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15 Quick SEO Wins (To Improve Your Rankings)

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Trying to boost your rankings on the SERPs? You’re in the right place.

Implement these 15 quick SEO wins to rank higher on search engines and get more traffic.

You should be able to do each within an hour.

Let’s get to it. 

1. Boost important pages with internal links

Internal links are often overlooked. But when used correctly, they can help boost the performance of your pages in Google.

Why are they important? There are two major reasons:

  1. They aid the flow of PageRank around your site. And PageRank is a confirmed Google ranking factor
  2. You direct PageRank to your site by building or earning quality links. But most webmasters will rarely want to link to your most important pages, as they are usually transactional in nature. You can “bypass” this by using the middleman method—building links to informational content, then linking to your money pages via internal links. 

How do you do this? First, make a list of all your “money” pages, i.e., those pages that make you money. These are likely your product, service, and category pages. 

Next, you’ll need to find relevant, contextual internal linking opportunities. The easiest way to do this is to use the site: Google search operator. For example, if we want to add internal links to our free backlink checker tool, we’ll likely search for this:

Site search in Google for the Ahrefs blog

Then we’ll go through each of these pages and add internal links to our backlink checker with relevant anchor text

Of course, that won’t be the only search we’re doing. Get creative here and use different searches to surface pages where you can potentially add internal links. As an example, we can search for “backlinks,” “links,” “link building,” “link building tools,” etc. 

Alternatively, you can simply sign up for the free Ahrefs Webmaster Tools (AWT) and run a crawl on your site. When the crawl is done, go to the Link opportunities report in Ahrefs’ Site Audit

Link opportunities report in Ahrefs' Site Audit

This report will show you relevant link opportunities on your site. Set the filter to Target page and search for your money pages. 

Target page filter for the Link opportunities report

Then look at the suggested internal link opportunities. Where relevant, add your internal links. 

Recommended reading: Internal Links for SEO: An Actionable Guide

2. Install a caching plugin

Not only is page speed a Google ranking factor, but slow pages are also bad for business. According to Unbounce, nearly 70% of consumers admit that page speed impacts their willingness to buy from an online retailer.

One way to improve your website speed is to install a caching plugin. Caching is basically a way to temporarily store copies of files so they can be delivered to visitors in a more efficient way. 

If you’re using WordPress, we recommend installing a plugin like W3 Total Cache to enable caching. 

If you have a page that’s dead but there are backlinks pointing at it, then those links are wasted. It can’t rank (because it’s dead), and it can’t help your other pages rank better too. 

Therefore, you should be fixing these pages. 

Here’s how to find these pages on your site:

  1. Enter your domain into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer
  2. Go to the Best by links report
  3. Set the HTTP code filter to 404 not found
Best by links report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Redirect these pages to the most relevant, current ones. Or consider reviving them (if they’re still relevant).

4. Optimize the title tags of your top-ranking pages

Google may now rely less on title tags, but our study found that Google rewrites title tags only 33.4% of the time.

Our title tags study showing that Google rewrites title tags only 33.4% of the time

In other words, the title Google shows on the SERPs is the same as the page’s title tag two-thirds of the time.

Translation: You still need compelling title tags. But let’s prioritize them for pages that are already ranking high. 

Why? Because if a page is already ranking high enough (and therefore actually seen by searchers), a compelling title tag can make the difference between searchers clicking your page versus the others. 

Here’s how to find these pages:

  1. Enter your domain into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer
  2. Go to the Organic keywords report
  3. Set the Position filter to 2–5
Organic keywords report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Some of these pages can be given a boost with improved title tags. Use these tips to make a title tag more enticing:

  • Add power words – Power words tap into people’s emotions. Examples include “rock-solid,” “remarkable,” and more. Check this list and see if you can add one or two to your title tag. 
  • Add parentheses – Parentheses work like the final salt sprinkle in your dish. See the title of this blog post for an example. 😉
  • Use curiosity – Curiosity makes people want to click and learn more. But don’t overdo it! Clickbait is bad. So is dishonesty. 

Recommended reading: How to Craft the Perfect SEO Title Tag (Our 4-Step Process) 

5. Optimize for low-hanging featured snippets

Google anything these days, and you’ll likely come across a featured snippet:

Featured snippet for the keyword, "top google searches"

They’re excerpts from top-ranking pages that Google uses to show the “answer” right within the SERPs. The best part? You can often jump ahead to position #1 simply by grabbing the featured snippet. 

That’s in theory. In reality, some are easier to win than others, so we’ll want to prioritize those. Specifically, we want to target these opportunities: keywords with decent monthly search volumes where you currently rank in the top 10 and Google already shows a featured snippet.

Here’s how to find these keywords:

  • Enter your domain into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer
  • Go to the Organic keywords report
  • Set the Position filter to 1–10
  • Use the SERP features filter to filter for keywords that trigger featured snippets “where target doesn’t rank”
Organic keywords report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Look through the list to find opportunities where you can potentially capture the featured snippet. 

Next, check out what the featured snippet is like. See if you can include or change up the content on your page to make it eligible for the featured snippet. For example, we rank #2 for “google operators” after the snippet: 

SERP for the keyword, "google operators"

We can see that the snippet is a definition, which we didn’t include on our page. So we can try adding a definition and hopefully win the featured snippet for ourselves. 

Recommended reading: How to Optimize for Google’s Featured Snippets 

Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a free service that matches journalists with experts. 

Here’s how it works:

  1. You sign up for HARO.
  2. HARO sends you three emails a day with requests from journalists who are looking for expert quotes.
  3. If a journalist chooses your quote, you’ll (usually) get a mention and a backlink from the site. 

It’s an easy way to get high-quality backlinks from authoritative websites. 

However, most of these emails will likely be irrelevant to you, so we recommend setting up some Gmail filters so you see only the relevant ones. 

Here’s how:

  1. Click the search options filter
  2. Set the “From” field to [email protected]
  3. Set the “Subject” to “[HARO]”
  4. Set “Has the words” to keywords you want to monitor (you can use the OR operator to list multiple keywords here)
Example of a Gmail filter to sort out HARO emails

Once the filter is set up, it’s simply a matter of looking at your inbox and checking to see if there are any stories you can be a source for. Make sure to only respond to queries where you have relevant expertise. That’ll give you the best chance of standing out and being featured on these websites. 

7. Refresh old content by filling content gaps

To boost the rankings of your content that’s ranking decently but can be better, sometimes all you need to do is to give it a quick refresh by filling content gaps. 

What is a content gap? It’s basically keywords that competing pages are ranking for but not yours. And sometimes, they’re important subtopics that you did not include in your original post.

Here’s how to find content gaps:

  1. Enter your domain into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer
  2. Go to the Content Gap tool
  3. Add a few competing URLs in the top section
  4. Add the URL of the post you want to boost in the bottom section
Content gap tool, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Look through the results and see if there are any subtopics you’ve missed out on. 

Results of the Content gap report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

For example, in our post on evergreen content, it appears we’ve missed out on two subtopics:

  • Evergreen ads
  • Evergreen content on social media

Sidenote.

If your content is not ranking well at all, then you may want to consider rewriting it.

8. Find new content ideas from competitors

A content gap analysis isn’t only useful for improving your rankings. It’s also useful for finding keywords your competitors are ranking for but you aren’t. 

Do the same as the above tactic. But this time ‘round, fill in your competitors’ homepages (or blogs if you’re specifically targeting informational content) in the top section and your homepage (or blog) in the bottom section. 

Content gap tool, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Look through the list and see if there are any relevant keywords you can target.

Results of the Content gap report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

9. Find low-competition keywords

Because of the presence of competition, some keywords are harder to rank for and some are easier. You should be on the lookout for keywords that have lesser competition so you stand a higher chance of ranking.

Here’s how to find these keywords:

  1. Enter one or a few relevant keywords into Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer
  2. Go to the Matching terms report
  3. Set the Keyword Difficulty (KD) filter to a maximum of 10
Matching terms report with KD filter set to a max of 10, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Look through the list and pick out those that are relevant for your site. 

10. Get a Google Business Profile

The Google Business Profile is a local listing with information about your business. After claiming it, the information you add can show up in Google’s web search results and in Google Maps.

If you’re a local business, this is especially important. In fact, many SEOs think it’s the most important ranking factor for local SEO

Bar graph showing percentage of SEOs who think GBP is most important ranking factor for "map pack" and "regular" results, respectively

Claiming your Google Business Profile is pretty easy, and you can do it in 30 minutes (or less). Follow the step-by-step guide below:

Recommended reading: How to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing in 30 Minutes 

11. Add a table of contents

A table of contents links to important subsections of your post and helps visitors find the information they’re looking for.

Here’s an example from our SEO mistakes post:

Example of a table of contents

Adding a table of contents can often trigger sitelinks, which can potentially help you win even more organic clicks.

Example of sitelinks in the SERPs

Our table of contents is custom-coded, but yours doesn’t have to be. You can use a free plugin like Easy Table of Contents to add a table of contents to any of your posts. 

How the plugin, Easy Table of Contents, looks on a page

12. Add FAQ sections (to get long-tail traffic)

When you’re researching a topic, you’ll probably come up with more related questions you want answers to. Other people are the same as well.

For example, if we search for “kefir grains” in Keywords Explorer and switch to the Questions tab, here’s what we see:

Questions tab in the Matching terms report, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

By not answering all of these questions in your post, you’re likely missing out on long-tail traffic. So rather than shoehorn these questions unnaturally in your post, the easiest solution is to add a FAQ section at the end of your post. 

FAQ section in Ahrefs' H1 tag blog post

Because we answered a common question related to H1 tags—the length—we now rank on Google when people are searching for this answer:

The top-ranking page for the keyword "h1 tag length"

Recommendation

Mark up your FAQs with structured data, and your page may be eligible for a rich result. This gives you more SERP real estate and may lead to more traffic.

Recommended reading: Mark Up Your FAQs With Structured Data (Google)

13. Find guest post opportunities fast

Guest blogging is an important link building technique. In fact, Aira’s State of Link Building report lists guest blogging as the third most popular technique:

Aira's State of Link Building report

But finding good guest blogging opportunities can be a chore. So here’s how you can find good ones fast:

  1. Find a prolific guest blogger in your niche and identify their Twitter account
  2. Enter the URL of their Twitter account into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer
  3. Go to the Backlinks report
Backlinks report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

This list will show you all the sites that have linked to their Twitter account—some of which are guest blogs. Go through each site and see if it is a relevant guest blogging opportunity for you. 

14. Find easy-to-replicate backlinks

If a website is linking to a few of your competitors but not you, then it’s reasonable to assume they may be willing to link to you too. 

Here’s how to find these opportunities:

  1. Enter your domain into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer (set it to Exact URL)
  2. Go to the Link Intersect tool
  3. Add a few competing homepages in the empty fields (set them to Exact URL too)
Link intersect tool, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Look through the results to see if there are any links you can potentially replicate.

For example, the website below links to two of our competitors. If we look at the links, we see that they’re both podcast interviews.

Website linking to one of our competitors, but not us
Website linking to one of our competitors, but not us

Given that this host has interviewed two of our competitors, they may be interested in interviewing us too.

15. Look for long-tail keywords you already rank for (but target them separately)

According to our study, the average #1 ranking page will also rank in the top 10 for nearly 1,000 other relevant keywords. 

Chart showing the average number of keywords the top 20 ranking pages also rank for

Most of them will be different ways of searching for the same thing. However, some of them will not be. And if you can target these long-tail keywords with a separate article, you can potentially rank higher for them. 

We did this recently on the Ahrefs blog. We noticed that we were ranking for the keyword “on page vs off page seo” with our post on off-page SEO. But we were only ranking in the lower positions (30+) for that keyword.

So we decided to create a page more targeted toward the query

Our blog post on on-page SEO vs. off-page SEO

Doing that shot us to position #1:

Ranking improvements for the keyword "on page vs off page seo," via Ahrefs' Rank Tracker

How do you find these keywords where you should create a better page? Here’s how:

  1. Enter your domain (or blog) into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer
  2. Go to the Organic keywords report
  3. Set the Position filter to minimum 20
Organic keywords report with Position filter selected, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Look through the report, manually analyze each keyword, and see if you can better target them with a new article. 

Learn more

Looking for more tactics that can boost your rankings on Google but aren’t necessarily “quick” wins? Check out these articles:

Did I miss out on any quick SEO wins? Let me know on Twitter



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SEO

11 Disadvantages Of ChatGPT Content

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11 Disadvantages Of ChatGPT Content

ChatGPT produces content that is comprehensive and plausibly accurate.

But researchers, artists, and professors warn of shortcomings to be aware of which degrade the quality of the content.

In this article, we’ll look at 11 disadvantages of ChatGPT content. Let’s dive in.

1. Phrase Usage Makes It Detectable As Non-Human

Researchers studying how to detect machine-generated content have discovered patterns that make it sound unnatural.

One of these quirks is how AI struggles with idioms.

An idiom is a phrase or saying with a figurative meaning attached to it, for example, “every cloud has a silver lining.” 

A lack of idioms within a piece of content can be a signal that the content is machine-generated – and this can be part of a detection algorithm.

This is what the 2022 research paper Adversarial Robustness of Neural-Statistical Features in Detection of Generative Transformers says about this quirk in machine-generated content:

“Complex phrasal features are based on the frequency of specific words and phrases within the analyzed text that occur more frequently in human text.

…Of these complex phrasal features, idiom features retain the most predictive power in detection of current generative models.”

This inability to use idioms contributes to making ChatGPT output sound and read unnaturally.

2. ChatGPT Lacks Ability For Expression

An artist commented on how the output of ChatGPT mimics what art is, but lacks the actual qualities of artistic expression.

Expression is the act of communicating thoughts or feelings.

ChatGPT output doesn’t contain expressions, only words.

It cannot produce content that touches people emotionally on the same level as a human can – because it has no actual thoughts or feelings.

Musical artist Nick Cave, in an article posted to his Red Hand Files newsletter, commented on a ChatGPT lyric that was sent to him, which was created in the style of Nick Cave.

He wrote:

“What makes a great song great is not its close resemblance to a recognizable work.

…it is the breathless confrontation with one’s vulnerability, one’s perilousness, one’s smallness, pitted against a sense of sudden shocking discovery; it is the redemptive artistic act that stirs the heart of the listener, where the listener recognizes in the inner workings of the song their own blood, their own struggle, their own suffering.”

Cave called the ChatGPT lyrics a mockery.

This is the ChatGPT lyric that resembles a Nick Cave lyric:

“I’ve got the blood of angels, on my hands
I’ve got the fire of hell, in my eyes
I’m the king of the abyss, I’m the ruler of the dark
I’m the one that they fear, in the shadows they hark”

And this is an actual Nick Cave lyric (Brother, My Cup Is Empty):

“Well I’ve been sliding down on rainbows
I’ve been swinging from the stars
Now this wretch in beggar’s clothing
Bangs his cup across the bars
Look, this cup of mine is empty!
Seems I’ve misplaced my desires
Seems I’m sweeping up the ashes
Of all my former fires”

It’s easy to see that the machine-generated lyric resembles the artist’s lyric, but it doesn’t really communicate anything.

Nick Cave’s lyrics tell a story that resonates with the pathos, desire, shame, and willful deception of the person speaking in the song. It expresses thoughts and feelings.

It’s easy to see why Nick Cave calls it a mockery.

3. ChatGPT Does Not Produce Insights

An article published in The Insider quoted an academic who noted that academic essays generated by ChatGPT lack insights about the topic.

ChatGPT summarizes the topic but does not offer a unique insight into the topic.

Humans create through knowledge, but also through their personal experience and subjective perceptions.

Professor Christopher Bartel of Appalachian State University is quoted by The Insider as saying that, while a ChatGPT essay may exhibit high grammar qualities and sophisticated ideas, it still lacked insight.

Bartel said:

“They are really fluffy. There’s no context, there’s no depth or insight.”

Insight is the hallmark of a well-done essay and it’s something that ChatGPT is not particularly good at.

This lack of insight is something to keep in mind when evaluating machine-generated content.

4. ChatGPT Is Too Wordy

A research paper published in January 2023 discovered patterns in ChatGPT content that makes it less suitable for critical applications.

The paper is titled, How Close is ChatGPT to Human Experts? Comparison Corpus, Evaluation, and Detection.

The research showed that humans preferred answers from ChatGPT in more than 50% of questions answered related to finance and psychology.

But ChatGPT failed at answering medical questions because humans preferred direct answers – something the AI didn’t provide.

The researchers wrote:

“…ChatGPT performs poorly in terms of helpfulness for the medical domain in both English and Chinese.

The ChatGPT often gives lengthy answers to medical consulting in our collected dataset, while human experts may directly give straightforward answers or suggestions, which may partly explain why volunteers consider human answers to be more helpful in the medical domain.”

ChatGPT tends to cover a topic from different angles, which makes it inappropriate when the best answer is a direct one.

Marketers using ChatGPT must take note of this because site visitors requiring a direct answer will not be satisfied with a verbose webpage.

And good luck ranking an overly wordy page in Google’s featured snippets, where a succinct and clearly expressed answer that can work well in Google Voice may have a better chance to rank than a long-winded answer.

OpenAI, the makers of ChatGPT, acknowledges that giving verbose answers is a known limitation.

The announcement article by OpenAI states:

“The model is often excessively verbose…”

The ChatGPT bias toward providing long-winded answers is something to be mindful of when using ChatGPT output, as you may encounter situations where shorter and more direct answers are better.

5. ChatGPT Content Is Highly Organized With Clear Logic

ChatGPT has a writing style that is not only verbose but also tends to follow a template that gives the content a unique style that isn’t human.

This inhuman quality is revealed in the differences between how humans and machines answer questions.

The movie Blade Runner has a scene featuring a series of questions designed to reveal whether the subject answering the questions is a human or an android.

These questions were a part of a fictional test called the “Voigt-Kampff test“.

One of the questions is:

“You’re watching television. Suddenly you realize there’s a wasp crawling on your arm. What do you do?”

A normal human response would be to say something like they would scream, walk outside and swat it, and so on.

But when I posed this question to ChatGPT, it offered a meticulously organized answer that summarized the question and then offered logical multiple possible outcomes – failing to answer the actual question.

Screenshot Of ChatGPT Answering A Voight-Kampff Test Question

Screenshot from ChatGPT, January 2023

The answer is highly organized and logical, giving it a highly unnatural feel, which is undesirable.

6. ChatGPT Is Overly Detailed And Comprehensive

ChatGPT was trained in a way that rewarded the machine when humans were happy with the answer.

The human raters tended to prefer answers that had more details.

But sometimes, such as in a medical context, a direct answer is better than a comprehensive one.

What that means is that the machine needs to be prompted to be less comprehensive and more direct when those qualities are important.

From OpenAI:

“These issues arise from biases in the training data (trainers prefer longer answers that look more comprehensive) and well-known over-optimization issues.”

7. ChatGPT Lies (Hallucinates Facts)

The above-cited research paper, How Close is ChatGPT to Human Experts?, noted that ChatGPT has a tendency to lie.

It reports:

“When answering a question that requires professional knowledge from a particular field, ChatGPT may fabricate facts in order to give an answer…

For example, in legal questions, ChatGPT may invent some non-existent legal provisions to answer the question.

…Additionally, when a user poses a question that has no existing answer, ChatGPT may also fabricate facts in order to provide a response.”

The Futurism website documented instances where machine-generated content published on CNET was wrong and full of “dumb errors.”

CNET should have had an idea this could happen, because OpenAI published a warning about incorrect output:

“ChatGPT sometimes writes plausible-sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers.”

CNET claims to have submitted the machine-generated articles to human review prior to publication.

A problem with human review is that ChatGPT content is designed to sound persuasively correct, which may fool a reviewer who is not a topic expert.

8. ChatGPT Is Unnatural Because It’s Not Divergent

The research paper, How Close is ChatGPT to Human Experts? also noted that human communication can have indirect meaning, which requires a shift in topic to understand it.

ChatGPT is too literal, which causes the answers to sometimes miss the mark because the AI overlooks the actual topic.

The researchers wrote:

“ChatGPT’s responses are generally strictly focused on the given question, whereas humans’ are divergent and easily shift to other topics.

In terms of the richness of content, humans are more divergent in different aspects, while ChatGPT prefers focusing on the question itself.

Humans can answer the hidden meaning under the question based on their own common sense and knowledge, but the ChatGPT relies on the literal words of the question at hand…”

Humans are better able to diverge from the literal question, which is important for answering “what about” type questions.

For example, if I ask:

“Horses are too big to be a house pet. What about raccoons?”

The above question is not asking if a raccoon is an appropriate pet. The question is about the size of the animal.

ChatGPT focuses on the appropriateness of the raccoon as a pet instead of focusing on the size.

Screenshot of an Overly Literal ChatGPT Answer

11 Disadvantages Of ChatGPT ContentScreenshot from ChatGPT, January 2023

9. ChatGPT Contains A Bias Towards Being Neutral

The output of ChatGPT is generally neutral and informative. It’s a bias in the output that can appear helpful but isn’t always.

The research paper we just discussed noted that neutrality is an unwanted quality when it comes to legal, medical, and technical questions.

Humans tend to pick a side when offering these kinds of opinions.

10. ChatGPT Is Biased To Be Formal

ChatGPT output has a bias that prevents it from loosening up and answering with ordinary expressions. Instead, its answers tend to be formal.

Humans, on the other hand, tend to answer questions with a more colloquial style, using everyday language and slang – the opposite of formal.

ChatGPT doesn’t use abbreviations like GOAT or TL;DR.

The answers also lack instances of irony, metaphors, and humor, which can make ChatGPT content overly formal for some content types.

The researchers write:

“…ChatGPT likes to use conjunctions and adverbs to convey a logical flow of thought, such as “In general”, “on the other hand”, “Firstly,…, Secondly,…, Finally” and so on.

11. ChatGPT Is Still In Training

ChatGPT is currently still in the process of training and improving.

OpenAI recommends that all content generated by ChatGPT should be reviewed by a human, listing this as a best practice.

OpenAI suggests keeping humans in the loop:

“Wherever possible, we recommend having a human review outputs before they are used in practice.

This is especially critical in high-stakes domains, and for code generation.

Humans should be aware of the limitations of the system, and have access to any information needed to verify the outputs (for example, if the application summarizes notes, a human should have easy access to the original notes to refer back).”

Unwanted Qualities Of ChatGPT

It’s clear that there are many issues with ChatGPT that make it unfit for unsupervised content generation. It contains biases and fails to create content that feels natural or contains genuine insights.

Further, its inability to feel or author original thoughts makes it a poor choice for generating artistic expressions.

Users should apply detailed prompts in order to generate content that is better than the default content it tends to output.

Lastly, human review of machine-generated content is not always enough, because ChatGPT content is designed to appear correct, even when it’s not.

That means it’s important that human reviewers are subject-matter experts who can discern between correct and incorrect content on a specific topic.

More resources: 


Featured image by Shutterstock/fizkes



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9 Common Technical SEO Issues That Actually Matter

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9 Common Technical SEO Issues That Actually Matter

In this article, we’ll see how to find and fix technical SEO issues, but only those that can seriously affect your rankings.

If you’d like to follow along, get Ahrefs Webmaster Tools and Google Search Console (both are free) and check for the following issues.

Indexability is a webpage’s ability to be indexed by search engines. Pages that are not indexable can’t be displayed on the search engine results pages and can’t bring in any search traffic. 

Three requirements must be met for a page to be indexable:

  1. The page must be crawlable. If you haven’t blocked Googlebot from entering the page robots.txt or you have a website with fewer than 1,000 pages, you probably don’t have an issue there. 
  2. The page must not have a noindex tag (more on that in a bit).
  3. The page must be canonical (i.e., the main version). 

Solution

In Ahrefs Webmaster Tools (AWT):  

  1. Open Site Audit
  2. Go to the Indexability report 
  3. Click on issues related to canonicalization and “noindex” to see affected pages
Indexability issues in Site Audit

For canonicalization issues in this report, you will need to replace bad URLs in the link rel="canonical" tag with valid ones (i.e., returning an “HTTP 200 OK”). 

As for pages marked by “noindex” issues, these are the pages with the “noindex” meta tag placed inside their code. Chances are most of the pages found in the report there should stay as is. But if you see any pages that shouldn’t be there, simply remove the tag. Do make sure those pages aren’t blocked by robots.txt first. 

Recommendation

Click on the question mark on the right to see instructions on how to fix each issue. For more detailed instructions, click on the “Learn more” link. 

Instruction on how to fix an SEO issue in Site Audit

A sitemap should contain only pages that you want search engines to index. 

When a sitemap isn’t regularly updated or an unreliable generator has been used to make it, a sitemap may start to show broken pages, pages that became “noindexed,” pages that were de-canonicalized, or pages blocked in robots.txt. 

Solution 

In AWT:

  1. Open Site Audit 
  2. Go to the All issues report
  3. Click on issues containing the word “sitemap” to find affected pages 
Sitemap issues shown in Site Audit

Depending on the issue, you will have to:

  • Delete the pages from the sitemap.
  • Remove the noindex tag on the pages (if you want to keep them in the sitemap). 
  • Provide a valid URL for the reported page. 

Google uses HTTPS encryption as a small ranking signal. This means you can experience lower rankings if you don’t have an SSL or TLS certificate securing your website. 

But even if you do, some pages and/or resources on your pages may still use the HTTP protocol. 

Solution 

Assuming you already have an SSL/TLS certificate for all subdomains (if not, do get one), open AWT and do these: 

  1. Open Site Audit
  2. Go to the Internal pages report 
  3. Look at the protocol distribution graph and click on HTTP to see affected pages
  4. Inside the report showing pages, add a column for Final redirect URL 
  5. Make sure all HTTP pages are permanently redirected (301 or 308 redirects) to their HTTPS counterparts 
Protocol distribution graph
Internal pages issues report with added column

Finally, let’s check if any resources on the site still use HTTP: 

  1. Inside the Internal pages report, click on Issues
  2. Click on HTTPS/HTTP mixed content to view affected resources 
Site Audit reporting six HTTPS/HTTP mixed content issues

You can fix this issue by one of these methods:

  • Link to the HTTPS version of the resource (check this option first) 
  • Include the resource from a different host, if available 
  • Download and host the content on your site directly if you are legally allowed to do so
  • Exclude the resource from your site altogether

Learn more: What Is HTTPS? Everything You Need to Know 

Duplicate content happens when exact or near-duplicate content appears on the web in more than one place. 

It’s bad for SEO mainly for two reasons: It can cause undesirable URLs to show in search results and can dilute link equity

Content duplication is not necessarily a case of intentional or unintentional creation of similar pages. There are other less obvious causes such as faceted navigation, tracking parameters in URLs, or using trailing and non-trailing slashes

Solution 

First, check if your website is available under only one URL. Because if your site is accessible as:

  • http://domain.com
  • http://www.domain.com
  • https://domain.com
  • https://www.domain.com

Then Google will see all of those URLs as different websites. 

The easiest way to check if users can browse only one version of your website: type in all four variations in the browser, one by one, hit enter, and see if they get redirected to the master version (ideally, the one with HTTPS). 

You can also go straight into Site Audit’s Duplicates report. If you see 100% bad duplicates, that is likely the reason.

Duplicates report showing 100% bad duplicates
Simulation (other types of duplicates turned off).

In this case, choose one version that will serve as canonical (likely the one with HTTPS) and permanently redirect other versions to it. 

Then run a New crawl in Site Audit to see if there are any other bad duplicates left. 

Running a new crawl in Site Audit

There are a few ways you can handle bad duplicates depending on the case. Learn how to solve them in our guide

Learn more: Duplicate Content: Why It Happens and How to Fix It 

Pages that can’t be found (4XX errors) and pages returning server errors (5XX errors) won’t be indexed by Google so they won’t bring you any traffic. 

Furthermore, if broken pages have backlinks pointing to them, all of that link equity goes to waste. 

Broken pages are also a waste of crawl budget—something to watch out for on bigger websites. 

Solution

In AWT, you should: 

  1. Open Site Audit.
  2. Go to the Internal pages report.
  3. See if there are any broken pages. If so, the Broken section will show a number higher than 0. Click on the number to show affected pages.
Broken pages report in Site Audit

In the report showing pages with issues, it’s a good idea to add a column for the number of referring domains. This will help you make the decision on how to fix the issue. 

Internal pages report with no. of referring domains column added

Now, fixing broken pages (4XX error codes) is quite simple, but there is more than one possibility. Here’s a short graph explaining the process:

How to deal with broken pages

Dealing with server errors (the ones reporting a 5XX) can be a tougher one, as there are different possible reasons for a server to be unresponsive. Read this short guide for troubleshooting.

Recommendation

With AWT, you can also see 404s that were caused by incorrect links to your website. While this is not a technical issue per se, reclaiming those links may give you an additional SEO boost.

  1. Go to Site Explorer
  2. Enter your domain 
  3. Go to the Best by links report
  4. Add a “404 not found” filter
  5. Then sort the report by referring domains from high to low
How to find broken backlinks in Site Explorer
In this example, someone linked to us, leaving a comma inside the URL.

If you’ve already dealt with broken pages, chances are you’ve fixed most of the broken links issues. 

Other critical issues related to links are: 

  • Orphan pages – These are the pages without any internal links. Web crawlers have limited ability to access those pages (only from sitemap or backlinks), and there is no link equity flowing to them from other pages on your site. Last but not least, users won’t be able to access this page from the site navigation. 
  • HTTPS pages linking to internal HTTP pages – If an internal link on your website brings users to an HTTP URL, web browsers will likely show a warning about a non-secure page. This can damage your overall website authority and user experience.

Solution

In AWT, you can:

  1. Go to Site Audit.
  2. Open the Links report.
  3. Open the Issues tab. 
  4. Look for the following issues in the Indexable category. Click to see affected pages. 
Important SEO issues related to links

Fix the first issue by changing the links from HTTP to HTTPS or simply delete those links if no longer needed.

For the second issue, an orphan page needs to be either linked to from some other page on your website or deleted if a given page holds no value to you.

Sidenote.

Ahrefs’ Site Audit can find orphan pages as long as they have backlinks or are included in the sitemap. For a more thorough search for this issue, you will need to analyze server logs to find orphan pages with hits. Find out how in this guide.

7. Mobile experience issues

Having a mobile-friendly website is a must for SEO. Two reasons: 

  1. Google uses mobile-first indexing – It’s mostly using the content of mobile pages for indexing and ranking.
  2. Mobile experience is part of the Page Experience signals – While Google will allegedly always “promote” the page with the best content, page experience can be a tiebreaker for pages offering content of similar quality. 

Solution

In GSC: 

  1. Go to the Mobile Usability report in the Experience section
  2. View affected pages by clicking on issues in the Why pages aren’t usable on mobile section 
Mobile Usability report in Google Search Console

You can read Google’s guide for fixing mobile issues here.  

8. Performance and stability issues 

Performance and visual stability are other aspects of Page Experience signals used by Google to rank pages. 

Google has developed a special set of metrics to measure user experience called Core Web Vitals (CWV). Site owners and SEOs can use those metrics to see how Google perceives their website in terms of UX. 

Google's search signals for page experience

While page experience can be a ranking tiebreaker, CWV is not a race. You don’t need to have the fastest website on the internet. You just need to score “good” ideally in all three categories: loading, interactivity, and visual stability. 

Three categories of Core Web Vitals

Solution 

In GSC: 

  1. First, click on Core Web Vitals in the Experience section of the reports.
  2. Then click Open report in each section to see how your website scores. 
  3. For pages that aren’t considered good, you’ll see a special section at the bottom of the report. Use it to see pages that need your attention.
How to find Core Web Vitals in Google Search Console
CWV issue report in Google Search Console

Optimizing for CWV may take some time. This may include things like moving to a faster (or closer) server, compressing images, optimizing CSS, etc. We explain how to do this in the third part of this guide to CWV. 

Bad website structure in the context of technical SEO is mainly about having important organic pages too deep into the website structure. 

Pages that are nested too deep (i.e., users need >6 clicks from the website to get to them) will receive less link equity from your homepage (likely the page with the most backlinks), which may affect their rankings. This is because link value diminishes with every link “hop.” 

Sidenote.

Website structure is important for other reasons too such as the overall user experience, crawl efficiency, and helping Google understand the context of your pages. Here, we’ll only focus on the technical aspect, but you can read more about the topic in our full guide: Website Structure: How to Build Your SEO Foundation.

Solution 

In AWT

  1. Open Site Audit
  2. Go to Structure explorer, switch to the Depth tab, and set the data type to Data table
  3. Configure the Segment to only valid HTML pages and click Apply
  4. Use the graph to investigate pages with more than six clicks away from the homepage 
How to find site structure issues in Site Audit
Adding a new segment in Site Audit

The way to fix the issue is to link to these deeper nested pages from pages closer to the homepage. More important pages could find their place in site navigation, while less important ones can be just linked to the pages a few clicks closer.

It’s a good idea to weigh in user experience and the business role of your website when deciding what goes into sitewide navigation. 

For example, we could probably give our SEO glossary a slightly higher chance to get ahead of organic competitors by including it in the main site navigation. Yet we decided not to because it isn’t such an important page for users who are not particularly searching for this type of information. 

We’ve moved the glossary only up a notch by including a link inside the beginner’s guide to SEO (which itself is just one click away from the homepage). 

Structure explorer showing glossary page is two clicks away from the homepage
One page from the glossary folder is two clicks away from the homepage.
Link that moved SEO glossary a click closer to the homepage
Just one link, even at the bottom of a page, can move a page higher in the overall structure.

Final thoughts 

When you’re done fixing the more pressing issues, dig a little deeper to keep your site in perfect SEO health. Open Site Audit and go to the All issues report to see other issues regarding on-page SEO, image optimization, redirects, localization, and more. In each case, you will find instructions on how to deal with the issue. 

All issues report in Site Audit

You can also customize this report by turning issues on/off or changing their priority. 

Issue report in Site Audit is customizable

Did I miss any important technical issues? Let me know on Twitter or Mastodon.



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New Google Ads Feature: Account-Level Negative Keywords

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New Google Ads Feature: Account-Level Negative Keywords

Google Ads Liaison Ginny Marvin has announced that account-level negative keywords are now available to Google Ads advertisers worldwide.

The feature, which was first announced last year and has been in testing for several months, allows advertisers to add keywords to exclude traffic from all search and shopping campaigns, as well as the search and shopping portion of Performance Max, for greater brand safety and suitability.

Advertisers can access this feature from the account settings page to ensure their campaigns align with their brand values and target audience.

This is especially important for brands that want to avoid appearing in contexts that may be inappropriate or damaging to their reputation.

In addition to the brand safety benefits, the addition of account-level negative keywords makes the campaign management process more efficient for advertisers.

Instead of adding negative keywords to individual campaigns, advertisers can manage them at the account level, saving time and reducing the chances of human error.

You no longer have to worry about duplicating negative keywords in multiple campaigns or missing any vital to your brand safety.

Additionally, account-level negative keywords can improve the accuracy of ad targeting by excluding irrelevant or low-performing keywords that may adversely impact campaign performance. This can result in higher-quality traffic and a better return on investment.

Google Ads offers a range of existing brand suitability controls, including inventory types, digital content labels, placement exclusions, and negative keywords at the campaign level.

Marvin added that Google Ads is expanding account-level negative keywords to address various use cases and will have more to share soon.

This rollout is essential in giving brands more control over their advertising and ensuring their campaigns target the appropriate audience.


Featured Image: Primakov/Shutterstock



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