WordPress powers over a quarter of the internet.
Really. More than 1 in 4 websites on the web are built on it.
When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), WordPress is one of the best platforms. So if you’re thinking about building a website with SEO in mind from the start, you probably want to go with WordPress.
But that doesn’t mean it will be easy.
Avoid these WordPress SEO mistakes and you’ll be on your way to more visibility in the SERPs.
1. You Don’t Set Your Time Zone
Whenever you have a new WordPress website, one of the most overlooked options is selecting your time zone under Settings > General.
If you ever set your site to schedule posts to publish at a certain time, you’ll have a rude awakening when you find your article wasn’t published at the right time. If you don’t set your time zone correctly, this might happen to you, so be sure to make this adjustment to ensure your blog is producing timely content.
2. You Don’t Set Goals in Google Analytics
Measuring your results is how you tell whether your SEO was successful or a failure. You could increase organic traffic to 10 million pageviews a month, but if those visitors don’t buy your products, invest in your service, or perform actions that make you money, you’re going to be in trouble.
Whenever anybody performs an action that leads to revenue, like joining an email list or becoming a customer, redirect them to a congratulations page (yourwebsite.com/congratulations). You can then use Google Analytics goals to measure how many people landed on those pages as well as how many of those visitors came from organic search.
Now you have a way to measure the conversion of your organic traffic. That means you can make the changes necessary to improve your bottom line.
3. You Don’t Add Open Graph Social Meta Data
Although social signals don’t have a big impact on ranking, there’s no debate that social media can help bring people to your website. So you want as many people to click on your content as possible.
That means making your content look its best when it’s shared on social networks. So you need to make sure you have open graph data activated for Facebook and Twitter Cards activated for Twitter.
The Yoast SEO plugin can do all of this for you with the click of a couple buttons.
To enable open graph data for Facebook, simply Enable it in the Yoast settings.
Then you can tell Facebook which image to draw from when the article is shared there.
You can also activate Twitter cards in the Yoast settings.
With this activated, when people tweet links on your website, they’ll appear with a full preview like seen below.
— Themetry (@ThemetryHQ) March 14, 2017
4. You Didn’t Create and Submit Your XML Sitemap
An XML sitemap is pretty much a big list of every post, page, and piece of media on your website. It’s what you submit to Google through the Search Console to tell them everything on your site you want indexed.
You can create your sitemap using the Yoast SEO plugin as well, under SEO > XML Sitemaps. Just make sure you’ve enabled it, and you can view your sitemap using the link below.
Lastly, you’ll want to submit this sitemap to Google Search Console.
5. You Didn’t Set Permalinks to Post Name
Google loves to give people content that’s user-friendly. That means even your permalinks are going to play a small part in how your pages rank (and in their click-through rate).
Under Settings > Permalinks, always be sure to select an option where the permalink will include some of the keywords included in the post (usually in the H1 tag). The easiest way to do this is to simply select Post name and call it a day.
Including the day or month in your permalinks may be important to how Google views your website, so you may want to consider using Day and name or Month and name if that’s the case.
6. You Didn’t Link to Your Homepage From Your Footer
This is an easy one. It’s surprising that so many people forget this!
Everybody has the name of their website or business in their footer, so why not link it to your homepage from this anchor text! This will help with your internal linking strategy as well as help Google recognize your site through branded anchor text.
Doing this won’t cause your site to skyrocket in the rankings, but it’s definitely a best practice.
7. You Don’t Publish Content Regularly
Publishing more content gives people a reason to regularly visit your site. This also will help you rank for more keywords, which means more opportunities to gain visibility in Google’s organic search results and attract more clicks and traffic.
Google wants to reward sites that publish great content that satisfies users. If you aren’t publishing content regularly, then less people will visit your site and Google will crawl your site less often.
8. You Don’t Update Content Regularly
When people find your content via search, but discover it’s outdated after clicking through, they will immediately hit the back button and look for another site that answers their question or helps them achieve their goal. Google will notice this and could de-value that piece of content if it doesn’t appear to be providing value to searchers.
That’s why it’s important to regularly review the old content on your site and make sure it’s up-to-date. Ensure that the content is relevant to people today and that you care enough about visitors to update your content. (You can check for these types of pages by checking your analytics for pages with low time on site and high bounce rates.)
9. You Don’t Check for Broken Links
Google likes a clean website. That means you’ll want all your links to stay updated and avoid pointing visitors towards any pages that are showing 400 or 500 errors.
To automate this process, simply install Broken Link Checker. You’ll receive emails when links are broken and you can go in and fix them in real-time.
10. You Don’t Implement Simple Schema Markup
The majority of websites don’t use schema markup at all to influence how their pages show up in search results.
While this doesn’t negatively affect rankings, it may have a huge influence on your click-through rate in Google search.
Even implementing simple star rating schema markup to show Google searchers how your website’s visitors like your content could entice people to click on your result instead of a competitor’s who ranks better than you because of the 5-star rating.
If you want to build a website and grow traffic using SEO, WordPress is a great way to go! Just make sure you avoid these common pitfalls and stick to best practices. If you can do those two things, you’ll start to see positive results soon.
If your website isn’t ranking as well as you’d like, check that you aren’t making any of these common WordPress SEO mistakes. A thorough review should solve any issues given a bit of time.
Subscribe to SEJ
Get our daily newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!