POP SEO Tip #12: Common SEO Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

This week's post is aimed more at WordPress users, but the principles apply to every platform. If the terms are unfamiliar, just send me an email and I'll see if I can help sort it out.

WordPress is popular for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that, when used properly, it is incredibly search-engine friendly.

That being said, many WordPress users make the mistake of overlooking a few important things, which serves to undercut many of the SEO strategies they may be employing.

If you think you might fall into this category, take a look at these WordPress SEO mistakes and their solutions.

Not Having a Sitemap

Sitemaps provide an easy way for web crawlers to get around your site, which makes it dramatically easier for them to index its content. There are a variety of WordPress plugins that can create a sitemap for you, but one of the best, which you should use if you already haven’t, is Google XML Sitemaps.

If you are not using WordPress, I can also recommend xml-sitemaps.com; there are simple instructions for entering the URL of your site and then the app will generate an XML sitemap. You will need to upload the file to your FTP site manually, however.

Not Categorizing Content

Your keyword game can be on point within your content, but if web crawlers can’t easily get to that content, then it’s not going to do you any good. WordPress makes it easy to break up your content into categories and subcategories – make sure that you’re doing this. Not only does it help with indexing, but it also makes your website more usable for visitors. Also, be sure that you’re appropriately tagging your posts.

Forgetting About Meta Titles and Descriptions

Once indexed, search engines will use your meta titles and your meta descriptions on their results pages. So, make sure that you’re updating this information for your blog posts. WordPress doesn’t do this out of the box, but there are many plugins, including this one, that can add meta titles and descriptions to your blog posts.

Not Setting Permalinks

Permalinks give insight into what a page is about. They also create relevancy for search engines like Google. Going into Settings and Permalinks is a simple way to turn these on. There are many options available. You can choose to set them in whatever format you like, such as numeric, name, or day.

We recommend using the post name and category formats as a way to keep things in order. This means you can optimize the permalinks based on what keywords you want to rank for. The category field also creates clearer links, which visitors are sure to appreciate.

Failing to Optimize Images

Image optimization is something many website owners don’t think about. If you don’t have good alt text and titles, search engines won’t know what your images are showing. In addition, when someone with a visual disability comes across them, they may have the same issue.

Alt text is a good way to prevent this issue. There are also several WordPress plugins to use for image optimization and compression. Check a few out and see which one works best for you. You want to be certain your images are accessible to everyone who visits your site.

Having Bad Links

Broken links can be an issue. When someone clicks on them, they’re taken to a page that doesn’t exist. These links can be outbound (other sites) or inbound (your site). If someone clicks on the link, they will typically come to a 404 error page. This can drop conversions, decrease time spent on the site, and increase bounce rates.

Both poor external linking and poor internal linking should also be avoided. When you link between internal pages, you want to make sure each is relevant to the other. Using keyword anchors is a great option to avoid this on WordPress. For external links, make sure they open in a new window.

Final Thoughts

In addition to correcting these common WordPress SEO mistakes, make sure that you’re following commonly accepted best practices for keywords, linking, and the like. That’s really all it takes to make a great first impression.