The Most Common SEO Issues and Simple Solutions
Collectively, our team has audited the on-page and technical SEO issues of websites and assisted in website migrations for eCommerce and local businesses across several industries including software, travel, fashion, toys and other consumer goods, professional services, trades, freight and logistics and more.
While they may be unique in their industries, they are not unique in their SEO issues – commonly having the same ones requiring similar solutions. In this blog, we’re going to cover some of these SEO issues myself and the SEO team commonly encounter and some very straightforward solutions.
How does search work and how does Google rank pages?
Before we dive in, I just want to cover how Google and similar search engines work so you can understand how this influences your website. The process is below:
- Google discovers URLs via robots.txt files and submitted sitemaps in Google Search Console.
- Once URLs have been found, Google crawls the URLs, renders the content on the pages of the URLs and then adds them into its Google Index.
- Once this has been done, Google uses this information to rank URLs in the SERPs.
- To rank on Google, a page has to be indexed and indexing is dependent on crawling and rendering.
Now that we understand how it works, I’ll now break down:
- Why would Google not crawl and render your page?
- Why would Google not index your page?
Why would Google not crawl and render your page?
Google has not discovered your pages.
- Internal link issues
- No backlinks or backlink issues
- URLs are missing from the sitemap
- URLs are marked as rel=”nofollow”
Google cannot crawl your pages.
- URLs are blocked by robots.txt or blocked in htaccess file.
Google attempted to crawl pages but could not.
- 3xxs, 401, 410, 500
- Redirect chains
- Crawl budget issues
Why would Google not index your page?
Google thinks they are not supposed to.
- <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”>
- <meta name=”googlebot” content=”noindex”>
There are canonical issues.
- Google selected a different canonical.
- Canonical wasn’t set.
- There is an incorrect use of canonical.
You have a Google Penalty.
- User-generated spam
- Spammy free host
- Structured data issue
- Unnatural links to your site
- Unnatural links from your site
- Thin content
- Cloaking and sneaky redirects
- Hidden text and keyword stuffing
- AMP content mismatch
- Sneaky mobile redirects
- Pure spam
The quality of your content is poor.
- Wrong use of keywords
- Readability is poor
- Content isn’t relevant/doesn’t answer user queries
- Keywords are stuffed and not placed naturally throughout
- Paragraphs are not short and focussed
- Bullets and number lists are not used where beneficial
- Wrong use of heading structure
- Internal linking is wrong and/or not occurring
- Content is duplicate
- Content is cannibalizing
- Content is repetitive
- Images are not optimised
- Videos are not optimised
Straightforward Solutions to Common SEO Problems
Solution 1: Create an Internal Linking Strategy
You want to make sure you have an internal linking strategy that includes horizontal linking (internal linking to top-level categories) and vertical linking (internal linking to children and related blog/article content).
My colleague has created a blog covering how you can find internal linking opportunities if you want to brainstorm for more ideas.
You also want to make sure your important pages are in the navigation where possible and always ensure you have a sitemap and that it is submitted in Google Search Console.
Solution 2: Create a User-Centred Content Strategy
You want to make sure that you are creating a user-centred content strategy that:
- Answers the questions your users most care about: You can get this information by surveying your customers, reading reviews, conducting keyword research, reviewing People Also Ask queries and looking for patterns in competitors’ content.
- Follows Google’s EAT Guidelines: You can do this by increasing your reviews and ensuring expert commentators are mentioned on your website and gaining backlinks for your expertise.
You can also follow this process for delivering quick on-page SEO and content marketing opportunities.
Solution 3: Create a Proactive Website Health Strategy
Many businesses spend a great deal auditing websites and never get to fixing the key issues on their website in a timely fashion meaning they end up losing valuable time and money.
Once issues are identified there should be significant effort to address the following issues in month 1 as they tend to require less development time (it does depend on the CMS involved) and are easier to fix:
- Review and update the Robots.txt file to ensure that it helps to ensure crawl budget isn’t wasted and that important pages are not blocked.
- Redirect 404s and legacy URLs that may have not been redirected if there were issues with a previous migration.
- Updated internal 3xx errors and ensure the anchor text makes sense.
- Review and update H1s, meta titles and meta descriptions if they are too long, too short, non-existent, duplicate etc. or if the language is not the best.
- Review and update alt text on images.
Once you have sorted the above issues you should create a strategy to address the other issues that may require more development time such as issues impacting Core Web Vitals etc.
You also want to ensure you are setting up proactive SEO monitoring to flag issues as they arise which you can do with scheduled ScreamingFrog Crawls and/or a tool like Content King.
Need some support fixing your common SEO issues? Get in touch with us today.
Kara Thurkettle, 18/03/2022