The top 10 Technical SEO issues that you need to address ASAP

Search engine optimisation requires a diverse skill set and an eagle eye for picking out tiny mistakes. Even the smallest of coding errors could make a huge difference to how well your website performs and ranks in search.

Here at topflight, our SEO team have successfully optimised hundreds of websites, including the good, the bad, and the ugly. Although, every website is different and requires a bespoke approach, we soon noticed that the same SEO technical problems were cropping up time and time again.

So, following our recent article on how to perform a technical SEO audit, we decided to put our heads together to compile a list of the 8 most common technical SEO issues and advice for fixing them.

What is Technical SEO?

Technical SEO refers to the process of optimising a website’s technical components to enhance its crawlability, indexation and search engine ranking. This includes actions such as improving page titles, meta descriptions, HTTP header responses, sitemaps and redirects.

When it comes to technical SEO, we are essentially talking about the updates made to a website and/or server which you have direct control over. These updates can have either a direct or an indirect impact on the crawlability, indexation, and ultimately the search rankings of your web pages.

In our Search Experience Optimisation framework, technical SEO forms the initial step in creating a superior search experience. While undertaking other SEO projects is important, it is advisable to prioritise technical SEO once you’ve ensured that your website has proper usability.

10 common technical SEO issues and how to fix them

1. Indexation problems

The very first thing you need to check before delving deeper into your website’s technical SEO is that everything is set up correctly for Google to index your website’s pages.

If Google has not indexed your website, then its pages will not appear in search results.

To find out which of your web pages are being indexed, go to Google Search Console and review the Coverage section to identify URLs that should, or should not, be indexed.

If you see URLs in the ErrorValid with warnings and Excluded, investigate why Google has flagged them like than and make the appropiate changes, if needed.

How to fix it

Indexation issues can be caused by a variety of problems, here’s what you need to check if your website isn’t being indexed by Google.

  1. Have you added your URL to Google?
  2. Are there old versions of your website still being indexed?
  3. Has your site been hacked and spammed?
  4. Have any of your URLs been flagged as duplicate content?
  5. Is your robots.txt file correct?
  6. Have you mistakenly implemented a “noindex” or “canonical” meta tag?

2. The website is not secure

Some older websites are still operating as HTTP rather than HTTPS websites. HTTP websites are not secure and Google flags this up to users and penalises non-HTTPS websites in its search results.

How to fix it

You will need to acquire an SSL certificate and safely migrate your website from HTTP to HTTPS. Unsure how to do that? We’ve prepared a comprehensive website migration checklist for you to prepare your own HTTP to HTTP migration.

3. The robots.txt file is blocking search engines

A robots.txt file tells Google and other search engines which pages to crawl, so this file must be set up and functioning correctly. To check that your robots.txt file isn’t blocking Google, type into your web browser.

If you see the word ‘disallow’ after the expression User agent: * or User agent: [NAME OF THE SEARCH ENGINE], then you’ve got a problem.

How to fix it

If your robots.txt file is blocking Google from crawling your website speak to a web developer to have the file corrected. Or get in touch with us, we can fix it!

4. Web pages load too slowly

If your web pages are taking longer than 3 seconds to load, then your website is too slow. Site speed is one of the ranking factors that Google looks at and is also very important to user experience. It is easy to find out more stats about how fast your website loads by using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.

How to fix it

You’ll need to get to the root of the problem and discover what is causing your web pages to take so long to load. Some common culprits include:

  1. Large image files
  2. Browsing caching problems
  3. Slow server
  4. Excessive number of queries, mainly from JavaScript/CSS files
  5. Excessive number of external elements (Analytics code, GTM, contact forms, chatbots, etc.)
  6. Unclean coding

And remember to use an SEO website design approach every time you need to build a website.

5. Duplicate content

The quality of your website content is very important. If the same text content is repeated on different pages throughout your website, it can harm how your website ranks in search results, especially if  the content is deliberately duplicated across domains in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings or win more traffic.

How to fix it

Always ensure that your web pages contain high quality, unique text content. If some duplicate content does occur on your website, then you will need to implement canonical tags. The rel=canonical tag is a piece of code that tells Google which is the original or preferred content and URL for indexing.

6. Broken links

An on-page broken link is a link on your website that no longer works or sends users to the wrong page. If your website contains broken links, it can negatively impact user experience and your website’s ranking in search results.

You can identify broken links on your website by viewing ‘crawl errors’ in the Google Search Console or by having a professional website audit carried out.

How to fix it

Broken links can be fixed by doing one of the following:

  1. Updating the link with the correct URL
  2. Deleting the link
  3. Redirecting the link

7. Missing alt tags

Failing to add alt tags to a website is one of the commonest technical SEO issues we see. Alt tags provide search engines and visually-impaired website visitors with textual descriptions of the images on your website, making them particularly important for image-heavy websites.

Adding optimised alt tags to your website’s HTML code can improve user experience, accessibility, and your website’s position in SERPs.

How to fix it

A professional SEO audit will identify all missing alt tags across your website. Although alt tags are not as important as they were a few years ago, they help search engines to understand the context of your content and give to your page the ability to rank on Google Images.

Using keywords within your alt tags will also provide maximum SEO value.

8. Keyword cannibalisation

Keywords help your website get found during relevant searches, but there’s a fine line between a well-optimised website and too much of a good thing. If your website is stuffed full of keywords (aka keyword stuffing), then it could be causing more damage to your search ranking than good.

Keyword cannibalisation occurs when the same keywords appear too frequently throughout your website. This can cause Google search engine problems as your pages appear to be competing with each other and Google doesn’t know which pages to prioritise. This may result in your preferred pages being ranked below less important pages on your website.

How to fix it

Keyword cannibalisation isn’t always a critical problem, but if it is causing your website issues then you have a few options for fixing it.

  1. Merge the two pages and combine the content to strengthen the relevance of the final page.
  2. Decide which page is more important, based on authority, relevance and traffic, and tag the second one with a “canonical” tag. This will be telling Google which page do you want to use for ranking purposes.
  3. Noindex the less relevant page, using the points explained above.


If you think any of these technical SEO issues apply to your website, getting them fixed could provide you with a quick boost in traffic and improve your website’s performance and ROI. Need help with correcting technical SEO mistakes? If you’re not confident dealing with website coding or keywords, then you could end up doing more harm than good.

Our team have the technical know-how to implement the fixes covered in this article quickly and efficiently for fast and effective results.

9. Meta robots noindex set

The NOINDEX tag, if set up properly, can communicate to search bots that certain pages are not as significant. As an illustration, blog categories with multiple pages can be designated as less important using this tag.

Nonetheless, if the NOINDEX tag is configured incorrectly, it can cause catastrophic harm to your website’s search visibility by eliminating all pages with a particular configuration from Google’s index. This is a colossal search engine optimisation issue that can create a lot of perplexity.

While creating a website, it’s typical to NOINDEX a significant number of pages. However, once the website is launched, it becomes crucial to eliminate the NOINDEX tag.


How to prevent it

Don’t assume that the NOINDEX tag has been removed automatically, as this could result in a burst of frustration and confusion. It’s essential to double-check and make sure that the tag has been eliminated to avoid causing harm to your site’s search visibility.

#10 Incorrect canonical tag

The concept of Rel=canonical is of utmost significance, particularly for websites featuring repetitive or almost identical content, such as eCommerce sites. Dynamic pages that display a list of blog posts or products may appear indistinguishable to Google’s search bots.

To differentiate the primary page from the duplicate ones, the rel=canonical tag comes into play, similar to URL canonicalisation. This tag informs search engines about the importance of the original page, also referred to as canonical.


How to fix it

Now, to tackle this issue, you must scrutinise your source code and take appropriate measures based on your content structure and web platform. Google’s Rel=Canonical guide can be a useful resource in this regard. However, if you find yourself struggling, don’t hesitate to get in touch with out technical team.

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