01 No sitemap
A sitemap is an XML file that feeds data to search engines about a website’s most important pages such as the date of the last update and the importance of a page compared to others. All of this allows its spider to crawl the site more intelligently and economically. Although creating a sitemap can’t solely guarantee search engine success, it is certainly a quick win and is relatively easy to implement.
02 Failed canonical domain check
When a domain fails a canonical check, this implies that the homepage is accessible through more than one URL. For example, webdesignermag.co.uk/index.php, webdesignermag.co.uk/home.php and webdesignermag.co.uk all load the homepage.
Having multiple URLs load identical content is a problem because inbound link equity can become divided and it diminishes the overall SEO site value. Some solutions to this would be to either implement the correct canonical tags or having 301 redirects pointing the duplicate pages to only one location.
03 Slow load times
04 No header tags
Header tags such as <h1>, <h2> and <h3> give content its structure and help the search engines understand which parts are important.
Search engines use header tags to prioritise a page’s content so incorrect use can result in confusion. The solution is to ensure that the main <h1> tag is unique and accurately incorporates the topic of the page including relevant keywords. Likewise, any following subheadings should use <h2> and <h3> tags where applicable.
05 Missing Alt attribute
Search engines cannot understand images so it is imperative to attach descriptive and relevant text in the form of an Alt attribute. This allows the search engine to fully understand the image and is an opportunity to add relevancy and keyword rich descriptions to the page. One common mistake is to be too vague with the descriptions – for example, blue trainers can be further enhanced into blue and white, limited-edition Nike running trainers.
06 Poor Metadata
Title tags are still regarded as one of the most significant influences for on-site SEO success. This is the first thing the user sees on search result pages so it should be unique, succinct (70 characters max) and keyword optimised according to the content subject matter of the page. Meta descriptions are also important as they are essentially an opportunity to entice the user to click through to the page in the form of an ad copy.
07 Keyword stuffing
Ensuring that a fine balance of target keywords is incorporated into the body of a page is a challenging feat for any copywriter. Too much and the page appearing spammy is a risk, but too little and the search engine may have trouble understanding what to rank for. The solution is to use a good range of targeted synonyms presented in a well-written structure that will engage the reader.
08 Duplicate content
Having duplicate pages within a website is a common mistake that usually occurs on larger sites or eCommerce sites with lots of product listings, resulting in detrimental consequences if not handled properly. Common instances of duplication can occur where filters are applied to product listings or where several minor variations of a product exist. A solution to this would be to use a canonical tag to point the duplicated pages to the corresponding main pages – essentially having one page gaining all of the SEO value.
09 Links from non-credible sources
Inbound links are considered the most important off-site factor in determining natural ranking success, with the quality of the link source being at the forefront. The most influential links come from authoritative websites within the same industry, with the linking page containing content relevant to the target page. Although acquiring links from quality sites is challenging, one link from an authoritative site can have a more positive effect on rankings than a few hundred links from non-credible sources.
10 Generic internal anchor text links
Anchor text is the clickable text of any link on a page. When a website is crawled, the search engine uses this when ascertaining the content and relevance of any associated page. Using generic anchor text such as ‘click here’ when linking to internal pages is a missed SEO opportunity. The anchor text should include relevant keywords that the page wants to rank for but over-optimising can also have a negative effect so keep the balance right.