Consider yourself pretty easy-going WordPresser, but still didn’t make friends with SEO? That’s ok since he’s not very stable kind of a guy. Google search algorithms are changing all the time, and occasionally it’s really hard to keep up with the rankings. In this article, we’ll give you a hand out of this trouble and take a look at 7 warning signs your WordPress website is not SEO-friendly. Forewarned, forearmed, right?
So, what exactly is SEO? SEO Optimization or Search Engine Optimization or simply SEO is a complex of actions targeted to increase your website visibility on search results page. The higher you get on that page list, the more traffic you receive. Basically, SEO is everything you do to create a website with a relevant Google-friendly content so that it better evaluates your project.
There is one more thing to bear in mind while exploring this topic – SEO score. It’s like a grade you got in school after all the tests are done, except for there are no tests in the web world. The only trial you face is your own place on the results list. Fewer users will go further than the first page because most likely they’ll find all the important info faster. Here’s a nice tool to check out SEO score of one of your pages.
By the way, it’s not only the content that search bots are paying attention to. When they are examining your website, page by page, they look at many things that could slip your mind. Eager to know which exactly? Well then, let’s not keep you waiting!
What Are 7 Warning Signs Your WordPress Website Is Not SEO-friendly?
1. Loading Time
Have you ever experienced visiting a website that had a turtle speed? I bet you did. There’s nothing more irritating than watching a white screen with nasty little throbber in the middle, showing that you need to wait a little bit more. Statistics claim that most of the people leave the website if it loads more than 3 seconds. Imagine how much of the traffic you can lose with just one extra second of loading!
There might be lots of reasons why it’s slow. Though, the most popular speed killers in WordPress case are bulky, non-optimized images. Marketers say it’s better to insert a picture or two in your article body to enhance the user experience. But what if the interactive content is the one who rocks the boat?
There is a remedy for such cases, or it’s better to say a plugin. WP Smush is undoubtedly the best of the best among image optimization plugins. It can resize and compress your pics as well as remove all the unnecessary hidden image data. Smush is capable of handling JPEG, PNG and GIF formats without harming the quality of images. This WordPress wonder will optimize every image in any plugin or theme installed on your site. And the cherry on the top – the add-on also, perfectly integrates with plenty of other WP plugins such as WP Offload Media Lite for Amazon S3 and DigitalOcean Spaces or NextGen Gallery to make your web performance even better.
Try it out and see how the website speed is increased at least two times! You can check the loading time with the help of GTMetrix tool, it creates a whole list of problems and gives you hints on how to solve them. Also, feel free to explore more of different image optimization tools and plugins, check out EWWW Image Optimizer or Lazy Load.
2. Responsive Design
It’s era of smartphones now! People are using them for everything and first of all for surfing the internet. More than a half of the internet users start their search via phones rather than desktops because it’s easier and time-saving. And now, try to get in their shoes: open a non-mobile-friendly website on your phone and time how many seconds you’re willing to spend where every piece of content looks absurd. That’s right, no one wants to get there.
And once again, lucky you, having the web project powered by WordPress. It boasts having plenty of free responsive themes in WP directory. There are many with the help of which you’ll turn your website into a candy while visited not only via phone but via tablet and laptop as well. Create a portfolio, magazine, blog or a business website, not worrying about your “mobile” users feedback. Also, lots of the themes listed have the special widgets included. Thus you can, for instance, customize the headings, call to action or services areas according to your personal taste.
You can always check if your current website design is mobile responsive. I guess Google can persuade you better.
3. URL Structure
As a rule, the URL of each of your page should reflect what it’s about. It should contain relevant info about its content, so not only the reader, but a search bot as well, can comprehend the details properly. Google crawlers “read” the links just like you and me would read articles titles deciding whether it’s worth further examining or not. You can make this job easier for all of your visitors by simply making sure that, first of all, the important keywords are shown in the URL. And also, the link name coincides with the page’s title.
Thanks to WordPress being super user-friendly, it’s easy as ABC to manage your URLs. Go to the admin board of your WP site, choose Settings, then Permalinks and you’ll see the list of different URL types.
By default, the “Day and Name” option is chosen. It appears to be a good, yet not perfect for SEO URL type. Such link contains the domain name and the exact publishing date. Believe me, there are much better options, such as “Post name”! Choosing it you’ll be able to customize the link name, so it reflects the content topics information as well. Another option to consider is “Custom Structure” which is suitable for huge, enterprise-sized websites when there are plenty of sections with tons of content.
Moreover, URL modification is also available while adding a post directly. After you insert its title, you’ll see the URL row appears straight after. Check whether it’s relevant and click “Edit” if you wish to change something.
Moreover, I would highly recommend installing the Yoast SEO Plugin for everyone who wants to enhance their WP performance. It not only gives you the opportunity to modify URL’s slag but also presents you the hints to make the content SEO-friendly.
4. Keywords Stuffing
Let’s start with the very notion of the keywords, what are they exactly? So, the keywords are the essential pieces of information, ideas concentrated in phrases/words that give you general details about the type of the content you present. Which words or word combinations you expect to meet in the text about the bakery? That’s right, cakes, muffins, macaroons, scones, and cookies are there. But you definitely won’t see bags, purses, and suitcases! Because it’s irrelevant.
Google and other search engines pay attention to the number and quality of the keywords you use. That’s one of the factors with the help of which crawlers “read” your site. About a decade ago, when the very SEO pillars were in its early stage of erecting, keywords stuffing was a very popular technique to become more visible in the web world. At that time, the SEO algorithms were primitive and the similar keywords inserted really close to each other may be the good call to make. Though now it might turn into a disaster for your page rank.
Word Counter helps to track your article keywords, even the long-tail ones. It counts its number thus it’s so much easier to control your text flow. Also, the above mentioned Yoast SEO Plugin with all its superb pieces of advice can give you a hand in the whole keywords situation.
5. Meta Descriptions
Meta Descriptions are the little previews of your posts, their summaries shown by search engines on the result pages. They give users some general hints about the content of your web project. Though they do not influence the SEO score explicitly, they certainly do it implicitly via click-through rate. The more people continue their searches on your site after reading its the relevant snippet, the more popular you are in Google’s opinion.
How do you know you’ve created a good meta description? Well, first of all, it should be no longer than 320 characters. If your description goes beyond that number, Google will simply cut it. Imagine how silly the snippet with unfinished phrase will look like. Then, it should certainly contain the keyword which coincides with the keyword in the title of the page/post. To drag your potential customers’ attention it should include call-to-action, just make them click on that link! And of course, as every piece of qualitative content, it should be unique.
I know at least one thing which can help you out in creating neat snippets, and I’ve already mentioned previously. Can you guess? That’s right, it’s renowned Yoast SEO Plugin.
There is a meme revolving around WP Plugins: “Oh, you’re a WordPress developer? Tell me more about the thirty plugins that you use”. And I guess it’s true because in WP Directory there are thousands of multiple add-ons and from time to time finding the right one becomes confusing. But not in this case, Yoast Plugin kills 3 if not more birds with one stone (if not more). It handles your snippet issue as well. Enforcing this add-on you can edit your meta description, following super cool suggestions, and actually see how it looks on search results page! Now, how awesome is that?
6. Title Tags
Hearing about title tags for the? Hot news: it’s better to include them in your SEO strategy asap! Title Tags are the blue headlines of your posts that are displayed on the result pages during your googling-shmoogling process. Just like the meta description, they provide search engines with the general info on what you specialize in. It should be relatively short, as uncle MOZ says up to 60 characters, coincide with the title of your post, and if it’s the landing page, for instance, it should reflect the main idea with keywords inserted.
First things first, I’d recommend you to start with changing your Site Title, in case, you didn’t. To do that, go to your WP admin board, choose Settings, then General. And the first line you see is Site Title. Now modify it according to your web project style.
Unfortunately, by default WordPress doesn’t allow its users to create custom title tags for any other pages. However, you may perform that after having one of the best WP SEO plugins installed. By the way, not only Yoast Plugin gets all the votes, some consider All in One SEO a better option.
7. Duplicate Content
Ok, I have a couple of identical articles scattered around the internet. What’s the deal? Well, duplicate content is another bad influencer which you definitely don’t want to have when Google comes around. The reason why it affects your SEO ranking badly is that search engines get confused when they try to evaluate such pieces of content. They can’t tell which one is more relevant and which should be moved up on the results list. If the material is considered to be copied, though, it will be undoubtedly ranked the lowest.
So what can you do to prevent the occurrence of duplicate content? Use 301 Redirects to give the crawlers the right link to evaluate. If all the copies are redirected to the original link, it gets the ranking and the day is saved. Another good technique to use is rel=”canonical”. This piece of coding also allows you to mark that, let’s say, two links bearing resemblance are actually identical. It works if the same article, for instance, can be reached via different sources. Implement “rel=canonical” and sit backtracking your SEO score increasing.
Considering all the signs mentioned, I believe there are many things you may improve to increase your SEO score. Many of them could have been omitted while building a web project, some of them look unimportant both for experienced user as well as web novice. Bearing in mind the tips described, I hope you’ll be able to build much more robust SEO strategy and finally conquer Google’s heart.
Anastasiia Mykoliuk is the Marketing Manager at CMS2CMS, an automated website, and forum migration service. She is exceptionally interested in getting to know all the new and tasty WordPress facts and creating fresh, eye-catchy content. She’s also fond of Sci-Fi movies and Doctor Who universe.”
(This is a guest post. View guest posting guidelines.)