Here’s a fun fact you should know: less than 8% of people will look past the first page when searching for a particular topic or website online.
This means that it’s simply not an option for your WordPress website to show up on the second or subsequent pages in the search engine results, and it also means that you need to learn how to use SEO (search engine optimization) in order to rank your site as highly as possible.
But the problem isn’t necessarily that people don’t realize the importance of using SEO. Rather, the problem is that most people don’t understand how to properly use SEO.
With that in mind, let’s discuss the top five SEO mistakes that you can make in WordPress. Simply by being aware of these mistakes and learning about how you can avoid them means that you can dramatically increase your website’s visibility on the search engine results page:
Mistake #1 – You Don’t Base Your Content Around Your Keywords
Keywords are the heart and soul of SEO, and most people are aware of the necessity to include popular keywords that people are searching for in your content.
That being said, many of those people also don’t know how to properly use those keywords. Contrary to what many people think, you can’t just type up an article, research two or three popular keywords, and then integrate those keywords randomly into your content to call yourself good.
Instead, you want to take the approach of making the keywords the focus of your content.
In other words, you want to find out what the most popular keywords are before you write the article and then write your content around those keywords.
You also need to incorporate your selected keywords into more places than just your article. You should also incorporate them into your content’s title, your headlines, your meta description, and your URL slug.
That all being said, one thing you will want to watch out for is keyword overstuffing. Yes, incorporating high quality keywords into your content is vitally important like we just talked about. But you also want to avoid stuffing one or two popular keywords into every sentence. Google will notice it, and they’ll de-value the page if it happens.
Mistake #2 – You Don’t Provide An XML Sitemap
An XML Sitemap, if you don’t already know, is essentially a a list of all the posts, pages, and media pieces on your blog or website. You submit your XML Sitemap to Google (via the Search Console) to let them know what you want to have indexed on your site.
Now why are XML Sitemaps so important in regards to SEO, you might wonder?
Simple: they allow Google to more easily find your website’s pages so they can rank them. You see, Google doesn’t rank entire websites or blogs in the search engine results. Rather, they rank the individual pages of a website.
If your website is particularly new with only a small number of backlinks, an XML Sitemap will make a very significant difference in helping Google to find and index all of the relevant pages.
Your primary options for an XML Sitemap will be to use the Google XML Sitemap (which is currently used by over ten million people), or the Yoast WordPress SEO Sitemap. Once you choose which Sitemap you want, the rest of the process is automated.
All in all, setting up an XML Sitemap for your WordPress website is one of the most simple and yet highly effective steps you can take to rank your website higher.
Mistake #3 – You Don’t Pay Attention To Your Website’s Speed
There will be nothing worse in regards to SEO than attracting a lot of visitors through properly placed keywords only for most of those visitors to be bounced rather than converted.
If this is happening to you, the culprit might be the speed of your website rather than an issue with your keywords.
Increasing the speed of your website can do much to generate more conversions. In fact, bringing the speed from eight seconds down to two seconds can lead to as high as a 74% conversion rate increase.
So to put this into perspective, this means that if your website is taking more than two seconds to load, you’re very likely to lose over half of your website visitors right away.
The good news is that enhancing the speed performance of your WordPress website isn’t as difficult as you may think.
One example of what you can do is to simplify your website’s design. This will reduce the amount of HTTP requests that your website needs in order to load, thus increasing the speed of the load.
Something else you can do is to reduce the server response time, or the amount of time that it takes to look up your DNS (Domain Name System).
Your DNS is simply the server with the database of IP addresses and hostnames. Whenever a user types in a URL, the DNS server translates the URL into an IP address to find the online location. To speed up the server response time, you’ll simply need to find a DNS provider who’s faster than the one you’re using now.
Mistake #4 – Your Content Isn’t Quality
The quality of your content means a lot when it comes to SEO. In fact, even if you don’t make any of the above three mistakes, poor quality content can pull your SEO efforts out from under the rug.
What is high quality content, you might? In terms of SEO, it basically means three things: 1. Content that is free of grammar and spelling errors, 2. Content that is well-written (i.e. it must be easy to read) and 3. Content that is original.
Spelling and grammar errors, content that’s hard to follow, and duplicate or nearly duplicate content will all kill your rankings in the search engines. The last thing you want is for your website page to be ranking in the second or third page of the search results page just because you had a few spelling mistakes here and there, but it can happen.
It’s also important to write enough content as well. The golden rule is to have a minimum of three hundred words of content on a particular page, but five hundred to one thousand words would be even more preferable if possible. After all, how can you expect Google to consider your website a reputable source if you only have a couple of paragraphs of content?
Mistake #5 – You Don’t Update Your Website
One more mistake that people commonly make with their WordPress is they fail to review them regularly to ensure that everything is relevant.
This means if you have an old article from a year or two back, don’t just let it sit around collecting dust. Go back and update it so it’s more relevant with today’s times.
What’s the best way to find out if content on your website is out-of-date or no longer relevant? Go to your analytics page and look for pages on your site that have high bounce rates and low visiting times. This is a crystal clear sign that the page will need to be updated.
Furthermore, Google will devalue website that have high bounce rates and low visiting times. They want to provide content to users that is equally as relevant as it is quality, and the best way they know this is through how much time people are spending on a website.
Therefore, if you can update your page to reduce the bounces and increase the visiting times, Google will value that page a little more and rank it a little higher.
The bottomline is if you want your WordPress blog or website to receive a steady stream of visitors and hopefully generate income for you, you need to know how to use SEO.
As was noted previously, most people understand the importance of SEO, but far fewer understand how to actually use it effectively.
Avoiding the mistakes we have just covered in this article will definitely not be the only thing you can do to maximize your website’s potential, but it will go along way to helping make it more visible.