15 On-Page SEO Problems and How to Fix Them Fast
Tackling on-page SEO problems can be a daunting task.
First, you have to diagnose the issue, which can be tricky in itself.
Then, there’s fixing the issue soon enough, before things get out of hand.
Relax. No matter how bad things might have gotten, this post will guide you through it.
You’ll learn how to find these technical SEO issues and have them fixed in no time.
Let’s get started.
1. Duplicate Content
Duplicate content is when you have pages on your site that are identical or similar to each other.
This is a problem because it makes it hard for Google to know which piece of content is the original one, so, doesn’t rank any of them.
Here are some examples of duplicate content:
- Similar product pages on an eCommerce site – This could be unintentional or an issue with product variations creating multiple URLs
- Articles on your blog that are too similar in search intent and information on the page
- Problems with www, non-www, and HTTPS redirections (more on this later)
Having duplicate content can also result in your other content not being indexed.
Because if you have a lot of pages that are too similar, this can use up a lot of crawl budget, preventing Google from indexing other pages.
The best solution is a preventative one. But, if you think you already have duplicate content, here’s what you can do to get back on track.
First, use a tool like Siteliner to scan your website for duplicate content.
Second, from your list of duplicate content, determine which ones are most important. These are your canonical URLs.
Lastly, solve the problem in a few different ways:
- Delete the duplicate pages and redirect them to the main one
- Add the main URL in a rel=”canonical” tag to the duplicate pages
- Or add a link directly from the duplicate pages to the main one
Once Google picks up the pages that are intended to rank, you’ll start seeing better results in the SERPs.
2. No Internal Links
Also known as orphan pages.
Internal links are essential for a few reasons:
- Helping search engines find and index all pages on your site
- Passing link equity or “link juice” throughout the site
- And providing readers with more relevant content to read
If you don’t implement an internal link strategy, it can cause on-page SEO problems.
Problems like pages not being indexed and difficulties establishing topical authority.
To illustrate this issue, we can look at site architecture that has a logical hierarchy:
Without a clear path to each page through internal linking, Google will struggle to index all the content.
The easiest solution is to use our WordPress plugin, Link Whisper.
Link Whisper quickly scans your site and finds internal linking opportunities you might have missed.
If you have tons of content with internal linking issues, this will save you a lot of time and provide you with the most relevant internal link.
3. Poor User Experience
Having a poor user experience might not seem like an on-page SEO problem, which is why it is often overlooked.
This is not to be confused with the Experience in Google’s quality rater guidelines, E.E.A.T.
That’s about how much experience a content creator has on the topic they are writing.
More on E.E.A.T later.
The reason why user experience is so important is that it won’t matter how good your content is if visitors don’t stay on your site.
Bounce rate measures the percentage of people who entered your site and left without any interaction.
And a high bounce rate could hurt search engine performance.
To fix this, first, make sure you’re using a good theme that is clear of too many distractions and clutter.
Second, set clear goals for every page on your site so that visitors know they’re in the right place.
Lastly, get straight to the point to meet the search intent and use engaging copy that speaks directly to the readers’ needs.
4. Blocked by robots.txt
The robots.txt file is a file located in the root directory of any website that tells search engines what to index and not index.
This is useful for brand-new websites that don’t want pages indexed until the initial site structure is in place.
But, if search engines are being blocked when they aren’t supposed to, it will pose huge on-page SEO problems.
To fix it, first, you’ll need to check to see if you have a robots.txt file.
This file is usually created by SEO plugins like Rank Math or Yoast.
Either way, the line of text inside the robots.txt will look like this:
If you see this in your robots.txt, then you’ve found your problem.
Change the text to look something like the following if you’re using WordPress
User-agent: * Disallow: /wp-admin/ Sitemap: https://yourdomain.com/sitemap_index.xml
This will give search engine bots access to the whole site except the WordPress admin, and include your sitemap.
5. Content Doesn’t Match the Keyword Intent
This is another problem that will cause visitors to leave as fast as they arrived.
Because if the intent of the article or page doesn’t match the content, it won’t be helpful to your audience.
Another issue is having trouble ranking the content in the first place because keyword intent plays such a big role in Google’s algorithm.
To combat this, make sure every piece of content answers the keyword intent and provides useful information.
The more helpful your content is, that closely matches what the search is looking for, the better your on-page SEO will be.
6. Broken Links
Broken links can cause all sorts of problems with your site’s performance, not just technical SEO.
Here are the main reasons it affects on-page SEO:
- Indexing issues
- Miss out on topical relevance
- And user experience
Broken links on your site might happen for several reasons.
Maybe the URL has been mistyped or the destination page has been deleted.
Either way, you can find out if you have broken links using the Crawl Errors report in Google Search Console:
You can also use the broken links report in Link Whisper which lists all the broken links on your site.
This handy feature allows you to quickly remove or update broken links and improve on-page SEO performance.
7. Autogenerated Titles and Descriptions
Meta titles and descriptions play a huge role in on-page SEO.
Many people overlook how important it is, and as a result, neglect to create unique and custom SEO titles and descriptions.
By using the default strings provided by SEO plugins.
Here’s what they look like in Yoast SEO:
And Rank Math:
There’s nothing wrong with using these strings as a baseline and for some pages, it’s totally fine to set it and forget it.
But, for your most important pages, it’s recommended to use unique and engaging titles and descriptions.
That way, your search rankings will stand out from others and receive a higher click-through rate.
Lastly, using autogenerated titles and descriptions poses the risk of creating duplicates.
And duplicate titles and descriptions can be as detrimental as duplicate content in SEO.
8. Images Aren’t Optimized
Images are a great way to provide a better user experience for website visitors.
And there are many ways unoptimized images can negatively impact on-page SEO.
For starters, if images are too big in file size, they will slow down your site, causing people to leave.
Other potential issues that impact SEO are missing alt tags and images that are broken.
In fact, according to Search Engine Watch, research shows that 45% of websites have missing alt tags, and 10% have broken images.
Alt tags help describe images to search engines so they can be indexed in image searches.
And broken images are potentially worse than no images, giving a poor user experience.
A simple fix is to use an image optimization plugin such as ShortPixel to automatically optimize image file sizes.
Then, a simple solution for missing image alt tags is to use a plugin such as Rank Math or Alt Text Magic.
9. Slow Site Speed
According to Google, 53% of mobile users will abandon sites that take longer than 3 seconds to load.
It’s true. The correlation between user experience and on-page SEO problems goes hand in hand.
Therefore, site speed should be a priority.
First, test your site speed using GTMetrix and if the results are high, follow these guidelines to speed up your site.
- Get fast web hosting such as Kinsta or WPXHosting
- Use a well-made or premium WordPress SEO-ready theme, like Astra or Kadence
- Optimize your site’s speed with WPRocket
- Speed up image load times with ShortPixel
10. Messy URL Structure
Many websites use a messy URL structure with weird character strings, like this:
This is quite common with eCommerce platforms and oftentimes, can’t be avoided.
To make it easier for humans and search engines to know exactly what the page is about, we need clean URLs with a logical structure.
Clean URLs are also user-friendly and people will trust a link that is easy to understand.
These links are also more likely to be shared in emails or on social media sites.
The solution is very simple. But, before changing your URL structure, make sure you take note of all the pages you’re already ranking for.
After the URL change, you’ll need to redirect the old URLs to the new ones.
If you’ve got a big site and lots of search engine traffic, you might want to get the help of a professional, or you could lose rankings.
In WordPress, navigate to Settings > Permalinks, and choose the option, Post name:
11. Irrelevant Anchor Text
Anchor text is the clickable text of a link that points to another page.
For best practices, it is advisable to use relevant text that describes the page you’re linking to.
This makes anchor text SEO-friendly and provides context to the reader and search engines.
So if your anchor text doesn’t clearly describe the purpose of the page it’s linking to, you’ll find it harder to rank those pages.
Moreover, it’s important not to use the same anchor text for different pages. Otherwise, this can cause Keyword Cannibalization.
If keyword cannibalization or irrelevant anchor text is stopping pages from ranking, you can use Link Whisper to fix it.
Go to your Internal links report and under the column Inbound internal links, click the drop-down on the page where you want to check the anchor text.
You’re able to see all of the links pointing to this page at a glance and edit them if needed.
12. Lacks E.E.A.T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritative, Trustworthiness)
E.E.A.T is now the updated version of E.A.T, which stands for, Experience, Expertise, Authoritative, and Trustworthiness.
This update to the search quality rater guidelines clearly states what Google is looking for.
Getting this right can take some time and adjustments to how you present yourself throughout your site.
What you don’t want is a site that has no information about yourself whatsoever.
Create a strong about page and add an author bio box that states why people should listen to you.
And keep the following descriptions in mind when creating content.
- Experience: Does the creator have first-hand or life experience with the topic being covered? For example, a product reviewed by someone who has used it.
- Expertise: Does the creator have the necessary knowledge and skill on the topic?
- Authoritativeness: Is the creator known as a go-to source for this topic?
- Trustworthiness: Is the content accurate, honest, safe, and reliable?
13. No XML Sitemap
An XML sitemap is an autogenerated page that displays all the links on your site.
You can submit an XML sitemap to Google Search Console to help Google find your site’s pages so they can be indexed.
Sometimes, if your site isn’t optimized well and you haven’t submitted your XML sitemap, it can cause ranking issues.
The simple solution is to use the sitemap created by most SEO plugins.
For example, in RankMath, just head over to the sitemap setting and you’ll see the link:
Then go to your Google Search Console Property and add it on the Sitemap page:
14. Content Isn’t Helpful
In August 2022, Google launched an update called the “helpful content update” to help define what content is more helpful than others.
This means that even if your site pleases other ranking signals, it might not rank if this new system thinks the content isn’t helpful.
To make sure your site has the best chance of ranking, make it as helpful as possible by following these guidelines:
Demonstrate expertise clearly that comes from a depth of knowledge
Create content with a purpose that is focused on one area, instead of many in the hopes to rank
Aim to provide as much value as possible so your audience leaves feeling satisfied
Focus on people first and avoid creating content for search engines first
15. Undefined HTTPS Redirections
Issues with HTTPS redirection can cause extra versions of your site to be ranked, resulting in lots of on-page SEO issues.
Many web hosts will have things in place to do this automatically, but it’s worth checking.
The most common domain variations are:
- https://yourdomain.com or
You can find out what yours is on the WordPress General settings page:
When you know what yours is set to, try accessing your site with these variations:
- http://yourdomain.com or
Ideally, entering any variation will redirect you to the version saved in your WordPress settings.
You can also check to see if there are different versions by doing a Google search for:
If there’s more than one version in the results, then you probably have a redirection problem.
A simple fix would be to talk to your web host or use a plugin like Really Simple SSL.
These are the most up-to-date on-page SEO problems that most websites suffer from.
Is your website one of them?
In summary, even though many of these issues can cause a lot of havoc, they aren’t too difficult to fix and can get you back on track quickly.