So many users feel their website is underperforming and they wonder if they’re missing the SEO basics for WordPress. After working with lots of WordPress website owners, I can validate they are indeed missing the basics!
These users thought WordPress was supposed to be super SEO friendly and they thought they would add an SEO plugin and rank on page one. Yet their websites or blogs don’t rank well in search engines and they can’t figure out why.
This is especially true if that little dot in the Yoast SEO plugin turns green. If they received the green dot shouldn’t Google love them and shouldn’t their content appear on page one?
Nope. The hard truth of SEO is that it isn’t that easy. Mastering the SEO basics for WordPress takes time, education, and effort.
That little green dot can quickly take you down a path of confusion, a false sense of security, and website that never ranks well in Google or Bing. This a common problem and one I run into weekly with my SEO clients.
Here’s the interesting thing – the SEO problems are not because of WordPress or even Yoast’s plugin. These issues exist because the users simply lack knowledge of basic SEO best practices.
Let’s look at four really common problems with entry of SEO in WordPress.
Four SEO Basics for WordPress You Need to Fix
#1 – Focused Keyword is Generic
Yesterday I was looking at a WordPress website and the client used the phrase “post-mortem” as their focused keyword for SEO. This customer is a technology company and as such, post-mortem might not be the best word choice. I told the client that they needed to take a step back and think about how this keyword relates to real life and their actual visitor.
Post-mortem could be referencing a CSI episode or a mix of other, very diverse industries. It could be talking about death, my daughter’s failed exam, or anything really. It didn’t come close to talking about their subject matter.
In reality, the phrase has absolutely nothing to do with the company, their product offering, or their industry. It would not rank in search, because it was unfocused and it was generic.
A focused keywords should be just that – focused. It needs to closely relate to the website visitor’s problems and the solution the website provides. It needs to speak to the target market.
The more precise the writer is with keyword selection, the easier it will be to rank in search engines.
#2 – Branded Terms are Set as Focused Keywords
You do not need to optimize content for your company name, product names, or service names. The reason for this is Google and Bing already know who you are and what you sell. Why? Because you are unique and this uniqueness will already translate into search results.
Optimizing for branded keyword phrases is a waste of your time and effort.
As a rule we do not optimize for branded phrases. When I send a client a keyword list, they won’t find any branded terms within it.
Instead of focusing product and service pages on your terminology (aka product names), these pages should be focused on and optimized for phrases people search for before they know your product or service exists.
Remember that country song that goes “I want to talk about me, I want to talk about I”, well think of that when you are selecting keywords.
Think about what phrases the average user would search for before they knew you or your product existed. Write content for these phrases because that is what real world users use in search.
#3 – Focused Phrase Does Not Appear in the Actual Content
This one happens all the time and it kills me, because no matter how smart the client is, they always fall into this trap.
The content writer assigns a keyword phrase, defines the meta title and description to include the phrase, then completely forgets to use this phrase in the actual page or post copy.
If your content doesn’t use the phrase you’ve set as your focused keyword, you are never going to rank for it. Google and Bing will not (like will never no matter what) rank a page for a keyword phrase that isn’t used within copy.
The point of a focused keyword phrase is to focus you on that keyword, thus providing a good destination for that keyword in search. If the content doesn’t use the keyword, then the search engines will deem the content as unworthy and they’ll simply ignore it.
#4 – Duplicate Focused Keywords
I will admit I catch myself doing this from time to time and it happens because the larger your website or blog grows, the easier it is to make this common mistake.
As your website builds in content, so does your list of focused keywords. Pages, posts, products, categories, and tags can all have keyword focus and they can all start competing with each other.
Utilizing a focused keyword on multiple pages, posts, products, categories, or tags within one website confuses the search engines and website visitors.
The goal of a focused keyword is to set focus for a singular piece of content. It is to provide a one to one relationship between keyword and content.
If you use the same phrase as a focused keyword on more then one piece of content, the search engines don’t know which piece of content is the correct one for a given phrase. You force them to choose and you end up competing against yourself in ranking.
A focused keyword phrase should only be used once. This allows the search engines to know what the best singular piece of content is for a given phrase.
But guess what happens? We forget and we use the same phrase over again and we clutter our purpose and we degrade our search results.
Just don’t do it! And if you caught yourself doing it, fix it.
Are You Struggling With SEO in WordPress?
If you’ve read through my list of common WordPress SEO issues and you realize you’re missing the SEO basics for WordPress, know there is help available.
We have a support group for poor use of SEO in WordPress. No I’m kidding, we don’t. But you can still get help.
What I do offer is WordPress SEO training and one-on-one SEO coaching. I’m here to help if you need it. Just request an hour of my time and I’ll help get you back on track.
Burim Bekteshi says
Hi Rebecca, I completely agree with your article about these SEO mistakes that a lot of people do with their sites.
I would also add that these mistakes can happen in every blogging platform and not only in WordPress and there is not a plugin that can help you if you do not research the keywords before writting a post in your blog.
Anyway I like your work in this blog so keep writting and helping people with their sites 🙂
Amber Hinds says
I would also add to number one, generic keywords, that the first step to writing any post or page is doing proper research with the keyword planner. It may be that you’ll discover a better phasing for your focus than you were planning to write about.
I just shared this on Facebook. Thanks for another great post!
Rebecca Gill says
I agree 100%.
There are lots of keyword research tools available, but the free Adwords tool from Google works just fine.
The more precise people can be with their focused keywords, the better chance they have for both ranking and converting their visitors.
Jose Lopez says
Great article Rebecca, as an SEO consultant myself I too get caught up with repeated usage of my chosen keyword but that’s because I zone out as I write and lose my focus point and the real purpose of my article.
Rebecca Gill says
As I wrote the article I caught myself falling into mistake #4. I’ve been doing SEO for 15 years and I still get caught up in snafus sometimes!