Yes, errors and technical issues do affect your search engine ranking. Think about it this way, Google is only interested in providing good quality search results. If for any reason Google cannot crawl your site, well then you are simply out of luck. The problem is much deeper than that. Think about it, you may have hundreds or thousands of pages and it is hard to find errors manually. The best thing to do is to use an automated tool to regularly crawl your site and report to you the errors it encounters. It is best to find these errors yourself before Google does.
What tool can you use to locate errors that may affect your search rankings? Well, you could use the Google Webmaster tools, but there is a great tool already called Website Auditor that does the following:
- Finds technical issues that may lower your rankings
- Provides feedback on how to fix those issues
- Provides insight on what your competitors are doing to tackle on-page SEO
- Provides direction on effective keyword usage for each page
The tool is pretty nice and runs in a few minutes. Website Auditor contains a free version that you can grab here, or a more expensive one (but of course more features) here. Take a look at the screenshot below to give you an idea of the interface:
What other things does Website Auditor do to fix errors?
So the list of technical things that are done to fix errors (that of course affect your search engine rankings) is as follows:
- Indexing and crawlability errors — pages restricted from indexing, pages with 4xx/5xx status codes, robots.txt and sitemap.xml setup.
- Redirects — pages with 302/301 redirect, pages with rel=”canonical”, pages with refresh.
- Encoding and technical factors — pages with Flash and frames, “heavy” pages, etc.
- Issues with URLs — dynamic URLs and URLs that are too long.
- Links — pages with too many outgoing links, broken links, dofollow external links.
- Content issues — empty/duplicate/too long titles, empty/too long meta descriptions, thin-content pages.