Understanding the issues that occur on your site is a vital part of long-term SEO success
As your practice evolves on your SEO journey, so will the structure of your site. But, growing pains are often an inescapable part of change. It’s essential to keep an eye on the errors that may occur. Site audits can show us a wealth of invaluable info about issues present on your site. But, there can be a lot of information to take in from these reports. So, today we will be breaking down the different results the site audit can show us from our Data Dashboard. We will also discuss what issues must be addressed when they arise.
Classifying Your Site Audit Results
When looking at your site audit, you will be able to see the number of pages that have been reviewed, the date the most recent audit was run, and which audit tests have passed or failed. You will also notice three types of errors that form based on these failed tests. These are split up into warnings, errors, and critical errors. By clicking on an individual test, you can see what pages are affected by the issue, and provide extra info to help resolve them.
No site is perfect, and there are bound to be things that are perceived as errors by the site audit. The most common will be the warnings that occur in different forms on the site. Warnings can involve on-page elements such as missing headings, a low word count, or excessively long titles. They can also involve more technical aspects of your site like long loading times, missing meta descriptions, and high waiting times.
Being a step up from warnings, errors are issues that can have more of an impact on how potential visitors to your site interact with each page. This can include issues like broken resources (like images), broken links, and duplicate meta descriptions. There are some errors that are related to critical errors, but most remain in their own category.
Critical errors are the most severe type of issue that can occur on the site audit. These errors are critical because they directly affect the ability to access pages on your site. The most common critical errors we encounter are 4xx errors, which are broken links that may occur for a number of reasons like a page no longer existing on the site, requiring a sign-in, or requiring a form of authentication. Other critical errors may be 5xx errors, which prevent both search engines and people from accessing your website. However, 5xx errors are often due to issues on the server side, which isn’t anything we can really control.
Understanding What Issues to Resolve
While knowing the cause of each issue is invaluable, it still may not be worth the time to go through and fix every single warning, error, and critical error on the site. There are many different unique warnings and errors that may occur on your site, so we won’t be addressing every issue in this post. Each concern has a description of why the error/warning is occurring, so making use of that resource will be important when reviewing your site audit.
In terms of warnings and errors, it may not be worth the time invested to fix all of them. For issues like a slightly slow page speed, it is worth taking into account what you will gain from fixing the error compared to how much time you are putting into solving the problem. For a vast majority of warnings, they won’t really be worth the time put into resolving the issue. However, there are errors that can occur that are worth taking the time to address. This is due to how they can impact the on-page experience and navigation of folks visiting your site.
One of the main errors that we suggest fixing is “broken resources”.
These can be things like images, stylesheets, and scripts that are failing to load on your site. This may be due to files no longer being available on the site, or a number of other scenarios. Having broken resources can be distracting for visitors to your site and can make it seem like things aren’t up to date, thus harming the trust visitors have in your site.
On the other hand, there are other errors that may be present on your report that seem like issues but are actually signs you are doing things correctly on your site.
One such example could be pages not being recognized as canonical. This can be seen as the main version of a page when there exist other versions of the same page. In many cases, the site audit can falsely flag alternative versions of pages as not being canonical (the original), when the “main” or “original” page is already in its rightful place. While it is nice that the site audit is thorough enough to inform us that there are other versions of a given page, it can sometimes cause false positives to occur as a result.
So, are critical errors the only ones I need to fix?
In short, it’s not that simple. As a general rule, yes it will be best to fix all critical errors that occur on your site audit. But, there are also some errors that may need to be addressed like broken resources. In the end, it is worth taking your personal situation into account so you can effectively use your time to address the issues that affect your site most.
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