Content is king. Or is that just a catchy phrase that content marketers coined to increase the value of their services?
Either way, this statement is open to much interpretation. You can spend all the time and money creating content that aligns with Google’s Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) pillars. But if your technical SEO is broken, good luck ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Technical SEO is a critical part of your website’s presence on the internet. It’s the meat and potatoes of making sure that search engines can properly read and understand your site’s content.
Have you seen a recent drop in your website traffic? The answer could lie in a broken technical SEO campaign.
If your website isn’t performing as well as it should be in search results — or worse yet, if it doesn’t appear at all, then follow these seven steps to fix your broken SEO campaign.
Let’s dive in.
1. Understand your problem areas with a site audit
How do you know where to focus your time and energy if you don’t know what is causing the issue in the first place?
A site audit helps you determine where your website currently stands and gives you an idea of what areas need improvement.
Thankfully, you don’t have to do this manually. Various online tools can help run a full audit of your website, like Ahrefs or Semrush, to name a few.
An excellent technical SEO tool crawls your entire website, extracts data from those pages, and then generates a detailed report based on what was found during that crawl.
Let’s take a look at a Semrush site audit, for example. When looking at this report, check for signs of poor performance like:
- Overall site health
- Top issues
Pro tip: After you receive the detailed report from your site audit, focus on the errors and top issues first. Errors have the highest severity on your website’s performance, and top issues are pulled based on priority level.
Now that you have the exact blueprint that shows the problem areas with your technical SEO campaign, you can walk through these issues to solve your broken technical SEO campaign once and for all.
Keep reading to learn some of the common issues these site audits find and best practices to fix them.
2. Check for indexing issues
You’ve already checked your site’s performance using a site audit, and your report doesn’t look so good. Something’s wrong with your technical SEO infrastructure, so it’s time to delve deeper.
Indexing issues prevent your website or page from appearing on SERPs. The first thing to check is if Google is indexing your website.
Start by going directly to Google. Search for: “site:yourwebsite.com” and see what appears on the SERP. If you don’t see your site in the top results (or it is missing altogether), odds are there’s a problem with the indexing of your site.
You are in the clear if you see your site as the number one result. Google will also show you how many pages are indexed.
If your site is missing from SERPs or the number of pages returned isn’t what you expected, leverage the plethora of free Google tools to help fix your indexing issues.
For example, add your website URL to Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) to start the process of submitting your site to search engines.
The URL inspection tool is an excellent way to test individual pages on your website. If everything looks good, you’ll receive a message similar to this.
If Google doesn’t index your URL, you’ll see a message like this.
The URL inspection tool will share why the page doesn’t make the cut for indexing. In this instance, the page features the ‘noindex’ tag, which tells Google to skip this page entirely from the indexing process.
Other common reasons your page is missing from Google search:
- The page is new, and Google hasn’t been able to index it.
- Your site structure has changed recently.
- You have received a manual strike from Google.
- A security issue was reported on your site.
- You blocked the page with a robots.txt file or a noindex directive.
- Technical problems prevent Google from indexing the page (e.g., AMP issue).
Follow the details of the error to fix it accordingly. Once you resolve the errors, hit the “request indexing” button to retrigger the indexing process to have your URL added to the prior crawl queue.
You can also look at Google Analytics to see if any traffic sources have experienced a significant drop.
If you see a significant drop in traffic, check the crawl report for that particular source — it should show recently crawled pages by Googlebot and other aspects of the crawl behavior. These sources likely have an issue that requires further investigation, indicating a good place to start.
3. Avoid duplicate content
Duplicate content is bad for SEO because it can cause Google to ignore your site’s content, which means you’re missing out on potential traffic and leads that could have an impact on your lead scoring model.
If you have duplicate content on your site, the same content has been published on multiple pages. For example, if you have a page that talks about your company’s history but also publishes the same thing on another page with a different title or header, it can cause problems.
Search engines like Google don’t know what to do with this duplicate content: which page should rank higher in search results? Which article version should people see when searching for “company history”?
So when Google crawls your site and finds duplicate content, it does one of two things: either it ignores the duplicate content altogether (meaning no one will see any of it), or it might show only one version of that piece of content in search results.
When it comes to fixing your broken SEO campaign, you can do a few things to avoid duplicate content.
First, make sure that every page on your site has unique content. Siteliner is an excellent free online tool that can help scan your website for duplicate content based on match words, match percentages, and match pages.
If you have multiple pages with the same information, it might seem like they’re providing value — but as far as Google is concerned, they’re just taking up space on their search engine.
Second, leverage canonical tags to help Google know which pages to index.
A canonical URL is the version of a page that Google thinks is most representative of duplicate pages on your site. Note that the pages don’t have to be identical. Minor changes in sorting or filtering don’t make the pages unique.
For example, if you have URLs for the same page (example.com/house/1234 and example.com/houses/1234), Google automatically chooses one as canonical.
To create your own canonical tagging, add a <link> tag in the head section of your HTML code.
Suppose you want https://example.com/house/1234 to be the canonical URL. Set this URL as canonical with the following code:
<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://example.com/hosue/1234″ />
Now you have a canonical page that tells Google to crawl it more frequently and to crawl the duplicates less, reducing the load on your site.
4. Use AMP to reduce load times on mobile devices
With 59% of all internet traffic coming from mobile devices, it’s more important than ever that your website is mobile-friendly.
Not only that, but a mobile-friendly website improves your technical SEO by reducing load times.
That is where AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages, comes in with a faster way to load content on mobile devices.
However, if there is an issue in your HTML tag, it can prevent Google from indexing your AMP. This issue can significantly hurt your impressions on SERPs.
For example, this blog ran into a “disallowed attribute or attribute value present in HTML tag” across 18 AMP, and the daily impressions dropped from ~40-60k per day to ~10k impressions per day. Google was no longer indexing these high-traffic pages.
AMP isn’t a direct SEO ranking factor. But speed matters.
Richard Gingras, the senior director of news and social products at Google, told AdAge, “we will give an emphasis to the one with speed.”
Don’t skip out on using AMP to improve the load time on your mobile pages. However, you must keep an eye on AMP performance and make sure they are working correctly in the Google Search Console.
5. Don’t forget about website speed on desktops
While discussing website speed, review how to improve your website speed on desktop devices.
Fast-loading websites have a better user experience and reduce the risk of penalties by search engines. Google reduces the number of crawlers sent to your website if the server response time is more than 2 seconds — meaning fewer pages that get indexed.
Luxury Presence, a company offering real estate SEO services,highly recommends using a VPS Cloud Hosting (virtual private server) to reduce load times for users from all regions of the world. VPS Cloud Hosting delivers a high performance, dedicated server domain specifically for your website, meaning increased bandwidth and more storage for your website, making it better for page speed.
You can also use a browser caching plugin to improve page load times by reducing server requests and compressing images before they’re served. These plugins also improve SEO ranking by increasing crawl rates through sitemaps automatically generated from posts rather than relying on Google’s crawlers alone.
If you are working with a SaaS business, take a look at some examples of SaaS pages from the top competitors to get a quick notion of how a top-quality website should perform.
Are you still unsure if your page speed is causing an issue in your technical SEO? Check out Google PageSpeed Insights to give you everything you need to know about improving your website page speed.
For example, this website has failed the Core Web Vitals Assessment due to slowness with Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) and First Contentful Paint (FCP). So now what?
If you take a closer look at the errors, they stem from images that are too large or not in the proper file format — everything from image descriptions to file types and sizes matters. And image optimization plays a significant role in page speed.
Images are essential to your website, whether used for product images, blog posts, or social media. While having awesome-looking photos on your site is necessary, there’s more to them than just looking good.
Visual elements can help increase clickthrough rates by drawing a user’s attention. But Google gives extra weight to pages that load quickly. So you don’t want to sacrifice this ranking element by using high-quality images that slow down your page speed. It is a delicate balance.
American Trucks, an automotive company, does an excellent job with the images they use for the tires and rims product category on their ecommerce website. They use high-quality images but convert them to the proper file formats and add alt-text to adhere to technical and on-page SEO guidelines.
Regarding SEO-friendly image optimization, your images should be as small as possible — ideally under 100kb — so they load quickly and don’t consume bandwidth.
Use a service like Quicktools by Picsart to convert your image files from PNGs to JPGs. The difference is that JPG compresses better than PNG, so it takes up less space on your website and loads faster.
You can also leverage scalable vector graphics or SVGs as a more SEO-friendly file option for logos and images. SVG is a text-based format, so search engines can easily read, crawl, and index your images.
Don’t bog down your website with heavy images. They should be working for you and not against you.
6. Fix crawl errors and broken links
Crawl errors can also make it difficult for search engines to access your website content. These errors indicate that they’re unable to index your site correctly, which may lead to lower rankings in the SERPs. If you notice any crawl errors on your website, you must fix them as soon as possible.
Crawl errors are caused by several different issues, including 404 pages (content not found), not being able to connect to the content due to network issues (the server is down), and problems with the site structure (like URL parameters).
The rules governing crawl errors are stringent. For example, a single slash in your URL could be enough to cause problems for search engines.
So how do you find broken links? Using Ahrefs, plug in your URL and click the “broken backlinks” option in the left navigation panel.
This article about the average cost of utilities in 2022 has two broken links due to a 404 error. The 404 error means that those external links can’t be found because those sites are down or they changed URLs (without a 301 redirect).
To fix this, you can edit your content to replace it with a new URL or remove it altogether.
Rinse and repeat this process until all of your broken links are resolved.
For example, this article on moving cross country includes multiple internal and external links, but none of them are broken. This clean record is precisely what you want to see as your work towards resolving broken links and improving your technical SEO campaign.
7. Don’t underestimate the power of internal links
Internal links help search engines index relevant content, connect pages with similar subject matter, and distribute link authority throughout your site.
External links can help you gain authority for your site, while internal links can help you distribute that authority and create an interconnected web of content. They also provide users with great experiences and help search engines understand the architecture of your website.
Follow these simple steps for a results-driven internal linking strategy:
- Find pages on your website with the best backlinks (quality over quantity)
- Identify your highest traffic pages with relevancy
- Create internal links back to hub pages and pillar posts
The goal of internal linking is to distribute the authority of your site’s more authoritative pages to less authoritative pages.
Internal links are the workhorses of the web. They’re the ones that make sure your site stays organized. Without proper internal links, Google has difficulty figuring out what page goes with what keyword and what pages on your website are related.
Bonus tip: Keep an eye on Google updates
Every time Google releases an update, your heart should skip a beat.
These updates to the Google search algorithm can impact how your site is indexed and ranks in search results. They’ve been known to affect some websites more than others depending on what content they produce and how it aligns with what people are searching for at that time. Some changes come periodically, while others only occur after something significant has changed.
Core updates aren’t necessarily bad for your website, as long as you’re prepared for them. If you’re up to date on industry news and trends, you’ll know when a core update has happened, how it might affect your business or client’s online presence, and how to respond.
Take this furniture review content website, for example. In July 2022, Google released a “Product Reviews Update” that prioritizes product reviews in search results that include first-hand knowledge and expertise of the products.
After the update finished on August 2, traffic on this website plummeted. Evidently, this Google update significantly impacted this website, and there’s work to be done to restore organic traffic back to historical levels.
The moral of the story here is that technical SEO is only one critical component of SEO. Technical SEO is required for search engines to crawl and index your website properly. But to drive consistent organic traffic to your website, you must focus on on-page and off-page SEO to avoid potential impacts from Google updates.
The three types of SEO should work in harmony. When you can achieve this harmony, you’ll see stellar results.
Technical SEO is no walk in the park. There are many moving parts, and one small mistake severely impacts your website’s performance.
Thankfully, with the help of SEO tools and the seven tips (and one bonus) that we reviewed today, you should be on your way to resolving the most common issues with a broken technical SEO campaign.
Your SEO strategy is only as good as its foundation. If you’re willing to do the work, we promise it’ll be worth it.
Being a digital marketing consultant, Shane Barker specializes in content marketing, influencer marketing, and SEO. He is also the CEO and co-founder of a digital marketing agency called Content Solutions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.