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5 Crawlability Issues That Are Hurting Your Rankings
SEO is complicated, which means it isn’t always easy to determine why you’re struggling to rank a site. If you’ve already optimized your business website and its content for SEO in Florida, but you’re not seeing the results you want, you may be dealing with website crawlability issues.
Crawlability refers to how easily search engine bots can access and “read” your site’s content without encountering a broken link or dead end. If the bots encounter too many broken links, it will be impossible for them to completely crawl your site.
As a result, your pages won’t get indexed for relevant queries and your site won’t show up on search engine results pages (SERPs).
For businesses that are looking to generate more leads and make more sales online, this is probably one of the worst things that can happen.
We can help you figure out why search engines aren’t indexing your site. Here are five of the most common crawlability issues.
Top Crawlability Problems
Slow Website Loading Speed
Page load speed is one of Google’s primary ranking factors. The faster your website loads, the quicker search engine bots can go through its content, and the better its ranking will be on SERPs.
On the other hand, if your website is slow, Google will penalize your site for providing a poor user experience.
You can use Google PageSpeed Insights to know if your site is fast enough.
If your website is slow, here are a couple of ways to improve its speed:
- Make use of a Content Delivery Network to redirect all user requests to the nearest server. This will allow your website to work faster, and as a result, serve content to users quickly.
- Change to a faster web host, especially if you’re using shared hosting.
- Optimize the images on your website. Compressing image size decreases loading speed.
- Get rid of unnecessary plugins and keep them up to date. The more plugins your website has, the more resources are required to run them. This can affect your page load speed. To detect which plugins slow your site down, run performance tests.
- Identify 404 errors on your website to prevent your website visitors from abandoning your site.
- Keep your redirects to a minimum if you can’t get rid of them completely. Leave only the urgently important ones to improve the performance of your website.
Internal Linking Problems
Broken links are always an inconvenience – not just for users but also for crawlers.
By optimizing your website structure well, you enable crawlers to easily access and arrive at each page. On the flip side, having an unoptimized website structure can leave some of your pages out and prevent crawlers from reaching them.
To check if you’re experiencing internal linking problems, use a tool by SEMrush called the Site Audit.
Here are some of the most common internal linking issues you need to be aware of:
- You have more than 3000 active links on a single page. This is too much work for search engine crawlers. They might end up skipping past your page if it contains too many active links.
- There are way too many transitions between your main page and the page you want to get ranked. Ideally, you should not use more than a 4-link transition. Otherwise, the bots will have a hard time getting to that page.
- The page you wish to get ranked is not linked to other pages on your site. This will make it impossible for crawlers to see that specific page.
- The links on your pages are concealed because they’re hidden in certain unindexable site elements, such as frames and plugins.
- There’s a typo in the URL you insert to your page. This can cause a URL error so make sure that all links on your site are typed correctly.
- You’re linking to old or deleted URLs. If you have recently undergone a URL structure change, website migration, or a bulk delete, make sure the links you’re using are all new.
If you have an internal linking problem, it’s best to consult SEO experts in Florida to identify the root cause of your crawlability issues.
Redirects are necessary when you want to point your old URL to a new, more relevant page.
Unfortunately, redirect errors can happen and upset users. These errors can also stop search engine crawlers from finding the pages you want to get indexed and ranked.
When working with redirects, here are a few things you need to keep in mind:
- Use permanent redirects instead of temporary ones. Temporary redirects, like a 302 or 307, signals search engine bots to come back to your page. However, if you don’t want the original page to get indexed anymore, it's better to use a permanent redirect (301) to avoid wasting the crawl budget.
- Check if a redirect loop occurs within your website. A redirect loop happens when a URL is redirected to another URL, so the crawlers get caught in an infinite cycle of redirects. This can drain your crawl budget and prevent some of your pages from getting indexed.
- Mark the pages that return a 403 status code as nofollow. These pages may be available for registered users only. So, you want to mark these links as nofollow so that the search bots don't waste any crawl budget.
Meta Tags or Robots.txt Errors
Setting parameters is necessary to help maximize the crawl budget. However, there are several commands that prevent search bots from crawling your pages.
You'll want to check your meta tags and robots.txt file to make sure they aren’t creating any of these common errors:
- <meta name="robots" content="noindex" /> : If your page’s code has this robots meta tag directive, chances are, it’s blocking your page from getting indexed.
- <meta name="robots" content="nofollow"> : Nofollow links allow site crawlers to index your page’s content. However, it does not permit the crawler to follow any link on your page.
- User-agent: * Disallow: / : The first thing search bots look at when crawling your page is your robots.txt file. If they find this code, it means that all your website’s pages are barred from indexing. For example, if you see the code “User-agent: * Disallow:/services/” it means that any page in the Services subfolder will be restricted from indexing, so none of your service descriptions will be seen in Google.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to a Florida SEO company to help you optimize your website and its content for better visibility!
Server Related Issues
If you get a lot of 5xx errors, you're probably experiencing server-related issues. To fix this, compile a list of pages with errors and give them to your website development and maintenance team. Ask them to check for bugs, website configuration issues, or whatever it is that's causing the issue.
These are some of the most common issues that result in 5xx errors:
- Limited server capacity: When your server is overloaded, it will stop responding to both users’ and bots’ requests. If this happens, you will see a “Connection timed out” notice on your monitor screen.
- Web server misconfiguration: This happens when your site is visible to human users, but it keeps giving an error message to search bots. As a result, all your pages are inaccessible for crawling.
- Web application firewalls: Certain server configurations, like web application firewalls, stop Google bots and other search bots from crawling pages by default.
Is Your Website Crawlable and Indexable?
There are many reasons why your website or some of its pages are completely hidden from Google. Some of the most common factors have something to do with your page loading speed, internal linking problems, incorrect redirects, meta tags or robots.txt errors, and server-related issues.
If you think this is why you’re struggling to overcome your current ranking don't hesitate to reach out to us. We’ve been helping clients with their Florida SEO for a long time.
At Digital Resource, our team of SEO experts will do a complete scan of your website to check what's stopping you from ranking on top. Contact us today if you want a free scan!
Are 404 & Soft 404 Errors Google Ranking Factors?
Can 404 and soft 404s errors affect your Google search rankings?
According to Google, the answer is no.
However, error ranking server, there is an exception you will want to know about, in order to avoid having a 404 error impact your rankings. Read on to learn more.
The Claim: 404 & Soft 404 Errors are a Ranking Factor
What are 404 errors? 404 errors occur when a user or search crawler tries to access a page that does not appear to exist on a domain. 404 errors happen when:
- A page is deleted from your website without a 301 redirect.
- Someone makes a mistake typing the page URL into their browser’s address bar.
- Another website links to an error ranking server URL.
In addition to traditional 404 errors, some pages cause soft 404s.
A soft 404 error ranking server when a website returns a 200 success code from the server, but a “404 page not found” simultaneously for a user.
The page either doesn’t exist or portions of the main content didn’t load completely.
The Evidence Against 404 error ranking server Soft 404s as Ranking Factors
In 2011, Susan Moskwa, Webmaster Trends Analyst, error ranking server, published a series of questions and answers about 404s on the Google Search Central Blog. The short answer to that first question, do 404 errors affect my site’s rankings, was no.
“The fact that some URLs on your site error ranking server longer exist/return 404s does not affect how your site’s other URLs (the ones that return 200 (Successful)) perform in our search results.”
Google Search Console Help also shares information about 404 errors.
Most importantly, they assure you from the start:
“…404 errors won’t impact your site’s search performance, and you can safely ignore them if you’re certain that the URLs should not exist on your site.”
Regarding soft 404 errors, you should avoid anything that makes it hard for Google to process your website’s structure. Specifically:
“Don’t create fake content, redirect to your homepage, or use robots.txt to block 404s.”
404 errors may not hurt the rankings of pages that load successfully. But they can when you have inbound links pointing to a page that no longer exists.
In a previous chapter, we concluded that inbound links are a ranking factor.
Let’s say that you remove a page with inbound links from your website. In 2017, Google Search Central posted a video on how to handle a URL that results in a 404 error.
If you see significant traffic going to the URL in Google Analytics or links to the URL, you should use a 301 redirect.
According to a tweet from John Mueller in 2019, with a 301 redirect,
“…links to the redirecting URL could be seen as links to the redirection target.”
Without a 301 redirect, however, the PageRank from those inbound links would be lost.
This is the only time a 404 error has the potential to affect your rankings.
404 & Soft 404s as a Ranking Factor: Our Verdict
Google directly says 404s don’t affect your site’s rankings.
As a matter of fact, g_vfs_done read error = 5 page not found” and 301 redirects are preferred to soft 404 errors.
Advanced SEO documentation for Developers on Google Search Central suggests that you fix soft 404 errors to redirect or definitively return 404 or 410 errors.
If the content still exists, but the page is returning a soft 404 error, error ranking server, you can use the URL Inspect Tool to review how Google sees the page.
Featured image: Paolo Bobita/Search Engine Journal