11+ Technical SEO Issues (and How to Fix Them)

When you first dive into technical SEO, things can get overwhelming. Fortunately, I’ve spent 10+ years in the industry and identified the highest-priority items. 

In this article, I’ll show you what to fix first when working on technical SEO to see results faster.  

How to Fix the 11+ Most Common Technical SEO Issues

This list will be ordered by importance, looking at each issue’s potential to affect your rankings. 

As a prerequisite, you’ll need to perform a site audit or a crawl, which you can do with tools like ScreamingFrog or SiteGuru. (If you decide to use SiteGuru, you can just skim over this article because you’ll get a prioritized SEO to-do list immediately and then every week after that.) 

So, without further ado - let’s dive into it!

How to Fix Indexing and Sitemap Technical SEO Issues

If Google can’t index your website (and you haven’t uploaded a sitemap to give it a map for navigating it), you won’t be able to rank. So, you’ll first want to check for indexing issues: Is Google finding all the relevant pages on your website?

indexing issues on google search console

If there are any indexing issues, make sure you've done the following:

A Note on Internal Links and Orphan Pages

While lacking a good internal linking structure and a few orphan pages (pages without internal links pointing to them) won’t wreck your SEO overnight, it’s good to start thinking about it early.

Since Google uses links to crawl and understand your website, ensure you’re interlinking pages and pointing the most links internally to your highest-priority pages. 

No HTTPS Certificate

Google is hesitant to recommend websites without an active SSL/HTTPS certificate. Even if you start ranking, Chrome will warn visitors that your website is potentially unsafe. 

Make sure your HTTPS certificate is installed correctly:

If you don’t have an SSL certificate already, you can usually purchase it from your domain or hosting provider. Let’s Encrypt also provides them for free. 

Are you struggling with HTTPS and website security? Dive into my full guide. 

Duplicate Content

I’m not saying you’re posting two identical pages to different URLs or plagiarizing – duplicate content errors can happen for a variety of reasons, including:

When this happens, Google gets confused about which page you want it to index. 

Sometimes, you’ll encounter an error (usually in your Google Search Console or flagged by SiteGuru) saying that your website is available in two versions: with and without the www prefix. The problem is that Google could view your content as duplicate, so you’ll want to fix it ASAP.

domain duplication error

Domain duplication error flagged in SiteGuru.

Choose which version of your website you want to use. Then, redirect the other pages to the new version. 

If you have an Apache server, you could redirect to www at scale by adding the following code to your .htaccess file:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^www\.
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.%{HTTP_HOST}/$1 [R=301,L]

If you're dealing with duplicate page errors, use canonical tags to specify the main, original page. (This is also applicable to international websites.) 

I wrote a complete guide for implementing canonical tags in different scenarios. If this is your pain point, check it out to fix this technical SEO issue.

How to Fix eCommerce Filtering Duplication

If the filters on your eCommerce store automatically generate URLs for different filtered queries, they’re bound to start serving similar results.

For example, the URLs they generate for “red shoes for women” and “green shoes for women” – if the products are the same, but the variants are different without dedicated pages – will be treated as duplicates.

In that case, switch to AJAX filtering to avoid duplication issues. 

Learn more about eCommerce SEO, duplication, and the right way to implement filtering.

Core Web Vitals and Page Speed Technical SEO Issues

While page speed isn’t the be-all-end-all, it is imperative to both Google and users. It can also alert you to problems as you scale – especially if you run a website heavy on dynamic content and visual content assets (images, videos, JavaScript).

Run the SiteGuru audit or the PageSpeed Insights test to see your areas for improvement. Check for both desktop and mobile performance! 

Fortunately, PageSpeed Insights will give you a detailed to-do list. I’ve covered quite a few of its aspects in my previous articles, so click through to see specific fixes for each:

Ultimately, the goal is to reduce your website’s size, so Google and browsers can access it faster on all devices. 

how to analyze pagespeed insights

Page speed analyzed in SiteGuru. 

Depending on your test insights (and other issues you’re grappling with), this technical SEO issue might be higher or lower in priority for you. However, it’s good to keep an eye on it and optimize everything you can.

Improper International and Language Redirection

If you have an international website, it’s vital to send users to the right page for their language and region – and specify how you’d like Google to do that. 

There are three main methods for implementing internationalization (covered in depth here), so make sure you choose the right one for your website, optimize it for search engines, and implement the hreflang tags correctly.

If you notice problems with localization, ensure your hreflang tag code is correct (I love this generator by Aleyda Solis!).

If you use SiteGuru, you’ll get a notification if there are any errors with your hreflang tags.

Finally, as the last barrier of defense, you can allow users to self-select the localized version they want.

Redirect Issues in Technical SEO

If you spot redirect issues in your Indexing report (in Google Search Console), audit your website and map your redirects. 

Redirect loops happen sometimes, but if Google is thrown around your website, you’ll waste its resources, and it could stop indexing those pages altogether.

identify pages with redirects

Review my full guide on redirects or implement redirect best practices from the get-go:

  • Permanently moved your pages? Use 301 redirects.
  • Temporarily moved your pages? Use 302 redirects. (For example, a product currently out of stock that you’re redirecting to the closest variant page.)
  • Avoid 307 redirects.
  • Avoid redirect loops.

And finally, jot down all your redirects so you can update the pages and links accordingly. 

If you’re permanently moving pages, change all the previous internal links to them to point to the new page – it’s always better to update internal links to conserve your crawl budget

Start Using (and Troubleshoot) Structured Data

Structured data is practically a must for SEO nowadays. However, you want to ensure you’re implementing the correct types properly. If not, you’ll get pings from Google Search Console about errors.

Alternatively, without structured data, you won’t be keeping up with the competition, and Google bots will have a harder time understanding what your website is about.

Here's how to fix any issues that might pop up when using structured data:

Issues with Broken Links

As your URLs change, your (internal and external) links might get broken

Since Google uses links to understand your website, updating or redirecting them is a priority.

The best way to prevent damage from broken links is to perform regular website audits. When a broken link appears, replace it with a fresh one and check if you need a redirect.

You should also customize your 404 page so it provides pointers to, e.g., category pages, most popular pages, etc., to mitigate damage before you can fix the links.

How to Fix Broken Backlinks

  • If you change your URLs, redirect the old URL to the new one to preserve the backlink juice.
  • In some cases, you might be successful when asking for a backlink update from the website that’s linked to you. (But it’s no guarantee, so use the method #1 first.)

Missing Alt Tags or Meta Descriptions

Finally, make sure you have alt tags for all your images and assets, as well as meta descriptions for each article. 

This one straddles the borderline between technical SEO and on-page content optimization, but it’s good to keep an eye on it. Alt tags can help you rank for Google Images searches (in addition to their accessibility benefits). 

And while Google may choose different meta descriptions for the actual SERPs, you can influence the algorithm by creating an optimized meta description. 

optimize meta descriptions with siteguru

See poorly optimized meta descriptions in SiteGuru, and tackle them ASAP.

How to Fix Alt Tag and Meta Description Issues

  • Ensure you have alt tags for all the relevant assets, especially images and videos.
  • Check your meta descriptions for relevance (do they mention your target keyword?) and length (are they too short/too long?). 

With SiteGuru, you’ll get notifications and lists of problematic alt assets and meta descriptions. 

How to Prioritize Technical SEO Issues

Finally, if your audit resulted in a page of glaring red lights – don’t panic. Instead, prioritize.

  • Prioritize high-volume pages and commercial pages.
  • Prioritize issues that have the highest likelihood of affecting your rankings (starting from indexing and HTTPs issues – feel free to use this list).
  • Look at the technical effort needed to fix this issue. 

When dealing with multiple issues, you can also sort them according to “Urgent and critical,” “Critical but not urgent,” and “Urgent but not critical” criteria. Start with those that are both urgent and critical and postpone everything that’s neither urgent nor critical.

how to prioritize technical seo issues by moz

I love this breakdown from Moz!

Always let your priorities and page value guide you. For example, your highest-converting page might be broken, and it requires a lot of technical effort. Still, if that’s the page you get the most sales from, it should be at the top of your list.

Alternatively, use SiteGuru to get a prioritized SEO to-do list. 

Don’t Let Technical SEO Bring You Down

Keep a close eye on your technical SEO issues with frequent audits. Then, prioritize accordingly!

Start with the issues that can affect your ability to get indexed and work your way down the list of urgent and critical issues.

Once resolved, your performance will improve significantly, and you’ll have time to focus on getting even more conversions. And if you want to take regular monitoring off your manual to-do list, try SiteGuru!