30 Common Tech SEO Mistakes

30 common tech SEO mistakes

Technical SEO is complex and ever-evolving. Things can change quickly and how your website measures up technically can give you a leg up on the competition. 

Common Tech SEO Mistakes

As an SEO consultant, I’ve seen a whole host of mistakes and mishaps on websites. From quick-fixes, to technical nightmares. This is why I created this list of 30 common tech SEO mistakes so you can discover how to avoid them on your own websites. 

30 common tech SEO mistakes nikki-halliwell

1. Slow site speed and server response time

A slow page speed leads to a poor user experience. This importance on speed is nothing new, and Google has been emphasising this more and more in recent years.
 
Despite this, for many website owners, site speed is still not a priority. Having a large number of unoptimised pages can have a significant detrimental effect on your performance. Large and unoptimised images are the most common cause for this, typically because they consume more bandwidth due to their increased size.

2. Under utilisation of structured data

Structured data helps a search engine to understand the content on your website better. If a search engine can better understand your web pages’ information, you are more likely to show up higher in search results. Not using structured data can be a huge missed opportunity.
 
Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper can help you identify which type of structured data to use. Common examples of code languages that you can use to add structured data to your website are RDFa, Microdata, and JSON-LD. Schema markup (from schema.org) is also a type of structured data vocabulary.

3. Not optimised for mobile

Mobile-friendliness is expected; your website should be able to adapt to different screen sizes seamlessly, and there should be parity between the mobile and desktop experience.
 
A good mobile performance is needed because more than half of online searches happen on mobile devices. and because Google now uses a mobile-first index; customers are much more likely to leave your website and shop elsewhere if your website is not mobile-friendly.
 
Mobile-friendly websites are also more likely to show up higher in search results. Use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test to assess the compatibility of your website.

4. Missing sitemap or incorrect use

Sitemap XML files are used to help search engines find and understand the content on your website. By not using one, you risk your website not performing as well in search results.
 
Sitemaps are not mandatory, but they certainly make it easier for search engines to discover and crawl more of your content by helping them discover pages deeper within your site structure.

5. Poor browser compatibility

Problems with cross-browser compatibility happen when there are issues within the website code. Not all browsers read your website code in the same way. Popular web browsers like Google Chrome will read and display your website differently than the likes of Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox will.
 
By having many errors in your code, you run the risk of your website not displaying correctly (or at all) for some users. For this reason, during a website build, you should always test your website on multiple browsers and multiple devices.

6. Incorrect use of robots.txt

Robots.txt is very powerful, but it can also cause many problems if it is mishandled. Incorrect entries in this file can cause search engines not to crawl pages on your website, meaning your website may appear less often in search results.
 
Similarly, it can also mean that search engines crawl pages that you may not want to display in search results. You should not use the file to determine which pages you would like indexed.

7. Not making use of local search

Local search, or local SEO, helps your business to stand out. Not only can you drive more local traffic to your website, but you can also drive more people to your shop or other physical location.
 
Local search is excellent, as these are people that are actively searching for products or services like yours, so they are much more likely to convert.

8. Minimal or no calls to action

Calls to action indicate to users what the next step should be. A good CTA makes it abundantly clear what they should do next and helps move them down the conversion funnel.
 
By not using good CTAs, you may be missing out on potential customers; they should be clear and concise and provide an incentive for your user to take action now.

9. No link building / outreach strategy

Outreach involves creating or attracting valuable links from other websites back to your own. Backlinks are incredibly powerful in indicating the value of your content to search engines and also help to increase your organic visibility.
 
Search engines discover new pages through internal links, so having more backlinks to your website (within reason, and always quality over quantity) makes you more likely to show up higher in search results.

10. Outdated content

Outdated content runs the risk of providing customers with incorrect information. If this is information they could base a decision on, you may get blamed if this ends badly.
 
Content that is incorrect or misleading reflects poorly on your brand. You may also find that by updating or removing older content, your traffic could improve.

11. Lack of keyword and meta optimisation

Without using the keywords or phrases that your customers are using, you’re missing out on traffic and conversions. These keywords should also be used in your page titles, meta descriptions, content and headings, as long as they are used naturally and sensibly.
 
Content on your website should not overuse keywords, as this is known as keyword stuff and may mean your website is penalised.

12. No keyword research

By not conducting keyword research, you may be misusing keywords, which could result in your content not appearing in search results at all.
 
Conducting keyword research means you can see what keywords are being searched for, their search volume, and the competition level.

13. Large number of 404s and other errors

Google wants content that is fresh and consistently available. If your website has a large number of 404s, then Google is being told that the content does not exist.
 
404 errors are a natural part of the web and should be used where needed. Links to content that no longer exists is what leads to the 404 error. These are broken links, and these broken links create a bad user experience.

14. Creating content with no value or intent

Creating content with no intent means there is less content that is helping to build your brand authority.
 
Ideally, you should create content that fits a user’s search query at each stage of the buyer’s journey. Doing so lets your audience know that you are an expert in the field and can answer any questions they may have about your business, products, and industry.

15. Duplicate content or near duplicate content

Duplicate content provides a variety of problems for search engines. As Moz explains it, search engines won’t know which version to include in their index, know which version should have the most trust and authority, and know which version to rank for the relevant keywords.
 
For these reasons, it is imperative to ensure your website has unique content on unique URLs so that every page has the best chances of ranking well and driving traffic to your website.

16. No blog publishing schedule

Consistent, high-quality content helps you to rank on search engines. Quality is always the driving factor, but having at least a bi-monthly schedule lets your audience know when to expect to hear from you.
 
Google understands that some search queries deserve freshness, while it does not matter as much for others. Having a blog publishing schedule helps you and your content stay fresh, which is defined as content that has been updated recently or published recently.

17. HTTP security issues

Google has confirmed that the use of HTTPS can be a ranking factor as far back as 2014 and expanded on this in 2016, so this information is nothing new.
 
Using an SSL certificate secures the information on a domain, meaning that users can access their information and remain secure from third parties.
 
Regardless of whether you have an eCommerce website with a checkout page, login pages etc., or a blog with educational articles, you can expect a slight ranking boost by installing an SSL Certificate on your site.

18. No image alt tags and heavy images

Alt-text is used to help screen readers understand the image. They provide context as to what the image is about, allowing search engines to understand and index the image accordingly.
 
Heavy images contribute to page weight which is an important factor in load time. Always ensure that your images are optimised correctly before being uploaded to your website and make use of appropriate alt text.

19. Poor utilisation of internal linking

A lack of good internal linking can make it harder for search engines to crawl, discover and index your content. Internal links help search engines to understand which are the most critical pages on your website.
 
Search engines recognise pages with lots of internal links to be more important than those with fewer links. Remember to use descriptive anchor text in your internal links too.

20. Not linking to external websites

Linking to other websites helps provide value to your users; it allows users to find out more information about the subject.  It is also a way to help search engines and your customers understand how your content is relevant and establishes you as an expert in the field.
 
Any external links should be natural and make sense for them to be included.

21. Not analysing and tracking your results

By analysing your data with Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and other third-party tools, you can determine the success or failure of recent activity and whether this contributes to your overall business goals or improves the user experience.
 
It allows you to see how users are interacting with your website and providing helpful information about the types of people visiting your website.

22. Ineffective use of redirects

Redirects are helpful, but not if you redirect to unrelated content; in this case, it would be better to leave it as a 404.
 
A common error is “too many redirects”, which means that the website keeps redirecting between different URLs in a way that will never complete; it is a continuous loop.

23. Not reclaiming or updating broken links

Broken links, especially in the case of external links, can impact your visibility, the user experience and potentially cause you to lose customers and revenue.
 
By having broken links, your customers may choose to shop elsewhere, and they also restrict the flow of link equity through your website. There are several ways you can reclaim broken links if you determine that it makes sense to do so.

24. Pages not accessible without JavaScript

JavaScript is a per browser setting, so it is not guaranteed that customers will visit your website with JavaScript turned on. If your website does not display without JS, some of your customers will not be able to access and use your website. If JavaScript has been disabled within your browser, the page’s functionality may be limited or unavailable.
 
Furthermore, there may be issues with search engines crawling and indexing the content because Google goes through an extra step to parse and render the content where JS is present.

25. Incorrect use of rel=canonical and no-index

A canonical tag or canonical link lets search engines know which is the master copy of a page. They can be a powerful way of avoiding duplicate content. Incorrect use of canonical tags could mean that some of your content is not indexed by search engines.
 
No indexing a page means you do not want search engines to index a page and display it in search results. By misusing meta noindex, you could be affecting your website performance. This should only be used where it makes sense to do so.

26. Poor or no hreflang use

Hreflang can be complicated to get right. Even the slightest error can result in problems where search engines end up ranking incorrect URLs for the given language, location, or even choosing not to rank any of them if they cannot determine the correct version.
 
There should only be one URL specified for a particular language and country.

27. Poor spelling and grammar

While you won’t necessarily get penalised for poor spelling and grammar, it can be a quality issue. John Mueller regards spelling and grammar as a higher priority than fixing broken HTML.
 
Google is constantly looking for quality content, and if you fall short in that area, you could see your content performance being affected.

28. Redirect chains

Long redirect chains can cause increased load times for users and search engines. Whenever search engines encounter a 3xx status code, it has to request an additional URL. If this continues for a series of URLs in the chain, it eats into the website’s crawl budget and means it has less time to crawl other pages.
 
Google is known not to follow any more than five redirects in a chain. I would recommend avoiding linking to a URL that you know is already redirecting to another, and take the time to audit your existing redirects regularly.

29. Indexing everything

Not everything on your website needs to be indexed. There may be pieces of content that you feel are important to you as a business but are not essential to be found in search engines, such as your staff pages or car registration pages in the case of a car aggregator website.
 
What is needed in search will differ from business to business and industry to industry, so you should decide carefully and based on expert SEO advice.

30. Lack of website hierarchy

A good website structure or website hierarchy is vital to your SEO strategy. The structure of your website shows Google which pages of your site you consider being the most important. It is a way you can influence which pages may rank higher within search results.
 
A good website hierarchy should group topically related content together; it should be simple and organised logically.

Final Thoughts

Use this list and ensure your website doesn’t get trapped making these same common tech SEO mistakes. Do get in touch if you have any questions and I will be happy to answer in any way I can. 

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