Updated for 2015
We originally wrote this post back in 2010, and now revisit the question. We get asked a lot about WordPress’ suitability for search engine rankings. WordPress’ reputation and having a sound foundation for SEO has certainly seeped into the public’s mind. For the most part, the reputation is deserved. This site, TastyPlacement.com runs on WordPress, and ranks very well for our intended keywords.
There are a few drawbacks with WordPress, but like most things SEO, it’s really about the cumulative effect of everything. Overall, we’d grade WordPress an A- on it’s suitability and power for SEO purposes. But it’s so good at so many things, that it presents a compelling story overall.
First, a summary and then we’ll dig into the nuts and bolts.
Benefit: Search-Friendly URL Structure
WordPress seamlessly and automatically handles the creation of URLs through its permalink feature. A permalink is simply WordPress’ way of describing the URL for a particular page. Because keywords in the URL of a page are a ranking factor, If you want to rank for “WordPress Development,” than this URL: mysite.com/wordpressdevelopment
will perform bet ter in search than mysite.com/index.com?page=5 .
WordPress’ permalink functionality gives you descriptive URL st rings for search engines to follow with no effort at all. First, you’ll need to turn on Permalinks within the WordPress dash board—permalinks are not activated in a default installation. To turn on permalinks, log in to the dashboard and follow the left site navigation to “Settings” then “Permalinks”. At the Permalink Settings page, in the section titled Common Setting, click the radio button for “Custom Structure” and enter /%postname%/ . This permalink structure will automatically generate URLs
from your Page and Post titles—but you’ll still be able to manually change them if necessary. Because the titles of your Posts and Pages are relevant to the topic of your content, the permalinks based on your titles will be relevant as well.
In WordPress version 4 and above, you can also simply select the newly included permalink “Post name” instead of “Custom Structure”–but look closely because WordPress will insert a trailing slash at the end of your page URLs. We prefer our URLs without trailing slashes, which you can accomplish with the following:
WordPress SEO Benefit: Speed of Content Creation
WordPress is built to run: it is designed for the speedy and continual publishing of content. Since I have converted nearly all my sites and most of my client’s sites to WordPress, our speed to publishing has increased. On a static html site, the creation of content would generally involve either hard-coding the article, or using a WYSIWYG interface, then adjusting menus–sometimes on multiple pages.
With WP, sites grow big and grow fast. All that content brings breadth to your keyword families quickly, and your large site can quickly become “bait” for inbound links from other websites.
WordPress SEO Benefit: Crawlability
Websites must be crawlable by search engines in order to be indexed properly and appear in search rankings. WordPress’ internal logic and link structure is simple and shared universally among millions of websites–so WP is familiar ground for search engines. This familiarity means that Google’s spiders can find what they are looking for, and index and rank the content with confidence. WordPress won’t generate a lot of duplicate content (although it generates some).
SEO Benefit: Plug-Ins and Support
Because the WordPress community is so large (enormous, really), the variety and number of plug-ins for SEO support has grown tremendously (Plug-ins are small software modules that website owners can optionally install in addition to the default WP installation). The All in One SEO Plug-In, or the Platinum SEO Pack are both quick and easy “one stop” plug-ins that accomplish a basic, but sound set of SEO goals such as manual Title Tags and Meta Descriptions. These plug-ins extend WordPress’ functionality to rival the control and customization you would achieve under a static site.
SEO Benefit: New Content “Bump”
Another great feature of WordPress, which is also shared by other blogging platforms is the “new content bump”. A new post (generally not a “page” though–WP divides its content into two classes of webpages: “posts” and “pages”) will receive an initial lift in rankings during it’s first few days after publishing. This is logical: blog posts are intended to be topical and current, like a news item–Google treats this fresh content as noteworthy and rewards it with a bump in initial rankings. Ranking position will generally settle down after a few days.
SEO Benefit: Pings, Comments and Trackbacks
Pings, Comments and Trackbacks are interactive features built into WP–these supplemental tools let other blogs and individuals interact with a WordPress site: this brings inbound links and traffic (in the case of pings and trackbacks), and free content and visitors (in the form of comments to blog posts).
SEO Drawback: Poorly Designed Themes
But it’s not all rosy: I see a lot of poorly designed themes that undercut WordPress’ SEO power. Here’s an example I often see: a theme/template will be designed with the blog’s title bearing a Heading 1 (h1) tag–that’s not the way to go. The h1 tag should speak to the subject/topic of each page or post–to repeat an h1 tag mindlessly throughout hundred of pages on a blog is a waste of a valuable SEO tool.
The fix? Code the Blog Title in a plain old CSS class–and utilize the powerful h1 tag for the on-page title for each post or page.
SEO Drawback: Rigidity in Menu Presentation
When it comes to menu presentation in WordPress, I have learned “the wisdom to recognize that which I cannot change”. I have adapted, and I got over it. It’s a small price to pay for all this power.
Michael David is the founder, current CEO, and lead strategist at TastyPlacement, based in Austin, Texas. He is the author of “WordPress 3.0 Search Engine Optimization” with the prestigious IT publisher, Packt Publishing. TastyPlacement performs search marketing campaigns, public relations, search engine optimization, social media consulting and online advertising for companies in a wide range of fields.