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Seven Technical SEO Mistakes Ruining Your Search Rankings

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Technical SEO mistakes are the silent killer of campaigns. They not only disrupt user experience but also make Google hate your website.

Keep the following fact in your mind as you read this article: When users don't like your website, Google doesn't like your website.

So, the goal of technical SEO is make the user experience flawless on your website.

Fixing the following mistakes will help you achieve that goal:

1. Your website is painfully slow


A slow site is a bad site.

Half of all Web users expect a site to load in two seconds or less. Most abandon sites that take longer than three seconds to load.

And that's not even the worst news... A one-second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.

If users hate websites that are slow, then Google does as well. And so, having a slow website will not only affect your SEO results but also hurt your bottom-line.

The solution? Speed up your site.

To test the current speed of your website, use Pingdom or Google's website speed tool. Here are a couple of articles to help you increase the speed of your site:

2. You are suffering from keyword cannibalization via on-page optimization

Keyword "cannibalization" occurs when two pages on your site compete for the same keyword. It can damage your results because it forces Google to choose what page to rank.

Two things happen when you let Google's algorithm decide: First, it may choose the wrong page; second, it may not choose any page at all.

If you confuse Google, you will not rank. Its algorithm is a machine, so you have to guide it and force it to understand your site the way you want it to.

You have two solutions to fixing keyword cannibalization:

  1. Merge two pages into one.
  2. Unoptimize one of the pages.

3. You have keyword cannibalization from your internal linking

Now you understand that having more than one page optimized for the same keyword isn't a great idea. But there is one other sneaky keyword cannibalization killer that often goes unnoticed: Using the same keyword-rich anchor text for more than one page.

Check out this diagram:

You want to avoid the second scenario: Page B is targeting the keyword phrase "dog toy safety"; it wouldn't make sense to hit that page with a "dog toys" anchor, because Page A is targeting that keyword.

This is an easy mistake to make, but it can cost you big. As I said, avoid confusing Google. Be explicit and make it undeniable what every page on your site is about.

(The remaining technical errors I discuss will rob your site of precious site authority, which is one of the most important factors for ranking.)

4. Redirects are silently stealing your site's authority

Two types of redirect issues can hurt your results:

  1. 302 redirects
  2. Redirect chains

302 Redirects

Google understands a 302 redirect as "temporary" redirect; 302s do NOT pass authority.

So your goal needs to be changing any 302s you have to 301 redirects. Google understands 301 redirects are "permanent" redirects and will pass site authority through them.

Here's a great visual from Moz:

To identify 302 redirects, go into Screaming Frog SEO Spider. Since I will be explaining redirect chains in a second, you should change the following setting now.

Go to "Configuration" and "Spider":

Go to the "Advanced" tab and make sure "Always Follow Redirects" is selected:

The first step toward finding 302 redirects is to enter your URL and press "Start":

Click "Response Codes" and "Filter" by "Redirection (3xx)":

See whether you have any 302 redirects on your site; if you do, fix them.

Redirect Chains

A redirect chain is exactly what it sounds like—a chain of redirects, like so:

You want to avoid redirect chains because it disrupts the flow of authority. Remove the middle man and get your authority back.

Here's what you want:

Hopefully, you still have Screaming Frog SEO Spider open. Go to "Reports" and "Redirect Chains" and export:

Fix any redirect chains to increase your site's authority.

5. You are treating all 404 errors the same way

Not all 404 errors are bad. Only the 404 errors that have link equity are.

Using Screaming Frog SEO Spider, you can identify all 404 errors; click "Response Codes" and "Filter" by "Client Error (4xx)":

"Export" your 404 pages.

Go to Ahrefs.com, click on "Labs," "Batch Analysis," enter your 404 URLs, and click "Start Analysis":

If you identify pages with link equity (or social signals), you need to 301-redirect the 404 page. You can redirect the page to one that is relevant on your site or back to the homepage.

6. Broken outbound links are leaking authority

Linking out to quality resources is a great way to build trust and relationships. But dead outbound links do nothing but create a bad user experience and rob your site of authority.

Use the following tools to find broken links on your site:

Don't forget about checking blog comments, too. Many people who comment let their sites die off and leave you with a dead link. Although most of those outbound links are "NoFollow,"you should still get rid of them.

A dead link doesn't help anyone (including you)!

7. Your site is drowning in duplicate content

Google's Panda algorithm feasts on sites with duplicate content. Don't become a victim.

E-commerce sites are notorious for duplicate content issues. Many will copy manufacturer product descriptions and plaster them across their site.

Don't.

Every page should have unique category and product descriptions.

If you have a separate page for every color, size, etc. of a product, then you need to merge them into one. Doing so will not only decrease the duplicate content but also make your website lean. It will also make it easier to produce unique product descriptions.

If you are a WordPress user, I also recommend you "NoIndex,Follow" all your Categories, Tags, and Archives; they do nothing but create duplicate content on your site. All-in-One SEO Pack and Yoast both allow you to do this.

To see whether your site is suffering from duplicate content, use Siteliner.

* * *

In addition to following these tips, also make sure your site is mobile friendly.

Fix these simple technical SEO issues, and you should see a nice boost in search engine visibility.


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Nathan Gotch is the founder and CEO of Gotch SEO, a St. Louis SEO agency and SEO training company.

LinkedIn: Nathan Gotch

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Comments

  • by Doug Thu May 12, 2016 via web

    Excellent article! Great tips that we all should be implementing!

  • by Blake Smith Thu May 12, 2016 via web

    Hi Nathan,

    Thank you for the tips. The tools you recommend for fixing these problems are very helpful.

    Under mistake #2 on keyword cannibalization, one of your suggestions is to unoptimize one of the pages. I think a better strategy is to reoptimize a page that is targeting the wrong keyword.

    In your closing statement, you briefly mention making a website mobile friendly. I think that is an important point. One could argue that not having a mobile-friendly website is another technical SEO mistake that could have a negative effect on rankings.

    Blake Smith
    Web Content Doctor

  • by Karola Fri Jun 24, 2016 via web

    Thanks Nathan!

    The article was an eye-opener. Will definitely try the tips shared here.

    I guess the most helpful tip was about not using the same keywords when linking to different pages. We've done this quite a lot. Would you recommend that we review all the links and start using different alt texts when interlinking in our landing pages and blog articles?

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