Research: The most common SEO errors

Research The most common SEO errors

Now, after reading the title, you can think, “What new can I read here? At least every month I see similar articles on different blogs”. I can say without a doubt you’ll definitely like this post.

My article is developed on the basis of unique research.

Every SEO specialist checks a site with the help of some SEO service. I work at one of the most popular all-in-one SEO platforms — Serpstat. Every year our team analyzes site audit results of our users to find out which SEO errors are really the most common.

In this article, I’ll shed light on the results we’ve got for the last year.

Serpstat research: Results we’ve got

During 2018, our users carried out 204K audits and checked 223M pages through Serpstat. Our team analyzed this data and collected the stat.

All stat you can see on the infographics below the text. I just want to specify some facts in words here.

After the research, we’ve discovered that most sites had problems with meta tags, markups, and links. The most common errors are concerned with headlines, HTTPS certificate, and redirects. Issues with hreflang, multimedia, content, indexing, HTTP status codes, AMP (accelerated mobile pages), and loading time were least likely.

Also, we’ve analyzed country-specific domains to get more exact information. The stat we’ve got from it shows that 70% of “.com” domains have the most common problems with links, loading time, and indexing. The same situation is with “.uk” and “.ca” domains.

The most common mistakes and how to fix them

1. Meta tags

Meta tags are rather important despite the fact they aren’t visible to website users. They tell search engines what the page is about and take part in snippets creation. Meta tags affect your website ranking. Errors which can occur with them may spoil user signals.

According to our research, you should first check the length of the title and description itself.

2. Links, markups, and headings

External links (their number and quality) affect your site’s position in SERP as search engines rate link profiles very carefully. Also, you should always remember about internal links factors (nofollow attributes and URL optimization).

The Serpstat team also found out that bugs with markups and headings are rather popular ones despite the fact that they are very important for websites. Markups and headings contain attributes which mark and structure the data of the page. They also help search engines and networks crawl and display the site correctly.

The most common errors in this chapter are with:

  • Nofollow external link attributes
  • Missing Twitter card markups
  • H1 doubling the title tag

3. HTTPS certificate

This certificate is one of the important ranking factors as it ensures a secure connection to the website and the browser. If your website uses personal information, don’t forget to pay attention to it.

The most common mistake here is the referral of HTTPS website to HTTP one.

4. Redirects, hreflang attribute, multimedia

Redirects direct users from the requested URL to another one you need. According to our statistics, you should avoid the most common error with them — having a multilingual interface it’s necessary to apply the hreflang attribute for the same content in different languages. In such a way search engines can understand which version of your texts users prefer.

Multimedia elements don’t affect SEO directly. Although, they can cause bad user signals and indexing errors. Also, pictures affect the website’s loading time. That’s why multimedia are rather important. And here is the same situation with the hreflang attribute — if you have the multilingual interface, you should apply it for the same content in multiple languages.

More info about errors in this section you can find on the infographics.

5. Indexing

Search engines find out what sites are about while indexing. If the site is closed for indexing, users can’t find it in the SERP. Some weak spots of the site that often lead to errors are the following:

  • Canonical tags that reference a different page
  • Non-indexed pages (noindex)
  • iframe tags

6. HTTP status codes, AMP, and content

Answers that the server delivers on user request have the name HTTP status codes. Errors with them are rather serious problems and negatively affect the position of the site in SERPs.

AMP is accelerated pages optimized for mobile devices. You should use such technologies to improve the loading time of the site. Also, poor content causes the deterioration of ranking positions.

The most common problems here are:

  • 404 error codes
  • Missing AMP
  • Generated content

7. Loading time

Long loading time can worsen the site’s usability and waste the crawling budget. Serpstat team found that the most common problems with this issue are associated with the use of browser cache, image, JavaScript, and CSS optimization.

infographic SEO errors research

Source: Serpstat

How to correct these errors

To find all the above-mentioned errors for your own site, you can start a custom project at Serpstat Audit tool. Here you can check the whole site or even just a separate page. The module checks 20 pages per second and finds more than 50 errors that potentially harm your site.

In its reports, Serpstat sorts errors by importance and categories and gives the list of pages on which these problems were found. In addition, it offers recommendations on how to resolve a specific problem. Some of them are not errors in the true sense (“information”), they are only shown for you to be aware of such problems.

Summary

There are a lot of errors that can damage your site and its rankings. Despite this fact, you can find them all at once with the help of audit tools.

At first, pay your attention to the most common weaknesses:

  • Meta tags
  • Markups
  • Links
  • Headings
  • HTTPS certificate
  • Redirects
  • Hreflang attribute
  • Multimedia
  • Indexing
  • HTTP status сodes
  • AMP
  • Loading time
  • Content

Inna Yatsyna is a Brand and Community Development Specialist at Serpstat. She can be found on Twitter @erin_yat.

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