Not everyone has the technical knowledge necessary to properly optimize WordPress. When thinking about search engine optimization, it seems like the rules keep changing every few months. With this in mind, many new blog owners have no idea what to do. Many of the tutorials online will tell you contradictory things, so who can you trust?
While there are so many mistakes that can negatively impact your on-page SEO (and even your off-page SEO), some are much more common than others. Avoiding these mistakes can help you to naturally increase your search engine rankings even if you do not know that much about search engine optimization.
Here are the 9 biggest WordPress optimization mistakes many blog owners make:
1. Installing WordPress on Subdomains
This is quite common among businesses. The subdomain is basically a different domain when referring to SEO. It has its very own rating and authority. In the event that you get links to the subdomain, the main domain will not reap in the benefits of what you manage to obtain. Installing in subdomains can so easily lead towards having the subdomain ranking higher than the domain, which is not something that you want. At the same time, visitors will not trust the site as much as when WordPress is installed on the domain.
There are moments when subdomain installations are better than regular domain installations. However, this rarely applies. When you start a new blog, always install on the main domain since that is what will help you to climb rankings faster.
2. Choosing Improper WordPress Themes
Believe it or not, you may end up faced with bad SEO rankings simply because your theme is built in an improper way. When perusing new themes, you've probably noticed that many of them have a lot of links towards weird sites in the footer. Do not assume those links include the nofollow attribute. It is also possible that plugins will add such links as you use them.
As the link is added, it usually appears as a sitewide link. Unfortunately, those links may point towards some pretty unsafe sites. It is generally better to buy a theme that has no credit links than to opt for free ones with questionable footer links. The same goes for plugins.
Since we are talking about improper WordPress themes, remember that most of those that you will find online, especially those that are free, will not feature responsive design. That is particularly important for SEO these days because mobile traffic is on the rise. If your site does not look well on mobile devices, Google will actually lower your rankings. Make sure that you always build WordPress sites that look great on mobile devices.
3. Not Considering Site Loading Speed
It is actually a surprise to notice this fact since we all love websites that load really fast. Google loves the sites that load faster and the same can be said about visitors. Unfortunately, many site owners simply neglect this, in many cases without realizing it. You need to choose themes that are built with speed in mind. At the same time, it is highly important that you never add too many plugins to your installation. That would only lead towards sites loading slower.
We should mention that sometimes the problem is connected with the server, not the WordPress installation. Some of the hosting packages out there are simply slow. Make sure that you change your hosting provider in the event that the theme should be fast and the results are bad.
It is always recommended to use CDN services like CloudFlare, especially in the event that you normally use really high quality images on your sites. These services will drastically increase loading speed for all WordPress installations. At the same time, do use a good cache plug-in. There are many that are good and that you can choose from.
4. Ignoring Search Engine Optimization
The worst possible mistake that you could make when you use WordPress is to completely neglect SEO. This happens a lot more often than you may be tempted to believe. You should always learn as much as you can about search engine optimization. Even understanding the basics can help you to increase your search engine rankings and get more traffic. Your site may be the best in the world, but if nobody gets to see it, you will not be happy with results.
5. Not Changing WordPress General Settings
You surely know that WordPress is pretty good for SEO right out of the box, but that does not actually mean that you do not need to change the general settings. Go to the General Settings page and make the necessary modifications. This includes:
- Site Title
- Address URL
- Time Zone — this helps you for local SEO reasons
- Language — changes this if your site is not in English
Since you are making changes, do optimize permalinks URLs. They do have to be proper and include the titles of your posts since that helps increase rankings. The regular structure does not help.
6. Optimizing Images
Even with the use of CDN, you should still optimize the images that you add to your WordPress site. When you do that, your overall SEO coverage will be better. Make sure that your images have the appropriate names, with an appropriate keyword in them. Alt and title attributes help a lot. Various plugins can help but the truth is that by simply taking a few minutes to rename the images you could help your rankings much more than you initially believe.
7. Allowing All Comments To Be Published
This can drastically hurt your search engine rankings. It is imperative that you turn off the automatic approval of your comments since this will allow the spammers to automatically add spam to your site. That spam can drastically hurt your rankings since the backlinks that are added are usually unrelated.
In order to solve this problem we recommend that you do some things:
- Never allow automatic comments to be added.
- Add a plugin to minimize automatic spam comments.
- Add a captcha plugin.
- Check even the comments that are manually added for signs of spam.
8. Too Many Sidebar Links
A really common practice for the blogger is to add links to all friends in the sidebar. This is a really bad idea because of the fact that you simply add too many outbound links. Sitewide links are currently discounted by search engines and they will not actually improve rankings as much as you may think.
A very good idea is to basically use 2 sidebars. Jetpack now includes this option. At the same time, there are many other sidebars that do offer you the possibility of using a main sidebar on the homepage of a blog and a secondary one on the subpages. Add the blogroll links there instead of all site pages.
9. Not Installing An SEO Plugin
You should always install one and configure it properly. That is especially true in the event that you do not know that much about search engine optimization. As a really simple example, you may be faced with a lot of duplicate content on your blog because of using improper tagging. One of the most used SEO plugins is WordPress SEO by Yoast. Consider using it and make sure that you do add the nofollow attribute to your tags since it is always better to be safe. At the same time, be sure to add your sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools.
When it comes to WordPress basics, there are many more best practices to enact. However, based on what we noticed after talking with many blog owners, these are the mistakes that do come up more often than others. Make sure that you do not make these mistakes and always do stay up-to-date with what happens in the SEO industry. Every blog owner can learn what is needed to be successful and tools like Semrush do help out much more than you may believe.