After you’ve put the time and effort to improve your website’s SEO, not seeing any results can be frustrating. You might have followed all of the best practices for on-page and off-page SEO for nothing in return. Something you might not have taken into consideration is how good your technical SEO is.

Technical SEO includes website and server optimizations that can help to make your website easier for search engine spiders to crawl and index. If something is wrong with it, your website might not be showing up in search engine result pages. Technical SEO is the foundation of your website. Even when you’ve done everything else correctly, it can fall apart if the foundation is not secure.

Technical SEO issues are common and many websites at some point have them. Fortunately, these issues can easily be fixed and even minor fixes can do wonders to help your ranking.   

No HTTPS Security

Security on the internet is increasingly important to everyone. Google also understands this, which is why they use HTTPS as a soft ranking factor. Since your website doesn’t have the added level of security that an HTTPS one does, you could be hurting your ranking.

URLs with HTTP tell users that your website is not secure, which can make them leave quickly. In fact, Google Chrome even began using warning signs to alert users that navigate to an HTTP URL that the website they are landing on is not secure and potentially malicious. Even if you think your website doesn’t have a reason to be encrypted, Google will punish websites that aren’t.

To switch to HTTPS, you’ll need to purchase an SSL certificate and install it on your server. When you change to HTTPS, you’ll also want to set up 301 redirects. A 301 redirect will direct everyone to your HTTPS URL. Implementing 301 redirects on your own can be difficult, but if you use WordPress you can easily do this using a plugin.

One of the most popular 301 redirect plugins for WordPress is Redirection. Redirection is free to download and use. After installing Redirection, all you have to do is specify the new URL you want users to be redirected to.

Furthermore, some WordPress users may find it necessary to override their .htaccess file to ensure that all web traffic is being directed from the HTTP URL to its HTTPS redirect. Simply insert the following code into the .htaccess file located in your WordPress files to redirect all traffic:

                    RewriteEngine On

                    RewriteCond %{HTTPS} !on

                    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !^/[0-9]+\..+\.cpaneldcv$

                    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !^/\.well-known/pki-validation/[A-F0-9]{32}\.txt(?:\ Comodo\ DCV)?$

                    RewriteRule (.*) https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R=301] 

Broken links

Most people have experienced broken links on a website before. Sometimes running into one is only can be slightly annoying, but they can leave many users bouncing from your website. Unfortunately, it’s common to eventually run into a few broken links on your website.   

Fortunately, broken internal links are easy to find and fix by running regular site audits to spot these issues. Using ScreamingFrog, you can spot any 404 errors on your site and then click inlinks to find out what pages are linking to them.

Screaming Frog audit of LSEO, analyzing broken internal links on the site.

You can also use a broken link checker to find any broken external links so that you can reach out to the owner and resolve the issue. Using Ahrefs Site Explorer you can find any broken external links on your site. Depending on how many broken links you have, it could only take a few minutes to fix by replacing the links.

You can also use it to find any broken backlinks to your website. To fix your broken backlinks you can either reach out to the owner to change it, use a 301 redirect to a different relevant page, or recreate the content that was in the broken link.  

Incorrect robots.txt

If you’re using a robots.txt file to block any pages, you could accidentally be causing a lot of problems. Even small errors with your robots.txt file can be preventing your entire website from being indexed.

To check to see if your robots.txt file is incorrect or not, type your URL into your browser with a “/robots.txt” suffix. If your results come back with “User-agent: * Disallow: /” then it’s telling search engine spiders to stay out of your entire website. If you think that you’re experiencing problems because of an incorrect robots.txt file, your best option get it fixed it to contact your developer.

Proper robots.txt file setup.

No XML sitemap

An XML sitemap helps Google and other search engines index your website. With this, you can bring attention to the pages that you think are the most important. By having an XML sitemap, you can help pages get indexed properly by submitting them directly via Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. Using a sitemap isn’t a guarantee that your website will be crawled and indexed, but it does increase the chances of it.

To generate a sitemap, one of the easiest ways is to use Screaming Frog. With this, the SEO spider will crawl your website and it will allow you to choose to create a sitemap. You can also exclude pages you don’t want in your sitemap and select the priority of some URLs compared to others. Once you’ve saved your sitemap, it’s ready to be submitted to search engines.  

Setting up an xml sitemap using Screaming Frog.

 

A sitemap is useful for everyone, but Google especially recommends it for:

  • large websites
  • websites with large archives
  • new websites with few external links
  • websites with a lot of media content

Snippet of an XML sitemap generated by the SEO Yoast plugin.

Slow page speed

Slow webpage speed can kill user experience. A majority of people will leave your website if it takes more than 15 seconds to load. Speed has an effect on your ranking and can also prevent search engines from crawling many pages. To see if there are any issues with your website loading, you should check GoogleSpeed Insights. Depending on what is slowing down your website, you can either have an easy solution, or something more complex that requires more fixing.

Screenshot of Google's PageSpeed Insights.

Some common problems that can be slowing your speed down are images that are:

  • Unoptimized images (dimensions, file types, file sizes)
  • Too much Flash content
  • Too much JavaScript
  • Unnecessary redirects
  • Too many plugins

For WordPress websites, we recommend using WPRocket to speed up your website using caching, as well as Imagify to compress all file sizes.

Your site isn’t indexed

If your site isn’t indexed properly, it won’t show up in any search results. Because of this, you won’t be getting any organic traffic at all. To check to see if all your pages are indexed, you should type in “site:yoursitename.com” into Google’s search bar. This should then let you see all the number of indexed pages for your site.

A site: search to determine all the pages in Google's index for the lseo.com domain.There could be a few different reasons why your site hasn’t been indexed. If you have pages that you’ve only recently created, they can take a while to show up. You might have already found out that your robots.txt file is preventing you from being indexed. 

A few ways you can help to get your website indexed correctly are:

  • Optimize your website for speed
  • Regularly publishing content
  • Block pages you don’t want to be crawled
  • Include pages you want indexed in your sitemap
  • Set a custom crawl rate

You can also submit your URL to Google to request that you get indexed.

Duplicate content

It’s common to find duplicate content on websites, meaning content that’s either completely the same or extremely similar. Creating duplicate content is usually unintentional and common among e-commerce stores and printer-only web pages, but it could still hurt your ranking. An issue that could arise from having duplicate content is that it’s confusing to search engine crawlers. Duplicate content makes it hard to distinguish which should be prioritized.  

If you switched to HTTPS from HTTP and didn’t properly implement 301 redirects, you could have duplicate content. You can also tell Google what the canonical page is to specify which should be shown in search results.

If you’re using WordPress, one of the simplest ways you can choose a canonical URL is by using the Yoast SEO plugin. By using this plugin, you only need to select which URL you want to use in the advanced tab. It also allows you to change it if you ever need to.

Not optimized for mobile devices

The majority of Google and Bing users use mobile devices to make searches. This is why Google uses mobile-first indexing for over half of the pages in search results. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, that can be a big factor that’s affecting how you’re performing.

You can easily test whether your not your site is mobile friendly by using Google’s Mobile Friendly Test. Some of the most common issues in mobile responsiveness include:

  • UX (not providing enough interactivity through buttons or swipes)
  • Failing to set a viewport
  • Displaying content wider than the device screen
  • Using fonts or text that are too small to read
  • Poor page speed
  • Clunky displays

Using a responsive web design will ensure that your website adjusts to fit any size screen its opened on. A responsive web design improves user experience and it’s Google’s recommended design pattern. The downside is that they can take longer to load than a mobile-specific domain or other design options.

Google's Mobile-Friendly Test

Another option to make your website mobile friendly is Accelerated Mobile Pages. AMP can make your website load faster on mobile devices. It can also possibly help you rank higher. However, because AMP is still somewhat new, there are still some problems that come along with it. Tracking data from AMP is difficult and there are issues implementing it.

Conclusion

Finding technical SEO issues can be a simple way to drastically improve your site’s performance. These issues are common and sometimes unavoidable, but they are fixable. Being aware of potential issues that many people deal with and monitoring them can help prevent them from happening in the future. You could end up being surprised at the small errors that are holding you back.  

 

 

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

Screenshots of LSEO