Most Common WordPress SEO Problems (And How to Solve Them)

Almost every blog and online shop in the world runs on WordPress. As a matter of fact, this CMS now powers more than 30% of the web, which arguably proves that it is the most powerful and versatile web solution in the marketplace.

Because of its flexibility of use as a CMS, you might be tempted to overlook its technical aspects and the elements that can spawn a myriad of problems, including SEO mistakes that may take your business lower in search rankings and diminish your chances for growth in the process.

WordPress SEO Problems

Yes, as a scalable platform with countless functions, WordPress presents the perfect compound that allows you to optimize your website for search engines. But that doesn’t mean that WordPress is automatically optimized as soon as you install it and publish your website. That’s not how SEO works!

As a search engine platform, WordPress is an excellent starting point for content optimization, however, if you’re not paying attention to the technical aspects of your content and how you use your keywords, there’s not a single plugin in the world that can save your search rankings.

WordPress SEO Problems

This is not a “set it and forget about it” type of task. SEO problems are a constant and you need to take every measurement in the book to make sure that you’ll anticipate and solve SEO problems within the CMS, which is our main talking point in this article.

Slow Loading Website

Your website ranking depends heavily on your website speed. The faster your WordPress website is, the more users are happy when they browse it.

WordPress SEO Problems

If you have a slow website, Google will not miss the chance to penalize you and to slide you all the way down of SERPs. In fact, if your website takes more than 2 seconds to load, Google will decrease the number of ‘spiders’ that crawl in your site and as a result, less of your website will be indexed.

In 2018, page speed went from being important to being one of the most talked about SEO factors. The WordPress development company White Label Agency experienced this change first-hand. “After Google updated their search algorithms in 2018, almost every web agency we work with started to place page speed at the top of their requirements”, says Daniel Corin Stig, CEO.

There are numerous reasons why your WordPress website runs slow:

  • Too Many Plugins: Sure, one of the most awesome things about WordPress are the plugins. With them, you can customize your site in countless ways. But this can easily lead you to exaggerate and install everything that you need and you don’t need on your site.

    These plugins add additional load on your site and consequently, slow it down.

  • Render-Blocking JavaScript: This is a problem that happens when the users try to render a page and come across a script that needs to be executed before the website continues to load. Again, this causes the website loading time to be increased.
  • Long CSS and JavaScript: Many lines of CSS and JavaScript code have additional spaces, line breaks and other information/comments that your WordPress site doesn’t even need to load. Depending on the number of these unnecessary lines, the loading time of your site is gradually increased.
  • Non-Compressed Images: A nice website must have quality imagery. But, depending on the size of the image files, it can get damaging or beneficial for your WordPress site. 5800 x 3400 must be an image of great details and quality, however, you should reconsider them because most desktop screens are 1920px width and mobile screens don’t get bigger than 700px.
  • Lazy Server Response Time: Sometimes the fault is not in your WordPress website. Perhaps you use a hosting service that makes it difficult to increase the server response time. You’ll need a hosting with a proper processing power that will be dedicated only to your website.
  • Needless Page Redirects: If you use WordPress long enough, you might’ve deleted some pages, made some link changes or the pages that have linked to you have old URLs. These URLs can point out to 301 Moved Permanently or 302 Found.

    Servers need to access these pages first before they can reach the real page. This requires an additional operation and as a result, increase the page loading time.

Start speeding up your WordPress site with some testing first. One of the best tools to diagnose your page is Google PageSpeed Insights, a tool that tracks and measures your website performance for the desktop and the mobile version.

The best thing is that it provides you with actionable tips on how to solve the problems that cause your website to load slow.

WordPress SEO Problems

Speaking of solving the problem, here are a handful of tips that will help you to speed up your WordPress website:

Pick a Good Hosting Provider

In most of the cases, the cheaper the hosting is, the more websites are attached to it and that means that you get to share it with other WordPress websites. This results in slower websites and often, down times due to high spikes of traffic.

If you have a viral piece of content on your website but you experience downtime in a period of the day when people are more likely to read the content, all of the sudden, the cost-effective solution doesn’t look like such a bargain at all.

This is why it’s recommended to use a Dedicated or Managed WordPress hosting to ensure that the host will be dedicated only on your website and will spot and solve problems such as speed and security 24/7.

Have One Effective Caching Plugin

If you want to handle big amount of traffic fast, you’ll need a proper caching plugin. A caching plugin will significantly improve your page speed and reduce the number of HTTP requests between servers and browsers.

Some of the best on the caching plugins in the marketplace are WP Rocket and W3 Total Cache.

Install and activate them and users will notice the improvement the next time they load your site.

Consider Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Popular websites that use WordPress such as TechCrunch or The New Yorker use a CDN – a collection of servers that are spread across the world to speed up the content delivery for the users that are close to them.

A CDN lets your web visitors to quickly download every static file from your WordPress site and serve it as fast as possible in the browser. Some of the most renowned CDNs today are:

  • CloudFlare
  • EdgeCast
  • MaxCDN
  • Microsoft Azure
  • KeyCDN
Optimize Your Images

As stated by HTTP archive, images add up to more than 54% of the content weight of your website. This is why it’s vital to optimize and compress the images on your WordPress site.

This will not only improve your website speed, but it will also improve your page’s overall SEO. Also, compressed image sizes use much less bandwidth and as a result, not only search engines but also networks and browsers will appreciate the optimized image files on your website. The best free tools to compress your images before you insert them into your website are:

  • TinyPng
  • ImageResize
  • Online Image Compressor
  • JPEG Optimizer

Broken Links

If you have more than a hundred pages and posts on your WordPress website, you’ll probably encounter a broken link here and there. However, if your website has more than a dozen broken links, you’re in for a serious SEO problem.

When the users open a broken link, the positive viewpoint that they previously had can be gone forever. Search engines crawlers that will come across a broken link, they redirect immediately to other pages and websites which leaves your site un-indexed, and your website domain authority lowered.

In most of the cases, broken links are created when a certain page that users want to access is removed, deleted, or has an altered URL.

WordPress SEO Problems

Luckily, fixing broken links on your WordPress is not hard at all. Yes, you can go through each page manually and redirect it, but the easier way is to install a plugin called Broken Link Checker.

WordPress SEO Problems

This plugin will scan your entire website and display a list of your broken links. You’ll get an overview of each broken link and the URLs, its status, the anchor text, and the location. To fix your broken link, just hover over the URL and go to Edit Link. Here, you can choose to unlink or alter the anchor text or the URL.

Duplicate Content

This is one of the biggest SEO pitfalls on the web. What do you think happens when a content-savvy user encounters the same words repeated in more than a few of your pages and on another website?

Google hates it too, and the company will not have any doubts to destroy your search rankings when they see it.

But when we talk about WordPress, content duplication is much more than the same lines of words:

  • Duplicate URLs: Multiple URLs that lead the users to the same content will result in a duplicate content in your website.
  • Tags and Categories: They can feature multiple posts wrapped in one page. The snippets of the posts and the archived pages are created with every new tag and category, which results in duplicated content.

To fix the duplicate content on your WordPress site, first, ensure how original your content is with Copyscape. When you encounter a duplicated version of your content, first, make sure that you use Google Webmasters to let Google know which is the canonical version of the content that needs to be crawled.

With that, you tell the search engine which version of the content can be preferred for indexing.

To protect yourself from various links that share the same content as yours, you need to use a canonical tag by adding the code line below to the original and duplicated content.

<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://yoursite.com.com/category/resource”/>

If you use the Yoast SEO plugin, you can also need to insert the canonical tag in the meta description.

WordPress SEO Problems

To prevent duplicate URLs on your WordPress website, never let a page and post share the same title. If you use the Duplicate Post Plugin, remember to always change the URL of the cloned page to be different from the original.

For duplicate tags and categories, you need to use meta robots no index dofollow tags and provide unique names for each of the post categories that will be relevant to the posts that the category wraps.

No Alt Tags and Broken Images

WordPress SEO Problems

The alt tag represents the HTML attribute of the image and provides details about its content. If the image doesn’t load on your WordPress website, the alt tag will describe the content of the image and its function.

Alt tags are also helpful to strengthen the keywords of your page which help search engines to better understand the page information.

Including alt tags is not hard. Find the HTML code of your image and add the tag by including the following code:

<img src=“image.jpg” alt=“image description” title=“image tooltip”>

Unclear URLs

We’ve all encountered an URL such as:

www.adomainname.com/index.php?584458

This URL tells the users absolutely nothing, let alone the search engines. It looks bad, feels bad, and it is bad for your SEO. The following practices will help you to have user and search engine friendly URLs:

  • Keep Them Short: Don’t push people to use URL shorteners to share your content on social media. Instead, have a concise page title and let the users understand what the link is about just by looking at the URL.

    WordPress SEO Problems

  • Make Them Readable: If your URLs are easy to read for the users, they will be even easier for the search engine crawlers.

    WordPress SEO Problems

  • Use Keywords: If the target keyword is included in your URL, you’ll increase your chances for the URL to be clicked and additionally reinforce your target keyword for better ranking in SERP.

    WordPress SEO Problems

  • Don’t Duplicate: If at least two of your WordPress URLs lead to the same content, you’ll split your SEO juice and reduce your web traffic potential in the process. You should implement the rel=canonical if one of the pages complements the other or 301 redirect if the other page has a lower value than the original.

    WordPress SEO Problems

    WordPress SEO Problems

  • Don’t Use Underscores: Google themselves asked for developers to use hyphens (-) instead. So why would you continue to use underscores (_) for your URLs? Hyphens always make the job for search engine crawlers easier.

  • Get Rid of Stop Words: Such as a, the, but, others, or, are really not obligatory in your URLs because they can accidentally make your URL longer.

    WordPress SEO Problems

    WordPress SEO Problems

According to Yoast, the perfect URL structure that you should aim for is the following:

/%category%/%postname%/

WordPress SEO Problems

WordPress SEO Problems

To avoid URL structure mistakes, make sure that you have a permalinks structure to be aligned with the above before you create your pages or write your posts.

Short-Form Content

Once upon a time, in the dawn of SEO, you could easily get away with a 200 words blog post and rank in the first SERP. But those days are long gone and anything less than 1,500 words is considered a thin content that it’s not worthy to be ranked as the most relevant search result.

Even more, HubSpot found that their best content is at least 2,500 words long.

WordPress SEO Problems

According to Ahrefs, the number one ranked page will be at least ranked for 1,000 keywords, which is something that a short-form content can’t deliver.

WordPress SEO Problems

The obvious way to resolve this problem is to start writing valuable long-form content and rewrite your short-form content by adding more “meat” to it. For that to be achieved, you need to know how to thoroughly research a post topic before you start writing it.

You also need to use long-tail keywords throughout your copy in almost every paragraph and subheading to strengthen your copy and provide more structure for the long-form content piece.

Bad Mobile Experience

WordPress SEO Problems

With the launch of Google’s mobile-first index, the search engine vowed that the websites will be ranked higher or punished based on their mobile experience.

Being mobile-friendly is a pretty straightforward tip if you want to succeed in 2018 and beyond, acc. The mobile usage of the Internet already surpassed the desktop Internet usage, with mobile internet visits of 63 percent.

In 2017, the number of smartphone users in the USA alone was over 224 million! More than 40% of the users will skip your website if it’s not mobile responsive.

If your WordPress website doesn’t provide a good mobile experience, you will also get a bad customer experience , which means you’ll need to start fixing it like, right now:

  • Stop Blocking JavaScript and CSS: Google uses them to know how to correctly classify and present your images and visual elements on mobile.
  • Steer Clear from Flash Content: Obvious one, and it is not advisable to use this type of content on a desktop website either.
  • Easily Clickable Elements: There are humans with bigger/fatter fingers, it’s a reality that you need to consider when you develop the mobile version of your WordPress site.
  • Never Stop With Tests: Regularly test the mobile version of your website with Google PageSpeed Insights, Pingdom, and GMetrix.

XML Sitemap Errors

WordPress SEO Problems

The XML sitemap exists to let Google know the topic of your WordPress website. If you don’t have a sitemap or have one that is prone to errors, you’ll continuously distribute false signals to Google, which makes it harder for search engines to discover what the content of your page is about.

The most common XML sitemap errors are:

  • Not Using the URL Format: The sitemap actually uses the same protocol as the WordPress Site URL. To fix this error, you need to go to Admin > Settings > General and alter the site URLs according to the right protocol.
  • Sitemap is a Header without URLs: Here, you have an invalid XML file. Use this guide from Yoast to learn more about invalid XML files and how to fix them.
  • Sitemap Doesn’t Work on Apache/NGINX: This means that you need to implement the rewrite rules.
  • XML Declaration Only at Start of The Document: Probably happens because you have additional lines of whitespace that come before the <?xml tag.
  • URL Blocked by robots.txt: This error makes it impossible for Google to crawl your URL. Check which restriction is implemented and fix it correspondingly.
  • No XML Tag: This type of error exists because you have no items in your sitemap. In that case, you need to create content for the sitemap.

Wrapping Up

Liked it or not, your WordPress site will always face SEO problems as you scale for bigger traffic. It’s not a one-off process, and it requires constant and serious attention that will not let any segment of your carefully built WordPress site to slip.

To make sure that your website SEO is always on point, resolve problems immediately and when you implement the SEO practices that we mentioned in this article, keep in mind that SEO doesn’t work instantly.

ive Google some time to crawl and catch up with the changes, for which you will be rewarded with a better position in SERPs.

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2 Comments

  1. Sometimes, we wish we can beat these google algorithms. The writer has shared very pertinent points for bloggers and website inclined personnel. It’s very important that we make the most of this relevant information.

    Great job and well done with this article and site at large!

  2. I have been using wordpress website for my blog. This blog was really useful and now I can concentrate more on how to improve the SEO of my site. Thanks for this information. Keep updating with more such posts

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