Uncovering WordPress’s Most Common SEO Issues and What You Can Do to Fix Them
You can’t travel anywhere on the internet without coming across a WordPress website. As the world’s most widely used Content Management System, WordPress powers over 43% of all websites and holds an impressive 64.2% CMS market share. Its user-friendly interface and robust plugin ecosystem make it a popular choice for bloggers, businesses, and e-commerce websites alike.
However, like any platform, working with WordPress is not without its challenges, particularly where SEO is concerned.
WordPress and SEO
Right out of the box, WordPress comes loaded with tons of heavy-hitting SEO-ready features like clean code, semantic markup, and a website structure that search engines love. Unfortunately, despite its impressive list of capabilities, WordPress users often get bogged down by a few common SEO issues that could drag down your ranking. In this article, we will explore some of these common SEO issues and provide practical solutions on how to address them.
Making the Move to Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
Before we dive into some common WordPress SEO problems, it’s a good time to remind everyone that Google Analytics has made significant changes. Google has been warning users for years that changes were coming to its analytics platform, and as of July 1st, Google Analytics 4 (GA4) has officially replaced Universal Analytics. In this latest version of Google’s analytics platform, users will have access to new reporting systems and metrics, allowing you to track your website and apps in the same account, prioritizing user privacy and delivering more accurate reports. Furthermore, GA4 uses an event-based data collection method, recording user interactions like clicks, page views, video plays, and file downloads as events, ensuring more precise website performance measurement and simplifying the process of enabling enhanced features. If you haven’t migrated to the new GA4, you will be severally limiting your ability to collect and track valuable user data and ultimately hindering your website’s user experience and diminishing the effectiveness of your SEO strategy.
Google automatically created GA4 properties for all Universal users (unless you opted out); however, not all configurations in Universal Analytics have an obvious counterpart in GA4. To ensure all available features are working post-migration, double-check your GA4 account first verify the GA4 tracking code on your website’s HTML’s <head> section and check that it is implemented accurately on all website pages. Next, utilize the Real-Time reporting feature in GA4 to verify that the tracking functions properly. You can use the Preview and Debug modes to simulate different scenarios and test how data is collected and processed in real-time.
Lack of Proper Permalink Structure
Permalinks are the URLs that point to your posts, pages and other content on your WordPress site. The default permalink structure in WordPress uses numeric values, making the URLs look cluttered and less descriptive. To fix this, navigate to Settings > Permalinks in your WordPress dashboard and choose a more SEO-friendly structure, such as the “Post Name” option. This will create cleaner URLs that include relevant keywords and improve search engine visibility.
Absence of XML Sitemaps
XML sitemaps help search engines crawl and index your website more efficiently. They provide a roadmap of all your pages and posts, enabling search engine bots to discover and understand the structure of your site better.
You can install and activate the Yoast SEO plugin or the Google XML Sitemaps plugin to generate XML sitemaps. Once activated, the plugin will automatically create and update your sitemaps, ensuring that search engines can easily find and index your content.
Duplicate Content Issues
Duplicate content can harm your site’s SEO, as search engines may have difficulty determining which version of the content to rank. WordPress, by default, creates various versions of the same content, such as category pages, tag pages, and author archives. To resolve this, use canonical tags to specify the preferred version of the content. The Yoast SEO plugin can help you add canonical tags automatically, minimizing the risk of duplicate content issues.
Thin Content and Low Word Counts
While not exactly a WordPress issue, thin content, characterized by low word counts and lack of substance, can negatively impact your site’s SEO rankings. Search engines prefer content that provides value and depth to users. Aim to produce high-quality, comprehensive content focusing on relevant keywords and topics. Use tools like Yoast SEO’s content analysis or a similar tool to ensure your articles meet the recommended word counts and SEO best practices.
Missing Meta Tags
Meta tags, such as title tags and meta descriptions, play a crucial role in informing search engines about your content’s relevance.
Without these tags, search engines may generate their versions, which may not accurately represent your content. Use an SEO plugin like Yoast SEO or All in One SEO Pack to add meta tags to your posts and pages. These plugins make customizing your title tags and meta descriptions easy for optimal search engine visibility.
Images are now essential to enhancing user experience on your website, but they can also impact your site’s SEO. Unoptimized images can slow down your site’s loading speed and lead to a poor user experience. To fix this, compress your images without sacrificing quality using plugins like Imagify or Smush. Additionally, don’t forget to add descriptive alt text to your images to make them more accessible to visually impaired users and improve your SEO rankings.
Slow Page Load Speed
Page load speed is a critical factor in SEO and user experience. A slow-loading website can lead to higher bounce rates and reduced search engine rankings. To improve your site’s speed, consider investing in quality hosting (hint if it’s free, it may not be the best), enable caching using plugins like WP Rocket or W3 Total Cache, and optimize your images as mentioned earlier. You can also use Google’s PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix to identify areas of improvement and take appropriate action.
Lack of Internal Linking
Internal linking is a powerful SEO strategy that can enhance your site’s crawl ability, improve user navigation, and boost the ranking of individual pages. WordPress users can use plugins like Link Whisper or Rank Math SEO to find relevant internal linking opportunities. Regularly link to related content within your site to create a well-structured network of interconnected pages, guiding both users and search engine bots through your content.
Neglecting Mobile Responsiveness
With more traffic coming from handheld devices than desktops, having a mobile-responsive website is crucial for SEO success. Google prioritizes mobile-friendly sites in its search results, and an increasing number of users access the internet from mobile devices. Choose a responsive WordPress theme or use the Mobile-Friendly Test tool from Google to ensure your site looks and performs well on all devices.
Ignoring Security Concerns
Security is a vital aspect of SEO. Search engines prioritize safe and secure websites, not to mention users who, once burned by a data breach or worse, may never return. Because of its open-source structure, WordPress is susceptible to hacking attempts if not properly secured. Install security plugins like Sucuri or Wordfence to protect your site from potential threats, and make sure to regularly update WordPress themes and plugins to the latest versions to minimize security vulnerabilities.
WordPress is a powerful platform for building websites, however, sometimes it requires a little extra attention to ensure best-practices SEO standards are met. By optimizing your website in areas like permalink structure, XML sitemaps, website speed, and content, and ensuring mobile responsiveness, you can significantly boost your WordPress site’s SEO performance. Remember that SEO is an ongoing process, and staying proactive will lead to improved search engine rankings and increased organic traffic to your website.