WordPress is already well optimized for search engines, but of course, it’s not perfect. People think that installing a good SEO plugin is enough to ensure good SEO, but many mistakes can happen in the initial setup of WordPress.
Plugin aside, WordPress needs two things:
- A good basic configuration.
- On-page optimization.
If you don’t follow basic SEO principles, the plugins you installed will turn out to be insufficient.
With that in mind, I’ve written this list of the most common SEO mistakes in WordPress, along with tips on how to avoid them. We will first focus on the specific mistakes you should not make when installing WordPress and configuring it, which will dictate a set of essential rules for your SEO. Then, on the errors or negligence to avoid on your content pages.
If you find that some of these errors are occurring on your website, correcting them can dramatically improve organic search engine traffic to your WordPress site.
Basic SEO Configuration of Your WordPress
1. You forgot to set your time zone
Let’s start with something simple: setting your time zone. Whenever you schedule a post to post, you decide on a specific time of day that WordPress should publish that content.
If your time zone isn’t set correctly, you won’t be able to publish your content when you think you might.
It could affect the number of views and shares on social networks. A lack of engagement can ultimately hamper your organic traffic.
Time zone setting can find in Settings, then General: the Time zone tab will allow you to choose yours.
2. Your permalinks are not correctly configured
SEO involves carefully placed keywords, for example, in the naming of permalinks.
You can improve your rankings and increase your click-through rate (CTR) by changing the permalinks of your posts to correlate with the title.
Instead of manually modifying each permalink, you can define a global rule in your Settings, then Permalinks. You will see a few options, like include the date, for example. Make sure you select the option that says Post Title.
As long as we are on the links, check that you have defined so-called canonical URLs: if Google does not always penalize sites with duplicate content, it will try to determine who the original publisher is as soon as it sees two web pages with the same content. It will prioritize that page in the search results over the other.
But sometimes, duplicate content can appear on the same site. While it’s not a huge problem, having 10x the same post with different URLs won’t help you rank on the first page. Do your best to combine duplicate blog posts and redirect deleted posts/pages to the most relevant.
Finally, your site can exist in versions:
All of these forms generate separate pages so that you can have 4 versions of the same content. The solution is to define canonical URLs for each of the web pages on your site.
On-page optimization on WordPress
3. Poor optimization of images
When it comes to common mistakes, the one I see most often is poor image optimization. Search engines cannot read the text of an image, so you have to hold their hand a little with the “alt” and “title” tags.
There is an endless debate about the importance of “alt” and “title” tags in the SEO world. Let’s let them fight and add text to both.
For many people, such as the visually impaired, images may not be visible, in which case they will see (or hear) the alt text. It must therefore be descriptive of the image, all including relevant keywords. Remember to include these tags on the logo, icons, and navigation images.
You will also avoid placing an image of 5MB and 4230 × 4230 in a container that is only 400px wide.
4. Bad internal linking
There are advantages to creating links between articles or pages on your site. You can reduce the bounce rate or increase visitor engagement. But for SEO, let’s be concerned about relevance.
If Google sees that you are linking to contextual pages on your site, it will better understand the site’s relevance to a particular topic, covered as a whole. An effective link can demonstrate the relevance of a particular page to a topic. But it can also lead to an improvement in your ranking on an entire subject (your site is recognized as an authority).
The main thing is to build links only when relevant and to use keyword-rich anchor texts.
5. Bad external linking
You can positively influence your ranking in the SERPS by regularly linking to authoritative external sites.
Indeed, Google likes to see sites refer to other sites, in the same way a medical journal cites other studies. Make sure to link to authoritative sites in your field.
6. Your Headers are poorly structured
HTML headers (e.g., the <h1> tag) provide Google with a lot of context regarding the relevance of your site. The words placed in these tags carry more weight than those contained in the main content of your site.
So you must include relevant keywords in these headers whenever possible, but it’s also important that your header tags are structured appropriately. Some WordPress themes don’t follow best practices in this regard, so that you can check your header tags right now. In short :
- On your home page, the <h1> tag must be the name of your site
- On all other pages, the <h1> tag must be the article’s title or page.
So your home page has the best chance of ranking for your site name, and other pages have the best chance of ranking for the specific topic they cover.
In addition, the <h2> and <h3> tags should be freely usable as relevant contextual captions.
If you want to improve the SEO of your WordPress site, you can follow our tutorial or hire a freelance WordPress expert Developer. An Expert Developer knows how to make all the adjustments to boost the SEO of your site and advise you.