WordPress sites are some of the most popular options for small business owners because of their affordability and ease of use.
Thankfully, they’re also set up to be highly functional in the context of an SEO program.
Under the right conditions, WordPress sites can earn a powerful domain authority and rank high on search engines.
As WordPress celebrates its tenth birthday this year, it also has other reasons to celebrate. With over 65 million blogs and websites created on WordPress and companies like CNN and TechCrunch using it, it’s no wonder that developers and marketers alike recommend it to their clients and colleagues.
The WordPress platform has many benefits: it’s free, it has a passionate community behind it, and developers are rapidly expanding its selection of themes, layouts, and plugins to allow it to accommodate any website purpose or need.
While most use WordPress as a blogging platform, it can fit any business or organization, from an e-commerce store to a social networking community. Here’s why WordPress should be your website’s CMS (content management system).
Because WordPress is first and foremost a blogging platform, it makes adding, editing, and publishing content very easy. This ease-of-use is key for easily rolling out your content strategy while enabling all your employees and writer corps to contribute.
Besides making content creation easy, plugins and administrative options allow for thousands of possibilities as to how your content is approved, displayed, and edited. From SEO plugins like Yoast that grades the SEO value of your blog post to photo gallery plugins that allow you to showcase your most recent client case study, what your organization needs in a CMS can probably be met with WordPress.
While the available plugin and customization options can be overwhelming, there are many places to go for help, as one of the best things about WordPress is the number of people using it. WordPress has support resources built on a hefty community forum that’s moderated by both WordPress fanatics and employees alike. If your answer can’t be found in the forum, you can ask your own question.
You can also seek advice outside of WordPress as well. There are several blogs and websites with articles on everything WordPress (such as WPBeginner.com), from theme installation to plugin reviews. Because many of the users who build a website with WordPress love its flexibility and options, they are ready and willing to help others get started too.
WordPress has hundreds of thousands of functionality-augmenting plugins which are available both free and paid. Each theme (which is a design or layout for the front end of the CMS website) and plugin displayed in the WordPress gallery is accompanied by user reviews so you know how both will function when actually put into practice.
Besides checking out the reviews, you can also see when the plugin or theme was last updated. If it’s been longer than a year, it may be worth trying something else, especially if WordPress has done a recent major update.
While there are a plethora of free themes and plugins, you’ll need to do your research to make sure they all work together. Many major plugins, like BuddyPress (which is a complete social networking/community plugin) can only work with certain themes that have been built around it.
When it comes to company CMS platforms, it’s usually worth the cost to invest in a unique or premium theme for your website. In addition, unique plugins that will enhance your employees’ or users’ experience using the CMS are usually worth the purchase.
Because WordPress is currently the largest website-building and blogging platform in the world, it is important to protect your content from spam attacks. WordPress sites are targeted mostly because there are so many of them (as any popular CMS platform can attest). Luckily, there are several options available for keeping your CMS secure.
Invest in a secure theme and consider utilizing a back-up service, like VaultPress or another security back-up plugin. There are free and paid options, but be sure to read all the considerations and reviews before deciding on one. It’s also helpful to do regular back-ups of your site to your local computer or a hard-drive, just in case. Again, because WordPress is used in such large numbers, the options to protect your content are endless.
Numbers are also on your side when it comes to finding the best web developer or SEO consultant for your new CMS. There are many web developers who are experts with WordPress, which means you’ll have an easier time finding one. Because of this, competition is fierce, and they may come cheaper than others who work with rare or proprietary CMS’s. There are also plenty of design firms that specialize in building WordPress websites, which can lead to better service and greater breadth of knowledge about the platform.
Of course, after you build your website, you’re going to need to market it, and that’s where SEO comes in. WordPress is the CMS of choice for SEO professionals (including us here at SEO.co!), and most know how to work within WordPress. This is because WordPress has many SEO plugins that allow SEO professionals to provide a higher level of optimization, support, and customization.
Finally, while requirements vary in either case, design and SEO set-up often take less time than creating a complete CMS entirely from scratch.
One of the slogans of WordPress is “Code is Poetry”, something which is taken to heart by those who work with it every day. The thousands of developers, writers, marketing consultants, and programmers who use WordPress daily have proven that its use and benefits make it a great choice for anyone needing a flexible, easy-to-use, and affordable content management system.
WordPress has long been the content management system (CMS) of choice for small business owners, startup entrepreneurs, and anybody who wants a decent-looking website on a tight budget. WordPress is a free service that allows you to create your own blog or full website, using one of their free templates, purchasing a template from a massive store, or customizing your own site.
WordPress has become popular for a number of reasons, but two of the most significant are its SEO value and customizability through the use of plugins. There are hundreds of free plugins available, each of which can improve the site or bring it closer to your original vision. WordPress sites, on their own, can be easily optimized for search engines, and specific SEO plugins can make it even easier.
Despite its ease of use, cheap cost, and general functionality, WordPress isn’t perfect. In fact, there are several free (or nearly free) alternatives you can use to build and maintain your own website—and most of them carry the same SEO power as the CMS giant.
Blogger was once an independent effort, but the massive platform is now property of Google—and if Google takes ownership of it, you know it’s got to be good for your rankings. Blogger is actually considered by most to be Google’s direct answer to WordPress, making it a potentially excellent alternative, depending on your needs.
Blogger has a number of advantages for SEO, but the most important one is a result of its affiliation with Google. Webmasters using Blogger for their website can actually log into Google Analytics and read data without having to visit a separate site; all the information is tied into one platform. AdSense is also seamlessly integrated into the system.
Blogger also ties in directly with Google+, as you might expect, giving you a clear and direct path to the powerful social media channel. Webmasters can leverage Google+ to directly manage and respond to blog comments, cutting out the extra step of logging into the blog platform’s back end.
There are a few drawbacks to using Blogger, however. While there are several easy-to-use templates, they aren’t as diverse or as easily customizable as WordPress’s options. Plus, the entire platform is geared toward blog hosting; if you want a fancy site with lots of plugins and functionality, Blogger may not be the right choice for you.
Statamic is described as a “flat-file” CMS that uses both static and dynamic site elements to keep your website simple, but customizable and reflexive. The platform itself runs on PHP, but like with most modern CMSs, you don’t need to be familiar with PHP in order to use it effectively. Just like WordPress, Statamic keeps all your web pages rendered on the fly, but it uses flat files layered in a simplistic directory in order to keep your site loading quickly—a quality that search engines love to see.
Statamic does not use a database, which eliminates one of the security vulnerabilities that WordPress sites face. It also allows its users to write in it using HTML, markdown, or simple text—making it quick and easy for users to update. The only real downside is that, unlike WordPress, Statamic is not free to use. It’s still cheap, however, with pricing around $29 for a personal domain, and $99 for a professional one.
If you are looking for a free software package that allows you just as many publication options as WordPress, Drupal might be the answer for you. While WordPress offers user customizability through the use of various plugins, Drupal itself is actually open source, and managed by a dedicated community of users and developers. Because it has a GNU General Public License, anyone in the world can download it, share it, and manage it, with no strings attached.
The number of modules and customizable features of Drupal might seem intimidating, but if you spend a little time with the system, you should find it quite easy to create your own website—a simple one, at least. If you encounter any problems with the software or try to do something that currently exceeds the limitations of the system, you can reach out to the interactive community and seek help. And like all the WordPress alternatives on this list, Drupal is easy to optimize for SEO, so you never have to worry about ranking limitations because of your content platform of choice.
Ghost is a fantastic WordPress alternative for a very specific type of audience; the webmaster who only needs the basics. Ghost strips away all of the superfluous additions and functionalities of WordPress (such as the additional plugins), and instead focuses on the priorities of writing and publishing. For the content marketer who’s only looking for a solid publication channel, Ghost is perfect.
If you’re looking for sophisticated designs or a multitude of structural options, Ghost is not for you. But the SEO structure of your website and potential for rank is extraordinary. You won’t have to mess with configuring plugins or experimenting with various options for site speed. In essence, you’re giving up a bit of your precision control in exchange for greater simplicity. With Ghost, you can focus on the most basic and most important element of your SEO strategy: content publishing.
As an added bonus, Ghost is a completely free platform—all you have to do is ante up a small monthly fee for hosting (and the fee is dependent on your traffic, so if you have fewer than 10,000 monthly views, it could be as low as $5 a month).
Craft is a newer CMS platform created by Pixel & Tonic as a simplistic solution to the common problems of complex CMSs. Minimalism is the core principle behind Craft—while there’s plenty to explore and plenty to customize, its developers wanted a product that didn’t have more than what was absolutely necessary to build and manage a great site.
The most important component of any SEO campaign, posting content, is incredibly easy in Craft’s back end. Rather than sorting through dozens of fields, users are only presented with the basics as options. It will allow you to keep your focus on top priorities without worrying about all the superfluous, unnecessary features that get in the way.
The basic Craft setup is free, just like WordPress, but for a little extra money you can buy packages that can enhance the functionality of your site (such as the ability to manage multiple languages or offer cloud integration).
If you’re interested in getting the most SEO power for your website, but you aren’t interested in building a site in WordPress, try out one of these other options. As long as you publish content regularly with appropriate meta data, make adjustments so your site is crawlable, and build plenty of high-quality offsite links, you’ll have no trouble achieving a great rank with any of these high-grade alternatives.
SEO isn’t as much about what type of site you build as it is about how you maintain your site. Maintain best practices for content syndication and user experience, and you’ll wind up in a great position no matter what.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions and bits of ambiguous information that prevent business owners from getting all they can get out of the platform. These are 10 of the most common questions I’ve seen:
While WordPress sites are designed to be compatible with search engine optimization, that doesn’t mean they come optimized as a package deal. SEO is never a one-time process, and just setting up your WordPress site with a plugin isn’t nearly enough to get you ranked. The platform is search engine friendly, meaning it’s structured to be easily crawled by search engines and to be compatible with many plugins, but manual work is still required to get your site ranked.
Again, there’s no such thing as a once-and-done SEO strategy. Using an SEO plugin for your WordPress site is advisable, but simply installing it isn’t going to get the job done. If you want to rank, you’ll need to select a good SEO plugin and work with an experienced SEO specialist (either in the form of an in-house hire or an outside agency) to optimize your site and put an ongoing strategy in place.
There are dozens of SEO plugins available, and not all of them are equal. The All in One SEO Pack is by far the most popular thanks to its functionality and ease of use. However, you may want additional plugins that are related to specific SEO tasks, such as one related to content or social syndication. If you’re looking for new plugins, be sure to take a look at their popularity, user ratings, support level, and the presence of a community surrounding them.
Google Analytics is an essential product if you’re interested in marketing your site. It’s going to give you detailed insights on your traffic patterns and user behavior over time, and can tell you how effective your SEO strategy has been. To install Google Analytics, first set up an Analytics account with Google, then claim your unique Analytics code, copy it, and paste it into your theme’s header.php, immediately following the <body> tag. You can also use a simple plugin to get the job done.
If your site is running slow, your domain authority might suffer. The faster your site is, the higher you’re going to rank and the happier your users are going to be. Clean up your WordPress site by deleting any unnecessary plugins and making sure your caching plugin is installed properly. You can also disable trackbacks and delete any unwanted information—like meta data in images or old blog drafts—to speed your site up.
There are countless hosting solutions available. If you have the money, time, and expertise to handle everything internally, a virtual private server (VPS) is the best way to go. Otherwise, hosting your site with WordPress yourself is usually the best option. Their fees are minimal, and they take care of practically everything.
Most themes are perfectly fine for SEO, but some themes, particularly free ones, can have negative SEO qualities. For example, some themes exist as part of a spam-based link network, which will hurt your domain authority. Others are not mobile-friendly or quick-loading, or they in some other way violate Google’s best practices for web user experience.
Some users wish to host their blog on a separate domain, but it’s actually better if you have your blog as part of your main domain. Using a sub domain, like blog.example.com, is a bad idea because it can draw away the authority of your core domain; using an extension like example.com/blog is superior.
This is more of a question for ongoing SEO strategy than it is for WordPress sites specifically, but it’s still important to answer. One of WordPress’s greatest benefits is its content management system, which makes it easy for you to draft and publish articles and information. Generally, the more often you update your site the better—as long as you’re posting high-quality information. If you’re just getting started, once a week is a minimum. If you have the resources, try posting several times a week.
WordPress widgets cannot directly help your SEO campaign. Since they usually duplicate content across your site (through sidebars or headers), they can actually be harmful. However, there are certain types of widgets that can peripherally improve your SEO efforts; for example, media plugins can allow your users to upload images and videos directly, and social media plugins can allow users to share your content with their online networks.
WordPress gives you the perfect platform to create a great SEO structure, but don’t be fooled; you’ll still need to pour effort into your strategy before you start seeing any tangible results. Find plugins to improve your customer experience, commit yourself to a solid ongoing content strategy, and constantly reevaluate your strategy to make sure you adhere to best practices.