Website Architecture – 34 Issues To Rectify Today

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Website architecture is one of the basics of on-page optimization. However, it is often one of the most overlooked elements. Keep your website structure clean, logical and SEO friendly. Avoid bad architecture like the plague!

Below you’ll find 34 issues that should be checked on 100% of all websites. We cannot stress enough how important this stuff is to Google Search ranking. And don’t worry if some of these issues are not applicable to your site – learn what you can and make your website better.

1. 404 URL redirections

404 pages hurt your website SEO more than you can imagine. The reasons are simple:

a) 404 pages indicate that your site has dead links which negatively impact the average page rank of your entire website.

b) The more 404 errors you have, the more often Googlebot will check and recrawl your site – thereby increasing server load.

The non-WWW version of the domain name should be 301 redirected to its WWW version. If any of the existing pages have been moved temporarily, then use 302 redirections. If the pages have been deleted and if your Analytics/Webmaster tool shows links to these deleted pages, then set up 301 redirections from the deleted URLs to the most relevant pages on your website or to the new version of the deleted URLs.

2. Preferred domain setting

Make sure you set the preferred domain to the WWW version in the Google webmaster tools.

3. Checking internal links for inconsistencies

  1. Go to Google.com
  2. Use the search command site:example.com
  3. Observe the search results carefully.

Check which page on your site tops the list. Typically this should be one of your service offering pages, product pages or the home page. If you see the “privacy policy” or “terms and conditions” page, then your internal link structure needs attention.

Also, extremely large numbers could indicate poor or rampant site-wide internal linking.

4. Domain blacklist checks

Check if your domain name has been blacklisted. (https://sitechecker.pro/blacklist-checker/)

If you engage in e-mail marketing activities, please use a secondary domain name and not your main business domain name for email marketing campaigns. This will protect your domain name from being blacklisted.

5. Canonicalization

Canonicalization is the process of specifying the “canonical” or “preferred” version of a web page. This is necessary when there are multiple versions of a page, as with duplicate content issues.

The rel=canonical link element can be placed within the head section of a page to specify the canonical version of that page.

The rel=canonical link element is a powerful on-site SEO technique used for avoiding duplicate content issues, as well as helping webmasters to specify which URL they want Googlebot to crawl and index – thereby increasing the crawl rate. The most important usage of this tag is to inform search engines which version of a URL should be indexed and to avoid duplication (i.e., crawling the same content in multiple URLs).

6. Robots.txt file review

A Robots.txt file is a text file that contains instructions for web crawlers (robots) on which pages to crawl and index and which pages to skip. This helps webmasters control the visibility of their website’s content in search engine results pages.

You can use a Robots.txt file to block certain pages from being crawled and indexed or to specify the frequency and priority with which they should be crawled.

The importance of the robots.txt file for SEO has been somewhat overstated. However, it is helpful to make sure that Google does not crawl and index unnecessary pages (e.g., site-wide navigation or content deep inside a directory structure).

The best way to create a Robots.txt file is by using a robots.txt generator. There are many free and paid tools available, both online and offline.

Upload your Robots.txt file to your website’s root directory.

The name of the Robots.txt file is: “robots.txt”

Check the following settings in your Robots.txt file.

Make sure you disallow directories that you don’t want to be crawled (e.g., “cgi-bin”, “tmp”).

You can set crawl frequency by telling Google how often it should recrawl your website.

7. URL deep directory depth issues

Search Engines measure the importance of a page’s subject matter in part, by its proximity to the Homepage. Oftentimes content kept in directories that are more than 3 directories deep are considered of low value and will have difficulty ranking well for their topic.

8. URL Structure

The URL structure of a website has a huge impact on its crawling, indexing and ranking. A well-structured URL will make it easier for search engines to crawl and index your web pages.

A bad URL looks like this: http://www.example.com/default.aspx?id=5

A good URL looks like this: http://www.example.com/category/sub-category/product-name

The ideal URL structure for a website should be easy to remember, logical and keyword-rich. It is best to keep the URL length as short as possible and avoid using session IDs in the URLs.

9. Anchor text of internal links

The anchor text of an internal link is the visible text that is hyperlinked to another page on your website. It is important to use relevant and descriptive anchor text for your internal links, as this helps to communicate the relevancy of your pages to search engines.

Using a file system format (e.g., http://www.example.com/page.htm) can help facilitate better crawling of your website’s content than an unform

1. How many directories are the deepest content?

2. How many clicks from the homepage is major content?

Read The Complete Guide on Structuring Your URLs Correctly by Neil Patel.

10. URL capitalizations

DO NOT use capitalizations in the URLs. If you already have URLs with capital letters in them, I strongly recommend setting up permanent redirections (301) to their lower case versions to avoid URL confusion issues.

Even slight changes to URL formatting, such as adding capitalization can result in a splitting of PageRank and Link value.

Make a note of URLs using Capitalization on your website and implement 301 redirects.

Check primary navigation pages and see if you can spot PR splits.

www.example.com/Games/

Vs.

www.example.com/games/

Set a 301 redirect from /Games page to /games page.

11. XML sitemaps

XML Sitemaps are created to be submitted directly to search engines, providing them with the exact contents of your website. This helps webmasters ensure that all of their website’s pages are indexed and ranked in search engine results pages (SERPs).

XML sitemap of Yoast.com

Read: Why you should have an XML sitemap.

The best way to create an XML Sitemap is by using a sitemap generator. There are many free and paid tools available, both online and offline.

Most of the web publishing platforms (like WordPress) have this inbuilt these days.

Typically the name of the XML sitemap is: “sitemap.xml”

If present, look for the following settings.

Check “ChangeFreq”: This setting tells the search engine how often you’d like it to check for changes to your XML Sitemap.

The default value is usually “weekly”, but you can choose to have it checked “daily” or even “hourly”.

Check “Priority”: This setting tells the search engine how important it is to index your website.

The default value for priority is usually “0.5”, but you can set it to a value between “0.1” and “10.0”, depending on how often you’d like your website updated in search engine results pages.

Submit your XML sitemap to the search engines, through their search central accounts (Google, Bing).

Check “Last mod”: This setting tells the search engine when to recrawl your website.

The default value for the last mod is usually “never”, but you can set it to a value between “1 day” and “10 years”.

13. HTTPS

HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) is the standard protocol for transferring web pages between a browser and a web server.

HTTPS
Image Source: https://www.tutorialsteacher.com/https/what-is-https

HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) is a secure version of HTTP, used when transmitting sensitive information such as credit card numbers and passwords.

You can use HTTPS to protect your website content from being stolen by hackers over the Internet.

Google prefers websites that use HTTPS and has announced that it will give a ranking boost to websites that use HTTPS.

You can get a free SSL certificate from Let’s Encrypt. Check with your hosting if your hosting plan includes an SSL certificate. If not, I highly recommend getting one for your domain.

14. XML Sitemap in Robots.txt

Listing your XML Sitemap in your robots.txt is a good way to ensure that Yahoo, Bing and Google can regularly find and crawl your current XML Sitemap.

The following is an example of how to list your XML Sitemap in your robots.txt file.

User-agent: *

Sitemap: https://www.example.com/sitemap.xml

15. Image optimization

A slow website is SEO suicide. As a website owner, the biggest contribution you can make to an SEO improvement is by optimizing your images. Optimization of images should be treated as a component of the responsive design itself.

Image Optimization
Image Optimization, Image Source: Shopify.com

To optimize your load times and improve your rankings; minimize the number of requests, use web-optimizers like TinyPNG and compress images to the smallest size possible without compromising on quality.

Check your website regularly for low-resolution images that might not have been compressed well enough.

Valuable read: Image Optimization Guide by Shopify.

Image optimization is essential if you want your users to enjoy browsing through your website without any interruptions, this, in turn, will help them return using it.

16. URL Appended Parameters

Multiple parameters, can cause problems for Search Engines, create URL confusion by creating unnecessarily high numbers of URLs that point to identical or similar content. As a result, spiders may consume much more bandwidth than necessary or may be unable to completely index all the content on your site.

Check:

1. For URLs with multiple appended parameters

2. Note the largest number in a URL you found

3. Note the length of the parameters (anything over 10 characters could appear to be a Session ID)

4. Check for similar parameters on other pages

For example:

Dynamic URL: https://www.example.com/products?category=shoes&product=boots&color=black

Static URL: https://www.example.com/products/shoes/boots/black

The best way to handle appended parameters is to:

1. Use a short session ID that doesn’t contain any characters that could be confused with appended parameters (like “SID=abc123;”)

2. Don’t use the Session ID as part of your URL (don’t make https://www.example.com/products?category=shoes&product=boots&color=black become https://www.example.com/products?category=shoes&product=boots)

3. Redirect the long URL to the shorter Session ID URL (https://www.example.com/products?sid=abc123)

4. Use cookies to store the information that is being passed in the appended parameters (category, product, colour)

17. URL Encodings

Encoded URLs (The ‘%’ sign in the URLs) can sometimes be the cause of spider loops and generally increase URL confusion by producing the same content on multiple unique URLs.

All the encodings in the URLs should be stripped and discontinued linking to these encoded URLs. Also, redirecting the current encoded URLs to their new “clean versions” would be ideal.

Example:

Encoded URL: https%3A%2F%2Fexample.com%2Fproducts%3Fcategory%3Dshoes%26product%3Dboots%26color%3Dblack

Cleaned-up URL: https://www.example.com/products?category=shoes&product=boots&color=black

18. Session IDs

Session ID’s appended to a URL can produce spider loops and cause the search engines to slowly crawl a site, abandon sections of a site entirely, or even the site itself.

To avoid this, you should:

1. Use a short session ID that doesn’t contain any characters that could be confused with appended parameters (like “SID=abc123;”)

2. Don’t use the Session ID as part of your URL (don’t make https://www.example.com/products?category=shoes&product=boots&color=black become https://www.example.com/products?category=shoes&product=boots)

3. Redirect the long URL to the shorter Session ID URL (https://www.example.com/products?sid=abc123)

19. Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are a clean, user-friendly way to increase the effectiveness of Content Soiling through internal linking, pass valuable keywords through anchor text, as well as provide a crawlable path for search engines to follow.

Breadcrumbs
Breadcrumbs

Make sure your site has breadcrumbs implemented and that they’re crawlable.

20. Background Images issues

Images set as background images provide no SEO benefit, can slow down your page loading times, and can be a cause of duplicate content issues.

You should:

1. Remove any background images that are not essential to the appearance or layout of the page

2. Optimize any remaining background images by compressing them and using the correct file format

3. Use CSS to set images as background images instead of using HTML

Only images on-page can have descriptive alt tags and SEO friendly file names. Try avoiding background images as much as possible.

21. Source code size issues

This is the page size Search Engines will be downloading during their crawl. This does not include images and dynamic elements of the website. The threshold for these pages is about 2MB. Large files can slow down a crawlers ability to download a website and then index it, as well as the crawl budget being used up for high file sizes instead of actual content.

You should:

1. Minify your HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and XML code to reduce their size

2. Optimize any images on the page to reduce their file size

3. Use Gzip compression to compress your files

The goal is to have a page size that is less than 2MB. Try to keep the size of your source code down.

22. User download size issues

This is the size page human visitors will be downloading during their visit. This includes images and dynamic elements. The threshold for these pages is around 5MB. Make sure none of your pages has a user download size which exceeds the 5MB threshold.

You should:

1. Compress and resize your images to reduce their size and file format while maintaining quality

2. Optimize any images on the page to reduce their file size

23. Homepage Meta-Tags & Titles

The meta-tags on your homepage should not be duplicated throughout the rest of the site. Also, make sure to include the keywords you’d like to rank for in your page titles naturally, in a human-readable format.

You should:

1. Use unique meta-tags across each page on your website, don’t duplicate them within a site

Homepages do not perform well in the SERPs and tend to have little or even negative impact at all. A homepage that has a specific title and description is seen as spammy and less than ideal by Google and will either:

1. Rank for nothing since it is not seen as relevant to anything with its own page title and description

2. Rank for the company name or website URL instead of the desired keywords

3. Rank lower than pages that target the same keywords, because it is not seen as being as relevant

24. Meta Refresh

meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”0;url=www.example.com/redirect.aspx”

Redirects a visitor to another URL after a specified amount of time. Does not pass along full PageRank and Link Value, and can be a cause of duplicate content.

You should not use meta refresh to redirect visitors. Use 301 or 302 redirects instead.

25. NoArchive

Prevents a cached copy of this page from being available in the search results.

You should not use the archive directive as this will prevent your pages from being cached and available in the search results.

26. NoSnippet

Parsing the page to allow Google to display a snippet of text in search results.

You should not use the nosnippet directive because it prevents your meta description from being shown which cannot be beneficial for SEO purposes.

27. Noodp and Noydir Meta Tags

Use the following tags on your home page:

Noodp

This tag notifies Search Engines that you do not want them to replace your existing Title and Meta Description Tags in SERP results with equivalent data found in your current DMOZ.org listing.

Noydir

Prevents the use of Titles and descriptions from the Yahoo Directory in Search Results.

28. HiJacking

This is more of a security issue and not directly a website architecture-related problem.

Find the IP address of your domain name using an online tool. Check if the IP address stays in the URL box (address bar) the entire time while clicking through the site.

1. Ping the site

2. Navigate to the site via IP

3. Does the IP stay in the browser URL box when you click from page to page? If so, it’s vulnerable.

29. Image Alt-Tags

Alt-Tags allow for further optimization of a webpage by adding spiderable descriptions of images. Alt-Tags are the primary source of information search engines rely on to assign value to images, can help increase Topic Authority and affect the ability of an image to appear in an “Image Search” or a traditional search result.

You should:

1. Add a unique, concise and contextually relevant internal description for every image to describe its content and purpose on your page

2. Ensure these descriptions add value by effectively providing information not already available from the title or surrounding text

3. In order to achieve descriptive quality, use Alt-Tags as a way of supplementing your page’s content. If you find yourself repeating the same information or words verbatim, use more of your page’s real estate to provide additional detail

4. Ensure your Alt-Tags are written using quality key phrases that accurately describe their target keyword topic

5. Avoid using unnecessary Alt-Tag filler (e.g. “image of”, “photo of”, etc.)

You should not:

1. Use an Alt-Tag to stuff in keywords for the purpose of manipulating search engine rankings as this can result in penalties

2. Duplicate your image file name as your Alt-Tag as this will be seen as a sign of keyword stuffing and your site may be penalized

30. Use Caption Text for Images

Images surrounded by caption text have a better chance of appearing in Image Searches”. They’re more likely to be indexed and ranked by Google.

You should:

1. Ensure you use caption text on all images (especially those with Alt-Tags) as it provides another means of increasing the positive ranking factors associated with your content

2. This will also serve to increase click-through rate (CTR) from Image Searches

3. Captions can serve as a relevant context to the content appearing within the image and make for a more effective description of reasons why someone should click on it

4. Use caption text to identify figures in charts, diagrams or graphs that clarify what data is being shown and its significance

31. Descriptive Filenames for Images

Images with descriptive file names provide yet another opportunity to add a keyword on-page and can increase the ability of the specific image to appear in “Image Searches”. This is a very good sign of well-planned website architecture.

Bad Example: /images/image-908761_new.gif

Good Example: /images/iphone13.gif

32. Check for Oversized Images

Note any oversized images (over 500k) you can find. Oversized images affect your site’s load time and cause unnecessary server load.

You should:

1. Eliminate, resize or optimize these images to reduce their file size by at least 50%. Be sure to check all images and not simply the ones that look like they might be heavy

2. Use a graphics program such as Photoshop or GIMP to optimize your images by lowering their file size and/or changing their format (from .gif, .png or .jpeg to .jpg)

3. The smaller you can make your files, the faster your pages will load which is good for both users and search engine crawlers

4. If you are using a CMS, check to see if there are any plugins or modules that can help you automatically resize and optimize images when they’re uploaded.

Large images can take longer to download and according to Google, the response time for requesting your images and file size can affect its ability to rank in “Image Searches”.

33. Site Hosting Location

If localization is important, the country of hosting can help determine if a website appears in local search results. Website server location can also help the site to load faster in that location.

Check out this website hosting checker tool.

Website hosting location checker
Image source: https://sitechecker.pro/hosting-checker/

If you’re looking to serve localized content for specific areas of the country, consider hosting your website at a server location that meets that criteria.

You should:

1. Determine which countries are important for serving localized content. If it is not necessary, use the country-neutral .com TLD

2. Host your site on a server located in one of those countries, making sure that the site loads quickly for visitors in that area

3. If you are using a CMS or eCommerce platform, check to see if there are any plugins or modules that can help you automatically serve localized content from your website.

Google takes into account the physical location of a website’s hosting server in order to serve results that are specific to the user’s location. This is done by taking into account the user’s IP address and other search engine ranking factors.

Example: If your website’s primary target is the USA, it is wise to host it on a server that is located in the USA.

34. Implement Content Delivery Network (CDN)

A CDN can distribute your hosting server’s load, saves bandwidth, boosts the performance of your site and reduce your existing hosting costs as well. Sounds good, isn’t it?

With the help of a CDN, you can externalise most / all of your website’s static files like audio, video, image files, CSS, JS, etc which are loaded from a different domain due to the per domain concurrent connection limits. By externalising the static files to a different domain through the CDN, in most cases, you will see at least 70% faster load times.

You should:

1. Sign up for a CDN service

2. Connect your website to the CDN

3. Copy all of your static files (audio, video, image files, CSS, JS, etc) to the CDN

4. Test your website’s load time and performance before and after implementing the CDN

Conclusion:

Perhaps “Content is King”, perhaps not. What is more important is to have an overall design and architecture that helps your website serve user needs first. Put yourself in the users’ shoes first!

The above 34 factors are really just a few of the many factors that affect website rankings. Even though they are 34 out of hundreds of other ranking factors that Google uses to rank search engine results, you should still take them into serious consideration.

If you want your website to find its way to the top pages of Google for relevant keywords, start by reviewing and implementing the architecture and design changes suggested in this article.

Although this list is not exhaustive, it covers some of the most important ranking factors that you should be aware of.

If you are not technically qualified to implement the above website architecture changes yourself, your SEO company should easily be able to implement them for you.

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