Sep 21, 2017, 09:15 AM | Published under Search Engine Optimization by Stephanie Hooper

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is so important for online success.  In order for you to increase your website ranking in the SERP’s, or Search Engine Result Pages, there are some very important mistakes to avoid. The following are some of the most common SEO WordPress mistakes and how to avoid them.

  1. Not using title and meta tags for each page and blog post on your website. – Search Engine Bots look at the backend of our Internet, collecting and scanning data during specific time intervals. Meta tags and meta descriptions are one of the easiest and most important parts to your website’s SEO ranking. When bots crawl and index the site, they pull information created by you, in order to determine the validity of your website. This data is reflected in your page authority. So, it is important to optimize your meta titles and descriptions.  Most SEO Specialists use a tool called Yoast SEO. Yoast runs test for you to check title tags, Meta Descriptions, Readability, site maps, and many more. Unique title tags and meta descriptions make you stand out to search engine’s bots; it will affect your ranking if you set your title tag to the name of your company.  In order to encourage people to click through to your website, your meta description has to not only be persuasive and engaging, but has to be unique, as well. Included in this description needs to be target keywords that are relevant to your business.
  2. Optimizing for the wrong keywords. Using the right keywords increases the chances of you appearing in search engine results. Sometimes, generic keywords bring in unwanted visitors who aren’t actually interested in what you offer. Some traffic may only be interested in free information. Most business’ have a large competitive market, meaning, when they appear on the first page of Google in organic searches, keeping that placement is difficult and could change daily. Because of this, an experienced SEO team, like Infront Webworks, is needed to constantly put time into keeping your ranking. For more information about keyword research, you can get additional information from Moz.com Keyword Research which can also help with researching blog topics to write about.
  3. Not Optimizing for Local Search.  When you run a business that has customers within a specific city or region, it’s important to learn more about local search factors.  Include region-specific keywords in page titles and meta descriptions, while also including your  address and local phone number on your pages in the header and footer.  Click to call phone numbers optimizes for mobile users, which in this day in age, is widely used.
  4. Duplicate content –  Within competitive markets, every business tries to stay in the lead. More often than not, people run across content that is better said, so they use it on their site. In other cases, it is easy to use the same content on one of your pages for another page. Both scenarios constitute as duplicate content and both will affect your search engine ranking. Bots will choose the version that was published first giving the appropriate business credit. 
  5. Broken Links – When links, whether they are on an image or a hyperlink, are broken, the information intended in that spot does not render. Xenu Link Sleuth is an SEO tool that conducts tests on your site for any broken links. It is important to keep regular maintenance on the site so the user experience is not compromised and Google doesn’t penalize you.
  6. Negating Google Analytics Usage -  Measuring your websites data is essential to know what areas are performing well in order to grow and optimize your site, setting up conversion goals and weekly reports is just the beginning.  You need to monitor which phrases are converting, not just terms that are driving the most traffic.
  7. Internal Links Without Anchor Text – Generic text is often dismissed as being uninformative, especially when attached to a link. When writing your anchor text, it is important to include pertinent keywords specific to the link behind the text. Visitors want to feel like the information they are clicking through to is reliable.
  8. Low Content Volume or Poorly Written Content –When ranking your site, one of the factors Google considers is expertise; if the content displayed throughout your website reflects false keywords ( if the company is called airline flights, but the keywords are pet grooming) or low volumes of content, Google cannot verify the validity of the website accurately. Low paid content writers produce writing that isn’t truly unique. Not only Google, but your customers will be less likely to follow through to other pages of the site if they have reason to believe the content is unreliable.
  9. Not offering an xml sitemap -  A sitemap is an xml file that lists all of the URLs for a website.  It tells search engines about URLs on a website to help search engines crawl them more efficiently.  They are also used for additional information about the website, like when it was last updated, how often it changes, and how important each URL is. The Sitemap can make a big difference in making sure all of your pages are found and indexed by the major search engines. Google likes websites that contain an XML sitemap. An excellent WordPress Plugin for this is Google XML Sitemaps.
  10. Not optimizing Images - Images have a great impact on SEO.  First, remember to rename your image to your keyword or phrase you are focusing on for that page before you upload it to your website.  Descriptive texts in the file name can make it more readable by search engines and therefor show up higher in the search results.  Before you upload your image, make sure it’s not too big. This will slow down your page speed.  Use https://tinypng.com/ to reduce the size and compress your photos before they are uploaded to a site.
  11. Not using image titles and alt tags – Search engines can understand text, but they have trouble with images. By using Alt text and titles for images, it tells the search engines what they are about. This makes it easier for your content to be found online and helps with SEO optimization on your WordPress site. Using phrases that include your keywords is also helpful.
  12. Keyword Stuffing – If you use a keyword or phrase too often, it’s called over optimization and most search engines will penalize you for that.  It also offers a poor user experience that will drive your readers away.
  13. Not using Headers Correctly – People and Search Engines read titles and headlines to understand the story. Make sure that all H1, H2, H3 tags are all relevant to your post and help organize the data. 
  14. Not using Canonicalization -  A canonical tag prevents problems caused by identical or duplicate content. It tells search engines which version of a URL you want to appear in search results.  For Example, your URL could be http VS. Httpsor www vs non-www. The same content is live on both versions, so that has created duplicate content.  To a human it looks like a single page, but to crawlers, every single one of those URLs is a unique page which makes it duplicate content.  Your Yoast SEO plugin can help you with this as well.
  15. Blocking Search Engines – If you make your content difficult for a search engine crawler to find, Google can’t index it and won’t rank it. This is a simple mistake that many people have no idea about with terrible consequences. How to make sure your WordPress Website isn’t blocking search engines? In WordPress go to settings > reading section.  Then look for the search engine visibility section.  There is a box that says “discourage search engines from indexing this site.”  Make sure this box is NOT checked. Then save changes. By configuring Google and Bing Webmaster Tools to your site, accessibility to it is constantly monitored.
  16. Improper use of Robots txt file – The robots.txt file is very powerful if you are working on SEO and it must be used with care. It allows you to deny search engines access to certain files and folders.  Google has changed a great deal and old best practices are no longer valid. Learn about the best practice for your WordPress robots.txt file.
  17. Website Is Not Cached – Websites can contain a large number of images that are high quality which can make pages slower to load.  If you use a cache tool, you can increase your website loading speed up to 10x faster.  This is another search ranking factor for Google. If you page speed for desktop and mobile is too slow, your rankings could suffer. A great tool for WordPress for this is W3 Total Cache.  You can also test your site speed here: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
  18. Still using Flash – Flash is NOT SEARCHABLE by search engines. Google puts a great deal of emphasis on mobile and Flash isn’t readable on mobile devices. You won’t be reaching new potential clients on mobile if you use Flash on your website.
  19. Not setting up Google My Business -  Get your free business listing on google maps.  Did you know that businesses with complete listings on Google Map Pin search results are 2x as likely to be considered reputable and businesses that are online grow 40% faster than those that aren’t?  Information on how to get your Free Business Listing on Google Maps.
  20. Poor Quality Backlinks – Backlinks are one of the most important factors for search engines to determine the website search engine ranking, popularity and importance.  Don’t try to purchase low quality backlinks.  Search engines judge the value of backlinks.  With poor backlinks, the search engines may consider your website low quality as well.  When you get backlinks from authoritative sites that are highly valuable.  You should try to get backlinks from a variety of sources.

SEO takes time and patience.  It isn’t something that you can just do one day and expect results overnight.  It takes time to understand and master the techniques to compete for high-traffic words and phrases and it also takes time before you see results.  If this seems like a daunting task, or you made the changes and still aren’t ranking higher than page 2 or 3 on Google, try our SEO Audit Tool or get a free quote for SEO & Digital Marketing.

About the Author

Stephanie is our SEO and Digital Marketing Manager at Infront Webworks. She has been in the digital marketing, web development and SEO industry for over eighteen years.  She has worked as a Director of Digital Marketing and has been a SEO and web developing consultant for every size company from the local small business to the global Fortune 500 company.

Digital Marketing Specialties include: digital marketing strategy, E-commerce, organic SEO, local SEO, advanced analytics, competitive research, social media strategy, content strategy, conversion rate optimization, voice search and structured data markup.

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