Decoding Your Site's Technical SEO Issues to Rank Higher on Search Engines [+ Template]

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Team Slam
Helping you win online

Trying to keep up with digital marketing trends that are always changing can feel like chasing a moving target, but search engine optimization (SEO) continues to remain a pillar for online success. While content and backlinks often steal the spotlight, technical SEO is equally important. It ensures that your website is structured, secure, and optimized for search engine crawlers, and also makes sure your site users have a positive experience.

In this guide, we'll dive into common technical SEO issues that your site might be facing, broken down by category. We'll also provide actionable solutions to help your site climb the ranks on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Here at Slam Media Lab, we've seen how SEO can benefit small businesses, nonprofits, and anyone who wants their website to get noticed by the right people. That's why our agency's goal is to share our technical SEO knowledge and help organizations compete better by improving how well they show up in online searches.

Along with helping all kinds of organizations with their SEO strategy, we offer a technical SEO audit template – the same template we use for our clients – for those that prefer to do it themselves.

Whether you want to tackle SEO on your own or work with a top-notch web design agency, keep reading to understand the top technical SEO issues and how you can fix them so you can help your website get noticed by search engines.

What are the Most Common Technical SEO Issues and How Can I Fix Them? 

Technical SEO issues can manifest in various forms, affecting different aspects of your website's performance. Here are six categories that technical SEO issues can fall under, which we will break down throughout this guide:

  1. Website Structure and Navigation
  2. SSL 
  3. XML Sitemaps 
  4. Structured Data Markup 
  5. Crawling and Indexing 
  6. Core Web Vitals 

The best way to identify technical SEO issues on your site is to conduct a technical SEO audit. The audit process typically involves assessing your site's architecture, page speed, and how well it's being crawled and indexed, as well as its ability to rank for specific keywords. Tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console are commonly used to conduct these evaluations, ensuring your site is optimized effectively for search engines.

Website Structure and Navigation

Site structure and navigation in SEO pertains to the structural and organizational layout of a website, which affects search engine rankings and user experience. A well-optimized site structure can:

  • Enhance crawlability and indexability
  • Distribute link equity
  • Establish topical relevance

You can optimize your website structure by ensuring that your site has clear navigation, a logical hierarchy, and easy-to-follow URLs. Additionally, using descriptive anchor text for internal links will help search engines crawl and index your pages efficiently.

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer)

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption serves as a layer of security for safeguarding sensitive data exchanged between your website and its visitors, like personal details, payment transactions, and login credentials. By implementing SSL encryption, you ensure that this sensitive information is protected from potential cyber threats.

Obtaining an SSL certificate from a trusted provider is the first step towards securing your website. This certificate verifies the authenticity and legitimacy of your website, and shows your visitors that they are interacting with a secure platform. This can help instill confidence and trust in your brand.

No HTTPS Security

Once you obtain an SSL certificate, the next step is configuring your website to use HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure). HTTPS encrypts the data transmitted between the visitor's browser and your web server, preventing unauthorized access or interception by malicious third parties.

Without HTTPS security, your site may be flagged as insecure by browsers, leading to trust issues and potential ranking penalties. Search engines like Google prioritize secure websites in their search results, giving HTTPS-enabled sites a slight ranking boost.

XML Sitemaps 

XML sitemaps provide search engines with a roadmap of your website's structure and content. It is best practice to regularly submit your sitemap to search engines via Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools so that your new web pages can be discovered, crawled, and indexed efficiently.

This includes whenever you add new pages, remove outdated ones, update pages with thin content, or update URLs or metadata.

In need of a content refresh? Our Notion Content Creation Template and Calendar can help you level-up your content strategy

Technical SEO Sitemap Errors

It is important to regularly audit your XML sitemap for errors and fix them promptly, because an outdated sitemap can lead to search engines missing important pages or indexing irrelevant content, which can impact your website's visibility in search results.

Start by reviewing the structure of your XML sitemap to ensure that it follows the XML protocol and is formatted correctly. Check for syntax errors, missing elements, and improper formatting that may cause parsing issues for search engine crawlers.

You can use an XML validator to validate the integrity of your XML sitemap and identify any structural errors.

Crawling and Indexing Efficiency

Website crawling and indexing is a key component of technical SEO. This process verifies that search engine crawlers can effectively locate, crawl, and appropriately index a website’s content, which is crucial for its ranking.

You can monitor your website's indexation status using Google Search Console and address any issues that might be preventing important pages from being indexed, such as 404 errors, duplicate content, or broken links.

Content Prioritization

Content prioritization is the fundamental process of strategically organizing and presenting content on your website that is high-quality, valuable information, and is easily accessible to both users and search engines.

First, it's important to cater to the needs and preferences of your target audience. By understanding their interests, concerns, and browsing behaviors, you can tailor your site content to provide the most relevant and engaging information. This might involve conducting market research, analyzing user data, and soliciting feedback to identify themes or blog ideas that resonate the most with your audience.

Next, you should consider how search engines will interpret and index your content. This includes structuring your content in a way that makes it easy for search engine crawlers to understand and categorize it. Using descriptive headings, incorporating more relevant keywords, and organizing content into topic hubs can boost your rankings.

A popular acronym used in the SEO world is E-A-T, which stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Here is a simple question to guide you as you are writing or optimizing content - is this high quality, and is it helpful to users?

Duplicate Content

Duplicate content refers to blocks of content that appear in more than one location on the internet. This can occur within a single website or across multiple websites.

Duplicate content issues can confuse search engines and dilute the authority and relevance of your pages. When search engines encounter duplicate content, they may struggle to determine which version is the most relevant or authoritative, leading to potential issues with indexing and ranking.

Duplicate content issues can arise for various reasons, such as:

  • URL Variations: Different URLs leading to the same content (e.g., HTTP vs. HTTPS, www vs. non-www).
  • Session IDs: Unique session IDs appended to URLs, resulting in multiple versions of the same page.
  • Pagination: Paginated content where each page contains similar or identical content.
  • Syndicated Content: Content that appears on multiple pages or websites without proper attribution or canonicalization.

By implementing canonical tags, you can specify the preferred version of a page and consolidate the signals (e.g., backlinks, authority) to that canonical URL.


Implementing canonical tags is a critical strategy for managing duplicate or similar content on your website and ensuring that search engines properly index and rank your pages.

Here's how canonical tags work:

  1. Identify the Canonical URL: Determine the preferred URL for each page with duplicate or similar content. This is typically the original or primary version of the page.
  2. Add the Canonical Tag: In the HTML code of each duplicate page, add this code snippet to the <head> section of the page:
<link rel="canonical" href="canonical_url_here"/>

Replace "canonical_url_here" with the URL of the canonical version of the page.

  1. Communicate with Search Engines: When search engine crawlers encounter a canonical tag, they understand that the specified URL represents the preferred version of the content, helping them attribute relevance and authority to the intended URL.

There are several benefits to implementing canonical tags. They can:

  • Prevent search engines from indexing multiple versions of the same page, reducing the risk of duplicate content penalties.
  • Concentrate link equity and authority signals to the canonical URL, enhancing its ranking potential.
  • Ensure that users consistently access the preferred version of your content, reducing confusion and improving usability.

Structured Data Markup

Structured data markup, also known as schema markup, is a powerful tool used by webmasters and SEO professionals to provide additional context and meaning to the content of web pages, enhancing their visibility in search results. Leverage structured data to mark up important information, such as:

  • Local Businesses
  • Reviews
  • FAQs
  • Products
  • Events
  • Breadcrumbs

Implementing structured data markup to specify each page's context can make it easier for search engines to display rich snippets from your site. Rich snippets integrate non-textual features such as carousels and images to search results, making a user's search experience much more immersive.

No Use of Local SEO Strategy

Leveraging local SEO strategies has become essential for businesses that want to enhance their visibility in local search results and connect with customers in their area. Without local SEO strategies, businesses are missing out on targeting a specific geographic area or region, and are not showing up in search results when users in that area search for relevant products or services.

Adding local SEO schema markup can help users find the relevant information related to your site and drive foot traffic to physical locations, if applicable. For example, if you own a burger restaurant in the San Francisco Bay Area, you'll want to utilize local SEO so you can show up when users search, "best burger restaurants near San Francisco".

Ways to improve your local SEO strategy include:

  • Optimizing your website for local keywords
  • Creating location-specific content
  • Targeting local directories and listings
  • Utilizing local business schema markup on relevant site pages

For an example of how local SEO can improve the reach of your business’s website, take a look at Slam’s work with Worklife Studios Silver Lake

Our goal in partnering with Worklife Studios was to drive traffic to their website in addition to foot traffic to their physical locations. 

With more people working remotely, there's extra time to hang out with neighbors, support local spots, and catch up with friends. So, Worklife jumped on this trend and opened up a cool space in LA called Worklife Studios. It's a chill hangout spot where they host special events and pop-ups, and it's designed with input from artists, chefs, designers, and folks who work remotely.

Slam helped them spread the word about their new space using local SEO. We set up profiles on Google, Yelp, and Instagram, and made sure their landing pages incorporated the right keywords to attract their target market. Our goal was to attract traffic that ultimately brought people together in real life. 

No Meta Descriptions on Web Pages

The absence of meta descriptions on web pages represents a missed opportunity to attract potential visitors and optimize your website's performance in search engine results. Meta descriptions are brief, yet impactful snippets that are displayed beneath page titles in search listings. These descriptions should offer users a glimpse into the content and draw them into your site.

When users encounter informative and enticing meta descriptions, they are more likely to perceive your site as relevant to their needs and interests, increasing the likelihood of them clicking through to explore further.

In our recent blog featuring technical SEO tools, you can see how we carefully crafted our meta description to provide a clear and concise description of what the user can expect to read about. 

A concise and engaging meta description used my Slam Media Lab to describe a recent blog post.

Additionally, it utilizes the proper number of characters for meta descriptions.

Improper Length of Title Tags and Meta Description

Maintaining the proper length of title tags and meta descriptions is crucial for optimizing your website's presence in SERPs, and ensuring that users receive clear and concise information about your content.

Keep your title tags within the recommended length limit, which is about 50-60 characters. Title tags serve as the headline for your web pages in search results, providing users with a quick glimpse of what the page is about. By adhering to the recommended length limit, you ensure that your titles are fully displayed in SERPs, maximizing visibility and enabling users to quickly assess the relevance of your page to their search query.

Similarly, keeping meta descriptions within the recommended length of around 160 characters, ensures that they are fully visible in search results, allowing you to capture users' attention and encourage engagement.

Need a Meta Refresh

Even if you have meta tags in place, you might be due for a refresh! As your website evolves and new content is added, it's important to update your meta tags accordingly to reflect any changes in the information or offerings available on each page. This not only helps to ensure consistency and accuracy but also demonstrates to search engines that your site is regularly maintained and up-to-date.

Additionally, conducting keyword research and incorporating relevant keywords into your meta tags can increase the likelihood of your pages appearing in search results for relevant queries. Keywords are the terms and phrases that users enter into search engines when looking for information, products, or services related to your business or industry.

If you’re wondering how to choose keywords for SEO, we'd suggest Slam's SEO Keyword Research Template. We use this with our clients to help them rank in top spots on Google!

Missing Alt Tags

Alt tags, alternatively referred to as alt attributes or alt text, provide concise descriptions of image content. Adding alt tags to your images can prioritize inclusivity, increase user engagement, and boost your website's search engine performance and accessibility standards.

Alt tags are a small change, but pack a mighty punch. They can:

  • Enhance accessibility for individuals using screen readers or who are visually impaired by providing alternative text that describes the content of the image.
  • Enrich the overall user experience for all visitors, including those with slower internet connections or in situations where images fail to load properly.
  • Contribute significantly to SEO efforts, as search engines rely on this text to understand and index images accurately, which can improve the visibility of your content.

Robots.txt Issues

Check your website's Robots.txt file to ensure that it is not blocking search engine crawlers from accessing important pages. The Robots.txt file tells search engine bots which pages they can or cannot crawl and index. It should be properly configured to allow search engines access to important content while blocking irrelevant or sensitive content.

If critical pages are mistakenly blocked, remove or adjust the disallow directives in the Robots.txt file to allow indexing of these pages.

Crawling and Indexing

Website crawling involves the utilization of web crawlers or bots to systematically navigate web pages on the internet, extracting information pertaining to their content, code, and links. The data gathered is then used by search engines to:

  • Evaluate the significance and positioning of the web pages within search results
  • Determine the relevance of the web pages to specific search queries
  • Index the web pages for future retrieval and display in search results

SEO benefits significantly from website indexing, allowing search engines to access and index web content, which influences how web pages rank in the search results. To improve your website's crawling and indexing capabilities, you should address:

  • Non-indexed web pages
  • Multiple versions of the homepage
  • Broken internal links

Non-Indexed Web Pages

Non-indexed web pages are pages on your website that are not being considered or displayed in search engine results, making them essentially invisible to potential visitors searching for relevant content.

Here are actions you can take to address non-indexed web pages:

  • Conduct a technical SEO audit of your website to identify which pages are not indexed by search engines. You can use tools like Google Search Console to see what pages are not being indexed and why.
  • Check the meta robots tags on individual web pages to ensure that they are not set to "noindex." The noindex directive instructs search engines not to index a specific page.
  • Regularly check and re-submit your site's up-to-date XML sitemap to Google Search Console for indexing.

Stay proactive in monitoring and maintaining the indexing status of your web pages to ensure optimal performance and visibility in SERPs.

Multiple Versions of the Homepage

Having multiple versions of your homepage, such as variations with or without "www", or differing protocols like HTTP and HTTPS, can lead to several issues that affect both user experience and SEO. These variations can dilute your website's authority, confuse users, and hinder search engine crawlers' ability to understand and index your content.

Here's how you can effectively consolidate multiple versions of your homepage:

  1. Identify duplicate versions of your home page using Google Search Console, website crawlers, or SEO auditing tools.
  2. Determine the preferred version of your homepage.
  3. Set up 301 redirects, which inform both users and search engines that the requested page has permanently moved to a new location. Any non-preferred versions of your homepage should redirect to the preferred version.
  4. Once you've implemented 301 redirects, update the internal links on your website to link to the preferred version of your homepage, and update your XML sitemap to include only the preferred version of your homepage.

Be sure to monitor your website's performance and crawl reports regularly to confirm that the consolidation process is successful.

Broken Website Internal Links

Broken internal links, which lead to pages that no longer exist or have been moved, can frustrate visitors. Additionally, search engine crawlers use internal links to discover and index new content, so if internal links connecting important pages are broken, search engines may overlook these pages, leading to lower search engine rankings.

To address broken internal links and maintain the integrity of your website, you can use various tools like Screaming Frog, Semrush, or Ahrefs to automatically scan your website for broken links.

Once you've identified broken internal links, prioritize fixing them based on their impact on user experience and website functionality. Start by addressing broken links on high-traffic pages or those linked from prominent navigation menus, headers, or footers, as well as links leading to important content, such as product pages, blog posts, or informational resources.

Broken External Links

In addition to internal links, monitor external links, aka "backlinks" to your website from other sources, such as social media, directories, or partner websites. If you change your site's URL structure or remove pages, these external references may lead to broken links.

Reach out to webmasters or site owners to request updates or corrections to ensure that external links remain functional and contribute positively to your website's visibility and reputation.

Core Web Vitals

Core Web Vitals represent a critical aspect of website optimization, focusing on enhancing user experience by measuring key performance indicators related to loading, interactivity, and visual stability.

These user-centric metrics provide valuable insights into how users perceive and interact with your web pages, guiding optimization efforts to deliver a fast, responsive, and engaging browsing experience.

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures the loading performance of a web page by analyzing the time it takes for the largest content element, such as an image or text block, to become visible to the user. A fast LCP - which should ideally occur within the first 2.5 seconds of the page loading - ensures that users can access critical content quickly, reducing frustration and improving engagement.

To optimize LCP, identify the most important content elements that appear above the fold (i.e., visible without scrolling) on your web pages. Prioritize loading these elements, such as headlines, images, or CTAs quickly to provide users with immediate access to essential information.

First Input Delay (FID)

FID measures the interactivity of a web page by quantifying the delay between a user's first interaction, such as clicking a button or tapping a link, and the browser's response. A low FID indicates a responsive and interactive user experience, while a high FID can lead to frustration and user abandonment.

To optimize FID, minimize JavaScript execution time, prioritize critical tasks, and optimize event handlers to ensure swift user interactions.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

CLS measures the visual stability of a web page by evaluating the extent to which content elements shift or move unexpectedly during page loading. A low CLS ensures a seamless and stable visual experience, preventing user confusion and accidental clicks.

To optimize CLS, avoid inserting dynamic content above existing content, provide explicit dimensions for media elements, and use CSS properties to control layout changes and prevent content shifts.

Website Speed and Performance

Website speed and performance are factors that significantly impact user experience, engagement, and search engine rankings. A fast-loading website can:

  • Enhance user satisfaction
  • Improve conversion rates
  • Reduce bounce rates
  • Boost overall site visibility

Optimize your website's loading speed with the following suggestions:

  • Minimize Server Response Times: Minimize the time it takes for your web server to respond to a request from a user's browser by optimizing server configurations or upgrading hosting plans to accommodate increased traffic.
  • Leverage Browser Caching: Browser caching allows static assets such as images, CSS files, and JavaScript files to be stored locally on a user's device after they've visited your website, which reduces the need for repeated downloads of resources and speeds up subsequent page loads.
  • Optimize Image Assets: Images are often one of the largest contributors to page size and loading times. Optimize image assets by compressing file sizes, choosing the appropriate file format (e.g., JPEG or PNG), and resizing images to fit the dimensions of their display containers.
  • Optimize Code Assets: Minimize the size and complexity of your website's code assets, including HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files, to reduce loading times and improve performance. Remove unnecessary whitespace, comments, and unused code where possible.

Poor Mobile Experience of Your Website

In today's digital landscape, the importance of providing a seamless and enjoyable mobile experience is extremely important. Ensure that your website is mobile-friendly and responsive across various devices and screen sizes to cater to the growing number of mobile users.

To address the poor mobile experience of your website, consider the following strategies:

  • Responsive Web Design: Implement a responsive web design approach that automatically adjusts the layout, content, and elements of your website based on the user's device and screen size.
  • Mobile-Friendly Navigation: Make it easy for users to access content on mobile devices by implementing mobile-friendly navigation menus, buttons, and links. Consider using a hamburger menu, collapsible navigation panels, or large touch targets to enhance usability and accessibility on smaller screens.
  • Optimize Page Speed: Mobile users are often on the go and have limited patience for slow-loading websites. Optimize page speed by minimizing file sizes, leveraging browser caching, and reducing the number of server requests.
  • Mobile-Friendly Content: Tailor your content to suit the preferences and behaviors of mobile users. Use concise and scannable text, break up content into smaller chunks, and use bullet points or numbered lists to improve readability on smaller screens.
  • Test Across Multiple Devices and Platforms: Conduct thorough testing of your website across various devices, operating systems, and browsers to identify and address any compatibility issues or usability challenges.

Low Text to HTML Ratio

Text-to-HTML ratio refers to the proportion of textual content compared to HTML markup present on a web page. A low text-to-HTML ratio indicates that a significant portion of the page consists of HTML code rather than valuable textual content. This imbalance can negatively impact user engagement, readability, and SEO performance.

To increase the text-to-HTML ratio and improve the overall quality of your web pages, consider the following strategies:

  • Prioritize Textual Content: Place a strong emphasis on creating high-quality textual content that provides value to your audience. This includes informative articles, descriptive product descriptions, engaging blog posts, and relevant metadata such as title tags and meta descriptions.
  • Minimize Unnecessary HTML Markup: Review your website's HTML code and identify any unnecessary or redundant markup that can be removed.
  • Optimize Images and Multimedia: While images and multimedia content are valuable for enhancing user engagement, they can also contribute to a low text-to-HTML ratio if not balanced appropriately. Optimize images by compressing file sizes, using modern image formats, and implementing lazy loading techniques to defer the loading of off-screen images.
  • Use Semantic HTML: Utilize semantic HTML elements such as <article>, <section>, <header>, <footer>, and <nav> to structure your content can improve accessibility and usability, and also help search engines better understand the context and relevance of your content.
  • Focus on Readability and User Experience: Ensure that your textual content is well-written and formatted for optimal readability. Use clear headings, bullet points, and short paragraphs to break up large blocks of text and improve comprehension.

Slam’s Solutions for Technical SEO Issues

As a B2B website design agency, we've dedicated the hours to meticulously document our procedures and create templates to enhance our efficiency. Today, we're excited to extend these resources to you!

If you need help with your website audit, our Technical SEO Audit Template can help. It's a helpful resource designed for self-starting website owners, managers, and entrepreneurs!

If you prefer to leave the complicated technical stuff to professionals, we'd love to collaborate!

Slam offers the following services to businesses and nonprofits of all sizes: 

Want Slam to check your website's technical SEO? Contact us now for a free consultation!

P.S.While you’re on the topic of SEO, check out our blog post about how to start an SEO agency and scale it to $2M! We also have a How to Start an Agency Masterclass that includes 20+ templates and resources that we used to launch and grow Slam for a flat rate!

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