Picture this, you have spent a sizable sum to create a website for your business. It is filled with great content that is both educational and exciting. You should be all set right? Well, not quite; in order for your website to achieve its potential, it must first be seen by your audience.
Technical Website Visibility
Search engines are complex algorithm programs that determine the ranking of websites to be shown for a given search term. A number of different factors are involved in determining your website’s rankings. This ranges from its speed to mobile responsiveness, from crawling to the onsite structure.
While website issues have a direct impact of search engine rankings, they too will affect other channels to your website. For example, if you run paid ads campaigns on websites or social media, having a poor website would inflate your campaign cost.
In this article, we will be focusing more so on the web development side of things. However, it should be noted that you do not require a programming background to understand this article. Moreover, it would be most effective for you to treat the article as a checklist of sorts.
Here are 4 onsite issues (and 3 bonus related issues) that could be hampering your website:
Website Onsite Issues
A website’s “onsite issues” is an umbrella term for a number of structural and technical issues.
1. Broken Links
The most common issue that we have seen in websites is the “404” or broken link code. Be it through a careless mistake or a side effect of your website changing, 404s do pop up on all websites at some point.
Commonly, if you take down a webpage or change its URL, then any previously laid link to it becomes broken. It is also possible that a 404 arises when any errors on a webpage causes it to go down.
A 404 is a huge issue on your website as it kills user journeys. When users click on such links, they reach your 404 page and thus receive a poor web experience. As a result, search engines and related marketing platforms do penalise your website for 404s.
To address an existing 404, you should perform the following 2 steps:
- Change your hyperlinks to the correct URL
- Perform a 301 redirection within your CPanel’s HTACCESS file
These two steps will help to close the gap created by 404s.
2. Circular & Excessive Redirects
We brought up 301 redirections in the previous section, being critical tools to rectify 404s. However, you must always be careful with using 301s. When multiple 301s are used, accidentally or on purpose, a poor user experience is created. Imagine if you tried to load a webpage and were repeatedly redirected. Not only would it take more time, but it would look fishy as well.
An alternative to redirections, are canonical links. Canonical links serve the purpose of informing Google of the main page to rank a search term for when you have duplicate content. Particularly useful on E-commerce websites where there are variations of a product. This type of link prevents confusion for crawlers when going through a product’s pages.
Caution should be exercised when using canonical links repeatedly. Should you make the mistake of making a circular reference:
E.g. page A linked to page B, page B linked to page C, before Page C is linked back to page A
Then crawlers get confused and thus will index your web pages unfavourably.
3. Repeated URL & Meta Descriptions
At times, website owners make the mistake of creating two pages with identical URLs. When this happens, your website’s CMS would automatically modify the URL. For example, “2” may be added to the end of the URL. When this occurs, an inferior user experience is created.
While your website’s navigation would be able to function as per normal, it is sub-optimal for search engines. Since your URL constitutes a significant part of search engine visibility, having near identical URLs would confuse crawlers.
Should you encounter the issue of a repeat URL, the following two steps can be taken to rectify:
- Change the URL in accordance with your keyword distribution plan
- Create a 301 redirect on your old URL to the new URL
Another mistake that website owners easily make is that of duplicate meta titles or descriptions. When not personally controlled, your pages could end up with identical meta data. This would be akin to being presented with two reports that have different content but identical cover pages. Other than the likely lack of relevancy for one of the pages, this would also create unnecessary confusion.
4. Orphaned Pages
Following up on our analogy using physical reports, picture having missing pages from your report. These pages in web design terms would be orphaned pages. They technically exist on your website and can be crawled by search crawlers. However, there are no links or user journey paths from other parts of the website to it. This means that unless users enter from this page, they would have no means of reaching it.
To help prevent orphaned pages from occurring, we recommend mapping out all user journeys and menus. This would help you visualise all pages on your website and to ensure a user path exists to it.
Bonus Content: Related Issues
We have included 3 other bonus issues that are directly related to onsite issues on your website.
All search engines rely on bot crawlers to index your website. Unknown to you, there may be backend settings in your website that is blocking these crawlers. For starters, you can use Google Search Console’s robots.txt tester to determine if all your website’s pages can be crawled. Google Search Console also allows you to see if your pages have been indexed and when.
If your pages are ineligible to be crawled, then you would need to check your website’s backend. In particular, look out for any plugins that control robot crawling. Alternatively, within your website files, if you have a robots.txt file, you should check it for any disallow commands.
Speed is absolutely critical on your website, being a huge component of your website’s search engine visibility. Not only is speed important for user experience, but it can make or break your website’s success. This is especially so for mobile users who have limited bandwidth.
As a rule of thumb, if your web page takes more than 3 seconds to load, then there is room for improvement. There are a range of measures that can be taken to improve your web page’s speed which warrant an article of their own. Nonetheless, here are some measures that you can explore:
- Compressing images
- Using caching
- Implementing lazy loading
- Upgrading your website’s hosting plan
A free to use tool for gauging your website’s performance in terms of speed is Google’s page insights.
Mobile responsiveness should be a given in current times. Since Google has switched to mobile first indexing, if your website is not mobile responsive, then it will not rank well. Typical mobile responsiveness issues include:
- Content being too closed to each other
- Content being wider than the width of the screen
- Improper sequencing of the content
Beyond testing on multiple screen resolutions, you can also use Google’s Lighthouse app to get insight.
Fixing Your Website’s Development Issues
If you have been unable to rectify the issues we mentioned in this article on your website, then consider hiring website design Singapore services. Many times, these issues do not exist in isolation and thus require an in depth understanding to solve. By having professional expertise, you would be getting your website to its optimal functioning level within a short period of time. This would allow you to capture valuable attention online.
Choose Mediaplus Digital as your Web Design Partner
Mediaplus Digital is a Web design Singapore agency with more than 10 years’ experience.
Our web development team provides mobile responsive websites that are both intuitive and attractive to users. As a premier web design agency, we pride ourselves on providing sound advice to clients and effective project management.