It’s hard to imagine what life was like before WordPress. WordPress made it possible for everyone to create their own websites. The average learning curve of two days should further solidify our point as to the user friendliness of the web software.
So, that the general consensus is that WordPress is great for content publishers, but is it really? Yes, it’s free, easy to use and has an extensive library, but how does it fare in the SEO department? This is something that a lot of publishers tend to forget; the platform may allow for a lot of flexibility, but when it comes to SEO, you’ll need to make a few adjustments before clicking publish. This blog lists the 5 biggest SEO mistakes publishers make when working with WordPress.
1. Not Adding an XML Sitemap
Imagine the following scenario; you are in a library and have to conduct a research article. There’s an encyclopedia with a thousand pages in front of you but you have to navigate to a certain topic hidden somewhere in there. Sounds hard from the get-go, right? Now imagine if that book didn’t have an index or even numbers on the pages. See where we’re getting at?
An XML Sitemap works as an index for the website that is set in a specific format for Google to read. It can then point to the relevant pages on your website along with projecting important statistics such as the metadata and page update frequency. The Importance of XML Sitemaps can be evaluated by the fact that Google themselves have called upon publishers to use them in order to help them index websites in a more efficient manner.
While you can create one manually, it’s really a waste of time when XML generators can automate the process for you. Google XML Sitemaps and WordPress SEO by Yoast are among our top choices for free XML generators.
2. Irrelevant Tags
Yes, it is true that meta tags are no longer as relevant in determining the PR of a website as they once were. However, that doesn’t mean that they are completely out of the picture; search engines still use tags to determine the relevancy of content on your webpage.
Take the example of a restaurant blog that focuses on French cuisine for instance. While Google will be able to classify your blog as food related through the various back links, it will specify your blog’s French specialization through the use of relevant tags. A healthy tagging network linking back from websites with higher page ranks can also help boost your own site’s ranking.
On the flipside, having a WordPress website with irrelevant tags can actually deter users from visiting your webpage. Visitors might be turned off by the fact that the website doesn’t relate to their particular search criteria. To illustrate this principle, suppose you are in the market for an off-road vehicle. There are two dealerships in your area, one with a slew of Fords, Ferraris and all sorts of cars, while the other specializes in off-road vehicles only. Which one would you pick, the general dealership or the one that’s more relevant to your requirements?
3. Not Specifying a Best Fit URL
Back in 2009, web developers were facing a major issue. Their webpage content was being ranked lower in the search results because of duplication. Basically, Google was recognizing variations of their URLs as separate pages altogether. So, dogs.com was the same as www.dogs.com, which meant that traffic was being distributed between the two pages.
To counter this, the web giant came up with a nifty solution. Canonicalization is a process used by Google to select the best URL available out of a set of URLs. While the web pages dogs.com, dogs.com/ and www.dogs.com may all seem to be similar, Google would consider them to be unique URLs that lead to different locations on your website. So, it selects the best representation out of these variations and uses that as your primary URL.
Google’s search engine algorithm is possibly the most sophisticated piece of code on this planet. However, it’s not perfect, and allowing Google to select a best-fit URL can be disastrous as different URLs can lead to different content altogether.
To set up your canonical URL, you can do either of the following:
- Use webmaster tools to tell Google your preferred URL type
- Set a preferred URL on WordPress using a plug-in
4. Non-Optimization of Posts
In the race to reach the top Google’s rank, many content developers tend to focus on quantity rather than quality. While using SEO tips and techniques may help you reach higher up in the results chart, you also need to have compelling content in order to attract clicks in the first place.
There are a few factors that relate to this point – the Meta title and the meta description. These are the title and the short description that pop up as a preview on the search page.
Having an attractive meta-tag and description can compel users to visit the webpage, even if it ranks lower. Focus on ‘how’ the content looks rather than ‘where’ it’s placed.
5. Sub-Domain Hosting
Many new web developers tend to install WordPress on a sub-domain as it seems more convenient. The problem there is that the sub-domain is seen as a different entity from the site domain by Google. As the majority of traffic is generated by incoming links initially, the traffic statistics are applied to the sub-domain only, resulting in a lower ranking for the parent domain.
Installing WordPress on a sub-directory seems to be a better option as it passes the site authority to the parent domain. However, developers might prefer a sub-domain in some instances such as a reputation management issue as well as having a separate spot in the search engine results page.