Magazine

Fix These 10 Technical SEO Mistakes to Prevent Dropping on SERP

Posted on the 07 May 2021 by Shashank Kulshrestha @dbshashank

Even after working on well-researched keywords, writing quality content, optimizing images for search, and setting up meta information, you might not be able to generate desired results. From A to Z of On-Page, you’ve done everything right but the traffic hasn’t improved. Not having enough backlinks probably be the reason in your mind, but this is not what’s taking down your traffic if you haven’t considered working on Technical SEO factors. Serious Technical SEO Mistakes can hurt your rankings and traffic.

Most of the websites that are struggling to improve their rankings are not even thinking about the technical SEO mistakes they might have done. Well, this guide covers all the common technical SEO mistakes and solutions to them. Read it till the end and you’ll be able to fix some of your website rankings issues.

Index of this Technical SEO Mistakes Fixes:

  • What is Technical SEO?
  • How to Discover Issues?
  • Not Using SSL Certificate
  • Slow Website Speed
  • Duplicate Content Issues
  • Bad Business Reviews
  • Under-Optimized Meta Information
  • 4xx Errors
  • Lack fo Internal and External Links
  • Mobile Friendliness
  • Robots & Sitemaps
  • Structured Data

What is Technical SEO?

Technical SEO is about crawl-ability, indexability, website optimization, and server optimization so that search engines can better understand your website. Websites with proper technical SEO optimization are more likely to rank higher than others. Some of the basic elements of technical SEO are website speed, SSL certificate, responsiveness, etc. It is not a new pillar in SEO rather just a part of On-Page SEO in modern times.

You might already know that Google doesn’t read your website the way people do or you do. Being a machine, it reads the underlying code to judge a website’s technical factors. If in case your website does not match Google’s guidelines, it is more likely to hurt your rankings and traffic accordingly.

Don’t worry, you are not being asked to have coding knowledge for doing technical SEO, I’ll walk you through everything.

How to Check for Technical SEO Mistakes in Your Website?

For conducting a technical SEO review, you need an audit tool, actually, an advanced audit tool that can dig out all your website issues about technical SEO. The two most reliable tools for SEO audits are ScreemingFrog and SEMRush. Both these tools are paid, you can use our free 7 day trial of SEMRush for audit purpose. SEO Audit of SEMRush and ScreamingFrog lists all the technical SEO factors where you can see how your website is doing with those factors. If you encounter problems with technical SEO, don’t worry, we are going to solve them here and the internet is always open for search. So, solving mistakes won’t be a big problem for you.

SEMRush Technical SEO Audit Report
SEMRush Technical SEO Audit Report

As per the experience I have with clients and my own projects, there are some issues with most of the websites. Even a study conducted by SEMRush on 1300 ecommerce websites stated that even big brands are facing technical seo issues. Some of the comon iussues were:

  • 76% of the websites had 404 errors.
  • 95% of websites lack proper internal linkings.
  • Nearly 12% of websites were using Flash which is a negative factor as per security.

Now, let’s take a look at what are the common technical SEO mistakes that result in a drop in rankings and traffic of the website.

Not using SSL Certificate (HTTPS)

An SSL certificate is an important measure for the security of the website. SSL (Secure Socket Layer) is a small batch of data files installed on the server of the website. It allows a secure connection from your webserver to the browser. SSL is an initiative to make the web more secure. Based on the information available on the internet, only 6% of 10,000 websites are using SSL certificates even when SSL can be installed for free using Letsencrypt.org.

If you are unaware of the fact, let me tell you that Google has announced SSL as an ranking factor in 2014. But even still now, a lot of websites don’t use SSL maybe because they are unaware of this fact. Many times your website won’t even open and show a message in the browser like “connection to the server is not secure”.

You can either install a free SSL certificate via Letsencrypt.org or buy a new SSL certificate from Namecheap for your website. If in case you already have an SSL certificate installed but still the site is not opening on HTTPS then consider using the Really Simple SSL plugin on WordPress. In the case of custom build sites, you can connect with a developer.

Using a 301 Redirect for SSL Redirection

Using a 301 redirect is another method by which you can enable redirection of all HTTP pages to HTTPS. Although the WordPress plugin I mentioned above is enough and it’ll do all the redirection for you. But just in case if your links are still opening up on HTTP, try this method.

Here is an easy trick to check whether you need to create a 301 redirect or everything is already good with your SSL certificate. Try opening your website with HTTP (http://yourdomain.com) and see if it opens the website at https://yourdomain.com or not. If it doesn’t open the website at HTTPS, you need to create a redirect. Here is how you can create a redirect:

You can edit .htaccess file to create a redirect. Paste the mentioned code in .htaccess file and you are done.

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} !=on
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R=301,NE]
Header always set Content-Security-Policy "upgrade-insecure-requests;"

Slow Website Loading Speed

We all know how important it is to have a fast-loading website. Not only as a factor of SEO but in terms of user experience and business growth, website speed can do a lot both in positive and negative terms. A huge number of websites suffered and lost rankings because of slow website speed when it was announced as an important factor for SEO. Website speed is not a small factor, it is really a crucial one. So, no matter how hard you are trying with On-page and Off-page, if your website is slow, you’ll never be able to generate desired results.

If you do not know about your website speed performance, you can simply check it here at PageSpeed Insights. This is how the score might look like:

Website Speed Performance of Shashankk.io
Website Speed Performance of Shashankk.io

If you don’t have knowledge of how a website is developed or especially about how your website was built, you will face problems in optimizing your website speed. I’ve written a guide on WordPress speed optimization which you can read to learn about how to speed up your WordPress website. If you feel like needing help regarding optimizing your website, you can connect with me at this email. Here are some easy fixes that you can try to improve speed of your website:

  • Use the next generation image format WebP. WebP is a new image format that can reduce size of your images. There are WordPress plugins which can enable and easily convert all your website images to WebP.
  • Use properly sized images, don’t use large images without purpose. You can resize their resolution as per the website requirement. Also, try compressing them using image compressing websites available on the internet for free.
  • Compressing Javascripts and CSS files. You can use caching plugins on WordPress for doing this.
  • Enable LazyLoad to images and video embeds on your web pages.
  • Move to a faster hosting server like Bluehost, 10Web, Dreamhost, etc.
  • Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN). Signup for a free trial of BunnyCDN.

Duplicate Content Issues

Duplicate content creates difficulty for search engines in prioritizing pages for ranking. It is not only problematic for search engines but the users also. For some not-so-popular businesses, it may also be a factor of losing credibility. It is not a factor of penalty but can be a reason for a drop in rankings for your website.

Being a machine, search engines don’t know which version is humanly more relevant, they face issues in deciding which one to keep and which one to remove from the index. Duplicate content issues can arise due to URL variations.

Maybe your website is designed in a way that shows a piece of slightly different information on the same page by changing the URL variables like session-id, color type, print view, etc. If these variations are not set to noindex, these can cause duplicate content issues. Sometimes people just create duplicate versions of pages for purposes but leave them as it is instead of setting to noindex. You can either remove those pages in webmasters or create a redirect to the original page to sort this out.

Bad Business Reviews

Websites Contributing to Review Ratings on Internet
Websites Contributing to Review Ratings on Internet

Reviews are among the most important marketing elements for any business. The total number of reviews is important for your local search performance. When a customer is looking for reviews, the customer expects both positive and negative reviews. So, if your business is having all positive reviews then it might look a little suspicious which can negatively affect your business image. It is important to maintain a balance between positive and negative reviews. A few negative reviews and more positive reviews will be a good mix.

Make your presence on all reviews websites like Google, Facebook, TripAdvisor, Yelp, Yellowpages, etc. Reply to each review and let the reviewer know that you listen to them. Provide support to those who had a bad experience with the business.

Under-optimized Meta Information

Meta Tags
Meta Tags

Meta Tags are among the most common technical SEO mistakes found on websites. Meta information on your web page helps search engines in understanding the subject and concern of the page. Using the right meta information provides a better link to search engines in using the right keywords with your web page which drives relevant traffic to the website.

Meta Description and Title also provide an opportunity to the website to put relevant keywords and key phrases that help significantly in ranking on those keywords. If you don’t put meta information then google will pick random content from your web page based on user query to show your web page on SERP which sometimes can result in mismatched traffic coming from search engines.

Meta tags help search engines distinguishing between pages. If you optimize all the web pages with proper meta information, you’ll see a significant improvement in your search engine rankings and traffic. I have used this method and a lot of my clients have seen improvements in their rankings after meta optimization.

4xx Errors (Page Not Found)

Page Not Found - Technical SEO Mistakes
Page Not Found – Technical SEO Mistakes

You must have encountered a 404 not found error. Did it ruin your user experience and expectation from the web page which you had before going to that particular page? Definitely. As well as the user experience, 404 errors also harm your website’s crawl-ability. It is as simple as getting a road closure or a big speed breaker on your way to the destination. So, Google as well as the user doesn’t like getting such errors.

404 errors car arise because of deleted pages that still exist in google’s index or misspelled URL structure on your website. You can remove deleted links from Google Webmasters or redirect to the right URL if the previous URL is misspelled. Another possible fix is to provide a custom 404 page with important links mentioned there so that users don’t bounce from there.

We all know that user experience is the most important aspect of the entire business of Google. Google doesn’t reward businesses that deliver a bad user experience. The Majority of websites even today have a weak internal linking structure. Here are some of the major issues with internal and external links:

  • Links going to an HTTP website from an HTTPS website. The logic behind this is that a secure website shouldn’t be sending people to an insecure website.
  • Search engines do not understand underscores, that is why you’ll be almost every website uses hyphens instead of underscores in their URL structure. Hyphens work as space between words. Do not link to websites using hyphens until it is Wikipedia.
  • Linking to a page on your own website that doesn’t exist. This increases broken internal links on your website.
  • Linking to external pages that do not exist causes broken external links.
  • Using nofollow attribute in all external links is not a wise thing. Google doesn’t consider it good. Maintain a balance between nofollow and dofollow links.
  • Having only 1 internal link is also not a good way of doing SEO. Use more internal links.

What is the possible fix? Well, you can remove broken links or link to another relevant page. Increase the number of internal links in your articles. Remove dofollow attributes from some of the links that are going towards higher authority websites.

Website Isn’t Mobile Friendly / Responsive

Website Mobile Friendly Test
Website Mobile Friendly Test

How will it be for you to browse a desktop website on mobile? Well, most of the websites and platforms today are mobile-friendly. But still, some elements need to be taken care of. Have you ever encountered unexpected action when you clicked on a button? Like you clicked something and something else got clicked on phone. That is called fat finger syndrome.

Google’s mobile website friendliness checker tests all elements of the website for clickability and usability of your website on mobile. So, if you encounter any issues with your website listed in the report from the page checking tool, you must get them resolved on priority. Your website’s mobile-friendliness will affect your website rankings on SERP on mobile devices.

Check if the fonts are well sized for mobiles devices and metaport if properly configured.

Robots & Sitemap is not Configured Properly

Robots.txt and Sitemap.xml, both files are extremely important for any website. These two files tell crawlers how and where to crawl. A sitemap is a list of all URLs on your website whereas a Robots file is an instruction file that tells crawlers which part of the website to crawl and index and which not to.

This is how a robots file looks like:

Robots.txt File
Robots.txt File

If you are on WordPress, you can access your existing robots file at yourdomain.com/robots.txt. If your website is custom-built, you can also try to access the robots file at the same address. But if you are unable to find robots file for your website, you really need to create one. You can use a free tool to create robots file.

A sitemap doesn’t have a fixed URL, so for example, I am using Yoast SEO that generates my website’s sitemap file which can be seen at shashankk.io/sitemap_index.xml. If you are also using Yoast, you can access your sitemap at yourdomain.com/sitemap_index.xml. Otherwise, you can ask your developer where the sitemap file is located. If you don’t find any sitemap file. You can create a free sitemap for your website using free tools.

Ignoring Structured Data (Schemas)

Structured Data: Technical SEO Mistakes
Structured Data: Technical SEO Mistakes

Google’s algorithm favors the website which is easier to understand as per its understanding. Structured data or as people know it Schema Markups are extremely helpful in conveying the information to the search engine in a better way, actually in a way that they understand better.

If you don’t use schema markups, crawlers have to do a lot of work and might miss a lot of information on your web page if it is not formatted well for the search engines. So, putting that information in structured data can make the job easier for search engines. Having schema markups structured well helps in improving organic rankings, getting the better presentation of data on SERP, showing review ratings under the website on SERP, and much more.

Here is an example of how schema markup looks on SERP:

Rich Snippets
Rich Snippets

As you can see, Rich Snippets makes your website more appealing on SERP. Not just appearance, if you are a recipe blogger, you can get your website on top among featured recipes using schemas.

Again, WordPress has a lot of free and paid plugins available that can help you in setting up schema snippets on your website. if your website is custom-built, you can connect with your developer.

So, these are some of the biggest Technical SEO Mistakes people commit on their website. If you are facing any of the issues listed in this article, you’ll be able to solve them with given solutions. If in case you are unable to get the solution or have some other issue with SEO, you can comment down below. I’ll be more than happy to help you with your SEO questions.


Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog