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

 

 

Yoast SEO Sitemap Error & Fix

So in my last post: SEO 101  I created an issue with the sitemap.xml I previously created using the Google Sitemap XML Plugin. Even though Yoast SEO detected a potential issue, it was not properly dealt with, so we need to clean that up. No worries though the solution is simple. The steps below walk through fixing the Yoast SEO Sitemap Error I caused.

Check out the error Google Search Console gave me:

Google Error Processing sitemap.xml
Google error processing sitemap.xml

 

Steps to fix sitemap and create a new one:

  1. Logged in & on Dashboard, go to  SEO > XML Sitemaps
  2. Uncheck the setup a sitemap check box
  3. Hit Save Changes
  4. Check the setup sitmap check box
  5. Hit Save Changes AND done!!
  6. Double check the results by hitting the sitemap button

The Yoast SEO Sitemap Error was that easy to resolve. If you never turned off the Google Sitemap XML Plugin, you might need to do that and repeat the process. Check out the image below for reference.

Yoast SEO Sitemap Settings
Yoast SEO Sitemap Settings

Couple of Notes:

  • Prior to resolution, if you went to the Sitemap button on the Yoast SEO Plugin page you would get a 404 – File not found error
  • Even though Yoast SEO correctly detected the competing plugin and appeared to have deleted the old sitemap, it did not create a replacement
  • I used an FTP client to ensure that the previous sitemap.xml was no around

Now update Google:

Go to Google Search Console and add your new Sitemap. Yoast SEO should have name the Sitemap sitemap_index.xml . You can delete the old sitemap. To get more information about uploading a sitemap to Google Search SEO see: Upload Sitemap to Google

I saw a couple of threads online about the issue, but no quick definitive answer so did a little trial and error. Hopefully this post will help resolve the problem for some other people out there.

SEO 101 – Getting Started With Search Engines

UPDATE: Adding Yoast SEO over the Google Sitemap XML Plugin will cause a problem with sitemap. It takes a couple of extra steps to resolve, the steps are covered here:Fix Yoast SEO Sitemap Error

Start SEO slowly. Consider this SEO 101. This post to ease into getting your site ready for search engines. I recommend trying WordPress SEO/Yoast SEO. It is widely used and well regarded. This post more learn by doing, less what is SEO. It will become clearer after you work with it, and make more sense when you go back and read up on what you are doing.

Before we get going I want to make two notes:

  • Per Google – Still 0 Clicks, no structured data, no real data from the Webmasters tools
  • I updated my first  post to be more SEO friendly. Check out the results: the WordPress – Hello World

Lets go ahead and jump into getting Yoast SEO installed:

Note: Google Site XML will get disabled in favor of the Yoast SEO equivalent. The Yoast SEO will warn you as soon as you install it, so no need to deactivate it ahead of installing/configuring the Plugin.

  1. Logged in/Dashboard up, go to Plugins > Add New
  2. Search WordPress SEO, Select what should be the first-ish result and click Install
  3. Make sure the Plugin is activated upon installation
  4. Confirm disabling the Google Sitemap XML Plugin
  5. Take the tour, if you miss the tour link go to the Left Hand Menu > SEO > General. A button for the tour will be there

Configuring your SEO Plugin:

You should only need to take a couple of steps to get started. There is more to do and play with at some point, but this should get you started.

  1. Update your search console: Go to SEO > Search Console > Get Authentication, follow the steps. NOTE: Not sure if this conflicts with: SEO > General > [ Tab ]  Webmaster Tools – Google Search Console
  2. Update your information: Go to SEO > General > [ Tab ]  Your Info – Select if you are a company or a person, save changes
  3. If you have some settings or did not want Yoast to do your sitemap.xml, edit options at: SEO > Sitemap XML

Creating a Post with SEO Data:

A lot of the benefit from making your site ready for search engines is making sure each Post is updated per the instructions below:

  1. Create a post, set the title to start with a keyword
  2. Write most of the Post
  3. Go to the bottom of the draft page, then review and update the Yoast SEO data
    1. Check the snippet preview and make sure your title is not to long
    2. Being careful in the previous step and depending on how you configured WordPress will have the site URL include your title/keyword
    3. Set your first keyword, try to align it with your title and post. Try to move the keyword to the beginning of your title.
    4. Add a meta-description,  it is what someone who is searching. Include keywords, they will come out if a searcher used them
    5. Go to the Page Analysis Tab, review the data and update to improve your Page Analysis results. The results will tell you exactly what to do.

Focus on repeating this for each post, and less on dumping meta data and keywords of old. This completes a SEO 101 Walk Through. If you want some more information, check out: Yoast SEO General Guide

Now that we have Yoast SEO installed and done the basics, its time for you to start playing around. The plugin tools are pretty helpful at helping you get your WordPress site and Posts SEO ready.

FOLLOW-UP: Site indexed by Google

There is some work yet to be done, but you can now at least find this website on Google. Right now indexing has not offered any help on the search front for click generation, but we will work on that. One step at a time. I will continue to post my progress and hopefully show how important each step is in creating and driving traffic. For comparison – right now I can see on google.com/webmasters that Google has generated 0 clicks via site results. In future posts I will cover checking google.com/webmasters to track traffic, preventing spam/back link traffic, and help with creating structured data for indexing/search engines (or as some say the dreaded “SEO” acronym).

The clip below shows how you can find the site using the Google search tag site: to find this website. I included

Website Indexed
Google Site Tag Search Results

Now that you can use the site: option in a Google search you can also see that by including the website title and author, you can find the site on Google now.

Google Search For Website
Word Search Result by Author

Getting your first Website on Google – Or At least Indexed

So you have a website and you got WordPress setup and installed, but Google has not yet decided you are are cool enough to add you to the search results… How do you fix that? If you just wait… eventually if you wait long enough, make a couple of posts that people see, and link to – Google will find you. But there is no fun in that, so lets jump start the process.

I know you have already tried searching on google, and may have even tried site:strt-nw.com just to be sure.  As of writing this post – no dice, so lets try something.

Create a sitemap(.xml) – i.e create a map for Google:

You are creating a map of your website that search engines use when finding and indexing your website. You can also use it to submit to google.

  1. Login to your WordPress site and pull up your Dashboard
  2. Click on the Plugins on the left hand side menu
  3. Click on the Add New at the top right hand corner of the page
  4. Search for Google XML Sitemap
  5. Click install
  6. Activate the plugin – it will automatically create a sitemap.xml file for you
  7. NOTE: You can check it out – so if your WordPress is installed at strt-nw.com/web/, your sitemap.xml will be at strt-nw.com/web/sitemap.xml

Add your website to Google & Verify you own your website for Google:

Google believes you have a website you want indexed, but it just wants to make sure you own or have proper permissions for the website.

  1. Go to: https://www.google.com/webmasters
  2. Sign in/Re-sign
  3. Click add Property – enter your website: strt-nw.com/web in this case
  4. Google will give you a verification file to upload to your website – download it. Note you probably want to right click on the link so your browser does not try to just open it because it is an .html file.
  5. Upload it to your website -using FTP
    1. You dont have an FTP client on your computer – get FileZilla or WinSCP
    2. Grab your FTP information in the email your web hosting company probably sent to you (dreamhost sent you an email with a password – which you have hopefully changed at this point)
    3. Use the client to connect your website. Logging on will put you in a user directory. Your website is probably in a folder with the name of the website. For me that is strt-nw.com, I then have to go to the web subfolder.
    4. Drag and drop the verification file using the FTP client
  6. Confirm you have uploaded the verificaiton file – google will confirm you did it correctly.

Add your sitemap to Google:

This step is somewhat optional as Google should find it, but it should help jump start the process. Google also lets you test your sitemap to check for errors.

  1. On your landing page at https://www.google.com/webmasters, click on your one and only site listed
  2. Click the submit
  3. Enter your sitemap.xml file location. It should already have your site filled in. So google gave me strt-nw.com/web/, I added sitemap.xml
  4. Ensure you get confirmation on the upload

If you care to follow the other instructions google sends you a message about, go ahead. Now you can take a step back and get to creating content. In a couple of days you should be indexed by Google. Be patient.