6 Essential Technical SEO Issues to Address Right Away in 2021

Easy Technical SEO Issues to Fix According to SEO Professionals

SEO requires a large amount of time and effort before it starts to pay off.

Technical SEO issues are common, and many people don’t even realize they have them on their site if they don’t check often.

Although these issues might not jump out at you, they can have a huge impact on your rankings.

Many of the most common issues are also relatively easy fixes, so there’s no reason to let them linger on your site. One thing we know about SEO is it changes from year to year. Google always keeps us on our toes and there is no reason to expect anything different in 2021. Ranking factors are constantly changing and so is the priority they are given.

Fortunately, you won’t even have to do much digging on your own to find where your technical SEO is lacking, as there are plenty of technical SEO audit tools to point you to any issues.

Don’t let fixable technical issues hold back your SEO efforts.

We polled other SEO professionals within organizations to see what is most important to them. According to the community, here are some of the top technical SEO issues that you need to correct today.

1. Your Website Isn’t Secure

Search engines want to give users the best possible search results.

While this often means showing the most relevant and useful search results, search engines also try to give preference to secure websites that value keeping users safe.

Search engines know that users don’t want to be on a website that could put them at risk.

These days, there are so many potential threats we face while browsing the web.

Most people aren’t willing to take any risks.

Today, sharing personal information on a site that isn’t secure qualifies as a risk for many people.

Caleb Riutta of Dusk Digital told us, “The most essential issue that should be addressed is getting an SSL certificate if you don’t already have one. It’s no surprise that websites should be fully secure under the https protocol today, but where websites usually get this wrong is within their internal links. It’s important to ensure that all of your internal links also properly links through the secure protocol to show Google you are fully secure and limit the amount of redirects they have to hop through during a crawl.”

So secure your website.

If you haven’t yet, get an SSL certificate and switch to HTTPS.

2. You Haven’t Created an XML Sitemap

Search engines need to crawl and index your pages so they can show up in the search results.

You might expect search engines today to know exactly how to do this, but it’s important that you give them some extra information to do this properly.

To help search engines understand your website and how to crawl its pages, you need to create an XML sitemap.

By creating a sitemap, you can tell search engines what your most important pages are so that they’re easy to find and can be crawled.

Borislav Ivanov, a Senior Technical SEO Executive at Best Response Media, said, “XML sitemaps are directories listed in a logical hierarchical order and listed based on priority in order to inform a search engine about the content on your site and what your most important pages are. It has to be updated and checked regularly and submitted to Google through your robots.txt file and search console, you are all set.”

It’s also best practice to keep your XML sitemap(s) free of any 301/302 redirects, broken pages, or server errors. 

The more efficiently your website can be crawled and indexed, the better your chances of ranking highly will be.

3. You Have Duplicate Content

You wouldn’t intentionally put two almost identical pages on your website on purpose, so having duplicate content might not be something you think you need to worry about.

However, this occurs to plenty of people, and it can happen easily without you noticing.

Duplicate pages can mean trouble for search engines.

If two pages with similar content have different URLs, search engines aren’t going to know which one to prioritize and show in the search results.

Cannibalization can also happen easily without even knowing that you did it. YOu can create two different pages, but not realize that they are going after the same keyword. 

This means that instead of having one well-performing page, you’ll have two or more that aren’t effective at all because they are splitting equity.

There can be many reasons why your site has duplicate content, but there’s a simple solution.

You can tell search engines which version of a page you want to be used, also called the canonical URL.

Bruce Hogan, the CEO of SoftwarePundit, put it in words better than I could. He said, “One of the most critical technical SEO best practices to implement properly are canonical tags. A canonical tag is an on-page HTML element that tells Google which page on your website is the canonical version, or the master copy of any given page. Oftentimes, websites with a high volume of pages will have several pages that are extremely similar to each other. If the website does not use canonical tags, it is very difficult for Google to determine which is the master copy.”

He went on to say, “As a result, some of those pages might be de-indexed, or compete with each other for rankings in search results. Properly implemented canonical tags ensure that Google indexes the right page, helps that page rank well in SERPs, and consolidates link equity to a single version of the page. It also conserves crawl budget, since Google doesn’t need to crawl alternate versions of the page.”

4. Your Web Load Time Is Too Slow

Today, users expect to get the information we want to be in front of us right away.

You might think the content on your site is worth waiting a few seconds to get, but users most likely won’t.

If your website takes even several seconds to load, users are probably going to leave before they can even get a sense of what’s on your website.

Today, there’s no reason users should have to wait for your website to load properly, but there are still many who have this problem.

There are also a number of issues that can cause your site to load slowly, all of which have different solutions, so it’s important for you to spend some time figuring out exactly what’s slowing it down.

If you aren’t already familiar with Google’s new guidelines around core web vitals, you should get up to speed. It’s a ranking factor coming quickly. 

One of the SEO professionals we polled, Yawer Malik of Cloudways told us, “During the current SEO state, one of the most important technical factors is improving website load time. One area I’ve had success is by optimizing jquery, javascript and coding issues, and compressing the images used.”

I highly recommend doing your due diligence on core web vitals and executing or employing someone to get your page load times and scores where they need to be.

5. You Have Too Many Broken Links

Including links in content throughout your website is a great SEO practice that everyone should focus on. Structured properly, of course.

This makes it easy to direct users to other important pages on your website or relevant information on other websites, and it can help improve your site’s rankings. Google is going to crawl the site just as a user would. They also gain valuable insight about your website based on how your internal links are set up. 

However, if you don’t keep track of what pages you link to, you could be hurting your SEO more than you’re helping it.

At some point, the pages you link to can become unavailable, so users will only end up being redirected to an error page, rather than the important information they wanted.

This creates a poor experience for the user and can also make it difficult for search engines to crawl your site.

Fixing this is easy once you’ve identified the broken links.

All you have to do now is switch out the broken link for another relevant page.

Carlos Rosado of Outlook Studios told us, “Internal broken links are a constant issue for a lot of websites with many pages because site owners don’t do a great job of maintaining their site. By having broken internal links a user who visits your website is likely to leave because they ran into a broken link or a dead end. Removing broken links also helps to ensure a smooth crawl by search engines.” 

The key here is to remove the broken links from your navigation, footer, or even on-page content and also make sure to redirect them as it’s an easy way to reclaim backlinks if that page had any. 

6. Your Protocol Redirects Aren’t Set Properly

This is one of the most common technical SEO issues that is overlooked. If you really think about it, four versions of your site exist, but really only one should be active. The rest should properly 301 redirect to the main version. 

Those versions exist in the http://www version, the https://www version, the http://domain version, and the https://domain version. 

The first step in getting this right is to determine which secure protocol (https) version you want to go with, with www or without www. You can remove the http version right away (see point #1). 

Whichever version you choose to go with, the other three should properly redirect to the preferred choice. 

If these aren’t set properly, or worst case scenario not at all, then you risk multiple versions of your site and pages being indexed. You don’t want that!

Matthias Lugert the CMO at Seobility told us, “If you fail to properly redirect your website visitors to that one, single version of your website, then you end up with multiple versions of the same content (duplicate content alert!), which leads to:

  • Google being lost on the question which of the versions they should index or multiple versions being indexed.
  • inconsistent website/URL behavior.
  • Visitors stuck on an unsecure version of your website.”

All of what Matthias laid out here is bad. Use a redirect checker on all of the versions you don’t prefer to ensure the redirect is set up properly. If it’s not, get it fixed!

Keep an Eye Out for Technical SEO Issues

Don’t let fixable technical issues keep you from getting the rankings you’ve been working for.

Many of the most common technical SEO issues occur without you doing anything to cause them or you just simply overlooking them.

Make sure technical issues aren’t hurting your SEO efforts.

Check your site regularly to catch problems early on.

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