There are a number of website issues can have a detrimental effect on your SEO.
Good SEO is the sum of many little things done well. Conversely, if a lot of little things are on your website are not done right, the cost can be less website traffic.
Less website traffic means fewer visitors that you can potentially convert into marketing prospects. Fewer marketing prospects mean not as many marketing qualified leads (MQLs) for your sales team.
Otherwise stated, these issues hamper your company’s content marketing efforts. Your team can spend a lot of time writing great content. However, Google won’t see your website in quite as favorable a light if it has a number of problems.
In 2021, Google began to put even more emphasis on a page’s user experience.
Common website issues
Here are some common issues, what they mean, and how to fix them.
If you are a business owner, your marketing manager (or outside marketing consultant) and your web designer should be able to address these in tandem.
1. Broken internal links
It’s good practice to un-publish older blog posts that get “low to no” traffic. However, sometimes content that has been unpublished had links from other pages. Since those links now go to an error page on your website (technically called a 404 error), they are considered to be broken.
The fix is to simply remove those broken internal links from your content. Alternatively, you could replace broken links with links to relevant, currently published content.
2. Broken links to external sites
It’s also good practice to link your blog posts to one or two external pages. However, the owners of websites you have linked to in the past may unpublish pages and posts for their own reasons. When that happens, you end up with broken links to those sites.
The fix is the same as in #1 above — remove or replace the link.
3. Internal links to Insecure Pages
At some point, your web designer may have added an SSL certificate to your website. This changed all your URL prefixes from HTTP (insecure) to HTTPS (secure). However, you may still have links within your content that reference internal pages using the old HTTP prefix.
4. Orphan pages
Unless there’s a page that you don’t want the general public to see (maybe it’s a page only for your customers) all pages should have an internal link from the menus or from another page.
Internal links are important to Google, but are often overlooked.
5. Missing H1 headings
Microsoft Word and Google Docs make it easy to structure a document with a hierarchy of headings for readability. The same concept applies to website content.
Including a single Heading 1 (or H1 heading in web speak) on each website page is one of the most fundamental of SEO conventions. Yet amazingly, many WordPress theme developers do not set the default page and post titles to H1 headings.
Improper heading structure is also an accessibility issue.
You can use a free browser extension called SEOQuake to see if your pages and posts have an H1 heading — along with H2 and H3 headings.
If you don’t have H1’s, ask your web designer to update your site.
6. Empty meta description tag
By adding text to a page’s meta description, you have partial control over what someone sees in the search engine results snippet. “Partial”, because Google displays what you put in a meta description only 37% of the time.
The other 63% of the time, Google puts whatever it wants to in the snippet. Still, it’s worth including a meta description on every page to encourage clicks through to your website. This is what it looks like when your meta description is used in the snippet:
The aforementioned SEOQuake will tell you whether or not a page has a meta description.
7. Large files
You may have uploaded some large image files in the past without first resizing and compressing them.
WordPress users can use a tool like reSmush.it to optimize all of their website’s images.
If you only have a few large image files, you can run them through a site like TinyPNG and then re-upload them.
8. Slow page speed
Slow page speed results in fewer website visitors. Why? Because if it takes just a few seconds for a page on your site to load, that may be long enough for some people to hit the “back” button on their browser.
Addressing slow pages is a fairly broad topic. You can start by reading our post about Google’s performance measuring tool.
How can you get a report of these issues?
While a browser extension like SEOQuake is good for spot checks, how can you get a site-wide report of these types of issues?
Ahrefs.com, a popular web analytics company, is now offering their Site Explorer and Site Audit capabilities for free. The brand for this limited feature set is Ahrefs Webmaster Tools (AWT).
Anyone in your company who is a property owner in Google Search Console (GSC) can create their own free account. There are three other ownership verification methods available if you don’t want Ahrefs to connect to your GSC account.
Once someone is signed up, they can add any of the Google Search Console properties as projects within AWT.
You can use the information that Ahrefs provides to fix your website’s technical issues.