Common Crawlability Issues & How to Fix Them

Crawl errors are sneaky, and it can prove to be difficult to trace back to a what caused the problem in the first place. Crawl errors do negatively impact your overall SEO but while they are challenging to handle, they aren’t a dead-end. Today, we delve deeper into what crawl errors are, why they’re bad for SEO, and how to address common issues.

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Crawl errors—what are they?

Search engine bots work constantly to follow links, searching for public pages, eventually ending up on your website. They then crawl these pages and index all the content for use in Google. Crawl errors are problems that these bots encounter while trying to access your webpages that keep them from indexing or finding your pages. If you’ve spent a significant amount of time optimising your content but are having problems opening a page or moving from one page to another, it may indicate a crawlability issue.

Why crawl errors matter

Crawl errors hinder search engine bots from reading Paraguay Phone Number your content and indexing your pages. When a search engine is crawling your site and encounters an error, it will turn back to find another way through the site. You can then end up with pages that aren’t getting crawled, or pages being crawled more than necessary. Uncrawled rankable content is a wasted opportunity to improve your place in the SERPs.

Common crawlability issues

The great news is crawl errors can be solved. Here’s a rundown of the most common crawl errors that you should pay attention to, and how to address each one of them.

404 errors

404 errors are probably the most common issues that causes crawl errors. A 404 or Not Found error message when opening a web page indicates that the server couldn’t find the requested web page. While Google has stated that 404 errors do not negatively impact a site’s rankings because these pages will not be crawled, multiple 404 errors can ultimately affect overall user experience, so it’s best to be wary of them.

Solution: You need to redirect users away from non-existent URLs (to equivalent URLs if possible) to avoid a negative user experience. Review the list of 404 errors and redirect each error page to a corresponding page on the live site. Alternatively, you could serve 410 HTTP status code for the page to inform search engines that the page has deleted permanently. That said, there may be a better solution depending on the cause, so we’ve outlined a few extra considerations below:

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  • Soft 404 errors – A soft 404 error happens when a non-existent URL returns a response code other than 404 or 410. They can occur when several non-existent URLs are redirected to unrelated URLs. This leads search engines to waste time crawling and indexing non-existent URLs, instead of indexing existing URLs first. To resolve soft 404 errors, let your non-existent URLs return to standard 404 errors. This will benefit the website because bots can start prioritising and indexing your existing webpages instead.
  • Custom 404 error page – Using redirects to prevent 404 errors is good. However, having a few 404 errors here and there is almost always inevitable. The best practice is to display a custom 404 error page rather than a standard “File Not Found” message. A custom 404 error page will allow users to find what they’re looking for, as you can provide them a few helpful links or a site search function when they stumble upon your custom 404 error page by accident.

Page duplicates

Page duplicate are another common SEO issue that can trigger crawlability issues. Duplicates happen when individual webpages that have the same content can  loaded from multiple URLs. For example, your website homepage can  accessed through the www version and the non-www version of your domain. While page duplicates may not affect website users, they can influence how a search engine sees your website. The duplicates make it harder for search engines to determine which page should  prioritised. They can also cause problems because bots dedicate a limited time to crawl each website. When bots are indexing the same content over and over, you reduce your crawl budget for important pages. Ideally, the bot would crawl each page once.

Solution: URL Canonicalisation is a pragmatic solution to counter page duplicates. You need to utilise the rel=canonical tag which sits with thesection of the website. The tag communicates to search engines what the original or “canonical” page is. Putting the appropriate tag on all pages ensures that search engines won’t crawl multiple versions of the same page.

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