116 SEO Myths to Leave Behind in 2016: The Complete List

Last Updated - January 10th, 2016

SEO Myths - Rand

A quick note:

Rand Fishkin was kind enough to tweet my original article before I rebranded my website and moved to FortuneLords.com. I just want to add that I didn't say that subdomains are better than subfolders.

My finding is that it doesn't matter if you use a subdomain or subfolder if you start fresh website or blog. But you should not move your established website on a subdomain. This will hurt your organic ranking temporary or even for a long time.

From a technical point of view, Google treats subdomains the same as subdirectories according to John Mueller.

seomyths

You probably know at least several SEO myths. 

For the last 10 years, these myths and misconceptions become so many, causing confusion among programmers, webmasters, designers, small businesses, entrepreneurs and digital marketers.

Pretty much millions of people.

Here are the biggest myths, which are holding you back from your SEO success!

Domains SEO Myths

1. Exact match domains rank higher: EMDs may rank well in Google organic results for a while but they are a symbol of low-quality websites and usually don't hold the rankings for too long. They are usually backed by spam link building.

2. Starting a website on an expired domain is better: Many dropped, or expiring domains are heavily spammed and may be permanently banned from Google index. Always check the historical backlink data and the snapshots in Web Archive. Further, more these domains were abused for SEO for too long and for a piece of mind start fresh with a new domain.

3. Domain Age is Important: Small and new websites outrank older ones when their content is better, and they get quality relevant backlinks. 

4. Regional Domains provide huge SEO advantage: This study shows us that Google prioritizes quality information over local content. At least, this appears to be Google’s philosophy.

5. Domain registration length help with SEO: This is one of the oldest SEO myths. Registration length does not increase Google search engine rankings.

6. Google penalties don't transfer with 301 redirects: If you move your penalized website to a new domain, Google may also pass along the penalty even without redirecting the URLs.

7. Using 301  redirects for SEO still works: It was working a few years ago. Right now 301 redirects from old domains you buy only for 301 redirect don’t help much and even can hurt your rankings.

8. Moving a site to a new domain name has a negative impact on the site’s search engine rankings: There will be no long-term negative impact on a website’s rankings in the Google search results when you move the website according to Google’s instructions. Only follow the detailed documentation in the Webmaster Tools Help Center when moving a site to a new domain name.

9. Keyword-rich domain names boost search rankings: Small businesses, which just starting out and have no experience with SEO often think that will help them to rank locally. Google’s John Mueller busted this myth in a post on the Webmaster Central Help Forum.

 

Hosing SEO Myths

10. Hosting Location is important: It doesn't matter where you are hosting your website. Try to get your top 10 competitors I.Ps from here and check their location on Google Maps. Still, it is better to host your website in the country you are targeting for example United States.

11. You need a dedicated IP in order to rank well in Google:  Google has stated that a dedicated IP has no effect on rankings. Here is what Matt Cutts says about it on Youtube.

12. SEO hosting is still an option for private blog networks: Many people still use this tactic for short-term SEO results. Simply said SEO hosting leaves huge footprints and is easy to detect from Google. The result is your penalty on its way.

On-page Optimization

13. On-page SEO Optimization is Not Important: It is important as part of your online marketing strategy. On-page optimization is the base from where you start to build up.

14. On-page SEO is All You Need: Although it is important it is just a basic optimization, which should be a part of every website and will not improve your Google rankings alone.

15. Too Many Dofollow Outbound Links  Can Hurt Rankings: Actually if your outbound links are relevant this will help you. High ranking pages usually, link out to relevant resources and don't bother to use nofollow tag.

16. A few broken links won't hurt: Having too many broken links on your page may be a sign of a neglected or abandoned site. The Google Rater Guidelines Document uses broken links to determine homepage’s quality.

17. The quantity of Indexed Pages Helps You Rank Higher: In the past, it was a commonly held belief that a higher number of total indexed pages helped rank a site higher in search. The truth is larger websites don't automatically rank higher on Google.

18. Schema Markup is a Ranking Factor: It help search engines to better understand your content. It could improve CTR rates but is doesn't influence directly on your rankings.

19. H1 tags are a crucial element for SEO: Searchmetrics research shows little correlation between H1 tags and rankings. Still, you should write good H1 headings but do it primarily for usability and accessibility, not so much for SEO.

20. Meta tags will boost your rankings: Google announced back in 2009 that meta descriptions (and meta keywords) have no bearing on search rankings. Meta descriptions present a major opportunity for a compelling message, which may improve your click through rate.

21. It’s good practice to include a meta robots tag specifying index, follow: It’s totally unnecessary. The engines all assume they are allowed to index and follow unless you specify otherwise.

22. An XML Sitemap Will Boost Your Rankings: It only helps search engines to better understand your content. According to Google, it will not improve your rankings

23. Google Penalizes For Invalid HTML: Since there are a huge number of websites with less than perfect HTML code Google does not penalize sites that have broken or invalid HTML and does not use validated HTML code as a ranking signal.

24. You should end your URLs in .html: This was never a factor.

25. Including your targeted term in the anchor text of internal links will help: Testing done by MOZ found that is not true.

26. Linking out (such as to Google.com) helps rankings: This doesn't help at all. It is the other way around, you need to get quality backlinks.

27. Google does not read CSS files: Googlebot can read CSS files. Read the update on their webmaster blog.

28. Internal links don’t matter for SEO: If your site has bad internal navigation this may affect your user experience (time on site/browsed pages) and results in lower rankings.

29. You should finish your site before starting to worry about SEO: You can start your on-page SEO optimization at the same time you create your website. Google will crawl your website as soon as it is live.

30. Keywords in HTML comment tags and title attributes of IMG and A HREF tags help for SEO: After many tests with and without them, I didn't see any ranking benefits at all.

Content Myths

31. Content marketing is all I need: It sure is the most important part but without promotion and influencers outreach to help you to amplify your voice even the best piece of content may remain unknown.

32. Great Content Always Ranks Well: Writing good content helps, but relevant backlinks and user experience are required as well. Great content paired with authority backlinks, on the other hand, is a recipe for success.

33. Your content should be long/short: According to representative John Mueller, Google doesn’t count words on a page to determine ranking. In a comment thread, he cited the fact that Google also searches 140-character Twitter posts.  Sometimes a short article will still generate a lot of shares or comments, which does affect placement. The key is to make sure your SEO copywriting content is unique and compelling.

34. If you have duplicate content, you will be penalized: Duplicate content on a site is not grounds for action on that site unless it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results.

35. You should update your content X times a month: Strive for quality, not quantity. Look at your competitors and define your strategy.

36. Link location in content doesn't matter: The First link in the article usually has the highest weight. Try to move your most important links in the beginning of your content.

37. My Homepage Needs a Lot of Content:  Your homepage content should be long enough to clarify who you are, what you do, where you’re located (if you’re local), your value proposition, and what visitors should do next. These visitors should leave satisfied not confused.

38. Content quantity over quality: Google easily detects content farms which produce content only for the sake of it. When there is not enough good user statistics such as visit, time on sites, social activity this is a signal the content is probably not so great. 

39. Infographics are gone: While link power from infographics directories is decreasing there is a new way to use infographics for effective link building and it is called Guestographics. There are 2 million blog posts published today. You need to stand out providing real value for your visitors.

40. Higher Keyword Density Is Better: Stuffing your keyword across your copy will get you nowhere. It will only disturb your visitors.

41. My business doesn't need a blog: Every business needs a blog because you need relevant text content and backlinks in order to rank long-term on Google organic search results. There are news and innovations in every industry. A blog will help you to position yourself as an expert in your niche.

42. Videos Are All You Need: While some sites can do very well only with video, you need to consider that there are some limitations to the audience you can reach. Be sure to back it up with non-video content as well. For best results use a combination of text and visual content. Don't forget Google bot need to feed with text content.

43. A/B testing can hurt your rankings: If A/B testing was so bad, do you think Google would offer A/B testing solutions? Just look under the Content Experiments section within Google Analytics. It is their version of A/B testing.

Technical SEO

44. Google Can’t Read JavaScript or Ajax: It's a common misconception that Google can't read JavaScript or Ajax. The truth is, Google can read JavaScript and is getting better at crawling Ajax content. For example the index Disqus comments.

45. Having a secure (HTTPS encrypted) site will boost your rankings significantly: In August of 2014, Google announced that they started using HTTPS as a signal in their ranking algorithms, which means if your website still relies on standard HTTP, your rankings could suffer as a result. For now, however, HTTPS remains a "lightweight" signal, affecting fewer than 1% of global queries (according to Google).

46. Googlebot doesn’t read CSS: Google scans CSS for spam tactics like hidden divs.

Link Building Myths

47. Link Building is Dead: Links still have many years left in them. Backlinks will remain one of the most important factors correlated to high Google rankings.

48. Links Are Out; Citations Are In: This is not true. Co-citations are just a good addition to your link building.

49. Links Quantity is Better Than Link Quality: Several years back this was real, now 1 backlink from a relevant and authoritative website is stronger than 1000 shady backlinks.

50. Using a Subdomain for Your Blog Is Bad for SEO: Completely wrong statement. One of the many examples is blog.hubspot.com, which gets 50% of its traffic trough organic search.

51. Paying for links will get your site penalized: Yes, certain paid links can give your site a black mark but there is always a way to acquire quality paid link without to risk a Google penalty.

52. All Backlinks Are Equal: The best backlinks are relevant to your industry and come from established and authoritative websites, which are well known in your niche.

53. Nofollow Links Will Hurt You Rankings: They won't unless you are spamming at a huge scale. It is completely natural to have a certain percentage of nofollow links.

54. Nofollow Links Have No Value: They are crucial to your backlink profile. If Google sees that you have zero nofollow links, this will raise a red flag that you're only building links and not earning them naturally. Nofollow links have value (they always had), and they aren't something you should be ignoring any longer. 

55. Anchor Text is Dead: Despite many sources claim anchor text power is weakening it is still important. Look at top websites for your keyword and check their anchor text distribution. 

56. Guest Posting is Dead: Low quality and spammy guest posting is gone but if you emphasize on quality it remains one of the most effective link building methods.

57. Reciprocal Links  Still Work: They are long gone. You even risk a penalty if you acquire them on a huge scale. 

58. Sitewide backlinks are Not Dangerous: Sitewide backlinks can cause a lot of troubles. Avoid exact match anchor backlinks coming from hundreds to thousands of sitewide pages.

59. Building Links is Dangerous: With all Google updates, people start to fear even thinking of building backlinks. There are safe tactics such as content marketing, influencer outreach, quality guest blogs, product/service in return for review etc.

60. High link velocity will hurt your search engine ranking: There is no exact number of threshold about how many links you can make for a certain period.

61. Blog Comments, Forum signatures are bad and can hurt your rankings: This is not possible if they come from authority websites with strict moderation for spam.

62. Google don't follow "nofollow links": Nofollow attribute main purpose was to retain authority and PageRank. Google still crawl the links, but Matt Cutts said they don't include them in their overall graph. However, nofollow links provide some SEO value.

63. No backlink no SEO value: Co-Citations are website's mentions without a hyperlink. Google looks at co-citations as a brand signal.

64. All Paid Directory Links are Bad: Not all directory listings are bad. If the website has strict moderation and is authoritative with real traffic, you can consider listing your website. Directory listing in local directories usually boosts your local rankings.

SEO Rankings Myths

65. Rankings are All That Matters: Rankings are an important element in SEO, but the real measures of success are conversions and sales. The success of an SEO campaign cannot be judged only by rankings. Some keywords convert better than others and bring more revenue. 

66. Google Rankings are the same globally: Google search results are localized. They are a bit different depending on your location. This trend is ongoing as Google's strategy is to personalize its services.

67. You Need to Rank #1: Ideally, you want to rank number one. Sometimes the resource you need to climb from #2-3 spot are tremendous, and it is not worth it to push further for a particular keyword. You may concentrate your efforts on related long-tail keywords, which provide higher ROI.

68. Ranking for large volume keywords is better.  This is usually a beginner's mistake to start to optimize for keywords with insane searches per month. People search for long-tail keywords, which convert better. 

69. Getting your website on Google's 1st page is good enough: A higher position on top 10 results will deliver more clicks and traffic. The difference in click-through rates between Google's 1st and 10th result on the 1st page is tremendous.

70. Bolded keywords affect rankings: Their purpose is only better user experience.

71. Social Media Signals Impact Directly  Search Rakings: Social signals are a necessary part of your digital marketing strategy. 

They correlate with high organic rankings but are not a complete marketing strategy. Test this myth yourself and compare social signals count for every page in your top 10 search results.

72. Social Signals Create Backlinks: Social signals created by actively participating on social media have a significant impact on where you’ll rank in Google especially for local search but social signals are not equal to backlinks. They have a very short lifespan and to help you with organic rankings they need to flow continuously. After numerous tests, we conducted that when you stop getting social signals your rankings usually drops.

73. Google Plus is not important for SEO: Google Plus is growing rapidly. Your posts will show higher for people that have you in their circle. Google often places Google+ Local results above the “normal” organic SERPs in local search.

googleplus

74. New sites do not rank well because of the “Google sandbox”: New sites can be indexed within minutes, and even could rank well in a matter of weeks after the launch.

75. Once you become #1 your job is done: Your competition doesn't sleep. You should constantly work on your SEO performance or soon or later another website will outrank you.

User Experience Myths

76. Website Speed is Not Important: Actually site speed is one of the important ranking factors. Learn how website speed  impacts search rankings.

77. SEO is not usability issue: User experience has a huge impact your organic rankings. Great UX leads to high CTR, time on site and visited pages, which result into better Google rankings.

78. The higher your bounce rate, the lower your rankings: High bounce rate is not necessarily a bad thing if you are attracting the right audience and giving them exactly what they are looking for.

79. I don't need a mobile version of my website: Do you know mobile internet usage exceeds desktop for the first time in history in 2014. Google mobile index is bigger than its desktop index. Google even started to penalize mobile unfriendly sites.

Blackhat SEO Myths

80. Black Hat SEO Does Not Work: It depends on what “work” means. A lot of black hat tactics will get you higher in the search rankings in a short-term. For last years Google put an ended many black hat tactics and discouraged people who want easy results.

81. Google crushed private blog networks completely: The truth is there are cases when PBNs still work. But after all Google updates, it is harder, risky and very expensive to use them for SEO. 

82. Using automated SEO tools is always black hat or spam: SEO optimization requires working with huge amounts of data and automation tools are often a must to stay ahead of your competition.

83. You can rank easily with spam: There are people who promote black hat techniques but the results don't last and it is not worth it in a long term. Furthermore, you risk a Google penalty, which will devalue all the time and resources you put into work.

84. Cloaking still works: This is really old technique, which is very dangerous nowadays.

85. All cloaking is bad and risky: If your intentions are honorable, then you have nothing to fear.

86. There are one click software solutions: A few years back it was possible to rank easily with automation software. Now it is impossible.

87. Negative SEO doesn't exist: It could even destroy your business so monitor your website's statistics.

88. Google Crushed Spam: Google's deal with hard spam better than ever but there is still room for improvements. The next challenge is to handle more sophisticated tactics.

Google Penalty Myths

89. Disavow Tool doesn't Work: DT could save tons of time instead of removing links by hand. It may remove a manual or algorithmic penalty especially if you react in a timely manner. I was able to recover many of my clients with its help. 

Recovery

90. Disavowing All Your Links Will Fix Your Problem: Disavow Tool is not a silver bullet. If you already have a penalty message in your Google Webmaster Tools,  you will also need to fill reconsideration request after you clean your link profile.

91. Google penalizes sites that use the noscript tag: John Mueller said that there is no “penalty” for using the tag and that Google ignores it in Google Webmaster Hangout (about 49 minutes  in the video)

Google Conspiracy Myths

92. Paying For Google AdWords = Higher Organic Rankings: This is pure nonsense. Google's distinguished engineer Matt Cutts denied this myth in the next video

93. Adsense Helps/is Bad for Your Rankings. Adsense banners don't help for SEO and will not hurt your rankings unless you have too many ads on your page.

94. Google spies on webmasters using Google Analytics: Google do not use your analytics to spy on you. On the other hand, competitors may find how many website you own from your unique GA ID, which could be found in your website's source code.

SEO Misconceptions

95. Google Authorship Helps SEO: Google terminated the program completely on August of 2014 and it no longer exists.

96. Google Updates happen a few times a year: Actually, Penguin runs in real time. So don't look at updates like a seasonal thing. 

97. Toolbar PageRank is the same as actual PageRank: Actual PageRank is updated constantly, while public PageRank is not a relevant metric anymore.

98. PageRank shows how important Google thinks your site is:  According to Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller, Google are “probably not going to be updating it going forward”. Page rank was a great way to help SEOs to abuse Google algorithm buying domains with high PR. Now the toolbar PR is not regularly updated and is not a reliable metric.

99. One SEO technique will work for every website/keyword: Every SEO strategy should be created according to the industry specifics. 

100. SEO Is All You Need: While SEO is extremely important, it's only one part of the puzzle that will get traffic to your site. You need to provide outstanding user experience and unique value.

101. SEO is something I can hand off to IT: There seems to be a perception that SEO requires some technical expertise, and since it is technical, IT can just do the work. While there is a technical component to SEO, it requires way more than just technical knowledge. Think twice before handing an entire project to IT or a web designer.

102. There are SEO "Gurus": There are NO SEO "Gurus". Everyone who self-proclaim himself as a "Guru" is only looking for an opportunity to rob newbies who just starting out in the business.

103. There are SEO Secrets: This myth is similar to the previous one. You can reverse engineering your competitor's tactics. There are no secrets just people who are looking for shortcuts to success.

104. SEO is Dead: Organic search drives 51+% of the overall traffic to websites worldwide. It is alive and kicking.

105. SEO companies can get guaranteed results: No company can guarantee 100% they can rank you for a specific keyword. There are more than 200 ranking factors, which determine your organic position.  There is no universal formula for success and such companies should be avoided.

106. SEO is an Instant Solution: Unfortunately, SEO will not fix your search engine visibility issues by next week. Fast results only come from a PPC (pay per click) programs, which will provide instant traffic.

107. SEO Takes Way Too Much Time: With right keyword research and SEO strategy, you can get first results in 4-12 weeks.

108. SEO is about manipulating organic results: Google becomes smarter and significantly limit this options. Manipulation techniques don't provide long term results.

109. SEO is too Expensive: It actually become more and more expensive last few years after all Google updates, which favor quality backlinks and content. It doesn't necessarily cost and arm and a leg. Do a research and ask several SEO agencies and compare their services and prices.

110. My business is really small, SEO isn’t worth it: If you have a small business local SEO is the best cost effective marketing solution. According to Forbes investing in organic SEO is more important now than ever before.

111. I’m a local business. I don’t need SEO: Do you know 43% of total Google search queries are Local?

112. SEO is too hard for a “regular Joe: There is plenty of information from basics to PRO SEO strategies.

113. I must submit my site to Google: The oldest SEO mythThe idea that you need to submit your website to Google in order to appear in search results (or rank) is nonsense. Google now usually visit your new blog or post minutes to hours after it is published.

114. SEO and inbound marketing don’t mix: SEO is a marketing channel, which can be part of your traditional marketing strategy.

115. We have an inside person at Google: This is the pitch only con artists use. Google is one of the largest corporations in the world with thousands of employees. The algorithms they use are so complex that even an inside man won't be able to help you.

116. If You Build it, They Will Come: Build an amazing website with exceptional content and watch the traffic roll on in. The truth is without promotion nobody will actually come.

Am I missing anything? Let me know!

Keyword Planner – The Most Detailed Tutorial 2017

Last Update - December 24th, 2016

Google Keyword Planner is a free tool, which allows you to find popular key terms in your industry.

Keyword research is the core of every successful online business. Google organic traffic is as much as 50% of the overall traffic.

I created the most detailed Keyword Planner Tutorial to help you get started.

You need an AdWords account first. Go at Google.com/adwords/ and register. Enter your basic information and you are ready. If you already have an account, you can go directly to Adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner.

Login in your Google Adwords account. Then click on “Tools and Analysis” and choose “Keyword Planner.”

Select Google AdWords Tools

Tools - Keyword Planner

You have several options:

Keword_tool

Let's start with Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category

Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category

When you choose the Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category, you will get this screen.

Keyword Planner Find New Keywords

Your Product or Service

Keyword Planner enter keywords

Here you ou can enter your product or services or a brainstorm list of keywords. Put a comma after every keyword or paste a list of keywords from a file.

power-generation-icon1

Power Hack

If you don't know where to start you can use another handy tool - keywordtool.io which will generate a list of keywords for you. Let’s use "yoga poses" as an example. The easiest way to find more long tail variations of this keyword will be to paste it in Keywordtool.io

 

 

longtail

You can see how this tool found 441 new long tail variations of yoga poses. Now you need to click on “Copy all” button on the right and paste the keywords list back in Google Keyword Planner and find out the monthly searches for every keyword.

Your Landing Page

Landing page

This is a very powerful feature. You can use it to get keyword ideas from your website and blog. The tool will show you keywords related to your website based on your content.

power-generation-icon1You can enter the websites of your competitors! It could be their home page or a specific page with product, service, etc. Try both for best results especially if they have many different pages, products or services.

Are there any forum communities related to your industry? You can use this tool for a specific forum home and category page or even a single thread.

You can find web forums related to your industry on Thebiggestboards.com or Boardreader.com.

Product Category

The third option is to choose from categories library. Start with major category and select the sub-category that is closer to your business.

keword_planner_categories

Targeting

This tool allows you to refine your Keyword Planner Results.

keyword-planner_targeting

Location

Let's start with locations and learn how to use it effectively. By default, Keyword Planner targets all locations, which includes every country in the world. When your business is concentrated in a local area or a specific country you should use location to get precise numbers.

keyword planer location

You can also use the advanced search, which gives you the opportunity to use Google maps and choose different locations directly.

locatio advanced search

You can paste or type one location per line in Bulk location, up to 1000 at a time. Specify the country code for each location. See the list of supported country codes.

Enter location for each country separately. For example, if you are targeting locations in Spain and Brazil, enter the locations in Spain first with the country code "ES". After you've added those locations, enter your locations in Brazil using the country code "BR".

Languages

keyword planner languages

You can choose to target different languages and check the search volume.

Google and search partners

Google and search partners

Google team up with many search partners, where they show AdWords ads. This feature is mainly for people who are going to spend money, so if you are using Keyword Planner only for keyword research select only "Google".

Negative Keywords

negative keywords

This feature only applies to Adwords and you don't need it if you are not going to launch a paid campaign. Learn more about negative words in AdWords Help Center.

Date Range

average monthy searches

This function allows you to see the average monthly searches for a date range you select or compare average monthly searches for two date ranges.

Customize your search

Keyword Filters

keywords filters

 

Average monthly searches - See keywords based on average monthly searches for the dates you selected. How it works: Select ≥ or ≤ from the drop-down and enter a number in the box to see keywords with average monthly searches greater than or less than that number for this date range

Suggested bid - This is AdWords feature. This is a suggested bid is calculated by looking at the costs-per-click (CPCs) that advertisers are paying for a keyword, taking into account the location and Search Network settings you've selected.

Ad Impression Share - This feature is also is just for Adwords advertisers. Ad impression share is the number of impressions you've received divided by the total number of searches for the location and network you’re targeting that matched the keyword exactly in the last calendar month.

Competition - This feature can help you to determine how competitive a keyword is. It measures the competition among AdWord advertisers. Usually, when many advertisers bid for a particular keyword it is competitive to rank organically on Google.

Keyword Options

keyword option

Another feature for  AdWords advertisers you can ignore if you are not going to launch a paid campaign.

 

Search Volume Data And Trends

 

KWPsearchvolume

You can use this Keyword Planner option if already have a list of keywords. You can either paste the list in the field or import it as CSV, TSV or plain text file. You can also use targeting and date range filters below the text field.

Here is an example of what you get when you hit Get search volume button. You can arrange the results when you click on the title of any particular column, for example, Avg. Monthly searches.

KeywordPlanner

Now let's see what each column means.

Average Monthly Searches

avmonthlysearches

When you point the little icon on the left, you will see the average number of times people have searched for this exact keyword every month. This is a very good feature as you can see if the interest to any particular keyword is increasing or declining.

If there is not enough data, you will see a dash (-) This means that the keyword term is not popular, and nobody is searching for it.

The numbers on the right represent the average monthly searches based on the data for the last 12 months. The default settings are set to 12 months. You can choose a different date range from the menu on the left.

You can learn more about the average monthly searches on AdWords Help Center.

Competition

competition

As stated before this is not the competition in organic Google results but the number of advertisers bidding on Google Adwords. But keep in mind Adwords advertisers competition usually correlates with higher competition in Google organic results.

Look at the example above. The competition for "yoga poses" is low because it isn't a buying keyword. But look "yoga mat" it's competition is high because many companies sell yoga mats.

The last 3 columns are only for Adwords Advertisers.

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WordPress SEO – The Definitive Guide 2017

WordPress powers 27% of the websites around the world. When it comes to SEO it is one of the best content management systems. Still, you need to roll up your sleeves and optimize it for maximal performance.

This WordPress SEO tutorial will help you to optimize your website or blog and get ahead of your competition!

Download a PDF version

WordPress SEO Basics

Let's start with the basics settings.

Use SEO-Friendly URLs

Google gives more weight to the first 3-5 words in your URL. For example, the URL of this article is "Wordpress SEO". For best results use your target keyword at the beginning of the URL and even start with it if possible.

By default, WordPress URLs are not SEO friendly but you can fix this easily. Go to Settings - Permalinks and change your permalinks to Post name.

permalinks-seo

Optimize your titles for SEO

WordPress title tag is the most important on-page SEO factor. For best results start your title with your keyword or place it in the beginning.

There are several title generation tools which will help you to create click optimized titles:

Hemingway Sharethrough - It will show how engaging is your headline.

SEOPressor’s Title Generator - A free title generator which will generate catchy titles for your blog posts.

Portent’s Content Idea Generator - This is one of my favorites. It can help you to create a headline just by entering a topic.

Blog Title Generator by BlogAbout - This is an excellent tool which provides optimized ideas.

Title Generator by TweakYourBiz - You'll get a bunch of ideas just after entering a  topic.

Add modifiers to your title

Modifiers can help you to rank for long tail versions of your main keyword. Use modifiers like “2016”, “best”, “guide”, and “review etc.

Optimize your descriptions

Your descriptions are one of the biggest opportunities to get more clicks in Google search results and to increase your rankings and traffic.

When people are searching for anything on Google they scan the results and pick by title and description. Your description should be complementary to your title.

It also should contain your main keyword in it because Google bold the search term if they are found in the description.

How to make it more appealing and get more clicks:

  1. Look at the Adwords paid ads. They are optimized for clicks. But use ad copy only if it makes sense with your content.
  2. Study the results above you in top 10 Google results. Look for words and phrases they have and you don't. Pick words that sound as a good fit to your description.
  3. Use a specific number - people like content with specific numbers
  4. Offer a fast solution - everyone is in a hurry. When you offer a solution within specific time frame you will get more clicks
  5. What in it for me? Try to explain the benefits one will get in a clear way.

Eliminate thin or duplicate content

Duplicate content is when you have the same content on several pages of your website or blog.

WordPress automatically generates multiple archive URLs. In addition to that, it creates tag pages if you use tags. This may hurt your SEO by generating duplicated content and unnecessary pages.

How to avoid duplicate content:

  • Post your article only in one category. When you post your article in several categories it will appear on more than one URL which will result in duplicate content. If you really need to use several categories for one post use rel=canonical
  • Disable or noindex WordPress archives which are automatically created by default.
  • Set noindex to your Tags

You can either disable archives completely or set them to noindex which will prevent Google from indexing your tags.

How to check if you already have duplicate content?

Google Search Console and Siteliner are the best places to start.

There are two main ways to handle duplicate content:

1.Delete the duplicate content

2. Add a canonical URL to each version. You can change Canonical URLs in Yoast SEO.

Why should you remove or set noindex to your thin pages? Because they usually are low-quality or out of date pages which nobody visits. You need to remove them because they lower your overall quality score.

XML sitemaps

They are very important because they help Google to crawl and index  your website's pages. If you have Yoast SEO plugin installed it will add XML sitemap functionality to your website.  To access your XML settings click on Yoast SEO plugin - XML Sitemaps.

Content Optimization

Your content is one of the most important aspects of your SEO strategy. Google ranks content backed up with quality backlinks. That is why you should invest a lot of efforts to create content that ranks.

Let's learn how to optimized it now!

Keyword sweet spots

Your main keyword should appear in the first 100-150 words of your article and make it easier for Google to understand what your page is about.

It is also a good idea to include it in the last 50-100 words of the article. This sends a signal that the main topic of your page is about your target keyword. From the beginning to the end.

Use LSI keywords

LSI keywords (Latent Semantic Indexing) are basically keywords that are semantically related to your primary keyword. Or these are the keywords you see when you search on Google at the bottom of the page.

lsi-keywords

Using LSI keywords in your content will help Google to determine your page’s relevancy.  Don't go crazy, use only related keywords that make sense to your content.

Create Long Content

Quality in-debt articles perform better in Google search results. Why? Because they tend to attract more visitors, backlinks, and social shares.

average-content-lenght

This doesn't mean that you should start writing 2,000 words long articles about how to change a light bulb! Depending on your industry your content length may vary. Just make sure that you cover your topic better with more details and relevant data. That's it!

Use Outbound Links

Link out to quality resources generously. When you link to other authoritative resources you send signals to Google that you are legit and provide quality citing already established websites or blogs.

PRO Tip - Set outbound links to open in a new tab.  This way when your visitors open a reference link, they will stay on your page which increases the time they spent on your website.

Use Internal Links

Internal links allow your visitors to navigate your website because they connect and organize your content. Therefore users stay longer.  Internal linking also spread link juice (ranking power) across your pages.

Boost Time on site

The time visitors stay on your site is an extremely strong signal for Google about your website's quality. That is why you need to create only 10x content, which is relevant and up to date.

Multimedia will also help to keep people longer. Use relevant images, videos slide presentation, quizzes, audio versions of your content etc.

Encourage discussions. Ask your readers to leave blog comments at the end of each post.

Hook them to come again

Repeat visitors are a signal that you are a quality resource. Hook the readers to come again, create content in parts or mention at the end of each post what is coming next.

Do you collect emails on your website? If not you are missing a huge opportunity to connect with your visitors. Offer them to sign up for free updates and send them an email when you publish a new article.

I listed several awesome plugins you can use to build your mailing list at the end of the article.

Content Resurrection

Google love fresh content and often gives it a ranking boost. You should revisit your best articles over a period of several months and update them if they are out of date.

When visitors are looking for information they check when the article was published and they tend to skip on old content which is 6-12+ month old.

Mention when was the last time you updated and improved your article at the top.

Alternatively, you can hide the publishing date.

Conduct Keyword Research

Use keyword research tools to find topics and keywords you should target. Google Keyword Planner is the best free option and Semrush and Ahrefs are the best premium tools.

There is a new paid tool which is very affordable and does an awesome job too - Kwfinder.com. With latest Keyword Planner updates, this tool is the fastest and most affordable way to find good keywords.

 

Youtube Statistics

A keyword FortuneLords rank in top 10

Use Social Sharing Buttons

Social shares don't help your SEO directly but they help you to get more traffic which is correlated with higher Google rankings.

You may think that people will naturally share content they like but guess what you are wrong! In fact, a study by BrightEdge found that social sharing buttons can increase social sharing by 700%.

Use Responsive Design

There are more searches on Mobile than on desktop.

Google even started to penalize mobile unfriendly sites. Use Google's Mobile-Friendly Test to find out if your theme is doing well. In case it isn't you can use plugins like WPtouch which create a mobile version of your website.

Or get a better theme. Good themes are optimized for mobile.

Technical SEO

Boost Site Speed

Have you ever pushed the Back button on your browser because a page took more than 3 seconds to load? More than 40% of people do exactly the same thing.

Website speed is extremely important for your SEO success.

According to Alexa fast-loading sites rank significantly higher than slow-loading sites. Keep in mind Google ranks pages not sites but if your website is fast all your page have a better potential to rank for your target keywords.

average-page-load-spead-for-urls

There is a simple explanation.

If your website is slow and people abandon it this will decrease the time they stay on site, bounce rate, average impressions per visit etc. All these are major Google ranking factors.

Let's determine how fast is your website. You can use the following tools:

Gtmetrix – It grades your site’s performance and provides actionable recommendations how to fix these issues.

gtmetrix

Pingdom Website Speed Test – Speed Test, DNS Health Ping and Traceroute (measure server response time). They offer real user monitoring services which I highly recommend. They show your website’s loading times distribution in different locations.

website-speed-test

 

Google PageSpeed Insights - This tool grades your website score on desktop and mobile devices.

pagespeed-insights

Varvy Page Speed Optimization - This tool creates an awesome visual summary about your website's speed performance.

pagespeed-tool

Speed Factors

  • Image Optimization
  • Group JavaScript and CSS files
  • Use Caching Plugin
  • Caching information (expires header)
  • Add LazyLoad to your images
  • Gzip compression
  • Widget/Plugin Overload
  • Optimize your WordPress database
  • Disable hotlinking
  • Fast WordPress Theme
  • Use CDN for static files
  • Use solid web host
  • Decrease the number of Ads
  • External Embedded Media
  • Control a number of post revisions
  • Turn off pingbacks and trackbacks
  • Optimize your home page

Image Optimization

You image file name should include your target keyword. Don't go overboard here. Let's say you have five images on a post/page. Include your keyword only in the most important 1-2 images.

Use variations and combinations of your main keyword. For example, my first image in this article is called "WordPress-SEO", I can also create images with names like "WordPress-SEO-tips" or "seo-tips" etc

Also, include your target keyword in your ALT TEXT in a meaningful way. Don't just stuff it with keywords.

Image types

  • JPEG – suitable for photographs and designs with people, places or things.
  • PNG – best choice for graphics, logos, text-heavy designs, screenshots, and when you need images with transparent backgrounds
  • GIF – only if you need animation.

Image dimensions - resize your images to the exact size you need them on the page otherwise WordPress will consume server resources to auto-resize them which will result in more time for your page to fully load.

You can use the free online tool Picresize to resize your images.

Image compression - One of the easiest ways to optimize your images is to compress them without to lose quality. The most popular options are to do it by yourself one by one or to use a plugin.

Use these online tools:

TinyPNG - Despite the name TinyPNG optimize both PNG and JPEG images.

Pro Tip: After you download your optimized image from TinyPNG reupload it and repeat the process a couple of times to squeeze even more KBs.

Optimizilla - It even allows you to look at a preview of the optimized image. This saves time because you can check and control the quality in real time.

You can also use TinyPNG, WP Smush or EWWW Image Optimizer plugins which optimize your images automatically.

Group JavaScript and CSS files

The idea is to combine JS, HTML and CSS files so that they can be compressed and served in a way that reduces website loading times.

Your free options are to use WP Super Minify plugin or W3 Total Cache which also have such functions

My personal choice is the caching plugin WP Rocket which saves me the hassle and do all the job from caching to minification.

Use caching plugin

What is Caching?

When someone visits your website his browser downloads all the images, CSS files, JavaScripts etc in a temporary folder to enhance the website experience. When this user goes to another page of your website or comes back in a few days your website will load faster.

How caching plugins works?

They save the dynamically generated HTML files and serve them from the cache (i.e.  previously generated data) whenever a request is made, instead of loading all the data from your website again.

Most popular free caching plugins are WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache. If you can afford it I strongly recommend using WP Rocket which offers more functionality.

Caching information (expires header)

Expires headers tell the browser whether they should request a specific file from the server or whether they should grab it from the browser's cache.

The whole idea behind Expires Headers is not only to reduce the load of downloads from the server (constantly downloading the same file when it's unmodified is wasting precious load time) but rather to reduce the number of HTTP requests for the server.

Learn more about expires headers and how to implement them here. Alternatively, you can use Far Future Expiry Header plugin.

Add LazyLoad to your images

LazyLoad is a process which serves only the images visible in the visitor's browser window. When they scroll down the other images begin to load,

With LazyLoad you also save bandwidth loading less data.  Some users will not scroll down to the end of the page and it is not necessary to load all the images.

Gzip compression

Gzip method compress your files and make them smaller. Most servers have it but you can check if you have it enabled on yours. For more information you can check these sources: Enable gzip compression and GTmetrix Gzip

Widget/Plugin overload

Remove any widget or WordPress plugins you don't use and you can improve your blog speed with a few milliseconds.

Optimize your WordPress database

WP-Optimize will help you to optimize your database (spam, post revisions, drafts, tables, etc.) I can also recommend the WP-DB Manager plugin, which can schedule dates for database optimization.

Disable hotlinking

Hotlinking is bandwidth “theft.” This is when other sites use direct links to your web site's files (images, video, etc.) This increases the load of your server and decreases your website's speed.

The best way is to put a piece of code in your .htaccess file which is in your WordPress site’s root directory. This guide explains the process step by step.

Fast WordPress Theme

Not all WordPress themes are equal in terms of speed. Your theme should be fast loading, regularly updated, compatible with the latest WordPress version and mobile friendly.

Good themes providers usually mention this on their sales page. If there is no information or you are choosing a free theme you can how fast it is with the speed test tools mentioned earlier in the article.

Pro Tips: Never install pirated themes on your blog. 99% of the time they have hidden links in the footer, malware or a backdoor code which can get your blog hacked. When you are choosing a free theme always conduct a research about it and check if it is listed in WordPress theme directory.

For last 5 years, I spent over $5,000 on WordPress themes and plugins and my personal favorite premium providers are  Thrive Themes and MyThemeShop. I use them on all my blogs and websites.

Use CDN for static files

Content delivery network (CDN) store your multimedia static files on multiple servers across different geographic locations. When a visitor comes to your website the CDN service will load the images on the page he opens from the closest server to his physical location.

For example, you host your website in the United States. A visitor from the United Kingdom visits your website. Your CDN provider has a server in Germany.

It will load your website’s files from the German server for that visitor not from U.S. This will speed up your website and will improve the user experience.

Another great benefit of CDN is that it saves your server bandwidth.

You can use either traditional CDN service provider like MaxCDN or Cloudflare which provide additional protection to your website.

Use solid web host

Reliable hosting is a must, no compromises here.

If you are starting out, on a tight budget and don't expect to get 50k visitors a month in the next 12 months you can use quality shared hosting providers like Bluehost or Asmallorange.

For bigger projects like FortuneLords, I use  TrafficPlanet.  These guys are the best and their customer service is the fastest and friendliest ever.

Pro Tip - On a tight budget you can get great results with a combination of shared hosting and CDN.

Decrease the number of Ads

Depending on the ad network you are using some ads may be too big and not optimized for speed. Use GTmetrix to check how big are your ads and how much time they need to load.

Look in you ad network's dashboard and determine which are you best performing ads spots and remove the rest.

Limit External Embedded Media

When you embedded external resources make sure they are not loading forever. Personally, I embedded media only from big websites which make no compromises with speed like Youtube, Giphy.com etc.

Control a number of post revisions

WordPress would store every single one of these drafts, indefinitely. If you are a geek like me you may have 50-100 revisions for every post. When your post is already published you don't need these drafts stored right?

revisions

Use the Revision Control plugin to make sure I keep post revisions to a reasonable number like 2-3 tops.

Turn off pingbacks and trackbacks

Trackbacks are a way to notify other WordPress blogs that you've linked to them. If you link to a WordPress blog they'll be notified automatically using pingbacks.

Sound great but in reality there is so much spam that this is one almost useless function which only eats system resources.

To turn them off go to Settings-Discussion and unclick top two squares on the top and hit "Save changes" at the bottom of the page.

wordpress-settings

Optimize your home page

Many of us use to put a lot of stuff on the home page which is a huge mistake. It should be optimized for speed and lead generation.

How to improve your home page:

  • Show excerpts instead of full posts.
  • Reduce the number of posts on the page. I like to have 3-5 posts on my home page.
  • Remove unnecessary sharing widgets from the home page (include them only in posts).

Other Important Technical SEO Tips

Eliminate Errors

Check Google Search Console regularly to find out if there are any technical or indexation problems with your website.

You should also use Broken Link Checker. It checks your content for broken links and missing images and also gives the option to prevent search engines from following broken links.

Uptime Monitoring 

Serious marketers/online business owners monitor their site uptime performance 24/7. Frequent downtimes will hurt your SEO and may decrease your rankings for a long time. My favorite tools are Pingdom (paid) and Uptimerobot (freemium).

WordPress SEO Plugins

I already mentioned many plugins so far but there are a few which are also important.

Thrive Headline Optimizer (paid) - Helps you to create the best performing headlines and to get more clicks.

Shield WordPress Security - The most comprehensive and highest-rated free security system for WordPress. Security plugins help your website to stay up and running. If your website is taken down or infected with malware this will hurt your organic Google rankings for a long time.

Sucuri - (paid) Offer a complete website protection. These guys will also help you to clean your website if it is blacklisted by Google, disabled by your host or flagged for malware.

Login LockDown - This plugin limits the number of login attempts from a given IP range within a certain time period.

Akismet - Help you to fight spam comments which can include links to low-quality websites

Google Captcha - This is an effective and free solution that protects your WordPress website forms from spam entries.

Scroll Triggered Boxes - It is a lightweight plugin which adds flexible call-to-actions to your WordPress site. You can use it to capture email leads.

Thrive Leads (paid) - Will help you to build your mailing list faster than ever before!

TLDR: The Lead Generation & UX Tool - This awesome plugin created by Matthew Barby enables you to add custom summaries to your blog content with custom CTAs for each post!

Download a PDF version

Now you already know how to optimize your WordPress website or blog for optimal SEO performance.

It’s Your Turn

Let me know if you have any questions in the comment section below!

 

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