5 Technical SEO Mistakes to Avoid in 2018

January 16, 2018

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The technical structure of your website should be a top priority for your business this year. You won’t fully benefit from digital marketing efforts such as social media campaigns and email newsletters if your website is not structurally optimized.

If you can’t remember the last time you checked to see how search engines are indexing your website, this article is especially for you. We’re going to break down some of the fundamentals of technical SEO, and help you avoid common mistakes in this area in 2018.

1) Indexing Issues and Incorrect Sitemaps

The absolute basics of technical SEO include determining the number of your web pages that are indexed by search engines, and understanding how your website’s sitemap is used.

According to SEMrush, the purpose of a sitemap is to provide search bots with the right directions to “crawl” your website without overlooking something important. If search engines can’t properly crawl a site, then they won’t be able to understand the content. As a result, nothing will be indexed and your site won’t rank in search results.

Chainlink Relationship Marketing suggests using the Yoast SEO tool set for overall SEO help if you have a WordPress website. In addition to fine-tuning every element of a page or post, Yoast will also make sure that your sitemap is correct. If all of this technical jargon is already giving you a headache, this tool set will be a lifesaver for you.

Including the wrong pages in a sitemap.xml file negatively impacts search engines’ ability to award your website the ranking it deserves. One particularly problematic mistake is when there are blatant format errors in sitemap.xml files. Another common oversight is not clearly indicating your sitemap.xml file in your robots.txt files.

2) Faulty Robots.txt Files

Your website’s robots.txt files, which dictate to bots which webpages you don’t want to be indexed, ensure the efficiency of Google’s crawling bot on your site.

Especially if you have a super large website that has thousands of URLs associated with it, robots.txt files are critical instructions for search engines like Google. As explained in a post on Google’s Webmaster blog last year, efficient crawling of a website helps significantly with its indexing in Google Search.

According to the Google Search Console Help Center, robots.txt files consist of one or more rules, and each rule blocks or allows access for a given web crawler to a specified file path in that website. Robots.txt files are responsible for listing the parts of your site you don’t want accessed by search engine crawl.

Errors in these files cause issues with indexing pages. For example, disallowed pages that you don’t want to be indexed will still be accounted for by Google’s bots. This error can delay web crawling bots from discovering great content on your site.

3) URL Structure Mistakes

A clear URL structure and an acceptable URL length are better for both your users and search engines. A straightforward, SEO-friendly URL structure can have a sizable impact on rankings and user experience. The great news is that these mistakes are super easy to correct.

Check whether or not you use underscores in the URLs connected to your website, and if yes, remove them. Also, verify the length of your URLs and keep them on the shorter side. Although having keywords in your URL string is a positive thing, too many can become troublesome.

According to Google, having many low-value-add URLs can negatively affect a site’s crawling and indexing. They found that the low-value-add URLs fall into categories including but not limited to on-site duplicate content, hacked pages, and low quality/spammy content.

It would be unwise to waste server resources on pages like these which drain crawl activity from pages that do actually have value. If you want bots to discover great content across your website right away, your URL structure needs to be in perfect shape.

4) Not Auditing Internal Links

Not everyone realizes that the status of the internal links on their website could be affecting their SEO. Auditing your site’s internal links should be a routine practice. When doing so, keep in mind click depth, broken links, and redirected links.

Also, it’s important to eradicate “orphan pages” which are basically web pages that are hard to find for visitors and search engines because they aren’t linked to from other pages on your website.

Click depth refers to how many clicks it takes to get to the most your important pages on your website. You want to keep your site structure shallow so that you’re always two or three clicks away from the home page.

Broken links are never a good sign and they will quickly confuse visitors and disrupt your ranking power. Apart from the HTML elements, remember to look in the tags, HTTP headers, and sitemaps. Finally, redirected internal links negatively affect load time and crawl budget.

5) Ignoring Technical Mobile SEO

Most people access the Internet on their mobile devices nowadays, so optimizing your website for mobile is crucial to guarantee a positive user experience. Google’s mobile-first indexing requires an error-free mobile version of your website. Unfortunately, slow load times on mobile sites are super common, which is detrimental to SEO.

To identify and correct this mistake, you should run comprehensive audits of your mobile site, just as you would for the desktop version of your site. You’ll likely need to use custom user agent and robots.txt settings in your SEO crawler. A great place to start is by using the free and super informative tool called the Mobile-Friendly Test by Google.

To Sum It Up…

At the end of the day, you want your website’s architecture/structure to withstand algorithmic updates and changes that could harm your potential to be easily found on the web.

Here at Chainlink, we can help you with your website clean-up efforts to ensure every webpage is easily crawlable by search engines. With our guidance, you will understand what is involved to guarantee your technical SEO is where it needs to be.

As SEO experts, we want to help your business become an industry leader by boosting your online credibility, web traffic, and ultimately sales leads and conversions.

Want to learn more about Chainlink’s uniquely effective digital marketing services?

Reach out to us below to learn more about how we can help your business grow online. We’d love to give you a free consultation.

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