WordPress, the household name in the CMS market, is a web publishing tool that you can use to build a website. WordPress is not only popular among individuals who blog, but it is also heavily used by many businesses.
The good thing about WordPress is that you do not require any specific technical skills. No prior coding knowledge is needed as the WordPress Editor is as easy as Microsoft Word. The problem is that it’s also possible to neglect SEO on WordPress websites, leading to lots of futile work unless you pay some attention to detail.
Although WordPress is optimized for search engines and performs fine, if done right, it still boils down to how your website is coded and managed. You may think you have implemented everything correctly from the get-go, but your website is still not getting the results you want; this could be due to the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) mistakes that you could be making.
Marketers revere SEO as it is an effective way to drive traffic to your website to increase the conversion rate. Hence, as a marketer, you must ensure that you do your website justice with SEO.
Here are some simple SEO mistakes to avoid in WordPress:
(Source: Buzzsumo free version)
Google emphasizes quality content. After all, Google only wants to serve its users with top-notch, accurate, and current content. Hence, it is not surprising that Google ranks high on websites with quality content.
When landing on your website, your audience expects information that is relevant to them and can be trusted and updated. It will bail and look elsewhere once it sees anything dodgy, irrelevant, and outdated.
Make sure to serve quality, relevant, and fresh content to your audience; they will return for more. Know your business and use relevant content for your industry. Also, set a regular schedule to publish new and current content to set the right expectations for your audience.
You can also explore tools like BuzzSumo that helps you analyze your competitors’ content. You can then find out what content is performing best for them and leverage this.
(Ranktrackers Keyword Tool)
Focusing on quantity and not quality may harm your website more than good. The following are some of the ways that content is not optimized well:
Keywords are the heart of SEO as Google uses them to understand the focus of your website content. They are the words or phrases your audience commonly uses when searching Google. It would make sense to use such keywords in your content so that Google can easily find them and rank you high.
Unfortunately, many use the wrong keywords. They either choose keywords that are not common and popularly used or try to rank for the wrong industry and audience. Some choose too generic keywords and bear no real value. While others use the right keywords, they are too highly competitive; such keywords have no weight and use for you.
Aim only for the strategic keywords. Some tools can help you locate the right keywords relevant to you. Also, find out what strategic keywords your competitors are using (WordStream Free Keyword Tool). You can find out what keywords they use for their pay-per-click ads and leverage this.
So, do your due diligence and identify the keywords you want your content to rank for. Remember to use keywords in your headers too. The idea is to use the keywords correctly in the right places to boost your SEO.
Visuals are essential to any website; they improve readability and help retain your audience. However, many include lots of attractive images with no clear captions. Google will not be able to identify the visuals and know if they are relevant; your ranking drops.
Using relevant and quality visuals is good for SEO. Use visuals that have clear titles and captions so that Google will know you are using appropriate visuals. You will rank high in Google if you do so.
Using the right keywords is all and good. However, do you know that if you use too many of them, you can be penalized by Google? Yes, some use them heavily over their website to the extent they become cluttered! Others even repeat the keywords non-stop; this is an SEO killer.
Everything is in moderation. Using the right keywords is the correct thing to do, but do not aimlessly and haphazardly multiply them throughout the website. Using them wisely with just the right number of times will do you good.
Number of global smartphone subscriptions 2016-2027 (Source: Statista)
In 2019, Google enabled mobile-first indexing; this is where Google ranks the mobile version predominantly over the website version. This is not surprising as smartphone users have surpassed 6.5 billion. Hence, the majority will be searching online via their mobile devices.
Unfortunately, many assume that their audience is mostly coming in via their traditional desktops. They then focus their effort on having their websites optimized for desktops. Before long, you will notice your ranking drop, and you’d cut off a chunk of your audience.
Websites that already support desktops must be re-coded to be mobile-friendly. Your WordPress website needs to be optimized to be lightweight and supportive of mobile devices of all sizes. Your goal is to make sure your website's desktop and mobile versions do well in all aspects, including speed and performance.
Performance check on the 'WordPress.org' website (Source: Google PageSpeed Insights)
Google puts much weight on your website speed when ranking you. Let’s face facts; nobody will wait for more than 2s for your website to load; they will leave if you take longer. Hence, it is no wonder that Google penalizes slow websites. Speed is an important ranking signal as it determines the user's online experience.
Your web hosting provider determines your website's speed and performance. As such, they indirectly impact your SEO. So, choose your web host wisely. Remember, a snail-speed website tanks your SEO effort tremendously.
You must have a good web hosting solution from a reliable web host that promises a high uptime guarantee with blazing fast speeds. Also, optimize your code and compress your visuals; this can help reduce the load, and your website can run faster.
Use WordPress cache plugins to help deliver your content faster to your audience. Many WordPress plugins can help you with many things but be mindful of their integrity and security.
On any website, there must be external and internal links. Linking to external websites with high authoritative levels does well for your SEO. However, many tend to lose focus on the internal links. Internal links are essential to help guide your visitors and increase user engagement. Also, Google uses them to index your website.
Google uses your internal links as a way to locate your key pages. Once you have displayed a clear structure in your internal linking, Google understands your website’s relevance and ranks you high.
Draft out an internal linking sitemap. Then follow through with the relevant internal links in all the correct places in your content. You have to prove to Google that you know what you’re doing. The hyperlinks also need to be self-explanatory.
(Ranktracker’s backlink checker)
Having authoritative hyperlinks in your content is good as they help increase your SEO. However, if you stuff too many hyperlinks in your content, not caring about their relevance, you only hurt your SEO. Also, having broken links that lead to pages that do not exist is a huge No-No. Broken links only frustrate your audience and thus increase bounce rates.
Use only quality and authoritative hyperlinks in your content. It is not so much of the quantity but rather the quality of each link you use. Execute SEO link building to obtain quality backlinks. Some tools can help you with this. You can check out OpenLinkProfiler, a free tool that is great for backlink analysis. Also, regularly check your links to ensure they are active and not broken.
WordPress.org permalink settings (Source: WordPress.org)
Short for permanent link, the permalink is typically the URL you use when accessing anything on your website. It consists of your domain name and another piece of information that denotes the category. The URL to each post should never change.
Permalinks are essential to your SEO health as Google uses them to rank you. If you fill your permalink with a load of gibberish that makes no sense, it will make your website less enticing as far as search engines go.
Have your WordPress website’s permalinks set up correctly. WordPress uses web URLs with day and name by default. That said, you can create a custom URL structure for your permalinks. Whatever it is, ensure both your permalink and web page headline use the same keywords. You will earn a nod from Google when doing so.
There are no shortcuts in SEO; it is a huge picture that takes time to put the pieces together. That said, SEO is key to the success of all websites, so you cannot afford any SEO mistakes that will negatively impact your website and business. Go through the above and put in the effort to fine-tune and adjust accordingly for the optimum results.
Bear in mind that it takes time to see some results. However, your effort will eventually pay off when your SEO strategy takes shape and you see yourself at the top of the search results.