10 common technical SEO issues to watch out for

If you manage a website in any way, you’ve heard the term SEO. What is SEO? SEO stands for search engine optimization. It’s the process aimed at improving your site’s technical configuration, content relevance, and link popularity to make it easier to find in search engines (like Google or Bing).

SEO is a complex game, often requiring a multifaceted strategy. There's on-page SEO (keyword usage, internal links), off-page SEO (Google Maps Profile, backlinks) and then there's technical SEO (site speed, site structure). This article focuses on technical SEO: activities that directly impact how search engines index and crawl your site. Here is a list of the 10 most common technical SEO issues we see as web development partners.

10 common technical SEO issues to watch out for on your site

1. Missing H1 tags

The H1 tag is the top-level heading. It is typically the largest heading on the page and tells the visitor and search engines what the page is about. In a webpage’s code, the H1 text is nested in <h1></h1> tags.

2. Duplicate title tags

A title tag is just that – the title of a webpage. Title tags appear in search engine results, social media posts, and browser tabs. Each page should have a unique title tag to help visitors and search engines tell the difference between different content.

3. Missing XML sitemaps

An XML sitemap is a file designed for search engine robots that indexes all the pages on your site. This helps search engines like Google find and crawl your pages.

4. Links without descriptive text

Links help tell search engines what users can do on your site. The most common non-descriptive text we see is “Learn More”. More effective link text options are “Free [design] tips”, “[Gardening] videos”, or “Schedule a Call”.

5. Broken links

Broken links are links that send visitors to a webpage that no longer exists. A broken link indicates to search engines that your site may be out of date or broken. Search engines only promote quality, current content.

6. Duplicate content

Duplicate content may not be what you think (in fact, it probably isn't). We’re referring to when the same page is accessible via two URLs, and one URL does not redirect to the other. URLs can be as similar as site.com/page and site.com/page/ (with a trailing slash), or site.com vs. www.site.com.

7. No SSL certificate

To put it simply, an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate puts the "s" in https://. The “s” tells search engines that your website is safe, secure and encrypted, and therefore affects your ranking.

8. Site is accidentally set to NOINDEX

A 'noindex' tag tells search engines not to include the page in search results. You likely set it this way when you were building the site, but forgot to turn it off.

9. Missing meta descriptions

A meta description summarizes what a page is about. While a meta description likely does not affect ranking, it can help encourage searchers to visit your page from search engine result pages (SERP) and boost click-through.

10. Missing or unhelpful image alt tags

Image alt text (short for alternative text) is HTML code used to describe an image on a webpage. It is read aloud to users by screen reader software, and it is indexed by search engine crawlers. It also displays on the page if the image fails to load. For example, unhelpful image alt text is “blue car”. Helpful alt text is “blue honda civic parked on a gravel road in front of a corn field in Iowa”. See the difference?

Technical SEO can be a tricky task. If you think your site has any of these issues – or you just aren’t sure – we can give it an audit.

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