Skip links

11 Technical SEO Issues That Could Hurt Your Rankings in 2020

For over a decade, marketing experts have used search engine optimization (SEO) to improve website traffic by increasing the visibility of a site or a web page in order to boost their rank in search engines. SEO remains as the most potent digital marketing strategy that can provide lasting results. But coming up with optimization strategies to drive organic traffic to your website can become extra challenging, especially when you encounter technical challenges that you weren’t prepared for. This means that the technical aspects of SEO can have a significant effect on the results of the SEO campaign if not appropriately addressed.

A there are many guides to SEO; the one from Moz, this guide from Online Marketing Gurus, this one by Search Engine Journal, and even this one by Neil Patel. They all include a section on technical website issues that are essential to help SEO specialists address common technical issues. Below, we’ve outlined some of the most prevalent issues that most industry experts regularly face, and how you can fix them.

Duplicate Content Can Hurt Your Site

Since more businesses have started to use progressive websites and content management systems, it is inevitable that duplicate content problems will arise. This usually happens for several reasons, such as the appearance of eCommerce stores on different variations of similar URLs, or when related content comes out in different languages posted on an international website. Search engines might also flag a site with duplicate content if the printer-only web pages contain contents that also appear on the main page. If the search engine crawlers notice duplicate content, they might get confused and block the original content from reaching the target audience.

How to fix it: You can resolve this issue using several methods. First, you need to make sure that you always use fresh and original content to avoid repeat content. But if the article or blog will still get flagged as a duplicate, it will help your case if you use the correct Rel=canonical tag. This alerts the search engines that your page is original. Another solution is the accurate implementation of hreflang tags. You can also visit the Google support page to learn more ideas about limiting duplicate content flags.

Broken Internal Links on Your Website

If your website uses both internal and external links, you’re alerting both web crawlers and site visitors that you’ve created high-quality web content. But your content usually changes over time. This is the reason why some existing links are no longer accessible. If a site contains many broken links, it can create a poor user experience and reduce the quality of the content in the eyes of the search engine. As a result, the page ranking of the website will be negatively affected.

How to fix it: To solve this issue, the website administrator should conduct regular site audits. This will help monitor which external links are no longer working or if an internal link was removed, redirected, or changed. With the help of a regular site audit, the web administrator will spot broken links and replace them with a working link or a new link altogether. To learn how to fix broken links WordStream has a good article here. After finding broken links, you can also contact the site administrators to try to replace them.

You’re Not Using Local Search and Structured Data Markup

Structured data markup, also known as schema markup, is significant for small- and medium-sized enterprises. Structured data markup works by matching a name with a particular value that can assist search engines in categorizing and indexing the site’s content. Search engines will have an easy time understanding this code when it’s made in a schema format. The search engine crawlers will be able to read the code and utilize it to show the search results in a distinct and more informative manner. If the website’s structured data markup is weak, these businesses will not have a chance to reach their target market.

How to fix it: Fortunately, this problem has an easy solution. You need to make sure that the site has a strong presence on search data providers like Yelp or social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and others. You must also set up your Google My Business page. Aside from these solutions, you also need to make sure that all the contact details are consistent across all pages.

Additionally, you can add structured data to the website by opening the Structured Data Markup Helper from Google. Then choose data type and indicate the URL. Once done, highlight the page elements and designate the data tags before composing the HTML. After following these steps, you can finally incorporate the schema markup to the webpage. Then test the structured data markup using the Structured Data Testing Tool so you can diagnose any problems and fix them right away.

Broken Images

When web users click on an image that does not lead to an existing page, it increases the site’s bounce rate. As a result, it will harm the SEO of the website. Since broken images are widespread and usually happen because of newly implemented changes in the site or domain after publishing, it’s important to do whatever it takes to spot these images as quickly as possible.

How to fix it: You’ll need to fix the broken image by replacing it with a working image to prevent an increase on your site’s bounce rate.

Incorrect Language Declaration

Businesses want their websites viewed by their target audience. This means that they must create content that speaks the language of their readers. If they fail to set the correct language of their site, it will affect the page’s capacity to translate. It will also have an adverse reaction to the location of the site and the international SEO standing.

How to fix it: Google revealed a solution for the wrong language declaration by introducing a hreflang tag made for businesses that use global SEO. The use of hreflang tags needs a significant amount of work to make sure that all the pages have the right code and error-free links.

Using 302 Redirects Instead of 301

By definition, the HTTP code 301 means permanent redirection, while HTTP code 302 signals temporary redirection. If you want to redirect users to a new page location for good, you’ll need to change the code to 301. But if you are going to leave some link juice behind after the visitors and search engine crawlers get redirected, use the 302 code.

Multiple Versions of the Homepage

Having different versions of the homepage can fall under the duplicate content error. But it can lead to even more significant issues when the homepage is involved. While most updated search engines might have a solution to the problem, the web administrators must also do something to take care of the problem once and for all.

How to fix it: One solution is to add a 301-redirect command to the duplicate page. This will lead the users and the search engine crawlers to the right homepage location. When done correctly, it will improve the SEO standing of the site.

A robots.txt File Error

Usually, a missing robots.txt file can become a big problem. Even the smallest character that landed in the wrong place can damage your robots.txt file, affecting organic site traffic. To make sure that the website’s robots.txt file is accurate, web administrators can type their website URL into the browser and end it with a “/robots.txt” suffix. If the result showed a “User-agent:* Disallow:/” prompt, it means that there is a problem on the website.

How to fix it: When this happens, the web administration must have a word with the website developer as soon as possible to make the necessary corrections. If the site has a complicated robots.txt file, the site administration must review it thoroughly to make sure that each line is accurate and has no missing characters.

You’re Not Using HTTPS

For websites that have not yet made a move to HTTPS, now is the time to do so. This is because Google recently announced that they would start marking all non-HTTPS sites as non-secure. This factor will affect the site’s operations, especially if it requires passwords or credit cards for any transactions. Also, web administrations must change to HTTPS as search engines rank them higher compared to the sites that still use HTTP.

Your Website Has a Slow Load Time

If your site does not load quickly or if users need to wait more than three seconds for the site to appear, it will have a higher bounce rate. The speed of the site can affect its usability factor, which is essential for both users and search engines like Google. To check the site speed, web administrators can use Google PageSpeed Insights to find out if there are any particular speed problems.

How to fix it: Once you determine the site speed, you can fix the problem using a variety of solutions. Some of the most common fixes includes image compression/optimization, an improvement on the browser cache and server response time and minifying the JavaScript.

Poor Mobile Experience

Google already declared in 2016 that they plan to begin the mobile-first indexing strategy. In other words, the search engine’s algorithms will start using the mobile version of the site’s content to rank the pages from the site. The algorithm helps crawlers understand the structured data and look for the snippets from the web pages in the search engine results. Making sure that the site is mobile-friendly can help the website rank higher in SERPs.


By conducting a complete SEO audit, website owners can determine the overall health of their site, as well as more fully evaluate your optimization efforts. Once you recognize the most significant SEO technical issues, you can begin to find ways to fix those problems, thus improving search engine results visibility through maximized SEO efforts. Fixing these issues also gives your site visitors an exceptional user experience. As a result, the site will have more organic traffic that will ultimately lead to higher search engine rankings.