The 5 most common technical SEO problems and how to fix them


Ninety-three percent of online experiences begin with search engines. Of retail shoppers, more than 80 percent use search engines before making a purchase. If anything, these numbers only prove the indispensability of search engine optimization (SEO) to the online success of your business.

That's great if you're already working with SEO, but you need to know that this isn't a one-time thing. Your campaign can start off perfectly and still land on its face the next time you check your website.

For example: you want to rank for the term " drug rehab". You have created different types of content and used the term as one of your keywords. You even created videos with descriptions using the term. In the beginning, your handy ranking tracker showed that you were ranking well on the first pages of the search engines. However, over time, this decreased until your content slipped to the second and third pages of search results.

While many factors can play a role, constant search engine updates are among the most common culprits. Google is especially known for its changing algorithms, so it is always advisable to run a diagnostic from time to time. Otherwise, problems may occur due to simple errors in technical optimization. In this case, you will need the help of an agency that offers SEO services, if you don't have one already. This could cost you more money, especially if you are already struggling.


Technical SEO vs. Page SEO


Most people think of SEO in terms of keywords, backlinking, meta descriptions, meta tags, etc. While that's not entirely wrong, they only consider one side of the coin: page SEO. On the other side, at the very back, there is technical SEO. This is the area where the crucial action takes place.

Technical SEO is about defining your site's indexability and crawlability, or simply put, your potential ranking in search results. It is the backbone of your SEO campaign. If you don't get it right, almost nothing you can do for your site SEO will matter.

Five common technical SEO problems and how to solve them

When working on your technical SEO, always look out for errors that could affect your search results. These can be countless, but let's start with the five most common issues.

No SSL encryption

With approximately 52 million data breaches in the second quarter of 2022 alone, the importance of website security cannot be overstated. Cyberattacks have a negative impact on a website's search engine optimization, and solving the problems usually requires a whole bunch of tricks. However, you can start with an SSL certificate.

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, a protocol that encrypts data transfer between a server and a client. An SSL certificate is a digital guarantee of the authenticity of a particular server. It also means that data coming in and out of your website is encrypted or coded to prevent unauthorized use.

Just enter your domain name in Google Chrome to check if your website is secure. If your website is not encrypted, Google will display the "not secure" warning in the browser.

Another way to check is to type your domain name in the address bar. Your website is secure if you see "HTTPS" at the left end next to a lock icon. "HTTPS" stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, an authentication method that combines SSL with HTTP, another web security protocol.

Addressing the issue

To encrypt your website, get an SSL certificate from a certificate authority and implement it on your website. Here's how:

Prepare the right information.


You will first need a unique IP address for each SSL certificate you want. There are several types of certificates you can purchase. For example, you can get a simple domain validation, which is the cheapest.

If you own several domains, you can get a multi-domain validation and protect up to a hundred domains with one certificate. However, keep in mind that you can encrypt only certain pages of each website or all of them.

Note that the certificate authority will also check the WHOIS record of the domain name you specify. Be sure to perform this check beforehand to update any outdated information.

If you're aiming for a certificate with high security, the certification authority may also look into government databases to verify your business. You may also be asked to provide copies of your business registration statements.

Choose a CA.


If you do your research, you'll find dozens of certification authorities worldwide. Of course, you should choose one that has a good reputation and fits your budget and goals.

Submit an application to your chosen CA.


The first thing you need to do is create a certificate signing request on your web server. After that, you can request an SSL certificate from your chosen certificate authority. They will then issue your certificate based on your CSR data. (You can ask your host to help you create a CSR).

Purchase your SSL certificate and wait for validation.

Once you have created a CSR, you can purchase your SSL certificate from the website of your chosen certificate authority. However, you will need to wait for it to be validated before you can implement the certificate. Depending on the type of certificate you purchase, this can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

Install your SSL certificate on your website.

The installation of your SSL certificate depends on your web server's operating system. Again, you can ask your web host for help.

Missing or misconfigured robots

Robots.txt files tell search engine crawlers which URLs on your website they can access. The purpose is not to prevent pages from being crawled, but rather to prevent excessive requests on your website. Nonetheless, robots.txt files are crucial to getting organic traffic, and you need to fix any errors as soon as possible.

To determine if you have problems with robots, enter your website's URL with the "/robots.txt" suffix in the address bar. A result that reads "User-agent: * Disallow: /" indicates a problem.

Dealing with the issue

You can quickly fix issues with robots by updating them. Here's what they should look like:

Crawlable by Google only


User agent: Googlebot Allowed: /

Crawlable by all search engines

User Agent: * Allowed: /

In Google Search Console, you can test these changes offline. Once you are sure, you can apply them to your robots.txt files.

Slow loading pages


Slow loading web pages can cause your website visitors to click away, resulting in missed sales opportunities. Overall, they create a poor user experience, which translates into worse search results. To determine the speed of your website, you can use Google PageSpeed Insights or another website set up for this purpose.

Address the issue


There are many things you can do to improve a slow-loading website. You can compress your images, avoid redirects when they are not necessary, and cache your pages.

Enabling browser caching is another action you can take, as is shrinking your CSS, JavaScript, and HTML files. Mining means removing all superfluous or unimportant data without affecting the dynamic between the browser and the resource.

Examples of things you can remove are code comments and unused code. Using reduced variables and function names can also help increase the speed of your website.

Duplicate content


You have duplicate content if at least one page of your website is accessible through multiple URLs. You may be using a blog system that automatically saves different URLs when you publish the same post in different sections.

You may want your site to be accessible on multiple types of devices. Therefore, you have one URL for non-mobile devices, another for mobile devices, and another for AMPs (Accelerated Mobile Pages).

Regardless, duplicate content hurts your search engine optimization. It confuses the search engines and keeps them from delivering the right content to your target audience.

Address the issue

There is only one goal in solving content duplication: to determine which of the "duplicates" is the main page. This process is called canonicalization, and there are three ways to go about it.

301-Forwarding

Let's start with the classic 301 redirect, which simply means redirecting users from the duplicate page to the main page. One option you can use with potentially high-ranking pages is to summarize their content on the main page. Then there are no competing pages, and the main page will rank even higher in terms of relevance and popularity. The result is a higher potential page rank.

Rel="canonical"

The purpose of the rel="canonical" attribute is to tell search engines to treat a given page as a copy of the main page. Everything that affects the ranking of this copy should be applied to the main page.

Rel="canonical" is a code that is added to the header of the HTML file of each duplicate and looks something like this:

<head>...[existing code]...<link href="URL of your main page" rel="canonical" />...[another existing code]...</head>

Google Search Console


The easiest way to solve content duplication is to use Google Search Console. Simply go to the website and follow the instructions to set up your preferred domain. Optionally, you can specify whether you want Googlebot to crawl different URLs individually, depending on the parameters you set.

Both can work individually or together, taking into account your URL structure and reasons for duplicate content. The problem with Google Search Console is that any rules you set apply only to Google and no other search engine.

Missing or incorrect ALT tags

Alt tags help search engines identify images on your website. In addition, they increase the likelihood that your pages will be indexed when people search for something you can provide. So, like a slow-loading page, alt tag problems can mean missed SEO and sales opportunities. Alt tags also improve the user experience for people viewing your web pages with a screen reader.

Addressing the issue

Fixing alt tags is almost as easy as adding them. That's also one of the many reasons to perform regular SEO audits. With SEO audits, you can immediately identify and correct issues with alt tags, whether they are broken or not. The process depends on your platform, but it's often as simple as typing in text that describes the image.

Understand and improve your technical SEO

Solid technical SEO is the key to a successful SEO campaign. Every developer knows this by heart, but so should you. As a website owner, you need to stay on top of things, including mistakes in your technical SEO.

You don't have to make the corrections yourself, but it's good to know what's happening. This is also a good reason to have a positive relationship with your developer. You can access a variety of resources, from podcasts to e-books to ranking tracking tools. However, working with your developer can be a lifelong learning experience. Who knows, you may not even need one in the future.

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