If it’s been said once, it’s been said a thousand times: SEO is a long-term game.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t any quick wins! There are a handful of common SEO issues that I see on new client’s websites all the time. Most of them could be diagnosed and fixed within the day.
For a comprehensive list of optimisations, look into one of my SEO audits.
In the meantime, here’s a list of the most common SEO issues that you can fix right now, for a noticeable boost in organic performance.
1. Unsecured website lacking HTTPS
This may just be the easiest SEO issue to diagnose.
- Go to your website and look at the address bar. That’s the bar up the top of your browser that contains your website domain.
- Does it say ‘https://’ at the start?
The ‘s’ is extremely important! If your website only has ‘http://’ then you’ve got a problem.
Have you ever seen something like this when trying to view a website? This is what a browser may be showing potential visitors to your website if you don’t have ‘https://’ at the start of your domain. Fortunately this SEO problem isn’t as common as it once was, but you’d better believe that some older sites still haven’t implemented HTTPS.
To fix this issue, speak to your website developer, read this article, or contact SEOwriter.
2. Duplicate content from trailing slash issues
Trailing slash issues are extremely common, especially on new websites. Fortunately, it’s also an easy one to diagnose.
- Bring up your website again.
- Navigate to any other page that isn’t the homepage.
- Now, look at the address bar again.
- At the very end of the URL, see whether it ends with a trailing slash, or backlash ( / ).
- If there is a trailing slash, remove it with a backspace and press enter to load the page again. This time without a slash.
- Alternatively, if there isn’t a trailing slash at the end of your URL, add one in and then press enter to load the page. This time with a slash.
- Whichever way you did it, note whether the URL changes back to how it was at the beginning.
If your website can load the same page with the trailing slash and without the trailing slash, you have an SEO issue. I won’t go into detail here, but essentially this means you have two identical pages on your website, and Google doesn’t like that.
Read a more detailed article I wrote explaining why trailing slashes are a problem.
To fix it, ask your website developers to create a site-wide redirect for every page to end with or without a slash. Whatever you prefer. It doesn’t matter if they load with or without the backslash, as long as they don’t do both.
3. Incorrect header tags and missing H1s
The next two items are best looked at after you’ve done some basic SEO keyword research, but can be quickly optimised all the same. Header tags are bits of code that you use on your website to distinguish headings from normal text. They can make headings appear bigger and bolder, and also tell search engines what words are more important on your site.
Header tags follow a hierarchy: h1, h2, h3, and so on. Not using header tags correctly is a common SEO issue. The rules of thumb are as follows.
Optimising h1 tags for SEO
The h1 tag is the most important header for every webpage. It should describe the purpose of the page and catch the eye of users. It needs to convince both the user and the search engine, that this page has what they’re looking for. It should also contain the keyword that you want that page to rank for.
An h1 tag should be one medium-length sentence of anywhere between 20-70 characters. There should also only ever be one h1 tag per page. It’s very common to see more than one h1 on a webpage, a big SEO no-no.
Optimising h2 tags for SEO
Subheadings should be tagged as h2. They break the webpage into defined sections and should contain keywords relating to the h1. If you think your website visitor may have any questions regarding the page topic, use those questions as subheadings (h2 tagged) and write the answer beneath in normal text.
Optimising h3 tags for SEO
Sub-subheadings are tagged as h3. If you need to break a subsection of the page down any further, use h3 tags to head these more focussed paragraphs. They’re less important for SEO, but using them shows that you have a clear and defined structure to your page.
For h4 tags and beyond, there is little SEO value. They’re often just used to change the font and style for specific pieces of text.
4. Unoptimised page titles and meta descriptions
Every page on your website has a page title and meta description. This is the text that shows up for that page in search results. For example, the contact page and homepage for SEOwriter looks like this:
The larger blue text at the top is the page title. Then under that comes the URL, with the meta description below that. Optimising these lines of text is arguably the most important part of SEO. You can edit them within your CMS as you see fit, but there are a few tricks to getting it right.
It’s also worth noting that no matter what you write, Google chooses what to display in the end. If it finds text on your page that it thinks matches the user’s search better, it may use that instead. The meta description for my homepage in the screenshot above is an example of this.
Optimising your page titles for SEO
On desktop devices, a page title will generally show between 50 to 60 characters before being truncated. Keep this in mind when writing page titles, and use a tool like Letter Count to make sure you stay within the limits.
Page titles should also contain the keyword that you wish to rank, but in such a way that you are speaking to the user rather than the search engine. Your main goal here is to convince a viewer to click on your link. This is your opportunity to hook a visitor.
Optimising your meta descriptions for SEO
The same rules apply for meta descriptions, but your character limit is extended to 158 characters. Mobile devices like smartphones however, will generally only show 120.
Something you can try for your brand is the use of symbols. They can catch the eye and draw more users to click on your website link. Make sure they match your brand, and use them sparingly to avoid coming across as unprofessional.
Test out some of these and see if they increase your clickthrough rate:
❄ ❆ ☀ ☁ ☂ ☽ ★ ☎✿ ❋ ✩ ✮ ✯ ✰ ❶ ❷ ❸ ❹ ❺ ❻ ❼ ❽ ❾ ► ▼ ✓ ✔ ✖ ➜ ➢ ➤ ➔
5. Ignoring performance in Google Search Console
Speaking of clickthrough rate, do you even know what yours is? Not tracking your SEO metrics in Google Search Console is a very common issue. How do you expect to know anything about your organic traffic without looking at the data?
Google Search Console (GSC) shows you everything about how you appear in Google search results. If you haven’t already, click here to get started. The instructions should be easy to follow. You can see everything in GSC, from how many people see your search listing (impressions), to how many people click on the result (clicks). The percentage of impressions that resulted in a click, is your clickthrough rate.
Data isn’t all that GSC has to offer though. You can also give Google important information through the platform, like which locations you are trying to target, and a list of pages on your site (sitemap). All this information helps Google learn about your website, and decide where to rank it. GSC also acts as a method of communication with Google about your website. They will let you know if there’s anything major that needs to be fixed in order to optimise your rankings.
If you need help making sense of Search Console, diagnosing more SEO issues, or even just getting more content on your website, flick me a quick message. I’m sure I can give your organic traffic a boost!
Read about more common SEO mistakes in my article, ‘5 Common SEO Mistakes Made on (Almost) Every Website‘.