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Want a Website? Don't Know Code? Use WordPress

WordPress is an increasingly popular program for people who want to create a website without having to know anything about web technology - and deservedly so. WordPress can help you build a large website with very little effort and no knowledge of code, and it naturally handles much (but not all) of the nuts and bolts of search engine optimization (SEO).

The economical architecture designed into WordPress generates lean and fast-loading code that search engines love. It serves up simple, text-based navigation menus that search engines can easily crawl and index. WordPress also enjoys respect and familiarity with search engines, which further helps sites built on WordPress get found and crawled by search engine spiders.
One of the biggest advantages of WordPress is how easy it is to publish new content. Publishing good content frequently is one of the most important things you can do to boost your site's presence on the Web. WordPress also has RSS feeds built in, making it easy for readers to subscribe to your site.

Last but not least, WordPress automatically builds URLs that contain keywords - if you use keywords in the titles of your posts, that is. Keyword-rich URLs can really help your site's SEO.

WordPress' Economical Architecture Means Better Site Speed

WordPress' internal architecture is entirely based on CSS, which stands for Cascading Style Sheets. This is a way of formatting web pages that allows pages to display more quickly - and as you may know, quick-loading web pages can rank better in search results. Faster-loading pages also offer people a better experience when they visit your site.

WordPress' inherent economy doesn't end there. WordPress pages are generated quickly and neatly by a simple and quick processing engine. WordPress sites generate proper, valid HTML code that search engines love, though a poorly crafted WordPress template can undermine code quality, making for a much less satisfactory user experience and a lower-ranking site.

Build Large Sites Quickly

WordPress began its history as a blogging platform that permitted anyone to become a Web publisher. Even as WordPress has matured into a capable content management platform, it has retained the features that make it a speedy and agile publishing tool.

WordPress enables you to create content more quickly than other platforms - and search engine optimization relies on content. The more content you publish on your site, the more opportunities you have to rank for keyword phrases that matter to you and the people you're trying to attract.

Another great feature of WordPress is the ability to link easily from one page to another. Rich interlinking of pages within a website signals to search engines that the content of the site is well thought out, and not automatically generated just to grab traffic.

Respected and Familiar Content Platform

When a search engine encounters a website with unusual or non-standard navigation, the search engine must do its best to follow the navigation to the deepest files within the website. If the search spider cannot reliably and confidently follow a website's navigation to discover the deepest pages, those pages are unlikely to be added to the search engine's index.

There are more than 25 million WordPress sites on the Web. Because WordPress is so familiar to search engines, spidering errors almost never occur. That means more of your site is likely to be indexed if it's built on WordPress - and therefore, available for display to people using search engines.

WordPress also enjoys trust and respect with search engines. There is no direct evidence that the search engines algorithmically rank WordPress sites over non-WordPress sites - but it's possible.

WordPress, for the most part, has not been used much to create spammy sites, although that appears to be changing. There are now several plug-ins available for WordPress that enable the wholesale import of content from other websites. (Of course, we don't recommend employing these tools, and in any case, duplicate content doesn't rank well in search results.) As these plug-ins become more advanced, perhaps WordPress will acquire an unwelcome reputation as a platform for spammers.

Blogging Capabilities

WordPress has retained many of the features of the pure blogging platform it was originally designed to be. For example, articles are presented in reverse chronological order by default, and WordPress has built-in RSS feed capability.

The great power of WordPress comes into play when its inherent blogging capabilities are employed within a commercial site. A sound and standard approach is to have the main services pages for a business published on the front page and in the Pages section of WordPress, while educational articles, product updates, general blog posts and commentary are published to the Posts section, designed for blog posts.

Remember, publishing new content regularly and frequently is a great way to tell search engines that a site is vibrant and useful to people. Frequent publishing also gives you the chance to target your important keywords while offering your customers and potential customers reason to come back to your site again and again. A savvy website owner using WordPress can outpace competitors who don't maintain a blog.

RSS Feeds

RSS feeds come standard with all WordPress installations. RSS stands for “really simple syndication” and that's just what it is: a way of publishing new web content quickly and automatically to other websites and devices such as smart phones. There are a number of RSS readers on the market that allow people to subscribe to many different feeds, and read all the new content in one place.

People can use your site's RSS feed to read your articles or posts without even visiting your site. It's a convenient way for customers, fans and friends to stay engaged with you and your content.


You don't need to do anything to set up your WordPress feed - it's already there. However, you may wish to take steps to ensure that users can find your feed. You do this by linking to your feed through the familiar orange RSS icon.

Your Feed

If you need to submit your feed to search engines or feed engines, you can use any of the following four standard feed locations. People who want to follow your site might have a preferred feed standard, but they all accomplish the same thing, and search engines can read any of them.


Promoting Your Feed

Many website owners make the mistake of not promoting their feed. The single best way to promote your feed is to put your RSS icon prominently in the header or sidebar of your site.

You can also submit your RSS feed to special blog-only search engines.

URLs and Permalinks

WordPress seamlessly and automatically handles the creation of unique URLs, which WordPress calls permalinks. This functionality gives you URLs that can easily be customized with the keywords you care about.

Keywords in the URL of a page can help it rank better in search results. Let's say you want a page to rank well for “WordPress development." You would want to choose a URL like mysite.com/wordpress-development because it will perform better in search than mysite.com/index.com?page=5, everything else being equal.

First, you'll need to turn on permalinks within the WordPress dashboard - permalinks are not activated in a default WordPress installation. To turn on permalinks, log in to the dashboard and follow the left site navigation to Settings and then choose Permalinks in the drop-down menu.

On the Permalink Settings page, in the section titled Common settings, click the radio button for “Custom Structure” and enter /%postname%/. This permalink structure will automatically generate URLs from your page and post titles. You will still be able to change them manually if necessary.

Because the titles of your posts and pages are relevant (they should be!) to the topic of your content, the permalinks based on your titles will be relevant as well. Bonus points if you research the most important keywords for each post and page, and use them in your titles.

Reliable, Text-Based Navigation

WordPress automatically generates simple, text-based navigation that works well for both people and search spiders. Site visitors use your website's navigation to browse your site and find content that interests them.

Search engines use your navigation in a similar way, with a twist. Search engines follow the links in your navigation to find and index your pages. Additionally, search engines use the text in your navigation links to determine the topic of the destination page. In other words, the text you use in your navigation is a search engine ranking factor - so make sure you choose words that people are actually using when they search for your topics.

It is possible to create a navigation menu that employs images instead of text. However, when a search engine spider encounters an image with a link but no anchor text, the search engine can't tell what the destination page is about. For search optimization, it's clearly better to use text links rather than image links in your navigation.

Luckily, WordPress automatically generates text-based navigation menus based on your post and page titles. WordPress 3.0, the most recent version, allows you to customize your navigation:

  • The title of the page does not have to be the text of the navigation link. You can enter any text you choose for the navigation.
  • You can create custom links to other websites or pages and include them within your navigation.
  • You can place entire post categories within your page navigation. Previously, this wasn't possible with WordPress.

There is one limitation with WordPress 3.0 menus: the full functionality is available for pages, but not for posts. However, there is a slightly clunky workaround. To make a post appear in the custom menu, grab the full URL of the post and enter it into your custom menu as a “custom link”. That way, you can mix your posts within your page navigation as well as create custom text for the navigation links. You might want to do this for particularly important posts.

One caution for using custom menus for navigation: New posts and pages won't automatically appear in your custom navigation as they do in traditional WordPress menus. Remember to enable the new content manually in the custom menu.

Built-in Collaboration, Contribution, and Community Building

WordPress is ready-made and ideal for collaboration, contribution, and community building - the “3 Cs” that can transform a static website into a vibrant web-based community.

Two key collaborative features - User Roles and the commenting system - keep both new and returning visitors engaged with your website.

The "User Roles" feature allows you to give guest authors access to your site, so they can add new content directly. That can enrich your content considerably, and your contributors are also likely to be enthusiastic advocates for you and your site.

The commenting system allows any visitor to comment on your posts and articles, upping their sense of engagement. People often return to see if anyone responded to their comments, so you may want to make a habit of responding to comments, youself. It makes people feel good, and can also help engender a discussion.

Comments and lively discussion on your site are great for several reasons:

  • The activity engages new visitors.
  • It's fresh content that tells search engines your site is always changing, which encourages them to crawl it more frequently.
  • It costs you nothing.

When thinking about search optimization, it is easy to focus narrowly the competitive grind of search ranking positions, and to forget about creating loyal customers. A strong position in search results will certainly bring new visitors, but keeping real people engaged with your website keeps your products and services visible to them. WordPress makes it much easier to foster this engagement.

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