Most Commonly Missed Technical SEO Issues by Agencies

Chris Tatumby Chris Tatum

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Search engine optimization is an $80 billion industry, and that estimate is on the low end.

The fact is that SEO is responsible for the majority of online business growth due to the ubiquity of search engines. When exploring digital marketing channels with the highest ROI, Search Engine Journal’s survey revealed that “organic search is the digital marketing channel that brings in the highest ROI according to 49 percent of the respondents.”

Given that a brand cannot generate much in the way of organic traffic without optimizing its pages for search visibility, SEO is a critical task for scaling an online business.

While marketing agencies tend to spend a lot of their time focused on PPC adverts, content marketing, link building strategies and other critical components to ranking well, technical SEO is a far less sexy task. As a result of its backseat status, there are a few things that agencies commonly miss when optimizing technical SEO components.

To help remedy these forgetful fumbles, we are going to explore the five technical SEO issues that agencies commonly miss, and how these problems can be solved.

1. Index Bloat

What is index bloat

Index bloat is the result of having an abundance of a site’s low-quality pages indexed with a given engine. When search spiders go to crawl a website, they inevitably utilize a sizable portion of the site’s crawl budget on these inferior listings, impeding engines from crawling and indexing more critical pages.

Index bloat is a common occurrence for site owners, particularly those in the eCommerce industry. Some frequent causes of the issue are:

  • Pagination pages
  • Auto-generated pages
  • Subdirectories
  • Thin and duplicate content

Through the unintentional blocking of high-value pages getting crawled and indexed, bloat can be a pernicious factor in damaging a site’s performance in the SERPs. Moreover, index bloat can also result in keyword cannibalization, a phenomenon in which multiple pages within a single site are competing with one another for the same terms, thereby “cannibalizing” the website’s results.

However, there are a number of strategies that agencies can use to fix index bloat and enhance a site’s SERP performance. Some commonly employed tactics include:

  • Using 301 redirects
  • Applying “noindex” tags
  • Utilizing canonical tags
  • Implementing disallow directives within the robots.txt file

The approach taken is highly dependent on what is causing the index bloat (e.g., duplicate content, pagination, website errors), so the correct tactic will have to be chosen on a case-by-case basis.

2. Failure to Implement Structured Data

Failure to Implement Structured Data

Unfortunately, it’s extremely common for agencies not to utilize structured data and take advantage of rich snippets and other elements that have shown to have proven search benefits.

Agencies that fail to implement structured data are missing out on tremendous opportunities for their clients as Google is becoming increasingly sophisticated at recognizing user intent. Structured data allows for search engines to better understand a page and its contents, thereby meeting the user’s intent with greater accuracy. When an engine can better understand a page and how it relates to a given search, as well as if it is capable of meeting the user’s needs, the engine will promote the page above those that provide less context.

However, informational context is not the only way that structured data aids SEO performance.

Because applying structured data to a site’s pages provides it with enhanced SERP listings through rich snippets and similar elements, those who employ on-page schemas often receive elevated click-through rates. When speaking to structured data’s importance to SEO, Search Engine Journal reported that by employing structured data:

“Mobile CTR improved slightly from 2.7 percent in Q1 to 2.8 percent in Q2. This is a short test so far, but we expect to see a 5 to 10 percent increase in click-through rates over the next nine months. In addition,…Clicks increased by 43 percent. Impressions are up by almost 1 percent. Average position also increased by 12 percent.”

However, it is worth noting that structured data is not a direct ranking factor, but instead influences other facets of SERP performance.

By missing this crucial SEO element, agencies neglect a key opportunity for higher rankings.

3. Improper Page Canonicalization

Improper Page Canonicalization

Ensuring that pages are correctly canonicalized ties back to issues with index bloat as self-referential canonicals, product variations and many other problems can result in the generation of duplicate content.

Moreover, URL inconsistencies can also be a considerable problem for site owners. For instance, a site’s link equity can be dramatically reduced if it features multiple URLs for a single page such as:

  • Yoursite.com
  • www.yoursite.com
  • www.yoursite.com/home

While this minor variation won’t matter to visitors, it does to Google, and the engine will decide for itself which version to index. As a result, it might index all of them, thereby causing confusion and reducing SEO effectiveness as link authority is split among the URLs.

For this reason, rel=canonical is especially essential for sites that are prone to duplicate or remarkably similar content, such as eCommerce websites. For example, dynamically rendered pages, such as category pages, can appear as duplicate content to search bots. By applying the rel=canonical tag, site owners can inform search spiders which page is the original (or canonical) one, thereby indicating importance.

While this is the type of problem that would only appear as a problem to SEOs, site owners should be keenly aware of this issue as it is a commonly missed technical issue among agencies.

4. Poor Internal Linking

Poor Internal Linking

A lack of a proper internal linking strategy can be the death knell for a site’s search optimization efforts. To ensure that a site’s performance in the SERPs is effective, it is necessary to connect pages with one another through practical navigational links and optimized anchor text.

Think of internal linking like a body’s circulatory system. To have a healthy body, blood must be capable of reaching all parts of the individual. Similarly, it is necessary to connect a site’s pages in multiple different ways to ensure a healthy flow of equity through the website, versus just one single pipeline.

If a site’s internal links are not well-organized and optimized, pages will fail to deliver link juice throughout the site and the destination is likely to have crawlability issues, as previously discussed.

Therefore, it is necessary to ensure that a site not only features a logical and navigable site architecture but that its most important pages are no more than three clicks away from any given page.

To achieve this, it is best to imagine the website as a pyramid, with the homepage on top, the categories beneath that and individual pages further down.

From this point, site owners should begin to establish their most important pieces of content. These will be those that are the most comprehensive pieces and valuable pages for the site.

Since it is important to inform Google that this is a site’s most decisive pieces, it should include many links to other pages within the website. These could be links to product pages, other popular posts, logical links to deep pages and other places that would be beneficial to receive link juice.

By linking specific pages with optimized anchor text, site owners can enhance their site’s navigation, crawlability and SEO performance all at once.

However, since this is a common missed aspect by agencies, site owners should take the time to seek out an expert SEO service provider that is well-versed in how to build up a site’s structure and internal linking strategy for optimized outcomes in the SERPs.

5. Mixed Resource Protocols

Mixed Resource Protocols

Security is one of the most significant issues for online stores that deal with sensitive information, such as credit card information.

Therefore, ensuring that all resources are loaded securely to prevent possible security vulnerabilities is critical for a brand’s reputation and SEO performance. This is particularly true when one considers that HTTPS is a Google ranking factor.

Mixed protocols occur when the initial HTML of a page is loaded via a secure HTTPS connection, but then other resources like images, videos, scripts and the like are loaded over an insecure HTTP connection.

Part of why this hurts a site’s performance in the SERPs (aside from Google frowning upon it) is that today’s browsers will show users a warning about a page, letting them know that it is insecure. In turn, this will reduce the number of clicks and traffic a page generates.

The fact is that finding these issues can be a time-consuming process. Still, it is essential considering that Google is tightening its guidelines on SSL certificates and properly secured websites. Therefore, sites with mixed content issues will continually see their site’s trust and rankings impacted in a negative way. 

Google has put out a handy guide on finding and fixing mixed content in which the company outlines the process of finding such issues by stating:

“You can search for mixed content directly in your source code. Search for http:// in your source and look for tags that include HTTP URL attributes. Specifically, look for tags listed in the mixed content types & security threats associated section of our previous guide. Note that having http:// in the href attribute of anchor tags (<a>) is often not a mixed content issue…”

Given that this is one of the things that SEO agencies often miss, it is vital for site owners to be on the lookout for security problems with their site’s pages.

The technical aspects of a site are vital to a site’s overall performance in the SERPs. Unfortunately, there are some key areas that SEO agencies are prone to accidentally missing or outright neglecting.

For this reason, it is imperative that site owners partner with a professional SEO agency that is intimately aware of the technical problem areas of various kinds of websites and how to optimize them for maximum performance.

By contracting with a firm that recognizes the commonly missed issues listed above, your site can obtain the visibility needed to dominate the competition and earn more notoriety within your niche.

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