The online marketing arena can be murky at best, especially when you seek out proven and reliable information. So who are you to believe?
There is no end to the articles touting quick tips and strategies to optimize your WordPress website for the best organic (free) search engine rankings. But, unfortunately, I've lost track of web hosts that offer platforms and SEO services with unbelievable promises. (Don't believe them.)
Rankings Take Time and Effort (a lot)
Search engine optimization efforts can enhance your “natural” or “organic” listings. But within reason (realistic expectations) and only when done consistently with best practices in mind.
Beware of the “solutions” (I hate that word) that do not match what I discuss in this article. Anything that is set and forget or requires little to no effort on your part is best to take a pass.
Learn enough to not fall prey to the less experienced or those whose only goal is to line their pockets by taking advantage of what they know you don't know.
Online, “knowledge is power” applies times ten!
When you run into the following myths you will now be empowered with the truth.
WordPress SEO Myth #1
Using WordPress Guarantees Rankings
“Get a WordPress site, and your rankings will shoot to the top!” Yes, using WordPress offers benefits that other site structures do not have when enhancing your ability to court search engines.
But no experienced professional running a legitimate shop will ever promise or guarantee future results. So, either in position or for a length of time — regardless of the platform your website is on.
The fact is no one has any idea what search engine algorithms will be tomorrow. Heck, no one knows precisely what those algorithms are today. Let alone a week or a month from now.
Guaranteed positions can only be promised by participating in Pay Per Click programs and bidding on or purchasing your positions. And only if you are willing to pay the cost. For that, you need a hefty budget.
WordPress SEO Myth #2
Just add a WordPress SEO Plugin and “Set and Forget!”
SEO plugins are beneficial, and I use and recommend Yoast SEO for search engine optimization efforts. In addition, the accessible setup features and writing guidance helps my clients to understand the variables of SEO within their content creation process.
What most folks do after installing Yoast is to go through the primary settings and never look back. They also do not tweak and customize those settings on a page-by-page basis.
However, for Yoast to benefit from your efforts, you need to thoughtfully and with diligence complete those SEO fields for every page and post. With the unique and specific details that apply to that particular post.
Yes, Yoast allows you to use a snippet from your post in place of a custom description. But does that snippet speak to your target market? Will it encourage a click?
Above all, this also means you don't copy and paste the exact text repeatedly into every post or page description field. Something I see quite often. Don't miss the opportunity to customize each description field to stand on its own.
Here's what you do…
- Craft a different description for each post.
- Include that post's targeted keyword phrase.
- Develop a description that encourages a click when displayed in search engines.
Yep, this takes time and effort. But it is what you need to do if you truly want your rankings, and therefore your click-thrus, to improve.
(Did I mention that nothing online is “set and forget”?)
WordPress SEO Myth #3
Add More Keywords to Your Meta Keyword Tags and Fields
If only it were that easy! That's called keyword stuffing — and we don't stuff!
All you have to do is type whatever you want within that tag or field, and you'll get found when searched for. Baloney. Those phrases also need to be appropriately integrated into the visible page content — including variations.
Something else I see pretty often on forums and groups, “I just added more keywords to my site. That should improve my rankings.” It won't.
The fact is that most search engines completely ignore or put little to no value on the Meta Keywords tag. So today, the keyword field in plugins is used more as a guide you can reference to include that phrase properly within your content.
There are some sites and directories that still look at the Meta Keyword tag. Not enough to be of consequence to your search engine rankings, which most folks are interested in when they stuff.
Do what I do. Make sure you determine the top three 2-3 keyword phrases for each post. Then pepper those terms, and their variations, in your post title, text, and headlines. In addition, this approach is a great way to double-check your focus.
WordPress SEO Myth #4
Creating Mini WordPress Sites with Duplicate Content
Yikes! Like it isn't enough work to do one website right. So now we are adding multiple websites to the mix, which means tracking updates, security, performance, and new content, so the sites appear viable? Rare is the person that can meet that challenge successfully.
WordPress websites created with duplicate content for the sole purpose of manipulating search engine rankings are a waste of time, effort, and money. (The Google Farmer update penalized sites trying this approach!)
The same or slightly different website or info on other domain names to create links to your main site to improve rankings will not have a positive impact. Understand that search engines know that you are attempting to game the system, and therefore they will ignore those additional pages.
What do links from duplicate content add to your E-A-T factor (Expertise, Authority, Trust)? Nada. Those types of links to your site are worthless.
Instead, spend time beefing up your primary site with lots of great tips, articles, and downloads. And optimize accordingly. That is what will help to encourage other websites to link to you.
Anyone offering you the multi-duplicate website solution is undoubtedly not playing by the rules or worthy of your hard-earned dollars. So run in the opposite direction. Fast.
WordPress SEO Myth #5
You can rank in the “Top 10” on page one of Google.
The reality is most sites will never attain those coveted positions. I know, buzzkill.
Why? Because to do so, you need to be better than the sites already dominating those positions. Not to mention that now, the first four spots “above the fold” are ads. Then maybe an organic listing or two, then more quickie answers to keep you at Google.
Above the fold indicates the space on the screen that displays without the user having to scroll. That means you need to be number one or two to be above the fold.
Then, depending on the device, that real estate can be even smaller. Most folks don't scroll or make it to the bottom of the page. Even first-page rankings do not mean that your listing will be seen.
You can't have your business model be solely contingent on attaining rankings that are near impossible to acquire.
No Quick Fixes or Short Cuts
You'll find the same reoccurring theme for those who have read some of my other WordPress SEO articles. Unfortunately, SEO hasn't changed all that much over the years, and there are no quick fixes or shortcuts.
Your SEO goals should include implementing proven strategies that are the core of any successful WordPress website. Unfortunately, there are far too many companies out there that are willing to take advantage of hungry uninformed website owners with the desire for better rankings.
Now you have no excuse — you are armed with the facts. While you may not like the facts, embracing them and putting them to work for you is how you succeed.
It isn't all that complicated. However, always think of your site visitor first and keep WordPress SEO Best Practices in mind to create your website and content.
If you are overwhelmed with the whole SEO thing, start with my article How to SEO Your WordPress site. Doesn't cost a thing but your time — then, get to work!
At your service,