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Broken links are one of the most common SEO problems
Broken links are one of the most common SEO problems

How to identify and fix your website’s most common SEO problems

For all retailers, climbing the Google ranks is both an important issue and a constant battle. SIMON DELL explores the simple reasons you may be falling behind – and how to get back on top.

Getting your on-page search-engine optimisation (SEO) – right is very important these days, particularly if you’re trying to establish a strong online presence on search engines.

And let’s face it, if you’re not trying to do that, you should be!

However, SEO isn’t just about using the right keywords in your content. Nor can you simply rely on your website-building program – Wix or Squarespace, for example – to do all of the work for you.

Here are four of the most common on-page SEO issues, and how you can fix them.

Incorrect or missing title tags

Tags are part of your website’s HTML code. The title tag – <title> in your website’s code – tells a search engine what users can expect when they read the content on that page. It is also the title given to your page in search engine results. The most common issues are title tags that are missing, duplicated, too long, too short, or inaccurate.

Meanwhile, meta descriptions are incredibly important from a search engine point of view. This is the small snippet of information that appears on a search engine results page underneath your page’s title.

"SEO isn’t just about using the right keywords in your content. Nor can you simply rely on your website-building program to do all of the work for you"

If these descriptions are missing or inaccurate, you’re not engaging readers to click on your page, and potentially causing them frustration.

The fix: WordPress has some built-in SEO checks. You can also check every page one by one – however, this can be tedious if you have a large site.

Try to keep title tags to around 70 characters in length, and make sure they’re accurate and engaging. If you’re not confident, don’t be afraid to hire SEO specialists to check all your meta descriptions and title tags.

Duplicate content

Duplicate content is exactly as the name suggests: sections of content which are the same, either elsewhere on your website, or on other pages around the web.

While Google doesn’t necessarily punish websites for having duplicate content, there’s still a case for ensuring your content is unique and original. If the duplicate content is within your own site, Google can’t determine which page should rank higher in users’ search results – and the two pages may even compete with each other.

The fix: Run an SEO audit using an online tool such as Sitechecker, or enlist some SEO specialists to identify duplicate content and address it accordingly. If you’ve deliberately copied content from elsewhere online, this should be removed as soon as possible.

Broken links

In short, broken links – that is, links leading to a page that doesn’t exist, giving users an error message when they click it – will lower your ranking on most search engines. This is because search engines are trying to create the best user experience, and broken links are frustrating for users.

If you’ve never removed any pages within your website, your ‘internal’ links shouldn’t be broken. However, if you’re linking to other websites with ‘external’ links, remember that they could take down pages at any time. If they take down the page that will in turn cause your link to break.

In addition, when search engine bots crawl your site for indexing purposes, they don’t go through every page – they take a sample of your website. In this sense, broken links are a waste as you will miss the opportunity to be indexed for pages and links that you really want to rank for on Google.

The fix: Most digital analytic tools allow you to ‘crawl’ your own website and check for broken links. If you find any, remove them immediately, or redirect them to working pages. This practice should be done regularly, particularly if you use a lot of external links!

Incorrect alt tags

Alt tags form an important part of your on-page SEO because they describe the images you’ve included. If your images’ tags are either missing or don’t relate to the words on your page, search engines have trouble categorising the content.

Images are often used as links to other pages – for example, linking an image to a more detailed description of a product. If these links are broken, you will end up with the same problems as having broken in-text links. In short, all image links must be working perfectly.

The fix: You can use tools to do a site audit of your alt tags, but for a manual solution you can check every image on every page, and make sure the alt tags are relevant to the image and page content. If images are being used as links to other pages, ensure all the links are working.











ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Simon Dell

Contributor •

Simon Dell is the founder of Brisbanebased digital marketing consultancy Paper Planes, which focuses on data-driven strategies and customer engagement. flypaperplanes.co

 

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Thursday, 02 April, 2020 08:31am
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