15 Common Technical SEO Issues and How to Solve for Them
To help you tackle common technical SEO challenges, we’ve gathered insights from 15 SEO professionals, including VPs, consultants, and content strategists. From solving index bloat with automation to consolidating homepage versions, these experts share their experiences and solutions to the most frequent SEO issues they’ve encountered.
- Solve Index Bloat With Automation
- Fix Heading Tag Usage on WordPress
- Address Sitemap Issues With Plugins
- Resolve Keyword Cannibalization in the Search Console
- Implement Hreflang for Multilingual SEO
- Focus On Topic Clusters for Ranking
- Implement Structured Data Markup
- Fix Incorrect Rel=Canonical Tags
- Pre-Render and Improve Internal Links
- Establish an Effective Page Retirement Policy
- Place XML Sitemaps Correctly
- Optimize Your Crawl Budget
- Enhance Internal Linking Structure
- Implement Postponed CTAs
- Consolidate Homepage Versions
Solve Index Bloat With Automation
One of the most commonly overlooked issues in SEO is poor indexation management, also known as Index Bloat or Over-indexing. This happens when low-quality pages are indexed, which can negatively affect the site’s average quality at the domain level. This is common for large e-commerce companies and content-driven businesses, where only a small fraction of indexed pages provide real value. Typically, this is around 5-30%.
To solve this issue, businesses can use fully automated indexation logic or manual iterations, employing some variation of the so-called “Panda Diet” methodology. The solution involves identifying low-value pages based on business, SEO, technical, and cross-channel metrics and parameters. A score is then built by weighing these metrics against each other, and low-value pages are de-indexed (i.e., removed from the index). The internal linking architecture also fits this logic, and strategies for other valuable pages (left and new) are continued.
VP, Group Head of SEO, International SEO Expert, and Advisor
Fix Heading Tag Usage on WordPress
A technical SEO issue I addressed was improper heading tag usage on a client’s WordPress site. The disorganized heading structure affected user experience and search engine understanding of the content hierarchy. To resolve this, I:
1. Audited the site for improper heading usage, including missing, duplicate, or incorrect nesting.
2. Revised the heading structure on affected pages, using a single H1 tag and appropriate H2 and H3 tags for subsections.
3. Incorporated targeted keywords into headings to improve keyword consistency and relevance.
4. Ensured a clear, logical heading hierarchy for both users and search engines.
5. Applied CSS styling to make headings visually distinguishable and appealing.
This improved user experience, made content more accessible to search engines, and increased the potential for higher search rankings.
Freelance SEO Writer
Address Sitemap Issues with Plugins
Multiple times I’ve seen websites that either do not have a sitemap.xml file or have implemented one in a way that is unreadable by search engines. A main purpose of Sitemaps is to help search engines know which pages on a website should show up in search results.
There are two primary ways to fix this issue. The easiest way is to use a plugin or sitemap generator tool, such as Yoast SEO (if using WordPress) to generate a sitemap for the website.
Depending on the plugin or tool, it may automatically add it to your site, or you may have to upload the generated file into your site. Luckily, sitemap files are easy to code. If needed, one can be manually created with basic coding skills.
Resolve Keyword Cannibalization in the Search Console
One common technical SEO issue I come across often is cannibalization. I use the performance report in Google Search Console to find out where cannibalization is present.
First, I enter the website to generate the performance report. Next, I look at the queries and see which of them have more than one page ranking for the same keyword.
Next, I look into the intent of the keyword to see if it is similar in more than one URL. If the intent is similar, that means cannibalization is present and will affect ranking efforts.
To solve this, I manually look at the pages and, depending on what serves a better purpose, I will either merge the content, create new landing pages, use redirects, or delete content.
Implement Hreflang for Multilingual SEO
A frequent technical SEO issue, especially for multi-regional and multilingual web properties, is improper hreflang setup. Hreflang attributes are vital for sending ranking signals between pages, preventing duplicate content issues, and ensuring users see the right website in SERPs.
Hreflang attributes are among the factors that Google has identified as a direct ranking signal between pages. For example, a well-ranked US English blog post with an equivalent on a Mexican Spanish site may see improved Mexican rankings with proper hreflang implementation. Hreflang links show that if the US content satisfies user search intent, the Mexican content likely will too.
Common mistakes include not having hreflang at all or having it set up incorrectly. Despite being tedious to audit and fix, correct hreflang can significantly affect organic rankings sometimes. You can implement hreflang through an XML sitemap, link elements in the HTML <head> section, or by using HTTP headers.
Focus on Topic Clusters for Ranking
Clients often try to rank for a bunch of keywords that are only loosely tied together by a common topic. This approach usually brings minimal results and leads to frustration from leaders who decide that “SEO doesn’t work”.
I advise my clients to concentrate on a single topic, two at most, and explore it from all angles while also building their marketing funnel. Later, they can add more topics to the mix.
Building topic clusters should be combined with a well-thought-out website structure and internal linking strategy that makes sense for search engines. Once you publish content on different topics, make sure it’s neatly organized on your website, for example, in different blog or menu categories.
Start with bottom-of-the-funnel content to capture leads who are considering making a purchase and link to relevant sales or demo pages; this helps users and search engines alike understand the internal logic of your website.
Implement Structured Data Markup
Structured data markup enables you to mark up the content on your site in order to enrich Google search results. You can see examples of “rich snippets” when you search for a product and ratings out of 5 stars are shown in the SERPs underneath the title alongside the number of ratings, pricing, and other details.
Many types of web pages can have structured data markup enabled. Articles, recipes, products, services, job postings, local businesses, etc. The key benefit of implementing this is that more information is delivered to the user directly in the SERPs, and this can increase the click-through rate (CTR).
You can use free tools such as Google’s structured data markup helper, schema.org, and plugins for your CMS to help you create structured data markup for your site.
But it should be noted that applying markup does not guarantee that rich snippets will show up in the SERPs. Instead, it gives your site the best chance of having rich snippets featured in the results. Don’t forget it!
Fix Incorrect Rel=Canonical Tags
In my four years of practicing SEO, I’ve had several clients who struggled with duplicate content resulting in incorrect rel=canonical. To fix this, I would often start by using a tool like Google Search Console or Screaming Frog to identify which pages contain the incorrect attribute.
Next, I would determine the correct URL that should be canonical by analyzing the content and purpose of each page. Once I have identified the correct URL, I would update the rel=canonical tag on the affected pages to point to the correct URL, which can typically be done by modifying the HTML code of the page header.
I would also make sure that the content on the page matches the canonical URL to avoid any confusion for search engines. Finally, I would monitor my site to ensure that the changes have been properly implemented and that search engines are correctly indexing my preferred URL.
Pre-Render and Improve Internal Links
While there are many elements that could be fixed, my approach focuses on explaining why this method is problematic, and partnering with the development team. With the goal of implementing a pre-rendering solution and adding the “href” attribute to internal links to make the content more easily readable.
Establish Effective Page Retirement Policy
One of the most common technical issues I’ve come across is the lack of an effective page retirement policy. This is quite common across many e-commerce sites. Many webmasters have a tendency to simply 404 pages that are out of stock or have become temporarily unavailable.
This can have a negative impact on performing the site, from an organic and user experience perspective. From an organic performance, these pages could have driven significant traffic or had backlinks pointing to them.
From a user experience, these pages could have been bookmarked by users who are now met with a 404 page. The simple solution is to put in place a page retirement policy, this could mean either automatically 301 redirecting all product pages which are being retired or assessing the performance of those pages before redirecting, checking individual performance in analytics, and also using tools to identify any backlinks pointing there.
Place XML Sitemaps Correctly
A common issue I see during technical audits is a missing XML sitemap or not using the file correctly. Often, the file will be placed inside a folder such as domain.com/folder/sitemap.xml.
This is a problem, as it means that only URLs within the /folder/ would be read by search engines. When I encounter this, I work with the client and developers to update the XML sitemap to ensure that it contains all the necessary URLs (indexable URLs with a 200-status code), and move it to the root domain so it now sits on domain.com/sitemap.xml.
This helps with the indexation of content by allowing search engines to read all URLs within the domain. It is important to note that this does not guarantee that all the URLs will be indexed, but it helps with content discovery.
Optimize Your Crawl Budget
One of the major problems I encounter when performing SEO Technical Audits is the lack of Crawl Budget optimization.
Blocking web crawling of certain parts of your site is essential to optimize Crawl Budget. Thus, building a customized robots.txt, creating “noindex” directives, avoiding 404 errors, and optimizing sitemaps are some of the most important tasks to maximize your site’s Crawl Budget.
Designing and implementing a website architecture focused on SEO is the key to improving Crawl Budget and facilitating crawling and indexing by Google. It’s important to work on SEO Flat Architecture from the main menu, where each page of the site can be reached via 3/4 clicks maximum, thanks to intuitive navigation menus.
Avoiding the infinite generation of URLs with parameters because of e-Commerce Facet Search in Category menus is one of the main tech issues to fix. For this, robots.txt and the use of “noindex” directives play a fundamental role in order to ensure Crawl Budget optimization.
Enhance Internal Linking Structure
Internal linking is crucial for enhancing a website’s structure, search engine visibility, and user experience. Here are some suggestions to improve your internal linking strategy:
1 Conduct an internal linking audit.
2 Prioritize important pages.
3 Use descriptive anchor text.
4 Create a hierarchical structure.
5 Use internal linking to support topical relevance.
6 Fix broken internal links.
7 Avoid over-linking.
By following these steps, it is possible to enhance the internal linking structure of your website. As a result, it may benefit from improved user experience and search engine visibility.
Implement Postponed CTAs
In the ever-evolving landscape of online marketing, businesses are continually seeking effective strategies to boost their lead generation and conversion rates. While on-page SEO optimizations play a vital role in attracting traffic, one often overlooked yet powerful technique is the implementation of postponed call-to-action (CTA) blocks on web pages.
In my answer, I want to explain the benefits of this approach and how it can significantly improve both user experience and conversion rates. I was working on a lead generation website, and the client was very focused on converting traffic.
I implemented much on-page SEO optimization, but one important thing that helped us get results was the postponed CTA block on a page. Google states we should avoid intrusive interstitials and dialogues, so make sure that you implement this setting. This implementation helped us to increase traffic on money pages.
Consolidate Homepage Versions
I have found six different homepage versions in the past, including those with https, non-https, www, non-www, /index, and .htm. This is a common technical SEO problem, especially when a new website is built.
These URLs are unique to search engines and are indexed separately, causing serious duplicate content problems. Link juice is divided among all versions of the homepage, affecting the backlink profile of the domain.
To address this issue, the best approach is to choose one URL as the main URL and merge the other versions using 301 redirects. The htaccess file is a good option to use for this purpose. Also, choosing the preferred domain in Google Search Console can help further resolve the issue.
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