It’s 2017, Is WordPress Still Best for SEO?

In a word, absolutely. But read on to find out why in this expansion and update to my post from last year, “Which Web Platform is Best for SEO?”.

If you’re about to redesign your website, you’re probably considering which type of website you should get. Squarespace? Wix? LiveBooks? Or perhaps another of the many competing template-type sites that cater to specific industry groups. They all tout ease of use and ease of setup. True enough. But where they fall short is their effectiveness with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Sure, they talk a good game about SEO, the sales teams for each can even point to a couple of examples to attempt to prove how great some of their customers are doing in Google or Bing.

The truth is very simple: search engines examine your site’s home page to determine what exactly the site is all about. If your home page contains very little human-readable text, what we call body copy, to provide guidance to the search engines, they have no idea what your site is about.

Let’s discuss Google in particular since they dominate search. It’s thought that Google looks at about 210 “signals” it uses when ranking a site. One of the most important is the body copy describing your business. This is why your site must, must, must contain body copy on the homepage.

Here’s an Example of how Squarespace falls short:

After many conversations with various members of their sales team, I’ve determined that, as of this writing, only about five or six of their templates afford the ability to add body copy to the home page using one of their advanced tools. And those that do so duplicate the copy on each and every page on your site. That’s bad. Google pays attention to duplicate content across pages of a site and can penalize a site for partial identical content. The penalty actually makes sense; it prevents someone from having multiple, identical sites in order to game the search engines.

And it’s true, by writing effective code, you can prevent the text from being displayed on other pages of your Squarespace website, but the copy still exists in the source code of every page on the site. You’ve merely instructed the browser (Firefox, Safari, or Chrome for example) not to display the text but Google still “sees” it when your page is crawled. And, besides that, who wants to write code? The whole point of an “easy-to-use” website is that you shouldn’t have to write code.

Conclusion? Squarespace is not a good template-site option if SEO is an important part of your marketing plan. In fact most of the template-type of websites are not great options. Here’s the question you should consider asking a site vendor’s salesperson if SEO is important to you: “Am I able to add unique body copy to each page of the site?” If the answer is no, move on.

So What’s the Answer? WordPress of Course!

So now that you know what not to do, let’s talk about what works. And more importantly, why. Most everyone knows WordPress began as a blogging platform. Think of WordPress as a site’s foundation which is customized by installing a “theme” which controls the site’s appearance and functionality.

Over the years the platform has grown in sophistication to the point where the themes have matured dramatically to include image sliders, video playback, and animated elements. Suddenly WordPress became a serious platform for not just blogging, but for actual, informational websites.

The best advantage to using the WordPress platform is its’ vast extensibility and ability to be customized. This means the layout of the theme you purchase from any of the thousands out there is easily tweaked to your liking. If you want an image slider showing large, impactful photos of your product, you can do it. If you want a two column layout below the slider, you can do it. Three columns? Done. Are they responsive (read this if you don’t know what this means)? Yes, nowadays most every recently-developed theme is.

And best of all? You can add as much body copy on the home page as you want. Where you want. The more copy the better. All things being equal, you’ll rank higher than your competitors if you have well-written body copy describing what your website is all about.

When someone contacts me to help them rank higher in the search engines one of the first questions I ask is what web platform they’re using. I explain any limitations of the platform in order to set realistic expectations. And if they ask me what platform is best for SEO, I always, without hesitation, tell them WordPress. Most still think it’s for blogs… but it’s come a long way!

About the author:
Blake Discher is the founder of GO-SEO, a Detroit-based search engine optimization company serving small businesses worldwide. Be sure to request your free ranking report for your website by clicking here.

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