Anyone who’s just starting to build an online presence is probably aware that, in addition to having a nicely designed, functional and informative website, you also need a website that is optimized for search engines.
An SEO-friendly site, in other words. If you fall into this category and are still trying to figure out which CMS you should use, you’ve probably heard about WordPress being SEO-friendly. You may have even heard arguments to the contrary, saying that it’s a myth. Well, today we’re going look into that and hopefully clear things up once and for all.
SEO-Friendly Out of the Box?
Some claim that WordPress is SEO-friendly as is, out of the box, right after the installation. That is not exactly true.
Sure, WordPress may be more SEO-ready compared to other CMSs, but that certainly doesn’t mean it doesn’t require any additional work.
The thing with WordPress is that it does help you take care of some important SEO factors, and, yes, those do come out of the box. This is especially true for on-page SEO:
- Title Tags and Headings. WordPress encourages you to use heading tags (H1-H6) that help you shape your content into a search engine-friendly structure and help Google recognize and index your content quickly and easily.
- Optimized Images. The WordPress editor encourages you to provide alt tags or descriptions of your images. This is important since images also represent valuable content and you definitely want them indexed. But search engines can’t read them as they are, which is why they need textual descriptions.
- Proper URL Structure. Your permalinks are extremely important for SEO. You make search engines’ job easier by providing good permalink structure and they reward you with better ranking. And WordPress thankfully lets you control and edit the structure of your URLs.
- Proper HTML markup. Search engines prefer HTML pages and WordPress automatically transforms your content into this language.
And that’s about it. Don’t get us wrong, these things are extremely important and WordPress really did do a great SEO job by including them by default. But it’s not even close to being enough. It’s a solid base that requires some building upon, which can be done using WordPress plugins and SEO-friendly themes.
How to Make WordPress Even More SEO-Friendly
As you can see, when it comes to SEO, WordPress is great, but it’s not that great. There is a lot that can and should be done in order to meet the complex requirements of search engines.
Plugins to the Rescue
One major advantage of WordPress is the fact there are so many amazing plugins developed for the platform. Their purpose is to extend the functionality of the platform and make it even better, in various areas. SEO is one of those areas, so let’s take a look at how these plugins can be used to make WordPress truly SEO-friendly.
- Sitemap plugins. Google loves sitemaps. They help it read and index your pages quickly and easily and it always favors websites that provide a good XML sitemap. If you don’t know how to make one, don’t worry, there are plugins for that, like the excellent Google XML Sitemaps.
- Caching plugins. Another thing that Google (and other search engines) prefers is fast site loading. One of the easiest ways to make sure your site loads fast is to use a caching plugin. Another thing that can help you speed up your site is image compression, which can be done with tools like Optimole.
- Security plugins. Search engines are relentless when it comes to security. If your site is suspected of spamming or, even worse, spreading malware, you’re doomed. Sucuri Security and similar plugins can help you make sure that doesn’t happen.
- Social sharing plugins. When ranking websites, search engines pay attention to social signals too. Pages that get a lot of shares tend to rank higher, so you have to make sure your social media game is on point, using plugins such as Sassy Social Share and similar.
- Schema.org structured data plugins. Using structured data markup is great for SEO since it allows social engines to recognize and understand better what your content is all about. Schema markup helps you label your blog posts as articles, it optimizes the way search engines display your events, and so on. It’s good for SEO and it’s good for the searchers, so it’s a win-win situation. One of the best plugins for adding schema markup is Schema, which comes in both a free and a premium version.
While all these plugins are excellent in and of themselves, it needs to be said that, when it comes to SEO, there are two plugins that absolutely reign supreme: Yoast and All-In-One.
They both offer comprehensive SEO solutions and are equally intuitive, functional and easy to use. You can use them for anything from keyword density and distribution to meta tags, image descriptions, title tags, URLs and whatnot.
If you’re just starting a WordPress website or if you already have one but you want to revamp it, you’ll be pleased to hear there are plenty of WordPress themes out there that have been developed with a particular attention to the best SEO practices. Check out this list of the best-selling SEO themes on ThemeForest. You’ll notice they’re optimized for speed and performance, have the proper HTML structure, their code is optimized and they are secure. Plus, a lot of them already include one or more SEO plugins.
So, is WordPress really SEO-friendly or is it just a myth? After reading this article, you’ll probably have to agree that both are true.
WordPress is probably the most SEO-friendly CMS out there. However, can you just install WordPress and consider your SEO job done? Absolutely not. All websites, including WordPress ones, require a lot of TLC when it comes to search engine optimization. The good news is, that the world’s most popular blogging platform proves to be a worthy ally in that process, probably the best you can find.