This is a question that we hear often. As the most widely used CMS (content management system) in the world, WordPress has lowered the barrier to entry for many businesses and designers looking to launch a new website.
But what about advanced SEO functionality? As a team of experienced developers, we—at Queen City Media—use WordPress as our preferred content platform and have launched a number of enterprise-level websites that provide a competitive advantage in their industry. One of the reasons we turn to WordPress is the efficiency with which the platform can be optimized for search engine ranking.
So, back to the initial question…
What Makes WordPress “Good” for SEO?
Let’s just clear the air quickly and say that Google doesn’t exactly play “favorites” when it comes to platforms. WordPress just happens to satisfy a number of core technical elements used in proper search engine optimization. The truth is, SEO’s are good for SEO, some platforms just give you additional control of the features necessary to optimize a website.
WordPress’ SEO Strengths
- Fresh content: While WordPress has matured into a full-featured content management system, many of us still recognize it as a blogging platform. The native support and existence of blog functionality encourages site owners to publish new, relevant, helpful content.
- Data markup – As a continuation to the idea of “fresh content” WordPress also does an excellent job of including author name, publish date and other “meta information” that helps search engines to properly index and categorize website content. The process of adding and uploading images also encourages the use of proper title and alt tags which are critical for image SEO.
- Good navigation: WordPress provides an excellent internal navigation structure with menus that can be used in site navigation, sidebars and the footer of your pages. This helps to prevent pages/content that “live on an island;” users should be able to find all of your content easily.
- Content hierarchy: Taking navigation a bit further, WordPress makes it very easy to create hierarchy of posts and pages with “parent/child” functionality. WordPress provides the ability to sort post content by categories (general topics) and tags (specific elements). These sorting elements make it much easier for users and search engines to access your content. We even wrote a quick guide to choosing between categories and tags!
- Proper sitemaps: XML sitemaps allow search engines to easily index and crawl the contents of a website. WordPress plugins like Yoast SEO provide excellent, controllable sitemap functionality for novice and advanced users.
- Code-less development: Many of the drawbacks of static HTML and even non-WordPress CMS’ is the lack of technical features and enhancements required for proper search engine optimization. WordPress’ WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor makes content publishing with proper HTML markup very easy for even the most novice of users. Additionally, the access to plugins makes technical enhancements available with the click of a button (I’ll discuss this in detail later).
- Active developer community: Google’s ranking algorithm is constantly changing. This can create an enormous amount of work for development teams when trying to provide the best code base for SEO capabilities. WordPress has an enormous community of plugin developers that strive to stay ahead of the curve in providing advanced SEO capabilities that meet Google’s “demands.”
Taking Things Further – Advanced WordPress SEO
In the section above I discussed WordPress’ built-in SEO benefits. The real strength, however, lies in the powerful ways that the platform can be developed.
- The Genesis Framework – This is our favorite theme framework for WordPress development. The StudioPress team places a great deal of emphasis on proper HTML structure and includes important schema markup to help search engines crawl and index structured content.
- Yoast SEO – Quite simply the best WordPress plugin for SEO functionality. It would take an entire ebook to explain the multitude of ways that this plugin will enable your SEO efforts so we will defer to their own quick start guide.
- nTopic Content Relevancy – nTopic uses a powerful API to score your content based on target keywords/phrases. With language suggestions and percentage-based scoring you can be sure that your content is relevant to active searchers.
These elements and plugins only scratch the surface of the power of WordPress and SEO. There are many CMS frameworks available for website development. WordPress continues to rise above the rest as an accessible and extendable system with great SEO benefits.
Best Practices for WordPress SEO
There are a few technical elements that every WordPress site owner should take ownership of when launching a new website:
Make sure your site is visible to search engines!
Launching a new site can be exciting but sometimes we rush things. Before you publish your site, make sure you head to the Settings -> Reading dialogue and confirm that your site will not be blocked by search engine crawlers:
Install Yoast SEO and USE IT
I’ve already mentioned Yoast’s SEO plugin but I don’t mind sounding like a broken record here. WordPress has some great advantages out of the box but why not boost your efforts with a free plugin? I could spend all day discussing all of the features but I’ll stick with a basic checklist item. Before clicking publish on ANY article: set the SEO Title and Meta Description – I have displayed the information used for this post below:
In the screenshot above you can see that I have set a custom, descriptive title and meta description. The plugin provides a screenshot of how your search result would appear in Google results – these elements take some practice but will pay off in the long run!
More to Come!
If you have any further questions about WordPress, development and SEO please leave a comment below! We also have a growing number of marketing guides available that can help take your digital marketing to the next level.