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Common SEO mistakes and how to fix them


Search engine optimization is a continuous process and not a one-off improvement measure. Only the interaction of many individual steps ensures long-term success. Even small mistakes can become grinding sand in the SEO gears.

Some SEO mistakes can lie hidden for years and significantly hurt your ranking, such as B. broken links (see below). That’s why you shouldn’t let it get that far and always be up to date with the latest trends and guidelines in terms of SEO, because these are constantly changing.

A big change is imminent with the introduction of Google’s Core Web Vitals as ranking signals. If this is new territory for you and you want to make sure your website is prepared for this change in May 2021, then take a look at the possibilities of our Web Vitals report.

Would you rather get active right away and work on the SEO success of your website? We’re here to help: Download our free e-book, and Increase Your Traffic with SEO in 30 Days, which we created in partnership with HubSpot. With that, we’ll guide you through a month-long program to transform your website into a powerful, efficient SEO machine.

To give you an introduction to the topic, we have compiled the 10 most common website errors that have a negative impact on the ranking in the search results and give you practical tips on how to fix them:

1.Long page load times

If you plan to improve just one thing about your website first, then you should take care of page speed. Especially for mobile devices, because on the one hand, 53% of mobile website visitors leave pages that take longer than 3 seconds to load and on the other hand, your focus should be on your mobile website anyway with regard to Google’s Mobile First Indexing.

The main reason for frustratingly long loading times? Huge image files without compression or mobile-friendly formats like JPEG 2000, JPEG XR and WebP! Reducing mobile load times is more important than ever, as the move to Google’s Core Web Vitals means your ranking drops sharply if important images take more than 2.5 seconds to load.

How can I improve my page speed?

First of all, you should know which pages should have priority. You can test pages individually with Google PageSpeed Insights or check your entire site at once with Ryte.

There are several methods to optimize load time, which are covered in this comprehensive guide.

2.The website is not or is poorly mobile-optimized

In 2021, optimizing websites for mobile devices is no longer an option, but a must! More than half of global traffic comes from mobile devices and with the introduction of page experience as a key ranking factor, Google is focusing on mobile performance this year.

But as our recent industry study found, mobile site performance is still lacking, even for market-leading e-commerce sites. Most users still experience long loading times, visual irregularities, poor response behaviour and annoying pop-ups. Is it because website operators still prefer desktops when testing? This should not happen on your website! If you’re not sure, start with a free Ryte mobile crawl to see how your site is doing.

3. Broken links & 404 pages

Every website also has a few skeletons in the closet, i.e. broken links to sites that no longer exist. Users may click on these links and receive a 404 error code (file not found). Your webmaster may not be aware that these links still exist.

But guess who recognizes each and every one of these broken redirects? The crawlers of Google and other search engines! And when search engines find too many 404 errors on your site, not only is crawling hampered but it’s also taken as a sign that your site isn’t being properly maintained – and your ranking will drop.

But don’t worry, you can easily find broken links in Ryte Search Engine Optimization in the “Status Codes” report.

4.Duplicate Content

Duplicate content arises when the same content is accessible under different URLs. Duplicate content is problematic because search engines have to make a decision if the content is the same and the URLs are different. As a result, your websites compete against each other for one or more search terms in the SERPs.

In the worst case, only one website will rank and the other “duplicates” will not be considered. To prevent this, you should definitely avoid duplicate content.

How can duplicate content arises?

  1. Your site can be accessed with or without www.

In this case, the server outputs the same content when calling up http://www.yoursite.de as when calling up http://yoursite.de. Many content management systems make no distinction when creating the page.

The solution: 301 redirect

To avoid duplicate content from two URL versions, you should set up a permanent redirect to the desired version. This is the so-called 301 redirect. When a client, such as a browser, retrieves a URL, the server automatically redirects to the new URL. Since the forwarding is so fast, the user usually hardly notices it.

You can enter a redirect in the .htaccess file of your Apache server. The rule consists of three parts. In the first part, the corresponding module for rewriting is started. The next part specifies which directories should be redirected. Finally, the exact rewriting rule is defined.

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^deineseite.de$
RewriteRule ^(.*) http:// www.deine.de /$1 [L,R=301]

  1. A product from your online shop can be called up under different URLs.

Duplicate content can very quickly arise in webshops if you use different categories in which the product is listed.

An example: You have an online shop for trousers. There are the “Men’s trousers” category with the URL www.deinshop.de/herrenhosen and the “Trousers” category at www.deinshop.de/hosen. Now you offer men’s jeans. The product is available both at www.deinshop.de/herrenhosen/schicke-jeans and at www.deinshop.de/hosen/schicke-jeans. This a classic case of duplicate content.

One solution: Canonical tag

The canonical tag is a meta element in the area of a website, with which you can point search engines to the original URL. Search engines then usually only index this “canonical URL” and ignore the copy.

If you now want to avoid a page with duplicate content being indexed, add the tag to it and enter the link to the original URL.

In our example above, let’s assume that you want to specify the jeans as the original URL for men’s trousers. In this case, you add this tag to the deinshop.de/hosen/schicke-jeans page:

What is Near Duplicate Content?

In connection with duplicate content, the term “near duplicate content” is often used. This is also identical content. However, these are achieved via the same content blocks or texts that are too similar. You can usually avoid near duplicate content if you optimize existing content and make it unique.

Nearly duplicate content can also be caused by your CMS automatically generating URLs for filters, for example. In this case, it makes sense to tag the relevant pages with the tag

in the area. This prevents these pages from being indexed and avoids near duplicate content. At the same time, you enable the Googlebot to continue to follow all links on the page in question.

5. Title tags are not optimized

The title is probably the easiest to optimize, ranking-relevant on-page element of a website. It is therefore also referred to as a so-called “low-hanging fruit ”. It is therefore all the more careless if this is not maintained or set arbitrarily.

At the same time, the page title is one of the first elements of your website that a Google user sees. The page title is also used by search engines as the clickable title of the search snippet. It leads users directly to your website with one click.

How do I optimize my title tags?

  • Use a maximum of 70 characters in the title. Otherwise, it will be shortened by Google in the snippet.
  • Briefly describe what the user can expect from visiting your site.
  • Include the main keyword of the website in the title.
  • Create each title individually and use it only once.

Note: If you run an online shop with many subpages, the title is usually generated automatically. It is therefore usually advisable for online shop operators to use the product name as the title. But make sure that the title is not too long. Use any technical possibilities of your shop system, with which the title can be shortened to an acceptable level. For example, in some shop systems you can store schemes according to which a title is meaningfully created, for example:

{buy [product name]}

How can I identify missing or too-short titles?

With Ryte you can also check your titles. Click on the menu item “Content” and then on Title. You can then choose whether you want the report to show the length of the title or the double title.

6.Missing or unoptimized meta descriptions

In addition to the title, meta descriptions are also part of the basic on-page factors that you should definitely optimize. Descriptions fulfil some important functions in the SERPs. Among other things, they are part of the search snippet together with the title and ensure that the user’s interest in visiting your website is aroused.

If no meta description is stored or the existing description is available twice or more than once, Google selects phrases or other text elements from your site to create a description from them. It is therefore up to you how your website is perceived by users via the snippet.

Don’t know the status of your meta descriptions? Use Ryte to check if meta descriptions are missing or duplicated.

Why should I optimize my meta descriptions?

With the help of an appealing description, you can increase the click rate within the SERPs and thus generate more traffic for your website. In addition, you actively control the brand image of your website and stand out from your competitors with a meaningful description.

How can I optimize my descriptions?

  • Use a so-called “ call-to-action” in your description. It encourages the user to click.
  • Adhere to the limit of 175 characters including spaces so that your description can be displayed in full. The number of characters is only approximate since Google ultimately uses the pixel size of the description. It is best to keep between 170 and 175 characters.
  • Use the landing page’s central keyword in the description text. It is additionally bold in the snippet if it was entered by the user in the search bar.
  • Summarize the content of the landing page briefly and concisely.
  • The Google Search Console and Ryte can help you analyze meta descriptions.

Note: Rich snippets represent an extended form of snippets that can also contain other elements such as rating stars, links, images, price information and other types of information. These represent additional information for the searcher. The information can be stored in the source code using specific formatting and is prominently displayed in the search results. This allows visitors to determine more quickly whether the search result is relevant to their search. With the help of rich snippets, the click-through rate of a snippet can be increased.

You can find a detailed guide on how to use rich snippets here in Ryte Magazine.

7. Broken internal linking

The internal linking of your website contributes significantly to how well users can find their way around. At the same time, it supports the Googlebot in crawling and in determining the thematic relevance of subpages.

Common mistakes in internal linking are:

  • different link texts for a link target
  • Links to targets that no longer exist
  • too many internal links

How can I fix errors in my internal linking?

Always use the central keyword as anchor text for each subpage. In this way you can strengthen the thematic relevance of the subpage. In contrast to incoming backlinks, internal links should definitely be provided with the important keyword.

Check regularly via the Google Search Console in the “Crawling errors” area whether there are problems with the output of error pages with the code 404. You can of course also check this in your Ryte account.

Make sure that you only link once from one page to another subpage. Because with internal linking, the link juice is divided among all existing links. The fewer internal links you use, the more link power is transferred to the subpages.

You can find even more insights on this topic here in Ryte Magazine.

8.No Sitemap.xml stored

A sitemap.xml is a file that lists all the URLs on your website in machine-readable form. It is therefore a kind of complete table of contents. This file can be uploaded to Google Search Console or BING Webmaster Tools and supports search engine crawling. With a Sitemap.xml you can ensure that crawlers are informed about new or changed URLs in your domain.

The transmission of the XML sitemap does not guarantee that the URLs in it will actually be indexed. However, the chance increases that the Googlebot will also visit weakly linked subpages based on the file and add them to the index.
A sitemap.xml can usually be created with conventional content management systems and shop systems.

The structure of the file is always similar and can look like this:

http://www .meineseite.de.de/unterseite.html

How do I store my Sitemap.xml in the GSC?

  • Save the file in the root directory of your domain, for example like this: www.deineseite.de/sitemap.xml
  • Sign in to Google Search Console.
  • Click on “Sitemaps” under “Index”.
  • Now click the red Add/Test Sitemap button, paste the directory path where the file is saved, and then click Submit.
  • Google will now check your sitemap and show you possible errors.

9. Unoptimized images

Images fulfil many functions on your website. They enrich your content and can increase the chance of purchases in shops. At the same time, images increase the relevance of the topic and the user experience of your site. The positive consequences are longer retention times and lower bounce rates. These user signals can in turn have a positive effect on your rankings. However, there are various pitfalls that lead to common SEO mistakes involving images.

  • Missing ALT tags prevent accessibility and recognition of image content by search engines.
  • Images that are too large increase the loading time unnecessarily.
  • Images that are not optimized prevent your graphics from ranking well in image searches and increase the topic relevance of your site.

If you want to delve even deeper into the topic of image optimization, you can find our guide to image SEO here.

How do I optimize my images for SEO?

  • Compress images you use for your website. Use common image editing programs that enable lossless compression.
  • Use ALT texts. They are displayed when a browser cannot display images or has display problems. Search engines cannot (yet) read images without additional text. With the ALT text you provide important information for the image content. Describe the image with the ALT attribute as briefly as possible and, if possible, include the central keyword of the website.
  • Use meaningful file names: Give your image files descriptive names that best contain a relevant search term.

10. Using too many h1 tags

To increase your website’s keyword focus, each URL should only have one h1 tag. The h tags are HTML tags that are used to mark up headings. They are used chronologically on a page in descending order of importance. The h1 tag thus encloses the most important and central heading of a website.

In the source code, an h1 heading looks like this:

Main heading of the page

Most content management systems or online shops set the h tags automatically. Sometimes graphic designers also use h-tags to define font sizes. But for your SEO purposes, h1 tags that are used twice or more than once are disadvantageous. Because then it becomes unclear for search engines like Google what the focus of the target page is.

What should I pay attention to in the heading structure?

  • Only use the h1 tag once on each page.
  • Include the central keyword in the main headline.
  • Don’t use hashtags to define font sizes, use CSS instead.

Here’s how you can identify duplicate h1 tags:

Ryte shows you the “H1 Duplicates” report under  Search Engine Optimization, which provides you with all pages with duplicate h1 tags.


SEO is certainly a whole lot of work to keep in mind when optimizing your website. And SEO can be overwhelming work. Where do you even start? Don’t worry, we’ll help you!

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