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Top 10 technical SEO issues (and how to fix them)

James A. Martin | May 21, 2014
SEO experts share insights on the most common website technical issues that can negatively impact search rankings and offer advice on how to fix them.

Some companies divert users to separate mobile sites, but doing so can cause problems, according to SEMrush's Stricker. For example, using a mobile subdomain (such as can split your link equity, raise concerns about diverting traffic from the original URL without informing the user and offering options, and increase resource consumption and maintenance, he notes.

"Google can become suspicious of sites that present different content to different devices, depending on how it is accomplished," Stricker says.

Responsive design (when a website displays automatically and appropriately for both mobile and desktop devices) "provides an experience customized to the device, yet the content is the same for all users," Stricker says. Thus, it can improve secondary signals that Google takes into account for search rankings, including page visits, time spent on a page, visit duration and bounce rates.

3) Shady Link Building
Google's Penguin updates put sites that engage in questionable link building practices in its crosshairs. Link building can help a business "see significant gains in Web traffic, but it also introduces a level of risk," according to Justin Anderson, CEO of

Unnatural, spam-like, irrelevant, and "black-hat," or "just plain bad," backlinks can cause your site to take a hit in the rankings, adds Mike Waller, owner of SEO Zones, Inc. Backlinks today "should be done at a natural pace, should be diverse and varied and look and appear natural," he says. "The links you place on your site that link out to authority sites is important, and cross-linking between pages is also important to help the Google crawlers get deep into your site."

If the Penguin updates hurt your site, it may be necessary to disavow questionable backlinks to it, and if necessary, ask webmasters to remove those links to your site.

4) Poor Navigation
If visitors come to your site, and they can't get around easily because navigation is set up poorly, they won't engage with your site.

"Poor engagement statistics paired with 'crawlability' issues and other technical issues are all indications of low authority" according to Google, says Ashley M. Orndorff, director of marketing, ParadoxLabs. "If your site is considered irrelevant and is not deemed useful to visitors, it's not going to rank in the search engines. Search engines are businesses too and their business is showing the most relevant resources to their users."

5) Images That Are Not Search Friendly
Many website designs today emphasize stunning visuals without taking into account how those visuals can adversely impact search rankings, according to Salman Aslam, CMO, Omnicore.

"A lot of people are using images with beautiful fonts and strong colors to make the page appealing, but to Google it's just an image," Aslam says. By using a combination of Web fonts, HTML and CSS, it's possible "to retain the beauty and achieve good SEO by creating all of the text elements within a banner as 'live text.'"


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