However, there may be a few SEO errors that you’re overlooking simply because they’re not obvious.
In fact, there are two sides to SEO. First, there’s the content side. This is what most people think of when they hear the term ‘search engine optimisation’. Common mistakes here include things like failing to include the right keywords, not publishing regularly enough, and a lack of high-quality links.
But then there’s the technical side, too. SEO is about more than just content and keywords. In fact, it’s believed that Google takes around 200 different factors into account. There are a number of more technical, ‘behind the scenes’ elements that are equally important in terms of ranking. So it’s good practice to ensure you’re avoiding any mistakes in this less obvious area, too.
What are some common technical SEO mistakes that businesses are making? Let’s take a look…
Although Google’s ranking algorithm is kept tightly under wraps, the company did confirm back in 2010 that speed was a ranking factor for desktop search, and for mobile search in 2018. This means that, if your site is slow to load, you may find it challenging to obtain visibility in the results pages. The reason for speed as a ranking factor is simple: it’s all about customer experience. Google strives to offer its users the very best results. It naturally wants to promote pages that users will enjoy interacting with, over laggy pages that result in frustration, disappointment, and abandonment.
Simple solution: The truth is that there are many different aspects that can cause a site to load slowly. Maybe it’s the WordPress plugins that you’re using. Maybe it’s the file types or sizes. Maybe you have more traffic than your server can handle. Resolving this problem means getting to the root cause, and the best way to do that is with a technical business benchmark. This form of assessment analyses what’s working for your website, and what’s working against it. It can help you better identify those areas where there’s room for improvement, making the right changes to boost SEO.
Do you remember ‘mobilegeddon’? It was the clever name given to Google’s 2015 algorithm update which rewarded mobile-optimised websites with a higher ranking in the search engine results pages. Google’s official stance on this is that ‘while it’s not required to have a mobile version of your pages to have your content included in Google’s search results, it is very strongly recommended’. The reason that mobile optimisation impacts SEO is exactly the same as for slow loading speeds. It’s all about Google being able to deliver exceptional experiences by promoting the best possible content.
Simple solution: If you haven’t already, you may wish to begin exploring responsive web design. Working with a professional development partner, you can ensure that your website responds quickly and effectively to whatever device a visitor is using. Imagine they’re viewing your website from a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet. In that case, the page will automatically and seamlessly adjust the image sizes, resolution, and scripting abilities based on the screen size, orientation, and platform. You’ll have peace of mind that your SEO efforts aren’t being hindered by Google penalties.
A few years ago, Google introduced BERT: Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. As part of the ranking algorithm, BERT is used to analyse the context of a web page, aiming to understand more about its meaning as a way of delivering the most relevant results for user searches. This is why it’s so important to use structured data. Structured data is a way of organising information so that it’s in a format that Google can not only read, but ‘understand’ – as much as a machine can, anyway. Many are already using structured data, but they’re not using it enough.
Simple solution: It’s not just about using structured data more, but also about using it in the best possible way to elevate your SEO efforts. If you’re not quite sure where to start, taking a look at Google’s structured data guidelines can help. These cover both technical guidelines – such as providing data in JSON-LD format – and quality guidelines – such as marking up only visible content. The aim is to ensure you’re doing everything you can to let Google know what your pages are all about. But remember: while using structured data can help, it doesn’t always guarantee a direct SEO boost.
How your website is built is important in terms of SEO for two distinct reasons. Firstly, it’s important because the more logical a website’s architecture is, the more easily visitors will be able to use it. And as we’ve already discussed, Google likes being able to direct its users to websites they’ll be able to interact with easily. Secondly, it’s important because the more logical a website’s ‘blueprint’, the easier it is for Google’s algorithm to understand what it’s all about and index the right pages. Quite simply, if the structure of a website doesn’t make much sense, it’s going to struggle to rank highly.
Simple solution: Work with a development partner to build a website structure that’s more natural – both for your visitors, and for ranking algorithms. You should focus on internal linking, making sure that there’s a logical pathway through your website. This should connect all the relevant pages and ideas together to carry visitors through the awareness, consideration, and decision stages of their journey. If you haven’t already embraced the pillar and cluster content model, this can definitely help. Remember the ‘Rule of Three’: Every part of your website should be accessible in 3 clicks or under!
There are two types of duplicate content. First, there’s the type of content that’s been plagiarised – copied and pasted directly from another website. Now, we all know that this is bad for SEO. However, there’s another type of duplication many of us overlook, even though it can have a similar impact on ranking. This can happen easily when you’re using the same content for HTTP and HTTPS sites, for example. Or for full web pages and mobile-optimised pages. It’s often viewed as ‘OK’ because it doesn’t violate the rules. However, your two versions will be fighting against each other for visibility!
Simple solution: Although it can feel frustrating, the simplest fix for this technical SEO issue is to ensure you’re using unique content. For every variation of your website. For every brand you own. For everything. This really is the most effective way to prevent two different variations of your site from competing with one another for the top spot. If you’re worried about this being a time-consuming task, using a content writing service can help. Handing over the content issues to the experts helps to eradicate the SEO problems, leaving you with more time to focus on your business.
When you develop a website, how do the pages within your site end up in the Google search results for relevant search terms? Well, there are two parts to the process. Firstly, Google crawls your website, which essentially means it scans the site for SEO identifiers and marked-up content. Secondly, it indexes those pages, storing the information within the correct categories. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be the case that websites aren’t being indexed, or they’re not being indexed properly. This can result in your website failing to show up in the search results.
Simple solution: The best solution to this technical SEO problem will depend on why the website isn’t being indexed – or isn’t being indexed correctly. It may be that the problem is something as straightforward as your website being too new. It can take Google a few days – or even a few weeks – to crawl and index brand-new sites. If the problem is rooted more deeply, you may need to submit an indexing request, or explore other possible issues, such as blocked page access or rendering problems. These sorts of issues can sometimes make a website ‘invisible’ through the eyes of Google.
We’ve saved the best for last. Why is this technical issue an interesting one? Because it’s the subject of quite a lot of debate in the development and SEO communities. It’s agreed by many people that minor errors in a website’s HTML code don’t matter – they won’t directly hurt your visibility efforts. However, on the other side of the argument are those who believe that HTML errors are signals of a poor-quality site. If the HTML is wrong, what else is wrong? Can that website be trusted? Google is well known for looking for quality signals, so it makes sense for it to consider low-quality signals, too.
Simple solution: This one is easy to resolve. If you can’t place 100% trust in your ability to develop your website without coding errors, or without introducing factors that could cause the quality of the site to be called into question, leave it to the experts. Working with a professional development partner will provide you with complete peace of mind that your site is being built with SEO in mind, from the ground up. There’s much, much more to SEO than it seems. Working with a developer specialising in SEO ensures you’ll never accidentally overlook a vital ranking factor.
You may feel pretty confident when it comes to SEO, but there are so many different factors to consider. As some of these factors are more technical and complex than others, it can be very easy to overlook them. At Freestyle Internet, we’re here to ensure all elements of SEO are taken into account, maximising your site’s online visibility. Get in touch for more information about what we do, or if you’re ready to chat, book a call with us!