Troubleshooting SEO Issues

Troubleshooting SEO issues to start getting Google to give you search analytics is a little difficult. There is a lot of information out there butmost of it is focused on moving you up the search index. When you are just starting, you want to focus on getting your site on Google and getting Google to index you. For the most part – if you keep creating content and get any kind of link back – Google will find you, but I want to make sure we get a site up and know that Google knows about your/our site.

To start troubleshooting SEO issues for this post I completed the following actions over the past week or so:

  • Fix redirect issue – Using the Crawl > Fetch As Google tool I get notified of a 301 Redirect
  • Move from strt-nw.com/web to strt-nw.com and verify with google.

Fixing 301 Redirect Issue:

In some ways this ended up being a bit non-issue, but let me give you some background and help you help Google help you.

The issue ends up being on the web address where you say your website is actually at. From the aspect of your website (I will gloss over some of the details for brevity) www.site.com and site.com are processed as potentially differently pages but most people want them to link to the same thing and it does not make sense to have a duplicate of a page. In general, most people want visitors to get to the same content using both addresses, so a website will catch the request for the page that does not actually exist and redirects it to the real page. Generally which page is the “real page” is configurable, but there maybe conflicting settings at the web hosting side and WordPress side. I will ignore the hosting settings, as I resolved the issue without having to mess with those settings. In my case, I did not add the real site to Google Webmasters/Search Console. Let me show you have to resolve the issue.

The resolve the issue – start by figuring out what your site address is:

  1. Log in to your WordPress site
  2. Go to Settings > General
  3. Note the WordPress Address and the Site Address – you want the site address. See below.
Troubleshooting SEO Issues by updating WordPress Site Address
Updating WordPress Site Address

Now that you have the site address you will need to make some updates on Google Search Console:

More information on steps 1-3 can be found at: Additional Details

  1. Add the new address/domain to Google
  2. Upload a sitemap – yes it is the same as before but it will nudge Google to take action
  3. Verify your domain/address.
  4. Use the Google Fetch As tool to confirm the issue has been resolved.

Moving WordPress to the Root Domain:

The goal of this step is to start getting Google to give you Crawl stats – which it will only do for root domains. I found that more information came crawl details prior to showing up a Structured Data and getting search indexes and clicks.

I found a such a good writeup, I will defer to it:

http://askwpgirl.com/how-do-i-move-wordpress-from-a-subdirectory-to-the-root-directory/

The core steps as covered in detail at the link are:

  1. Backing up your WordPress site
  2. Set my Site Address to  www.strt-nw.com as seen in the picture above
  3. Move www.strt-nw.com/index.php to the root domain directory
  4. Make a small change the index.php
  5. Check Perma Links and save changes

Once you have completed all of the steps at the link, you will have to repeat the steps above used add another domain to Google Search Console. The only difference is you will have to copy or upload a new copy of the Google Verification file to the root domain. It is easy and will be the same for all addresses/domains you registered with Search Console.

First Google Clicks:

The first information I was able to get was under the Crawl Section > Keywords. After a couple of days, I even had a couple of clicks.

Troubleshooting SEO issues to First SEO Clicks
First SEO Clicks

 

 

WordPress Categories – Creating Some Structure

I went ahead and created some WordPress categories for the site. WordPress provides flexibility in the realm of creating categories and tags. At the end of the day there are about three reasons to create categories:

  • Content Organization – For yourself and visitors
  • Simpler Links/Permalink Structure – Easier navigation via an easier (to-a-human) link structure
  • Helping google help you – SEO

To get started – I recommend a creating a simple category structure with no parents. Add tags as you are will/are ready. It seems that the consensus is that you should always have a category when it comes to a post, but tags are optional in the realm of using WordPress Categories for search engine optimization.

If you want some background on WordPress Categories and Tags: WordPress Categories vs Tags

To add categories, or remove the uncategorized category:

  1. At the WordPress Dashboard, go to Posts > Categories
  2. On the Categories Page, hit add category.
  3. Enter in the requested information – try not to create names that are too long
  4. If you want to edit a category – specifically the uncategoried category, refer to the next section
WordPress Categories
Add a WordPress Category

Leveraging the Yoast SEO Tools:

Once you have created a new category, you will want to immediately update it and add in the SEO details. If you are using Yoast SEO, you can bring up a page like the one below by doing the following:

  1. On the Posts > Categories Page, hover over the new category and select the Edit option
  2. The Category Edit page will load, and there will be a Yoast SEO area to fill in
  3. Enter in the requested information
Yoast SEO WordPress Categories
Add in SEO Category Details

Categorizing Posts:

When you create a post it is simple to add a category, but I recommend only using one category when you first get started.

The reason is that there can be complications when using multiple categories (such as which category will get used for the permalink) and while there are solutions (plugins/etc) they will be a distraction to getting your site off the ground. Leverage tags for now if you want that kind of granularity at this point.

Creating better links:

You can create better links using your WordPress Categories by updating your WordPress permalink structure:

  1. On the WordPress Dashboard, go to Settings > Permalinks
  2. Choose Custom, and enter: /%category%/%postname%/
  3. Hit – Save Changes

Note: Your posts will now be referenced using a new link. You may want to make sure your sitemap updated properly. Possibly even work on notifying Google.

Site Status – Part I

It is time for an update on the site status. It has been about two weeks now and I was about to state that I still have no site indexed on Google yet, but that finally changed tonight. One of the pages on the site is indexed, but I can not get much more details out of Google at this point. No structured data is available nor is data about my indexing available that I can see. I thought for sure after fixing a sitemap issue that Google would index my site, but I had a wait a couple of days for Google to look at my site again. Even then though it did not mention indexing a site then. It was only  when I was ready to put this post together I checked one last time – and there it was:

First page indexed!
First page indexed!
Before I get into some items I want to tackle over the next week or so, you may have noticed – I updated my WordPress Header. The header is what WordPress calls the image you see at the top of the website. It may not help Google, but it should make more sense to viewers. It is possible that it could help Google, as Google may hash images and notice that the header is a default image. The process was simple: I went to a stock photo site, entered a couple of keywords, and downloaded the image I liked. I did crop the image and compress it before uploading.
Items might help more of my pages get indexed fix the problem:
  • Move from strt-nw.com/web to strt-nw.com and verify with google. At the very least, this will help me as Google will only give crawl information to the root domain (strt-nw.com). It may help Google, as of right now I have no homepage/index.html at strt-nw.com.
  • Fix redirect issue – Theme caused? If I use the Crawl > Fetch As Google tool I get notified of a 301 Redirect. Resolving should not fix the indexing problem, but it is supposed to help improve your site index.
  • Get some external links to my site – well I thought that might be a key part of the problem, but after tonight Google says I have at least one page indexed. Though it does not make that clear which page. Google is still not reporting structured data and such. At the very least a couple of links should help improve indexing and the rate at which Google looks at the site.
  • Update all Posts to have SEO data properly filled out.
Items to help improve my search index and website:
  • Caches: Using caches will improve page load time, which in turn helps with indexing. People and in turn Google like fast/responsive web pages. Caches basically allow the site to have certain key information stored for quick access, so it does not have to go back to disk each time the resource is requested.
  • Optimize images for web: Generally loss-less photos are larger and dominate the amount of data vs the text of website. So optimizing photos so they are no larger than they need to be and effectively compressed will reduce the amount of data a viewer needs to load to see your page. Less data to load, means faster page loads.
  • Categorize post/change permalinks to use category/post-name. I am not sure how much categorizing will help search engines, but it should help viewers by making it easier to find related articles.
  • Figure out how to use H2 headers in posts. This issue could be a theme issue, but it causes a warning from Yoast SEO. Think of this like using headers in MS Word.
Do sooner, not later:
  • Install some analytics – most likely Google Analytics. See #s/who is visiting the site, and how they interact with the site.