Arin Adamson
By Arin Adamson | SEO, Web Dev | March 4, 2015

How to Solve SEO Errors from a Website Crawl: Part 1

Most website owners want to achieve the maximum amount of organic traffic. “Organic” traffic is simply the traffic that you receive from unpaid links on a search engine (as opposed to “paid” traffic). Whether you receive large quantities of organic traffic depends your website’s search authority – this can be improved via search engine optimization (SEO). One element of SEO best practices is the use of an SEO crawler to search a website for SEO errors. Some website crawlers include Screaming Frog, MOZ and Raven Tools. Each of these crawlers give you an organized list of issues to resolve that will help optimize your website for search engines. If you are a beginner to optimizing your website for search engines, I’d recommend reading Ralf’s article about resources for beginning seo pratices before continuing here.

Each website’s issues, and methods to resolve SEO errors, will be different – these depend on how the website is set-up and how it functions. Before trying to resolve any SEO errors, make sure you understand what you are doing! Some of these SEO errors require strong knowledge of how your website functions and how to make edits to the website’s files. Let’s take a look at some of the more common SEO errors and how to resolve them:

Meta Titles & Meta Descriptions Too Long

Unprofessional Search Result

If a page has a meta title over 512px or a meta description over 156 characters, the search result will look similar to the above search result. Your meta data in the search result will be cut off. When you stay under the Google meta data character and pixel restrictions, your search result looks like the version below. It is much more professional and clean-looking than the above search result.

Professional Search Result

Your typical content management system (CMS) will include some capability to adjust the meta title and meta description. The most-used content management system, WordPress, has a community provided plug-in known as WordPress SEO by Yoast. This plug-in enables vast amounts of options for SEO for WordPress, but in particular it allows you have full control over your meta titles and meta descriptions.

If you do not have a CMS system that automates the process of meta titles and meta descriptions, you must go through all of the website’s files and edit them. Each meta title will be encapsulated by <title></title> tags, while the description is located within the <meta name=”description content=”” /> tag.

Missing Image Alt Tags

Search engines crawl all of the content within a website, meaning that images are crawled as well. Each image crawled can be used in the image search of a search engine (unless you specific otherwise). Search engines use the alt attribute’s value to determine the keyword to use for the picture. This means that, if you are missing an alt attribute value,  you are decreasing your SEO. Even though image search (Google Image, for example) is not even close to the primary resource for acquiring traffic, every little bit helps when it comes to SEO.

If you are using a content management system, you can typically add an alt value in the admin control panel. In WordPress, you simply just have to click the image and click the edit icon to add “alternative text”. However, it can get complicated when images are not accessible through the content management control panel, but instead embedded into the code of the template. If this is the case, which it often is, you will need to edit the template files and manually add alt attribute values to the images.

If you are inserting the alt attribute values manually, the code looks something like this: <img src=”image.jpg” alt=”This is your alt text” />. Developers who opt to not use a content management system will need to include the alt value manually to get the maximized search engine optimization for a website.

404 Response Codes

404 response codes are often caused by broken links, missing images or missing website assets. Broken links can be resolved by directing the link to a working URL or removing the anchoring of the text all together. To resolve the missing images and website assets, either the source path of the asset needs to be corrected or the missing asset needs to be replaced. Correcting the source path is a matter of directing the src attribute value to the image or assets correct URL. However replacing a missing asset can be complicated, especially if you do not know what was there in the first place. If you have tried everything to find and replace the missing asset, just remove it from the website and disallow the src path in the robots.txt file. Although this is not the most appealing method for SEO, this will keep it from registering as a 404 error.

In my next article I will go over some of the more complicated issues that can be found during a crawl such as duplicate content, 302 redirects, and missing meta titles and meta descriptions.

 

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