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4 Rookie WordPress SEO mistakes

4 Rookie WordPress SEO mistakes

Welcome to this weekly series that aims to help you design and implement a sustainable SEO strategy for you website. Search engine optimization is a strategy used by web admins to get more traffic and higher rankings to a website. Search engines are the way people find things on the internet and if your business is not well optimized for search engines it’s like opening a business with no sign, marketing or advertising. SEO is as important if not more important than the website itself.

In this series I will assume that you already have a website. Praying to the internet gods that you were advised by your web developer to get a WordPress website.  I know, I’ve already lost some of you with this declaration. And yes I know, I know, I know; WordPress is generic, insecure and very difficult to customize but I’d still choose it over any other CMS implementation currently available. The fact remains that WordPress is the most popular CMS available as it is used by 75% of all websites. This means that it has a strong dev community and help is on the cheap. The WordPress CMS was specifically built for publishing and this means that it has inbuilt features such as permalinks that are specifically to help you in your SEO.

Assuming that you already have WordPress or I have just convinced you to call and complain to your developer, there are a few things right of the bat we should talk about.

It’s just another WordPress site.

This is the most rookie mistake one can commit. This is the first thing you should look for and edit.  The problem with this is that it shows up in you search results when you submit your website to Google. And your website is not just another WordPress site; it has a unique personality and feelings and its very rude of you to trash talk your website. To change it, all you need to do is login to your site then click Settings > General. In the box next to Tagline remove this standard phrase and insert your own custom tagline.

Set up SSL and HTTPS

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a server and a client. In layman terms it is the s at the end of https://. Apart from making your URLS longer, the s signifies a very important technology. SSL encrypts data sent from a users’ browser to your server. It necessarily isn’t for protecting you but to protect your users. What happens is that when a user enters data in your website, data such as passwords and email, the data isn’t sent out as plain text? It is encrypted and sent to your sever as a string of encrypted data. This ensures that any attacker listening on the user’s network will only intercept encrypted data and as such user information is secure. For this reason browsers made it a mandatory requirement for websites to have SSL. Starting with the chrome browser, browsers now mark websites without SSL as not secure especially on pages that require users to input credentials. You should probably invest in a premium SSL but we both know you won’t and probably don’t want to. Well your cheap ass is in luck; you can generate free SSL certificates from

https://www.sslforfree.com/
  1. Put in your web address and press create free SSL
  2. Open up your Cpanel (yourwebsite.com/cpanel ) and then open file manager.
  3. Navigate to your public_html folder.
  4. Download the verification files and upload them to the public_html/.well-known/acme-challenge I know you can’t find the folder (LOL) click the settings button and tick show hidden files and folders.
  5. Verify the successful upload of the files and press on generate SSL.
  6. Open SSL settings on your Cpanel and fill in the new SSL credentials for your domain.
  7. To finish this process open phpMyAdmin on your Cpanel and navigate to the database containing your WordPress installation. Open the table wp_options table and change your site URLs to https://
  8. Force all links to redirect to their Https versions automatically by forcing https using .htaccess file. Paste the code below in your .htaccess and save it. And voila, your WordPress website now has SSL.
RewriteEngine On

RewriteCond %{HTTPS} !on

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !^/[0-9]+\..+\.cpaneldcv$

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !^/\.well-known/pki-validation/[A-F0-9]{32}\.txt(?:\ Comodo\ DCV)?$

RewriteRule (.*) https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R=301]

 

Set up your permalinks.

WordPress is optimized for publishing and permalinks are a huge part of that. Links are the way a search engine finds you content and links should be as descriptive as possible. The link should contain keywords in order to rank better. A link such as

www.kenyawebsitedesigners.co.ke/ 09/ 09/2020/ 1

Might still link to the correct article but it carries no SEO juice. Compare it to

www.kenyawebsitedesigners.co.ke/ website-design/ juice-up-your-seo

To change how your WordPress site processes permalinks, go to Settings > Permalinks

I prefer the format;

 www.your-website.com/%postname%/

You can also edit the permalink to become more descriptive on the individual post page.

 

Setting up your web address.

There is an ongoing battle between www vs. non www and it’s been around since the tabs vs. spaces war of 05. The battle holds no significance and casualties lost on both sides have no one to blame but Google. For the purposes of the survival during these trying times please note,

 www.yourwebsite.com

and

 yourwebsite.com 

are two different websites; at least according to Google. This means that you should pick one format and stick to it. If you insist on using both URL formats then Google is bound to mark one as a duplicate and you shall face penalties. None is better than the other but www sites get more hits as people are already used to writing www in front of their URLs.

 

Now that we have sorted the aibu ndogo ndogo mistakes, join me next week as we help you optimize your websites for better conversions.

About the Author
Stephen Mbiyu
Stephen is a website developer with core skills in PHP, WordPress and internet marketing. He is a valued member of the Kenya Website Designers Dev team.

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