WordPress sure has a come a long way since it’s initial release in 2003, hasn’t it? What started out as a simple blogging tool has become arguably the leading content management system in the world.
Sites powered by WordPress include brands ranging from NASA, CNN, Forbes, The New York Times, TechCrunch, IZOD, Best Buy, GM, eBay, and even Jay Z’s LifeandTimes.com, to name just a few. Even Google’s Matt Cutts is a fan of WordPress, calling it “a fantastic piece of software.”
If you’re a WordPress user, it’s easy to realize why WordPress is such a powerful platform. It’s easy to use, it’s free, and has more than enough plugins/add-ons to help customize your site or blog to fit your needs.
That’s not to say that other content management systems – such as Joomla or Drupal – aren’t worthy options, it’s just that WordPress is pretty exceptional, especially when it comes to SEO.
Whether you’ve used WordPress in the past, or want to start using it for your business or personal blog, here’s a breakdown of why WordPress is the absolute best platform to use as the foundation of your SEO success story.
Optimized Websites in 5 Minutes or One Click
Creating a website can be a daunting task if you’re new to the development world. A decade ago finding a complex content management system that could handle all of the many tasks that WordPress can offer would have cost you an arm and a leg to get started with, and that’s before even trying to figure out how to use it.
First and foremost, WordPress is free to download. With a little help from the famous “5-Minute Install” method, you only need to be a little tech-savvy to get WordPress up and running on a typical hosting provider. Unzip, fill out the WP-Config file (you’ll need to set up a database first which is also as easy as point-and-click), upload the files, and you should be good to go.
Even over the last few years, most major web hosting providers have dumbed this process down even further by offering a one-click installation. That’s right – you just sign up for hosting, login, click one button, and you can start the process right in your browser. No touching any of the core PHP files!
Open Source Customization
Another important factor is that WordPress is open-source. This is the real reason that WordPress is such a powerful CMS – any developer in the world can create a theme or plugin (more on this soon!) and contribute it to the WordPress community.
Looking for a well-designed theme that’s also designed with current SEO standards? There are literally thousands of them to choose from (both free and paid).
Need your WordPress site to perform a specific SEO function? There are thousands of those, too. The capabilities of your WordPress site are nearly endless, and it’s all because of the open source nature of the community. This allows you to easily update your site to stay on top of Google’s suggested best practices, instead of an alternative proprietary CMS which may take months or years playing catch up.
Basic SEO Out-of-the-Box
One of the many reasons why WordPress is often chosen over its competition is because of its ability to manage on-page SEO fairly well out of the box. We could argue that SEO is a complex practice consisting of hundreds of factors, but at the end of the day a simple WordPress installation will allow you to easily manage the basics without any coding knowledge whatsoever.
After installation, the first thing you’ll want to do is head over to the settings tab and click the drop-down menu, where you’ll find a section called “Permalinks”. There you’ll find the default permalink setting which displays URLs based on a few odd characters and numbers (grabbing the id number of the database entry where your page or post is being stored).
Below you’ll find several other options, the most preferred being the “post name” option (for most installations this is the best option). That’s all you have to do to make sure your URL structure is going to be optimized, with the ability to customize the actual words once you starting editing a blog post or page.
Title Tags & Headings
This takes us to the next set of basic SEO needs, found in the content editor. Once you’re ready to add content, simply head over to “add page/post”, and begin adding your content. First you’ll want to add the title, which typically is coded as an H1 or H2 tag depending on the theme you’re using, which will also act as your web page’s title tag. Under that, you’ll see your URL structure, which again, is easily editable without having to touch a line of code.
Next, you have the actual content area, where the Visual Rich Text editor allows you to bold and underline words, hyperlink to other internal or external web pages, add additional heading tags, upload images (where you can add image alt tags), but more importantly as a whole, ADD CONTENT, which will easily be crawlable by search engine spiders. All those basic SEO elements are built right in to any default WordPress installation.
Earlier we mentioned using alternative paid or proprietary platforms could be a detriment to your SEO needs, and addressing site speed is a great example of how you could run into such a problem. Over the last few years Google has been making it very well-known that it’s taking your website’s load times as an important factor in your on-page optimization.
What happens when your old, out-dated CMS doesn’t hold up to the big G’s standards?
That’s not a problem with WordPress out-of-the box. A basic installation and standard themes load quickly and efficiently. Now, it is true that the user can slow a site own depending on what types of content they add or what themes they pick (for example, loading web pages with tons of videos or using themes that are image heavy, having too many scripts running on one page, etc), but luckily there are plenty of plugins like Autoptimze and WP Super Cache (as well as other actions you can take) to keep your sites zooming along.
Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock for the last few months, you know in April Google set a deadline for websites to have some sort of mobile optimization in place. That’s right, Google flat-out told the world that if your website wasn’t optimized for smartphones or tablets (in other words, using a responsive design that made the experience of your website better for mobile users), there was a strong possibility that your website would lose high placements for mobile searches.
As with any announcement of this nature, everyone started to freak out, with the exception of most WordPress users. So why weren’t they feeling the heat?
That’s because for most simple WordPress websites, all they had to do was install the popular Jetpack plugin and in just a few minutes were able to comply with Google’s mobile website standards. On the other side of the fence are those WordPress sites using premium, paid themes from marketplaces like Envato, and those users surely weren’t scared because the premium theme marketplace has been cranking out themes that already have built-in responsive capabilities for years! This is perhaps one of the greatest arguments for why WordPress simply is an SEO’s dream come true.
The Versatility of Themes and Plugins
Many times when others argue about their favorite CMS (usually die-hard fanboys of a specific platform arguing their point to a WordPress user), they argue that their CMS is just as customizable as the next. That’s great if you’re a seasoned developer, but for us who want to focus on our SEO skills, we need something easy to develop at the drop of a hat.
Luckily, with thousands of WordPress developers out there, there is a ridiculous number of options to customize your WordPress site, and usually there is a theme or plugin already out there for any feature you can dream up.
Optimized Themes for Any Kind of Website
First, let’s talk about WordPress themes. We’ve already mentioned the basic “twenty” themes that come pre-installed with WordPress, and those are great if you’re just looking to get some optimized blog content out on the web. But what if you’re looking to build something more?
Many people today think WordPress is only good for blogging, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
You can build any kind of website with WordPress, and you can find a theme that completely transforms your installation and allows you to build it – and do so well for optimized for search! Want to build an optimized E-commerce site? No problem. Directory site? That’s easy. Forums, social networks, the list goes on and on.
Did We Mention Plugins?
So we’ve mentioned it a bagillion times so far, but we need to discuss the concept of plugins once and for all to really drive home what makes WordPress so great. Advanced users who started reading this article were probably laughing when we discussed title tags and hyperlinks as reasons why WordPress is such a great CMS for SEO, knowing very well that in your experience, it takes much more to get WordPress SEO just right.
And that’s exactly the point – WordPress isn’t only this super-sophisticated platform that only SEO rockstars can use to rank for highly competitive keywords. The basics could be all a blog needs if what they’re discussing is long tail enough, which is a very powerful thing.
Giving anyone the ability to create a blog with the basics may be all the SEO they need if it were to say, go viral and get tons of highly authoritative links and social signals!
Yet not all of us will get so lucky, and in order to fight the good fight, we need every optimization technique in place. Luckily for us ,the SEO gods have granted us a wealth of plugins to use to our advantage – many of which are free.
There’s the obvious Yoast SEO plugin that allows us to optimize really technical stuff like our Robots.txt file, canonicalization issues, XML sitemaps – stuff a non-developer couldn’t even begin to understand. Then there’s tools like the Broken Link Checker, Redirection plugins, SEO tool widget plugins – really, the list of awesome SEO plugins that you can use to supercharge your SEO is endless.
The point is, whatever your specific SEO plugin needs are, either now or in the future, the WordPress community has your back.
Over the last decade WordPress has taken over the web development world as the platform of choice for many designers, developers, and SEO professionals. With its core installation, its community of open-source plugin and theme developers, and the ease of use for non-programmers, there is no doubt that WordPress will continue to be the dominant CMS in the SEO community for many decades to come.