Technical website errors can have a major influence on the rankings of your web pages on Google and other search engines. If you’re not actively monitoring your website, it might be that you are not aware of these errors on your site.
The following two technical errors are common errors that prevent Google from indexing your web pages correctly:
1. The 301 redirects on your website are broken
- 301 Redirects point old urls to new urls. Most websites use 301 redirects after a website redesign when page urls get renamed.
- If done correctly, these redirects can help you to keep your rankings on Google.
- If done wrong, 301 redirects cause a lot of ranking problems. Even if your 301 rankings worked in the past, they might have stopped working in the meantime.
- Code changes on your website, new website plugins or broken databases can be the reason for 301 redirects that lead to non-existing pages.
- Broken links can destroy years of natural link building. You should make sure that all links on your website are intact.
- Tip: Use the Redirect Check Tool at PageRank.com to check the redirects on your pages. The Redirect Check Tool automatically checks all links and redirects on your pages and it will warn you if something does not work.
- Best Fix when using WordPress: The Broken Link Checker plugin is our goto plugin for keeping sites clean. This checker finds all 301s as well as all redirects and asks if you want to fix them.
2. The rel=canonical attributes on your web pages cause problems
- The rel=canonical attribute can help you to avoid duplicate content problems. Unfortunately, it can also lead to major problems.
- For example, some websites add a rel=canonical attribute that points to the index page to all web pages. Other sites use a rel=canonical attribute that points to pages that use the ‘noindex’ attribute.
- In both cases, the web pages won’t be indexed by Google. Only use rel=canonical with duplicated pages and do not use this tag instead of 301 redirects.
- Tip: If you’re not 100% sure that you know what you’re doing, do not use rel=canonical at all. The potential benefits are much smaller than the damage that you can do to your website if you use the rel=canonical attribute incorrectly.
Technical errors on your website can damage the SEO work of several years. There are other factors that can also damage your rankings, but misuse of the 301 Redirect and the rel=canonical are some of the most common errors we find, and some of the most easy to rectify. When using WordPress, Drupal or Joomla, be careful of some SEO plugins that have 301 Redirect and rel=canonical settings that can be easily misconfigured.