WordPress mistakes web designers (developers) make when considering SEO performance
Whilst working for a pure SEO agency I worked alongside many new website build projects where I was then expected to take on the overall SEO campaign after being handed a website hot from the individual developer or agency.
I’ve cherry picked the points below as being the most frequent or problematic items I come across caused from thinking from a purely development point of view and are largely out of the hands of a search marketing consultancy to put right.
Featured Banners Use Dynamic Rendering
Inline images provide additional content signals through the Alt Descriptions and file names as to what the image is supposed to mean and providing further meaning within the context of where the
image appears enhancing SEO performance.
The general rule of thumb is that if an image is part of the unique content of that page then it should be rendered using the inline <img /> tag. Bezels, shadows, corners, edges and interface icons that
aren’t part of the content can remain in your style sheets where they belong.
When you’re choosing your next banner plug-in be sure to examine the demo to ensure it uses inline SEO friendly methods.
Ignoring Schema Standard Snippet Mark-up
Schema mark-up has become a standardised way of marking up additional rich information on
It’s better to start incorporating the common basics into your design and development workflow now rather than get scalded by the recommendations of SEO consultant further down the line when your client asks why this wasn’t implemented from the start.
Site Search is Placed in an Ineffective Location
By placing the Site Search box in a ridiculously ineffective location you limit the marketing data freely provided to that site.
When coupled with Google Analytics an internal site search box becomes a powerful research tool for more accurately identifying the content, answers and expectations a visitor of your website wants.
Whist the default keyword information in Google Analytics will show what people have already used to find the website, the information from the site search will indicate new keywords people are using and can even suggest better ways to improve your interfaces and content structuring so that it’s easily discovered.
Displaying the Telephone Number as a Graphic
Google still cannot reliably and effectively identify text contained within an image or graphic, so important information such as names, addresses or telephones should not be rendered as an image.
There are plenty of alternative font and type rendering techniques available that mean you don’t have to compromise on design so this really should not be an excuse in 2012.
Ineffective use of Website Headings
It’s become hugely common to wrap a sites’ logo in an <h1> heading:
i.e. <h1><a href=”/” title=”home”> src=”/images/logo.png” alt=”Logo” /></a></h1>
Due to the template structure WordPress uses this will typically then get inserted in the header.php template where it subsequently becomes displayed on every page thereby providing Google with little useful information on an individual page by page level.
Unless you are building a single page scrolling website there should only ever be one <h1> heading appearing on any given page.
This heading should be incorporating text that relates to the main Title or concept of the page, though it does not have to explicitly duplicate the <title> as some incorrectly suggest.
The use of synonyms is more natural will be more effective in providing additional soft signals about the content of your page.
De-Index Duplicate or Competing Content
By default all of WordPress’s taxonomies are crawlable to the search engines.
This means that your content and pages will be accessible through differing URL structures such as a main blog archive page vs an individual author blog page or date archive and even duplicate content issues caused when using both Tags and Categories to label your content and allowing both to be crawled and indexed.
You might want to consider ensuring that your blog and news archive pages are using noindex, follow in order to prevent them as being flagged or identified as duplicate content and thereby still
allowing the individual posts, pages and items of content from correctly being indexed.
My recommended plug-in for fixing or preventing this problem is the WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast which has a wealth of options that allows you to control the indexation of your pages and taxonomies.
Tailor and Fine Tune Your Templates
The bare minimum template requirements a WordPress theme requires to work is the index template. This means that any additional page elements or features you hard code outside of the post or page content are going to get repeated on every other page.
Now when I say feature, I’m talking about featured content blocks such as banner carousels, content modules or boxes and to some extent what goes into a sites’ fat-footer design.
Consider using a separate front-page.php and page.php templates whereby you remove certain features from appearing on every other page, thereby allowing this additional content to contribute
to the unique value of that given page.
The other slightly less advantageous option is to that the original or unique content of any given page greatly exceeds or outweighs that which appears in your commonly reoccurring featured content blocks.