Common Technical Website Problems And How To Fix Them
Marketing your website can be tough, first, you have to get your website optimised around the right keywords, then you have to get other websites to link back to you and finally, you have to make sure your website doesn't have any errors that could stop it from getting found and crawled by the search engines.
The last part of the process above is known as technical SEO and although there are many problems you can face with a website, in this post we will go over the most common problems and how to fix them.
Technical SEO Explained
For your website to be indexed in a search engines database the website needs to be found and crawled by a search engine spider or bot. These bots then go through your website and analyse them and store them.
If a website can not be crawled that page or website can not be added into the database and if this happens your website won't show up for when someone searches for the product or service you sell.
Problem 1 - No SSL installed
Have you ever come across a website that displays the warning of not being secure? This is what happens when the website doesn't have something called an SSL certificate installed.
A website can rank without one of these certificates but it can be at a disadvantage if other websites do have one installed. Having an SSL certificate also gives the user more trust in your website and having the error message of being not secure disappear is worth the installation costs alone.
Most hosting providers will install an SSL certificate for free or for a small charge. If your website doesn't have one (check for the padlock sign in the URL bar) contact your host and they will be able to help you install one.
Problem 2 - Website Crawl Issues
Each website is allocated a "crawl budget" and what this means is that a website will be allocated a time for the bots to crawl before it stops and comes back at another date. Your crawl budget is determined by the size of your website with bigger websites having bigger crawl budgets.
The reason your crawl budget is important is that if you have pages on your website that produce errors then you are wasting this budget. The most common errors that you are likely to come across are 404 errors and 301 errors.
A 404 error is when a page you once had no longer exists on your website and you are linking to it from another page on your website.
This error can also be caused when an external website links to your website and that page no longer exists.
Depending on how the error is being caused will depend on how you fix the problem but generally, if your website is linking to a dead page you can remove the link to it. If another website which you have no control of is linking to it you can do a 301 redirect.
A 301 redirect points from your dead page to a new page on your website. You can see how to do a 301 redirect here.
Problem 3 - Duplicate Content
Duplicate content often occurs when people build landing pages for their services and only change up a few of their keywords. For example, imagine you sold cleaning services in Ottawa and Quebec. If you had two pages on your website targeting cleaning services in both locations and kept the content the same but changed the location keywords that would lead to duplicate content issues.
If you have pages on your website like this you will need to rewrite the content to make sure your website doesn't get penalised for duplicate content issues.
You should also make sure to fix any duplication in the title and meta descriptions because this can throw up other errors which will need to be fixed.
Problem 4 - Orphan Pages
Orphan pages are pages that don't have any internal links pointing at them and the reason why the search engines don't like them is they are often used by spammers to capture traffic which may not have anything to do with the website.
Orphan pages make your website less trustworthy and waste your crawl budget.
To fix the orphan page error you have two options, either delete the page or if the page is important you can link to it from other pages on your website. You can add these pages to your header, footer or blog content. The more you link to a page the more important it is in the eyes of Google.
Problem 5 - Thin website content
Websites with more content tend to rank better on the search engines according to Brian Dean of Backlinko. For this reason alone you should be looking to create the best content possible for your readers.
Thin content, can get your website punished in the search engines and if your website has pages and pages of content with word counts less than 500 words your website could be punished too.
You once again have two options with thin content, either you can add to it or delete it from your website if the post has no value.
Writing up more content for your blog can take time, so one easy fix is to look at some of the posts on your website to see if they can be combined. This adds to the word count, improves the user experience and gets rid of any thin content issues that you may be penalised for.
Problem 6 - Non-responsive websites
In this day and age websites should work on a variety of devices, failing to do so can create a bad user experience for your visitors and google and the other major search engines can punish you for this.
To see if your website has any mobile issues you can test it by using your phone, your tablet device, laptop and desktop. If the website doesn't display correctly on them you will need to fix any issues you see.
If your website is very old and doesn't work at all on different mobile devices then you should really think about getting a new website made.
There are many problems that a website can face, but in my time as a developer, these are the most common technical SEO issues that I've seen a website have. Thankfully none of these issues takes too much time to fix and can make a big difference to your websites search engine rankings.
Technical SEO isn't spoken enough of and with your new knowledge, you can take a look at your website to fix any of these issues which could result in an increase in website traffic.
David Jones is the head of digital marketing at Firewall Technical a company in Ottawa that provides IT Support and Services to small business owners.