If you want Google to rank your WordPress website high, you have to take SEO seriously. This means following all of the latest recommendations from the search engine and constantly analyzing and updating your site.
If you’ve been using WordPress for some time, chances are you know that it’s pretty SEO-friendly right out of the box but to maximize the chances of outperforming your competition, you have to do more.
A lot more.
In this article, we’re going to talk about six WordPress SEO mistakes that prevent your business from increasing conversions as well as tools and ways to avoid them.
1. Ignoring Your Website’s Speed
It’s a known fact that Google utilizes site speed as one of the most important ranking factors, so having a slow-loading website is a sure-fire way to negatively affect your indexation. Since an increasing number of Google users prefers to leave a website if it loads slowly, the folks at Google have been tirelessly working to improve their experience.
In fact, they found that 53 percent of people abandon a mobile site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
Your website’s speed is a critical factor that can have a major impact on your business, so checking it with a tool like Google’s own PageSpeed Insights is highly recommended.
Also, keep in mind that a wide variety of factors that slow your WordPress website down and affect conversions, including:
- Unoptimized plugins. They can be quite heavy to load, so overall speed may suffer
- Too large images. We’ll review image optimization in the next section
- Slow hosting. Cheap hosting, for example, often means slow loading speed
- Too many ads. These undermine customer experience plus slow down the speed in a big way
- Themes. Some of them are too heavy in terms of size, so your site may not perform as fast as it could.
2. Not Optimizing Images
Images are an essential part of any website, but they can reduce its performance significantly if not managed properly. In many cases, they can take up to 60 percent of total web page weight, so you need to optimize them for Google to avoid running user experience.
For example, one of the most popular mistakes that website owners do is uploading a huge image even though it has to be displayed within a small size. However, even if 3000×2500 pixels image is displayed at 100×150 pixels size, it still needs to be fully loaded.
Although WordPress automatically provides resizing options for images, this feature still doesn’t mean that the size is optimized as well.
Here are some tips for you to start image SEO optimization:
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- Make images smaller without sacrificing quality by using free compression tools such as TinyPNG and Compressor.io (Click here to see more image optimization tools)
- Use vector images. They’re resolution-independent, so they can be scaled without compromising quality (sites like FreePik have lots of free vector graphics to select from)
- Add images to your sitemap. This is recommended by Google because it allows crawling webpages better. For that, you’ll need a special plugin called Google XML Sitemap for Images.
Check out Google image best practices for more helpful information.
3. Poorly Structured Content
In addition to visuals, your website’s textual content needs to be optimized to make it easier for Google to rank it. You should also format your content to make it easy for visitors to skim it. This means breaking down big chunks of text into smaller sections, adding subheading and using bullet points to provide visual cues to make it easier to absorb the information.
“Many owners of WordPress websites make a mistake by limiting their optimization with keywords and key phrases, which results in an improper structure and poor readability of the text,” says an expert content editor for Pick Writers, a site that reviews website localization agencies.
Remember, Google’s crawlers look for specific elements in your textual content to understand it and rank the page, so you have to make it as easy for them as possible. This includes:
- Break up your content into small, easy-to-read sections
- Add subheadings and headings
- No duplicate content. Only unique text written in the tone and style that your target audience prefers will do the job well
- Create relevant content that provides interesting information, tips and takeaways for your readers
- If you’re running a blog or another content-focused business, publish new content on a regular basis
- Check readability of your content.
4. Not Fixing 404 Errors
The Page Not Found error is a major user experience killer that can affect your website’s SEO in the long run. While it doesn’t impact SEO directly, it undermines the link equity and user experience over time, so Google can recognize it as a sign that the site isn’t properly managed. Ultimately, this leads to an appreciable impact on the site’s SEO.
Fixing 404 errors is easy with free online tools like Broken Link Checker and Dead Link Checker.
5. Targeting the Wrong Keywords
If your WordPress website doesn’t target proper keywords, you’re making it much harder for your target audience to find you; moreover, you may be adding some unnecessary competition. To fix this issue, make sure that your SEO strategy focuses on long-tail keywords.
They are typically longer and more detailed than head keywords, e.g. “affordable gaming laptops under 600 Austin TX” vs “gaming laptops.” Because they include more details, they reduce competition, provide better quality results, and drive more visitors who are actually interested in buying your products or services.
For example, here’s a comparison of conversion rates of head and long-tail keywords, as suggested by Crazy Egg. The latter clearly outperform the former, so it makes a perfect sense for you to focus your SEO strategy on long-tail terms.
Image Credit: Crazy Egg
Start by defining long-tail keywords for your business by using Google’s Keyword Planner or researching them manually (Searches Related to section typically has some good options).
6. Ignoring Metadata
Meta title and description are critical SEO elements because Google uses them to create snippets in organic search (and you know very well how great it is to be selected by Google as the preferred answer for featured snippets).
A duplicate, improperly filled, or even missing metadata can undermine the ability of your content to rank, so make sure that you’ve created it properly. For example, here are the basic requirements for meta titles:
- They must be unique
- They must include main keywords of the page that you would like to use for ranking
- They must be short, about 60 characters because of Google requirements
- They must reflect the main purpose of the content on that page.
And here are requirements for meta descriptions:
- They must have between 60 and 320 characters
- They must include keywords used for ranking by that page
- They must be unique.
Failing to follow at least some of these requirements can result in a poorer SEO performance of your WordPress site. You can use plugins such as Yoast or All In One SEO to make sure your title and meta tags properly formatted.
The Bottom Line
There are a lot of conversion-killing mistakes you should know about and do your best to avoid them. Follow these tips and learn what you can do to avoid these common website mistakes and how you can improve your WordPress website’s performance.
Make sure you address these common WordPress mistakes if you feel like it your website is not performing or ranking as well as you’d like. WordPress is a pretty awesome platform to use but keeping it well-maintained is a must these days if you want to rank high.
About Author: Kristin Savage nourishes, sparks and empowers using the magic of a word. Along with pursuing her degree in Creative Writing, Kristin was gaining experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in marketing strategy for publishers and authors. Now she had found herself as a freelance writer. You can find her on Facebook.