Occasionally, a problem will land on your desk that’s a little out of the ordinary. Something where you don’t have an easy answer. You go to your brain and your brain returns nothing. This is where SEO pops in, and it is one of the most important tools in Digital Marketing. No doubt whatsoever.
These problems can’t be solved with a little bit of keyword research and basic technical configuration. These are the types of technical SEO problems where the rabbit hole goes deep.
The very nature of these situations defies a checklist, but it’s useful to have one for the same reason we have them on planes: even the best of us can and will forget things, and a checklist will provide you with places to dig.
There are some common problems with conventional SEO, and here are some samples of such problems:
1. Why wasn’t Google showing 5-star markup on product pages?
- The pages had server-rendered product markup and they also had Feefo product markup, including ratings being attached client-side.
- The Feefo rating snippet was successfully rendered in Fetch & Render, plus the mobile-friendly tool.
- When you put the rendered DOM into the structured data testing tool, both pieces of structured data appeared without errors.
2. Why wouldn’t Bing display 5-star markup on review pages, when Google would?
- The review pages of client & competitors all had rating rich snippets on Google.
- All the competitors had rating rich snippets on Bing; however, the client did not.
- The review pages had correctly validating rating schema on Google’s structured data testing tool but did not on Bing.
3. Why were pages getting indexed with a no-index tag?
- Pages with a server-side-rendered no-index tag in the head were being indexed by Google across a large template for a client.
4. Why did any page on a website return a 302 about 20–50% of the time, but only for crawlers?
- A website was randomly throwing 302 errors.
- This never happened in the browser and only in crawlers.
- User-agent made no difference; location or cookies also made no difference.
Finally, a quick note. It’s entirely possible that some of this checklist won’t apply to every scenario. That’s totally fine. It’s meant to be a process for everything you could check, not everything you should check.
The Pre-Checklist Check
Does it actually matter?
Does this problem only affect a tiny amount of traffic? Is it only on a handful of pages and you already have a big list of other actions that will help the website? You probably need to just drop it.
I know, I hate it too. I also want to be right and dig these things out. But in six months’ time, when you’ve solved twenty complex SEO rabbit holes and your website has stayed flat because you didn’t re-write the title tags, you’re still going to get fired.
But hopefully, that’s not the case, in which case, onwards!
Where are you seeing the problem?
We don’t want to waste a lot of time. There is this wonderful saying that goes by: “Never judge a book by its cover.”
The process we’re about to go through is fairly involved and it’s entirely up to your discretion if you want to go ahead. Just make sure you’re not overlooking something obvious that would solve your problem. Here are some common problems that people have come across that were mostly horses.
- You’re underperforming from where you should be.
- When a site is under-performing, people love looking for excuses. Weird Google nonsense can be quite a handy thing to blame. In reality, it’s typically some combination of a poor site, higher competition, and a failing brand. Horse.
- You’ve suffered a sudden traffic drop.
- Something has certainly happened, but this is probably not the checklist for you. There are plenty of common-sense checklists for this.
- The wrong page is ranking for the wrong query.
- In a lot of people’s experience (which should probably preface this entire post), this is usually a basic problem where a site has poor targeting or a lot of cannibalization. Probably a horse.
We hope you had a great time reading this blog. Do stay tuned for more interesting content, and as always, til’ next time!