WordPress, the backbone of +27,000,000 websites worldwide, is a content management system, or “CMS”, that allows anyone to create a website in (almost) no time. WordPress appeared in 2003 with the main goal of making it easier for individuals to upload content online.
The CMS greatly evolved over time and has quickly become one of the best CMS when it comes to SEO because it offers SEO-optimized features from the get-go. Its open-source nature, its multiple extensions and its endless customization opportunities make WordPress stands out from the other CMS out there.
How To Get The Most Out of WordPress When it Comes to SEO?
With WordPress, brands get access to many SEO benefits right away.
1. Speed And Reliability
By default, WordPress is a particularly simple CMS that allows a fast loading speed. The processes used by the CMS ensure that the interactions between the CMS database and the final rendering for the user are done quickly and in a secure manner.
In most cases, sites made in WordPress are sites with only a few dozen (or hundreds) pages; it is then rather easy to keep loading times within the required standards.
Not only does WordPress default configuration gives an SEO advantage in terms of loading speed, but an advanced configuration using compression plugins can greatly enhance sites made with WordPress.
2. Extensive Plugins Directory
Because WordPress is an open-source CMS, many web experts can contribute to the development of the platform. It also means that there is a wide range of additional tools that can enhance any WordPress site.
In regards to SEO plugins, we definitely recommend using Yoast SEO to cover the SEO basics of any website. It is important to understand that a plugin like Yoast does not replace the expertise of an SEO professional, but it is definitely a good start to optimize your site in terms of metadata and content.
You can also find plugins to integrate Google Tag Manager, Google Analytics and any other third-party pixel you would like to see on your site. Some themes even offer complimentary plugins that add specific features to your theme!
3. WordPress Is Open-Source
As mentioned previously, WordPress is open-source. Therefore, anyone can contribute to the development of the platform, either by making their own themes or by offering plugins that allow website owners to refine certain website features.
What open-source really means is that you are not restricted to a specific environment and you don’t have to follow strict and unintuitive guidelines. Of course, WordPress has its own structure, but with plugins such as WooCommerce and MemberPress, for example, you quickly understand that the possibilities are (almost) endless.
That said, it is a double-edged sword, as it is quite possible to have features designed by people with malicious intentions, but the WordPress community is putting in place strict measures to deal with this issue.
What Are The Downsides of SEO on WordPress?
There are two sides to every story and WordPress is no exception. Despite the many benefits of WordPress for SEO, we still have to mention some downsides.
1. The Rise of Applications
Earlier, I mentioned that WordPress has a plugin for almost every non-native feature. That said, the most attractive features are essentially plugins and they usually come with additional costs.
This trend has been amplified by the rising popularity of Shopify in the CMS industry. Shopify offers a very rigid e-commerce structure. It’s mainly customizable with applications (the equivalence of plugins on WordPress). Although that practice is not necessarily negative in itself, just keep in mind that you’re expected to pay extra fees for added features with both WordPress and Shopify.
Adding different applications or plugins also brings its share of SEO issues. Each additional feature on the site risks slowing down the site’s loading time. The multiple resources used by these plugins are not necessarily optimized for SEO and multiple plugins can cause resource and permissions conflicts.
In other words, if you install plugins, keep it simple. Only add necessary plugins and remove any useless ones.
It is also very important to test your plugins and their dependencies to make sure that no conflicts will affect the user experience.
2. Occasional Web Development Help Needed
Like it is the case with most open-source software, in order to really benefit from the CMS’ versatility, it’s essential to have some sort of web development skills.
If you don’t have an internal web development team, it can be quite a headache to find a good development agency or freelancer who can meet all your needs. Don’t forget that development work comes with additional expenses.
It is particularly important to have access to this kind of resource if you want to apply some technical modifications that require changing your site’s source code. Change an H1 tag, adjust some CSS rules for mobile screen or add a 301 redirection via the HTACCESS file are small, yet necessary SEO implementation that might require the help of a developer.
So even if there are plugins that can alleviate some technical requirements, such as using a theme with a dedicated page builder, the fact remains that having a development resource is a major asset that will make your life easier if you work with WordPress.
Checklist: How to do SEO for WordPress?
Some SEO best practices can be easily applied to your WordPress site. Here is a non-exhaustive checklist list that might help you optimize your site’s SEO:
✔ 1. Optimize image size and add alt text to all of them
✔ 2. Add relevant keywords to your content, titles, meta-titles, descriptions and respect the required number of characters.
✔️ 3. Use the WordPress blog feature to frequently add new content to your website.
Originally, WordPress was a blog-oriented platform. Go back to the basics by creating new blog content on a regular basis. That will reinforce your brand’s reputation and send positive signals to search engines.
Create content based on your users’ searches, frequently asked questions or trends to capture their interest and increase organic traffic to your site.
✔️ 4. Make sure you have a simple and consistent URL structure throughout your website
Visit Setting > Permalinks to determine the structure of your blog’s URLs.
Also, be sure to use “parent pages” to create subsections on your site. This way, you make it easier for search engines to understand and compartmentalize your site’s content. For example, the URLs of our service pages all have the same structure: www.makeitbloom.com/services/service-name
✔️ 5. Add Google Search Console to your website to measure your organic presence
✔️ 6. Add internal and external links to your blog posts and web pages
SEO-wise, it is super important to add external and internal links to your content pieces whether on WordPress, or on any other CMS.
✔️ 7. Secure your website with a free plugin like Wordfence
✔️ 8. Make sure you have a secure website with an up-to-date SSL Certificate
✔️ 9. Update your extensions whenever possible
✔️ 10. Make sure that search engines can index your website
We recommend using Google Search Console to ensure that Google indexes your content. Indexing your content ensures that your site has the ability to appear in search results. You can also visit Settings < Reading to make sure you don’t accidentally prevent your website from being read by search engines.
If you are looking for SEO experts to improve the organic presence of your WordPress website, contact us.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
SEO Analyst @ Bloom