Tackling the Top 10 Issues for Most Marketers in SEO

By: Chris Birkholm

The success of your SEO program is highly dependent on your ability to work around technical issues that can have a significant, negative impact on your SEO program. For the SEO pros, here are the top 10 technical issues to tackle as you work in improve your SEO program.

  1. Mobile Setup:
  • Why it matters: With the insurgence of mobile devices, the importance of having a mobile friendly version of your site becomes more important every day. Last year’s studies indicated that only six of the top 100 Fortune 500 websites complied with Google’s recommendations for setting up a mobile version of a site, according to a Pure Oxygen Labs Study.
  • How it can be addressed: The Google Developers site has recommendations for implementing a mobile site. There are three separate options – all of which have different implementations.
  1. XML Sitemap:
  • Why it matters: International websites can benefit from having a well-structured, highly accurate XML sitemap that includes rel=alternate tags. These tags point to alternative versions of pages that have been localized for regional audiences around the globe. This process can be tedious, tiresome, confusing and difficult for large sites that contain either large amounts of content or products.
  • How it can be addressed: To efficiently create a XML sitemap, be sure to map out your pages at a 1:1 level and then create an automated system to effectively generate each language/locale sitemap. Implementation instructions can be found in Google Webmaster Tools.
  1. Robots.txt:
  • Why it matters: A malformed robots.txt file – that’s part of the “signals and signposts” of SEO – can have a drastically negative impact on your site’s overall performance and indexation within the search engines. It is essential to validate the syntax of the robots.txt file and ensure that all disallowed portions of the site are treated exactly as you intended. The wrong * in the wrong place can have dire consequences. Therefore, a careful eye – if not many – is absolutely necessary.
  • How it can be addressed: The setup of a robots.txt file is fairly simple, but you can’t have any mistakes if you do not want to accidentally block half of your site from the search engines. For information on setting this up, go to robotstxt.org.
  1. Site Migration:
  • Why it matters: One of the most confusing and complicated tasks for a marketer can be migrating from one domain to another or consolidating domains under a single roof. Correctly implementing 301 re-directs, combining pages, mapping out movement, creating sitemaps and monitoring traffic can lead to a few premature grey hairs when you don’t spend the time on a detailed and accurate approach.
  • How it can be addressed: An easy solution doesn’t exist, but attention to detail is a must. This can be a long process, but it needs to be done right. Moz has an infographic that provides a nice checklist to reference.
  1. Duplicate Content:
  • Why it matters: Some large and growing sites can be in a constant battle with themselves if duplicate content is not taken care of. By using canonical tags and a correct URL structure, a substantial number of issues can be resolved. When you have case sensitive URLs or unnecessary directories in the URL or are not setting up parameter handling in Google Webmaster Tools, it will lead to the site competing with its own pages and create a lack of consolidated page authority.
  • How it can be addressed: To better understand strategies around duplicate content, Moz has a great article that offers suggestions for addressing this problem..
  1. Linking Strategies:
  • Why it matters: Some of the common practices that were used to increase authority scores, can now potentially hurt your site. For some time, many marketers relied on a quantity vs. quality SEO strategy. As a result of algorithm changes in the last couple of years, this practice can actually harm your site. Focusing on garnering high-quality links from reputable sites related to your pages is not an easy strategy and can be quite time intensive. You should focus on optimizing your internal linking setup.
  • How it can be addressed: When addressing your linking strategy, a focus on the visitor’s overall experience will lead to success. The focus on optimizing internal links and creating links to high-quality and authoritative sites whose content is helpful and related to yours will have the greatest impact.
  1. Fundamentals:
  • Why it matters: With all of the hype around mobile and international SEO as well as the focus around algorithm changes, it is easy to lose track of the basics. Don’t forget to always optimize your title tags, ensure every page has a unique meta description and correctly setup your header tags.
  • How it can be addressed: Yes, these are basic and simple steps, but these also are still at the core of a good SEO program. They can be tedious and take time. They are not the most glamorous thing to do in SEO, but they are absolutely necessary.
  1. Keyword Strategies:
  • Why it matters: The loss of query data has changed the approach of a normal SEO marketing program, but it has not rendered SEO useless. Query data now has a greater focus on the pages rather than the keywords. It is more important than ever to have keyword phrases mapped to particular pages or sections of the site and to monitor both traffic and rankings of these pages over time. Historical data plays an important role in setup as well as keyword research. In addition, understanding trends and constantly monitoring your competitor’s rankings against your rankings will provide insight into your overall performance and strategy.
  • How it can be addressed: To figure out a new plan regarding keyword strategies, marketers should do some reading to better understand the impact and the alternative solutions they have. Search Engine Watch is a good place to start with an article about how to move forward.
  1. Education:
  • Why it matters: Education is not a typical technical SEO issue, but it is extremely important in order to have an SEO program run smoothly. Inter-department education is a must for a successful SEO program. A business must understand that SEO is not just one person’s job or one department’s job, but rather it is an organization’s job. From the copywriter and marketer to a developer and architecture team member, a collaborative effort will provide for higher quality site. In order for this to happen, each team needs to understand why its role is important and how a focus on SEO can improve the overall site and create less work in the future. Getting the site built right the first time without having to constantly go back and make changes is best for everybody.
  • How it can be addressed: When trying to expand the focus on SEO to other groups in your company, it’s important to show how it will benefit them and translate into less work down the road. Providing people an incentive to change is often the best course of action.
  1. Site Speed:
  • Why it matters: It is important to understand that page load times can impact your rankings on search engine results pages. If you are not utilizing a tag management system to organize your tagging efforts, doing some script modification and moving away from flash to HTML5, you can miss some potentially crucial optimizations for a large audience online.
  • How it can be addressed: Search Engine Land has a good article to get organizations started on making their sites faster. There are a lot of ways to do this and starting off with simple steps can have a great effect on the load times.
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