WordPress As An SEO Tool

WordPress is an incredibly powerful CMS. It can run anything from a one page artist portfolio, to a blog, to a massive university website with hundreds of pages. And while there are many ways we can talk about the strengths WordPress has as a CMS, I want to focus on how it’s a powerful tool for your SEO goals.

*Note: This article is about the self-hosted software from wordpress.org and not the service provided at wordpress.com.

 

It Starts With Great UX

Before we get to some of the more technical details, the biggest thing WordPress has going for it is that it makes updating and adding content easy for users. As we keep hearing, Google is focusing more and more on quality content as a ranking factor, so making the addition and editing of content as easy as possible is a strong point on the SEO tool scoreboard. What good is a beautiful site if you have to through a development cycle every time you want to update some content or add a new article?

 

Add An Ever-Expanding Plugin Library

Another thing that makes WordPress a powerful SEO tool is its extensibility. There are tens of thousands of plugins that expand on the base capabilities of WordPress. Some of these plugins further help users create content and manage their site with little-to-no development skills.

Advanced Custom Fields

One of the plugins we like to use at Rocket55 is Advanced Custom Fields. ACF allows us to create a vast number of input types so that our clients can easily input their content. With it, we can let users create and edit photo galleries, testimonials, job postings, and much more. ACF can be used to augment blog posts as well, allowing for additional information to be added alongside the main content editor. It’s an incredibly powerful and versatile plugin that makes content management a breeze.

acf plugin screenshot

Yoast SEO

The next awesome plugin I want to talk about is the Yoast SEO plugin. This plugin is indispensable if you want to stay on top of your pages and their SEO strength. Just by installing it you’ve already made a positive change. Even if you do nothing more but just install Yoast, you’ve already guaranteed that every page of your site will have their canonical URLs set to their permalinks (the base URLs they get when you create a page/post). The canonical URL helps eliminate duplicate content within your site, particularly when a user gets to a post of yours via a search function within your website or a category section of your blog.

 

For example, let’s say you post a news article on January 1, 2016, about the benefits of creating and implementing a SEO plan for the New Year. Depending on your site structure, this page may be available at “…/blog/your-2016-seo-plan” as well as “…/blog/2016/01/your-2016-seo-plan” and “…/blog/category/seo/your-2016-seo-plan”. This would get flagged as duplicate content since you have three unique pages with the same content. If you set the canonical URL to “…/blog/your-2016-seo-plan” you eliminate this issue, and Yoast does this by default. If you choose, you can set the canonical URL to anything you’d like.

 

So, if that’s what happens just by installing Yoast SEO, imagine what it can do if you actually use it. With this plugin, WordPress will take what you title your page and put it in the <title> tag of the page – by default. If you want more control over this, Yoast SEO does allow you to specifically change only what appears in the <title> tag without affecting the rest of the page. You can view, and directly edit, a preview of what the page you’re editing will most likely look like on a SERP. Here you can edit the title, meta description, and slug (page url).

 

If you add a keyword to the “Focus Keyword” input it will also give you an analysis of how well the page describes and uses the keyword, giving you insight into how well this page might look to search engine crawlers. Check out the image below to see an example of this part of the plugin.

yoast seo screenshot

 

These are just a few of Yoast SEO’s capabilities, so go grab it for yourself and see what it can do for you.

“Caching In”

Another useful type of plugin WordPress offers is a caching plugin. These plugins will cache your site so that it acts like a static html site. This dramatically cuts down on database queries and other server-to-browser transactions, which can significantly speed up your site and have a positive impact on your rankings. There are many plugins that will cache your WordPress site, so look around and find the one that works best for you.

 

Again, these are just a sampling of the thousands of plugins available for WordPress. There are a number of other great SEO plugins, which you can find in the plugin directory.

 

Unmatched Support from a Passionate Community

Another SEO strength WordPress has is its community. As an Open Source project that’s been around for over a decade, WordPress has a massive, involved community bursting with knowledge and support. Browsing the forums and plugin support pages, you’ll find all sorts of experts – from very technical plugin developers to SEO experts with knowledge to share. Having worked with quite a few other content management systems, I can honestly say that nothing else comes close to the breadth of knowledge and depth of enthusiasm that the WordPress community has.

wordpress community

 

The backbone of this community is documentation. The WordPress Codex contains almost everything you need to know about how WordPress works. You can use it to get in-depth information on any template, function, or other snippet of code you’d like, and learn how to make it work in the way you need it. The Codex is a great place to look if you are trying to get clarification on how to implement specific technical SEO methods.

 

Wrap Up

WordPress is a powerful CMS with a lot to offer. We love using it for a number of reasons, but a big one is certainly its SEO capabilities. The extensible nature of WordPress makes it perfect for providing impressive, customized websites with flexible and manageable SEO architecture behind them.