seo issues

19 Common SEO Issues (And How to Fix Them)

Even if you’re a total beginner at SEO, you know the goal of SEO is to get more people to see your website.

More visitors means:

  • More exposure
  • More leads
  • More sales

But what if you spend all that time and effort on optimizing your website, but the traffic doesn’t start pouring in as you’d hoped?

The chances are high that you’re experiencing some SEO issues that keep your website from reaching its full potential.

This article will discuss 19 common SEO problems that plague almost everyone at one point or another. We’re also going to give you actionable steps to fix the issues and get that traffic boost you’ve been looking for!

In this article we’ll cover:

Types of SEO Issues

The first thing we need to settle is what exactly we’re talking about when we say “SEO issues.”

There isn’t just 1 area of SEO where all the problems occur. Unfortunately, it’s a little more complicated than that.

SEO is a broad field involving moving parts from all across your websites (and maybe even on other websites). So before we jump into our list of SEO issues, let’s define 4 common areas where most people experience the biggest SEO problems. 

Technical SEO Issues

Some of the most common SEO problems are technical. But what exactly is a technical SEO issue?

Technical SEO issues occur when there is something wrong with the way your website is set up.

In other words, technical SEO problems have to do with your website’s code, organization, or structure. We’ll look at 5 of the most common technical SEO problems that you’re likely to experience.

Fortunately, these issues are typically easy to fix. With a little bit of technical know-how (or with a programmer’s help), you should be able to get past technical issues in no time.

Keyword Problems

When people think of SEO, one of the first things they think of is keywords.

Keywords form the backbone of any SEO strategy. If you can target and rank for keywords that people are using in their searches, you’ll see a traffic increase.

However, keyword-related SEO problems can occur when your keyword strategy isn’t designed well.

  • Your keyword strategy might not be specific enough.
  • You might be competing with yourself for specific keywords (keyword cannibalization).
  • You aren’t targeting the right keywords for current trends.

We’ll talk about all these issues and more in the keyword section of this article.

Fixing keyword problems can take a lot of time and effort because your competitors will be targeting the same keywords. However, it’s imperative to prioritize keyword success to see significant traffic increases.

With the right tools and some patience, you can rank high on the SERP.

Tracking Issues

What if you target 10 excellent keywords, write 1 article for each of those keywords, then never look at them again? Will you start getting a ton of traffic?

Unfortunately, you probably won’t see much of an increase in your traffic.

It takes time and consistent effort to improve your rankings for different keywords. That effort typically comes in the form of tracking your keywords.

However, there is another set of issues that people experience when tracking keywords. Many people prioritize other issues over tracking keywords, which ultimately hurts their ranks significantly.

We’ll talk about why you should prioritize tracking and how you can make the most of tracking software to improve your SEO success.

UX Issues

Lastly, many SEO hopefuls struggle with UX-related SEO issues like:

  • Failing to provide valuable content
  • Not answering search intent
  • Poorly formatted content

You might be thinking, “What’s the big deal? What’s important is getting people on my page.”

The entire point of SEO is providing VALUE to searchers, so Google prioritizes content that offers more value.

Don’t believe me? Just take a look at Google’s mission statement:

Google’s stated reason for existence is to provide USEFUL content, so making the UX of your website as convenient and user-facing as possible is the key to ranking higher than your competitor’s on Google’s SERPs.

Top 5 Technical SEO Problems

Let’s start by looking at some of the most common technical SEO problems.

As your website grows and develops, you will continue to run into technical SEO problems, so you may have to fix some of these issues multiple times.

For example, you might write a new blog article that doesn’t get added to the sitemap. 

Or you might delete a blog post after a couple of years, which means some of your internal and external links will break, which damages your SEO.

Both of these problems could present themselves multiple times, so make sure that you do regular site audits to keep these problems to a minimum.

Some of these problems you’ll be able to fix yourself quickly. However, you may need the help of a more experienced programmer or web designer for other technical issues.

Let’s look at 5 common technical SEO problems and how to fix them!

1. Duplicate Content

If the content on your website is a duplicate of content found elsewhere on the web (or even elsewhere on your website), it could be damaging your SEO ranks.

How likely is it that you could have duplicate content?

About 25-30% of the internet is duplicate content, so it’s pretty likely.

Duplicate content might occur if you accidentally create 2 versions of the same page on your website. One common way for this to occur is by having the same page with “https://” before it and another version with just “http://” before it. 

Some web hosts automatically generate both secured and non-secured versions of your page. You will have duplicate content if you forget only to allow the secured version.

To resolve this issue, look through all your pages on your hosting service to ensure that there aren’t any duplicates. If you have a sitemap (which you should), look through it for repeated URLs and disable one of them.

2. Spam Backlink

Hopefully, you’re focused on getting and monitoring high-quality backlinks to your site. High-quality backlinks not only give visitors another place to find your website, but they also give you an SEO boost as well.

However, you can also get bad backlinks that hurt your website. These backlinks come from spammy, disreputable websites.

There are 2 steps you need to take when you notice that you have spammy backlinks to your site:

  1. Try to get the backlink removed.
  2. Disavow the backlink.

First, Google requires you to get in touch with the webmaster of the spammy website to ask them to remove the backlink. If you can’t find contact information for them (which is likely), use a tool like Whois.com to look it up.

Then, submit a disavow request on Google Search Console. Google will take your request into consideration. Then they will ignore the spam backlink for future SEO considerations.

3. Speed Issues

Slow page speed is both a UX issue and a technical issue, but we’ll go ahead and discuss it here.

If your page is incredibly slow, it can be frustrating to use. When your page is frustrating to use, people don’t want to use it, so it’s less VALUABLE.

Less value = worse SEO rank

During your site audits, make sure that you check page speed with a tool like Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

If your page speed is slow, users are more likely to click off your page without interacting with your content.

To fix this issue, follow PageSpeed Insights’ suggestions on how to increase your page speed. You can typically increase page speed by optimizing code, images, and videos.

4. Google Penalties

If your site doesn’t comply with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, you might get a Google penalty.

Google penalties mean that Google will manually reduce your website’s SEO ranks until you can prove that you’ve fixed whatever issue wasn’t in compliance with the Webmaster Guidelines.

Remember: SEO is all about providing value. Penalties are put in place to ensure that people don’t take advantage of spammy SEO practices to rank higher.

To get rid of Google penalties, identify the issue by going to your Search Console dashboard. Follow the steps it gives you, then submit a review request through Search Console. 

To find Google Penalties against your website, click on “Security and Manual Actions” in the Search Console toolbar.

If the reviewer finds that you’ve corrected the error, Google will remove the penalty, and your SEO will return to normal.

5. Missing Sitemap

The last technical issue that we’ll cover is a missing sitemap.

Services like Squarespace and Wix will automatically generate a sitemap as you create your site. However, you might not have a sitemap if you made your website, hired someone to create one for you, or used WordPress.

A missing sitemap confuses Google’s crawlers, which hurts their ability to rank your site correctly.

To fix this issue, make sure that you upload a sitemap in Search Console so Google can more effectively crawl your site.

If you don’t have a sitemap, you can automatically generate a sitemap using the Yoast SEO plugin or hire a developer to create one for you.

Top 5 Keyword-Related SEO Problems

Now that you’re well on your way to fixing the technical SEO problems on your website let’s talk about how to fix the SEO challenges you’re facing with your keywords.

Many people struggle to get the most out of their keyword strategies because they aren’t sure what’s wrong in the first place.

This section will focus on 5 common SEO issues that people experience with their keywords, and we’ll show you exactly how to fix them.

1. Imprecise Keywords

The most common keyword-related SEO issue by far is the use of imprecise keywords. Unfortunately, there may be nothing that is hurting your SEO ranks more than the use of imprecise keywords.

For example, let’s say that you’re in the business of selling white-label SEO services. If you’re targeting keywords like “SEO,” “SEO business,” and “SEO seller,” STOP!

These imprecise keywords get so much traffic each month that it’s almost impossible to rank for them. In addition, people searching for such imprecise terms typically aren’t ready to buy anything yet.

Instead, focus on precise, long-tail keywords that bring in targeted traffic. You can use a tool like ProRankTracker’s Keyword Suggestions tool to find super precise keywords.

If you’re targeting imprecise keywords, move this to the top of your to-do list NOW!

2. Keyword Cannibalization

Do you have multiple pages on your site that are competing for the same keywords? 

If so, you’re probably suffering from keyword cannibalization.

If that sounds ugly, it’s because it is.

Keyword cannibalization is when you’re shooting yourself in the foot by competing with yourself instead of with your competitors!

Luckily, this is a simple fix.

  1. Go through the keywords you’re targeting.
  2. Ensure that you’re targeting a few specific keywords instead of targeting all keywords on every page.

For example, you might have a page targeting “how to buy SEO services” and another one targeting “why to hire an SEO reseller.” These 2 pages won’t compete with one another on the SERP, so you aren’t cannibalizing yourself!

3. Unoptimized Meta Titles and Descriptions

One of the most neglected aspects of SEO is meta titles/descriptions. 

The meta title is the big title that appears in blue letters for every search result on Google. The meta description is the small black text below the meta title that describes what’s on the page.

If you want to provide value to searchers (which will help you rank higher), you need to have precise, actionable meta descriptions.

In addition, they need to be short and sweet. After I read your meta title and description, I should know:

  • What your page is about
  • Why I should click on your page
  • What benefit I’ll receive if I click on your page

If you don’t tell me all of those details, I’m not clicking!

Make sure that you go through all of your meta titles and descriptions and format them to target your most valuable keywords and to be precise and actionable.

4. Sudden Traffic Drops

Have you ever experienced a sudden drop in your web traffic, and you weren’t sure why?

Typically, this type of traffic drop comes from a keyword problem.

Keywords aren’t a “set it and forget it” aspect of SEO. They’re constantly changing, and you have to be changing with them. 

Sometimes, these changes in the keyword landscape can drastically affect the amount of traffic that you see.

So, how do you fix it?

First, make sure that you’re doing everything you can to monitor changes in your niche:

  • Follow influencers in your niche.
  • Keep up with industry news to catch wind of changing trends.

Adapt your keyword strategy as trends change, and you should see much more stable results.

5. Competitor Keyword Attack

You and your competitors are most likely targeting some of the same keywords. 

Sometimes, you will experience a drop in traffic when a competitor starts trying to steal a valuable keyword away from you.

There’s no way to stop a competitor attack (we tried asking nicely–it didn’t work), but you can respond with attacks of your own.

Keep an eye on the keywords that your competitors are targeting. If they’re targeting one that you want, don’t be afraid to go after it.

Competitor tracking is an integral part of your SEO strategy, and we’ll talk more about it later in this article.

Top 5 Tracking-Related SEO Issues

We mentioned earlier that keywords and SEO aren’t the type of thing that you can just do once, then forget about. You have to constantly stay on top of changing keywords to beat your competitors and secure your traffic.

That’s where tracking comes into play. Unfortunately, however, many people neglect to track, and it becomes an SEO disease for them–slowly draining their websites of life.

In this section, we’ll cover the biggest SEO problems that people face when tracking their ranks.

1. Untracked Keywords

Almost everyone is already ranking for keywords that they don’t know about yet. The consequences of untracked keywords can be disastrous.

For example, let’s say that you’re ranking in the top 5 for the keyword “why to buy SEO services,” but you don’t know it. Since you’re not tracking that keyword, your competitor could steal it right from under your nose without you ever knowing.

To fix this, use ProRankTracker’s Rankings Discovery tool to discover keywords for which you’re already ranking.

You can easily add new keywords to your list of tracked terms from this tool, making sure you stay one step ahead of your competitors.

2. Imprecise Local Tracking

Did you know that the internet is the primary source of information about local businesses for 97% of searchers?

In other words, local SEO is critical, because it is your most important source of local traffic.

But what if you aren’t keeping up with your local SEO properly? This can happen in multiple ways:

  • Ignoring all local SEO tracking
  • Tracking for an approximate location (by country instead of by city, etc.)
  • Not tracking on Google Maps, Local Finder, and Snack Pack

If you track with precise location data, you can ensure that your SEO strategy is finely tuned for local searchers to discover you.

To fix this issue, make sure that you’re using specific location data on all the URLs and keywords that you track. You can use ProRankTracker’s Add Wizard to add location data to any tracked URL or keyword easily.

3. Lack of Competitor Tracking

Your competitors are tracking your keyword strategies. Are you tracking theirs?

If not, now is the time to start.

As a rule of thumb, you should be tracking everything for your competitors that you’re tracking for your own business.

However, most businesses fail to do enough competitor tracking.

To fix this issue, use ProRankTracker’s tracking tools to track the same keyword for your own business and your competitors. Then you’ll be able easily to compare your performance for a specific keyword to theirs.

If you know your competitors’ strategies as well as you know your own, you’ll be better able to outrank them on their keywords.

4. Ignoring Long-Term Ranking Trends

Ranks can sometimes change very slowly. Many people don’t even realize when one of their ranks is trending up or down because they aren’t tracking long-term trends.

This can wreak havoc on your SEO strategies.

For example, let’s say that one of your pages has been on an upward trend for the last 6 months. However, you haven’t noticed because its progress has been slow, so you decide to stop trying to rank for that keyword and move on.

In reality, you could have made the top 5 for that keyword if you had been tracking the long-term trends of your keywords.

To fix this SEO issue, just make sure that you keep up with daily, weekly, and monthly changes for all your keywords. ProRankTracker makes this incredibly simple by giving you quick access to graphs of long-term changes in the Daily View tool.

5. Failure to Track Keywords

The last tracking-related SEO problem that we see frequently is a total failure to track keywords. 

People write a blog post for a random keyword, then hope that their website makes it to the front page of Google. But, unfortunately, that’s not how it works.

You have to be tracking your keywords to know how to adjust your strategy. Tracking answers your most important questions:

  • What’s working?
  • What isn’t working?
  • What do I need to change?
  • Have my ranks changed recently?

On the other hand, this is one of the most manageable SEO problems to fix. Just head over to ProRankTracker’s free trial and start tracking your keywords right away. 

Make sure that you also experiment with the keyword discovery tools to start targeting better, more precise keywords as well. 

Top 4 UX-Related SEO Issues

Ultimately, SEO is all about providing the best user experience possible to the searcher on Google.

Put simply–you won’t rank if you don’t provide a high level of value to the user.

In this section, we’re going to cover the most common SEO issues related to UX, and we’re going to give you tips on how to increase the value that you’re offering visitors.

1. Not Answering Search Intent

Almost nothing is more frustrating than clicking on a search result only to find out that it doesn’t answer your question.

Unfortunately, many websites target keywords unrelated to their topics because they think it will help them pull in additional traffic (even if the traffic is looking for something else).

However, this type of practice will only hurt your website in the long run. One of the most significant factors in Google’s assessment of your website’s quality and usefulness is whether it answers search intent.

In other words, if someone searches, clicks on your page, and reads it, will their question be answered? 

If yes, you’re answering search intent.

If not, you need to redesign your content to make sure that you’re answering search intent.

2. Fluff Content

It’s possible to answer search intent without providing real depth. 

That’s what we call “fluff content.” It TECHNICALLY answers the question, but it surrounds a short, simple answer in a blog post the size of Moby Dick.

Searchers don’t like to read. Most people only read any given search result for about 15 seconds.

In other words, your goal needs to be to provide as much value in as few words as possible. Condensed content is more valuable than fluff content, so Google ranks it higher on the SERP.

To fix this issue, go back through all your blog posts and website copy. Ask yourself, “Could this be shorter and still provide the same amount of value?”

If the answer is “yes,” work through the content and condense it until it is laser-focused on answering the searcher’s question.

3. Lack of Value

A post that lacks value is ultimately useless to a searcher, so Google doesn’t want it to rank highly. Google’s focus on value means that you need to ensure that everything you put on your website offers tremendous value!

What does it mean to lack value?

  • The content is not helpful.
  • Articles aren’t focused on helpful information.
  • Lack of visual aids or other helpful visual content.
  • The article may attempt to answer the search intent but doesn’t provide any real insight.

To fix this SEO problem, I recommend asking yourself one simple question before posting anything on your website:

“Would I benefit from reading this article if I were in the searcher’s shoes?”

Go back through all your old content and ensure that every word is helpful and valuable. If your website consistently provides more value than your competitors’, you will begin to rank higher than them as well.

4. Non-Scannable Content

Remember how we said that internet users don’t like to read?

Why not use that fact to your advantage?

You make it more likely that people will find value in your content when you make it easy to skim. Skimming means that readers will be able to hit the highlights of your content without spending much time reading.

If your content is in huge blocks of text, it is difficult to scan because there isn’t anything to catch the reader’s eye.

Instead of just using text and the occasional picture, try other formatting techniques to improve your content’s scannability:

  • Bullet points and ordered lists
  • Headers and subheaders wherever applicable
  • Infographics
  • A clear progression of ideas
  • Table of contents

For example, look at the organization of the article below. Skimming through the significant points is easy because my eye is easily drawn to the headers and bullet points. In addition, the blue text makes it even more scannable.

Here’s a question you can ask yourself to determine if your content is scannable:

“Could I understand the main points of this article in 30 seconds or less?”

Make sure to reformat old articles to improve scannability. Scannable content is more valuable to readers, which makes it more likely to rank high on the SERP.

Remember these 4 questions to improve your UX:

  • Am I answering the searcher’s question?
  • Does my content provide the answer in the shortest post possible?
  • Would I benefit from the material I’m posting?
  • Could I understand the main points of the article in 30 seconds or less?

If your answer to all 4 questions is “YES!” the UX likely isn’t getting interfering with your SEO.

Conclusion

These 19 common SEO issues aren’t the only problems you’re likely to face, but they are some of the most significant and most common SEO issues.

By following the tips laid out in this article, you should be able to jump over these hurdles and consistently improve your SEO and your ranks.

Remember, SEO isn’t something that you do once and then forget–you have to work on it continually to make sure you’re not sliding backward!

Finally, remember that your top priority in SEO should always be to put value above everything else. If searchers find value in what you’re creating, your ranks will improve!

Good luck!