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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.

It's also a good idea to tell Google which of several URLs to prefer for its index by applying the rel="canonical" link element to point to the preferred URL. Canonical tags can help with duplicate content issues because they tell search engines that one page is a duplicate of another, as well as which of the duplicate pages to consider the primary one for indexing by Google's bots, says Scott Benson, founder and president, Benson SEO.

International sites that target multiple countries with content in a variety of languages can also end up with a lot of duplicate content, according to Matt Naeger, executive vice president, digital strategy for Merkle. In this scenario, Naeger recommends using the rel="alternate" hreflang code within the <head> of every page to identify the geolocation of the content in a similar, but more targeted language. Using IP detection to generate the correct language and default currency for a page is another solution.

A common duplicate content issue occurs when one site has either a URL beginning with "www" or a URL that doesn't contain "www," according to Ramon Khan, online marketing director, National Air Warehouse. Thankfully, there's an easy fix.

"Try to type in your URL with the non-www URL and see if goes to the www version, then try the opposite," Khan says. "If both work without any one of them redirecting, you are not properly set up. If so, go to your Google Webmaster Tools. Go to Settings and then Site Settings. See if you have specified a version you prefer. If you're not sure, get a professional to assist you in determining which version to set up and keep using that going forward."

Similarly, by default most websites end up with multiple versions of the homepage, reached through various URLs. Having multiple versions of the homepage can cause a lot of duplicate content issues, and it means any link equity the site receives is spread across the different URLs, says Colin Cheng, marketing manager of MintTwist.

You can fix this issue "by choosing one URL that you want as your main URL," according to Steven Weldler, VP, online marketing for CardCash. "This is entirely a matter of preference but once you choose one, stick with it. All the other URLs should automatically point to the main URL using a 301redirect."

2) Poor Mobile Experience
If your website offers a poor user experience on smartphones and tablets and is slow to load on mobile devices, visitors will likely click away, upping your site's bounce rate. "It's important to make sure your site is lean and loads fast, as that's important on mobile," noted Matt Cutts, Google' head of Web spam, at a search conference in 2013.


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