t receive the benefit of having this tag in the first place.

#3 Incorrect Language Declaration

There’s huge power in providing content to your audience based on local customization, for example in their native language. So Google introduced the hreflang tag back in 2011.

A site’s language declaration is very important if the goal is to reach audiences on a global scale through international SEO. Using hreflang tags is a way to tell Google which page is the right one to show to the audience, based on language and location. Here’s an example of what the code looks like:

<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://yoursite.com” hreflang=”en-us” />

Using hreflang tags can be pretty tricky as it requires a lot of attention to detail, so checking the source code of every page and incorporating the tag properly is key.

How to Fix this:

The best way to go about this is to use a tool unless you want to go through every single line of code (oh hell no 😤). Google has a free tool called International Targeting Tool that you can use specifically for this. 

There are hreflang tag generator tools that can simplify the process. Also, redirects are great to use in this instance to redirect users to the page with the right language declaration.

#4 Incorrect Use of Redirects

Using 301 and 302 redirects is a great way to redirect both users and search engines to the relevant page. This is very useful if you have 404 pages, any new versions of old pages or you’ve moved the entire site to a new URL. 

301 redirects are permanent and they let search engines know to stop crawling and indexing the old page. They redirect visitors to your new page as well as pass link juice to it.

302 redirects are for temporary changes to a page, meaning it will still be crawled and indexed and the link juice will not be passed on to the new page. Visitors will be redirected to the new one while the old page is back up again for use. 

Redirects are also very useful to redirect both users and search engines when you have multiple versions of the homepage or multiple URLs of the entire site.

How to Fix this:

If you ever rebuild your website or you’ve moved it to an entirely new URL, make sure you connect the old version with the new one with 301 redirects. You don’t want the search engine to crawl and index a page you’re no longer using. 

For 404 pages, use 302 redirects until you have your page back on your site or use 301 redirects if you disregard that page and create a new one.

#5 Broken Links

Broken links can cause countless problems on many levels of your website. Link-building issues are the most common type of issues when it comes to SEO and your site’s Google ranking.

It’s also the most common reason for getting a Google penalty, and if you’ve ever gotten one then you know what a nightmare the Google penalty removal process is. That’s why it’s best to avoid any shady or inappropriate link-building tactics.

A good internal and external linking structure shows both Google and users that your site provides easy access to relevant, high-quality content, which is an advantage with search engine crawlers and an excellent experience for users. 

That’s why you should make sure you don’t have any broken links on your site. You don’t want to have links that lead nowhere, no matter if they’re internal or external. No one wants to be taken to a 404 page only to realize they’ve clicked on a broken link. 

How to Fix this:

You can approach this in multiple ways. First, you can check Search Console and get a full link report for both internal and external links.

search console technical seo issue: link reports

Or you can go to Ahrefs and get an in-depth link report for all kinds of link issues.

ahrefs technical seo issue: link reports

Fixing broken internal links is quite easy, you can just find where those broken links are and either fix them or remove them. For broken external links, you’d have to contact the website that links to yours and ask them to remove the backlink.

The same principle goes for broken images as well. You don’t want a broken link image to lead to nothing, whether it was meant to take the user to another page on your site or a different website. So check them from time to time if you’ve had a domain change or file name change.

Having trouble with link-building?

Our Team can help with this and provide a free SEO report of your website!

#6 Missing Alt Tags

If you’re missing alt tags on your images then frankly, you’re missing precious SEO opportunities. Alt tags help to explain what the image is about and provide space for more content that will help with your site’s ranking. 

So if some images on your site are missing alt tags, it’s best to identify them and add a relevant alt tag in order to boost the SEO and user experience of your site.

How to Fix this:

This part is pretty simple. Most auditing tools will identify pages with images that have missing alt tags. Run regular site audits to examine existing pages as well as keep track of new pages you add in the future. 

Here you can see that Ahrefs’ Site audit points out issues with missing alt tags. After that, fixing is a lot easier.

ahrefs technical seo issues: missing alt tag

#7 Slow Load Speed

This one is one of the more obvious issues that should always be addressed. Your page ranking, UX, organic traffic, time spent on site and bounce rate are all greatly affected by your sites’ speed. If your site loads in more than 3 seconds expect a decline in all these areas. 

The things that usually affect a sites’ speed the most are poor image and video optimization, slow server response time, poor mobile responsiveness, browser caching issues, JavaScript issues, etc.

How to Fix this:

To know what needs fixing you first much check your loading speed. For this, you can use tools like GTMetrics or PageSpeed Insight to get a better understanding of what’s slowing down your speed, both for mobile and desktop.

pagespeed site speed

After that start fixing the issues one by one. For many website elements, like images, videos, JavaScript codes, CSS style sheets, it’s better to compress, optimize and minimize them to a size small enough to not affect the speed of the page, but also have it look visually pleasing. 

If you don’t want a slow server response time, please don’t opt for a cheap hosting service. Pay for a fast, secure and reliable hosting service so you don’t have to deal with this type of issue in the future.

For browser caching, if you’re using WordPress then you can instal a plug-in that will enable browser caching. That way, when a user is revisiting your site, it’ll load elements from their hard drive, not your network thus, increasing the speed.

#8 Poor Mobile Optimization

This one is so obvious I don’t even think I need to give an in-depth explanation. But I have to touch on this as it’s one of the most important optimizations and ranking factors for any website. 

More people are browsing the internet through smartphones and tablets as opposed to desktops. Also, as of 2018, Google is prioritizing mobile-first indexing so it’s no surprise why sites that are mobile responsive are at an advantage.

Even though this is one of the most obvious optimization aspects, you’d be surprised how many websites provide a poor mobile experience or are not at all optimized for mobile. Make sure your site is not one of *those* 👀, but if you do end up having some issues, fear not.

How to Fix this:

The first thing you can do is to head over to Search Console to see whether you have any issues that need fixing.

search console mobile usability errors

If your site has a responsive design, meaning the sites’ design and functionality will respond according to which device is opened on, then you have no reason to worry. Google will take this into account when analysing all the metrics that influence your search ranking. 

Some people have separate sites for mobile (.m sites) and divert their audience there when browsing on mobile. This can become quite tricky and cause maintenance issues later down the line.

In this instance, incorporate the proper hreflang code and links, update your metadata to match that of the desktop version, update the URLs to mobile, and add structured data to your mobile pages. 

However, the best thing to do is to switch to a responsive design to avoid causing major issues later and frankly, to make things easier for yourself.

#9 Poorly Optimized or Missing Meta Description

Meta descriptions are those little snippets below the title of a page that arouse interest in audiences and help Google with indexing your page. It’s a very simple but effective SEO feature that often gets overlooked.

The meta description could be the deciding factor for the user on whether to click on your site’s link or not. That’s why you shouldn’t overlook this. Always write relevant descriptions that provide a summary of the contents of the page. 

How to Fix this:

If you want to know which pages are missing meta descriptions, you can use Ahrefs’s Site audit (or any tool of your linking) to check.

ahrefs missing meta description error

After you’ve identified the pages, write compelling meta descriptions for each page. Make sure they’re 160 characters or less, include your main keywords in a way that’s natural and don’t duplicate them as it can cause problems later. 

Check for any errors in your existing meta descriptions and make sure they’re properly optimized for the right keywords. If you make any significant changes to the contents of the page, make the appropriate changes in the meta description as well. 

#10 No HTTPS Security

In this day and age where personal information on anyone is at our fingertips, having a secure website is more important than ever. If users are taken to your site that’s not HTTPS secured, expect a drastically increased bounce rate. 

The S in HTTPS stands for “secure”. So when you type in a webiste in the search box of a search engine, if you see an HTTP prefix instead of HTTPS then the site is not secured.

Your site might not even get indexed if it’s not secure. Because why would Google show a website to its users that could jeopardise their online safety? This applies especially to sites that ask for sensitive information, like credit card info. 

How to Fix this:

Thankfully, this is a fairly easy problem to fix. All you need is to purchase and integrate an SSL certificate from a certifying authority. Once you buy the certificate, install it and your site is good to go! 👌

#11 Indexing Issues

If your site doesn’t show up on the SERPs when you search for it, chances are there’s an indexing issue. And I already mentioned that if your site is not indexed then it’s not going to rank. 

To check this, type site:sitename.com into the search box and see whether the displayed page count matches the number of pages on your site. Different answers can relate to different issues that ask for a specific approach.

How to Fix this:

If your site is not indexed it will not appear in the search results. So the first thing you need to do is to head over to Search Console and add your website URL to the index.

search console indexing

In case you get a page count bigger than the actual number of pages on your site, it most likely means there are old versions of the pages that are indexed. It also means that there are no 301 redirects that lead to the new pages. Whichever one of these scenarios is right, check thoroughly and make changes. 

If you get a page count way smaller than the true number of pages on your site, it could be that some of your pages are not indexed or you have a NOINDEX tag in your source code. To check this, right-click on your site’s page, go to View Page Source and look for a NOINDEX tag. It should look like this: 

<meta name=”robots” content=”NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW”>

NOINDEX tags let search engine bots know that some pages aren’t that important and shouldn’t be indexed. This tag is used mainly when the website is still under development, but once the site is launched the tags should be removed. So if you spot any, remove them from the source code.

#12 Poor Site Navigation

Poor site navigation leads to a bad user experience, It decreases engagement which then lowers your authority and thus, decreases your visibility in the SERPs. 

It doesn’t matter if your website provides valuable information if users get lost and have trouble navigating the website. If they can’t find what they’re looking for they’ll never return to your site.

This applies to search engines as well. They won’t recommend a site that provides an unpleasant experience to its users. Making sure your site is easy to navigate is a must.

How to Fix this:

The best way to improve your site’s navigation is to have a solid internal linking structure. Add simple links to pages that lead to the next one in a way that flows naturally. 

You can also create categories of pages. This is usually done on the homepage for clear and easy navigation of a website as it shows tabs of pages grouped together based on the topic of the information.

Another useful tip is having menu navigation. A navigation menu is a list of links that lead to different areas of the website, usually placed horizontally at the top of every webpage. These might include your homepage, blog or contact page. They can help visitors find exactly what they’re looking for.

#13 Missing XML Sitemaps

An XML sitemap is crucial for your website as it lets search engine bots crawl and index your pages and therefore, rank them. It also lets search engines know what your site is about and which page to go to next. 

To check whether you have a sitemap, type in your website in the search box with the suffix /sitemap.xml.

If your site has a sitemap it will show itself like this:

xml sitemap example

How to Fix this:

Even though not having a sitemap or having an outdated one is a big issue, it’s fairly easy to fix. You don’t need to be a professional developer to do this. 

If you’re having any issues with your sitemaps you will be notified in Search Console as well as pinpoint where the problem is and get a clear idea on how to fix it.

Make sure you update your sitemaps as your site keeps expanding and you add more pages. If you don’t have a sitemap though, creating one is super easy.

You can hire a developer to create one for you, use a generating tool to create one yourself or you can install the Yoast plug-in to auto-generate one if you have a WordPress site.

#14 Missing or Incorrect Robots.txt

This is one of the most important technical aspects of SEO to look out for. A slight misstep can cause serious damage to your site – you need to be very careful with robots.txt files.

A robots.txt files’ main purpose is to avoid overloading your site with requests and crawler traffic, according to Google. It’s a literal text file containing commands that tell search engine crawlers which URLs have access to be crawled.

How to Fix this:

To check for issues in your robots.txt file, type in your website in the search box with the suffix /”robots.txt”. If the result is this code:

“User-agent: * Disallow: /”

Then there’s an issue with the file. The Disallow: / directive means that crawling will not be allowed. In this case, check through the file to see if Disallow: / was put in intentionally or it’s something that got overlooked. 

When you order your robots.txt file or your developer creates one, make sure it has the correct commands and they work together in synchronicity to make sure the intended URLs are crawled. Large sites like eCommerce or enterprise sites may have larger and more complex robots.txt files so make sure to go through them line by line to spot any errors.

#15 Poor Use of Structured Data Markup

Structured data or schema markup helps search crawlers understand the content on your page. It provides information and gives it structure. For example, if your page is about a party, relevant contents of that page would be the party venue, the line-up, start time and end time, etc. 

If your website has structured data then search engine crawlers will find it easy to crawl and organize its content. This is very useful because schema markup shows up on the SERPs as rich snippets, improving your visibility, visual appearance and user experience.

Even though schema markup doesn’t influence your ranking, it can provide value and increase click-through rates when done the right way.

Here’s an example of what a rich snippet looks like with the use of structured data when I googled “techno party”.

structured data rich snippet example

How to Fix this:

If you have any problems with your structured data markup you will get a notification in Search Console that Google reported a problem. The most common types of issues are spammy structured markup and unparsable structured data.

To identify spammy markup, check first if it appears on one page or if it’s sitewide. And to see which type of schema markup is causing the error, the best thing to do is to check Google’s Structured Data Guidelines.

You can also check if your templates are causing errors with a tool of your liking, like Rich Text Tool or Structured Data Tool, if you’ve used them on a large portion of your site.

Unparsable structured data errors are the easiest to deal with because it usually means that there’s either a spelling or a semantic error within your structured data. Search Console will notify you of such errors and will point to the source of the issue. 

If the error is not so obvious it pokes your eye out, then it’s best to use a structured data tool, enter the URL you want to inspect and look for the error there. Once you’ve identified and fixed the error, head over to Search Console to validate the fix and you’re done!

Summary

Thank you for making it to the end of this looong article. Let’s wrap up this blog with a quick summary. 

💡 Technical SEO is one of the most important parts, if not the most important part, of an effective SEO strategy. All of your efforts will be useless unless you have a suitable technical SEO structure in place.

💡 Successful technical SEO efforts will increase your standing with search engines, amongst the competition and most importantly, with users. 

💡 Technical issues are bound to happen. Things get outdated, changes need to be made, Google releases new updates that affect most websites out there, usually unannounced. 😬

💡 The most important thing to remember when dealing with technical SEO issues is to check your website regularly. Running site audits on regular basis and checking in with your developer are the best practices to maintaining a healthy website free of errors. 

One final note

These are not all of the problems you can encounter on your SEO journey. These are just the most common technical SEO issues that MUST be addressed in order to claim your top spot on the SERPS and in people’s hearts.

Here at Backlinker.io, we don’t mess around when it comes to technical SEO or any kind of SEO for that matter. We recognize its importance and that’s why we believe in providing the highest quality SEO service possible. 

If SEO is not your cup of tea or you feel like you need a professional to step in, we at Backlinker.io provide a full range of SEO services, from technical SEO and link-building to on-page SEO and content optimization.💯

Need help with your Technical SEO?

You found us, now let’s help you get found!

It can only go up from there my friends.⬆️ Happy optimizing!

Author avatar
Jana