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    Since 2003, WordPress has emerged as the leading Content Management System (CMS) across the world. The hosting options it offers, along with various themes and plugins, make WordPress a perfect fit for building a highly responsive website. This is why that almost 35% of the websites across the Internet run on WordPress.

    With such a huge number of websites running on WordPress, it would mean that a considerable number of your competitors would also be using WordPress for hosting their websites. Therefore, it becomes extremely important for you to undertake WordPress SEO to help your website rank higher than others.

    With intense competition experienced across all sectors, the margin for error is simply not an option. Any small mistake with your WordPress SEO strategy could downgrade your website on Google SERP (Search Engine Ranking Page). Therefore, you must avail the services of SEO specialists to help with your WordPress search engine optimization execution.

    WordPress SEO – what is it?

    SEO is a strategy by which online businesses attempt to achieve a higher rank on the SERP organically. SEO encompasses a wide range of activities that work on different aspects of your website allowing the search engines to rank it higher for different keywords.

    The growth of a website in present times is highly dependent on SEO. When a website is not SEO optimised, then the ranking of the website starts going down. Over time, this leads to less visibility for the website on the Internet. SEO gives websites organic traction, i.e., something which is not paid or forced. Users and search engines are too smart to be cheated. Organic website visitors are the only way to ensure the growth of your e-commerce venture.

    WordPress and SEO are synonymous with each other. The SEO experts are your guides for achieving the desired results through successfully executing the strategy. For example, WordPress SEO keywords are essential for content writers since the frequency of those keywords predicts how high that content will show up when someone searches that content.

    WordPress search engine optimization meaning is very easy to understand. WordPress is already optimised for web-based searching algorithms. This means that WordPress is SEO-friendly in its basic functioning. WordPress on-page SEO is something that an expert SEO company specialises in as it helps considerably with improving the website’s ranking.

    Is WordPress SEO-friendly?

    From the onset, WordPress has been search engine friendly. If you look at the basic functions of a large content management database like WordPress, you understand that it has no choice but to be SEO-friendly.

    There is a particular checklist that you can use to ensure that your website ranks higher and ensure WordPress stays SEO-friendly:

    • Choose a reliable hosting provider. SEO experts offer recommendations you can follow if you’re just starting.
    • The WordPress search engine optimization theme (which we will talk about later) has a very important role in optimising any website.
    • Install a WordPress SEO plugin since it can help you out a lot. Yoast SEO is the most popular of the bunch, which has been a regular part of WordPress for a while now.
    • Setting a preferred domain is important so that Google and other search engines can discover it.
    • The website’s visibility settings need to be updated if it is not accessible by the search engines.
    • A permalink is a URL meant to be permanent – preferably a WordPress SEO-optimised URL, so there is no need to change it. SEO-friendly permalinks should be permitted while using WordPress search engine optimization.
    • If Google cannot detect the website’s presence, the presence should be verified by the Google Search Console, and an XML sitemap should be provided.
    • Do keyword research that can help you rank higher in the engine searches.
    • The SEO Writing Assistant should be installed with the help of a plugin to get recommendations on search engine friendly content.
    • Custom URLs should be set up for pages (for smooth movement across the website).
    • Meta descriptions and tags should be carefully selected and added to the WordPress website.
    • “Internet Linking” should be used to make a good connection between the content on the pages.
    • The file names of various images should be SEO optimised as well.
    • Alt texts should be added to the images on the WordPress website so they can be easily searched directly from search engines.
    • Install Cache plugin(s) that can improve the site speed. A slower site reduces searchability.
    • A WordPress search engine optimization company can help categorise similar data so that the website is more efficiently prepared.
    • Use the context of “schema markup” with the help of WordPress search engine optimization so that the content and images have context, increasing searchability.
    • Use “last updated” features to stay informative and relative to the times.

    Does the WordPress theme affect SEO?

    Yes, the choosing and changing of WordPress themes affect SEO massively. The WordPress theme selection influences important factors regarding SEO like data structure, formatting of content, and site speed. WordPress theme dictates factors like the overall design, complexity of design, and readability of content on the website.

    WordPress SEO themes are available in a wide variety. While some themes are easy to use and simple, some are complex. A complex theme means the website appears bloated, increasing the site loading rate. Every second counts with regard to site loading. If a site takes more than 8 seconds to load, its ranking is pushed down the ladder. It is highly recommended if you have a simple theme that can reduce the loading time by 2-3 seconds.

    WordPress SEO themes dictate the content format. Generally, a standard format is:

    • <h1>Main Heading</h1>
    • <h2>Subheading</h2>

    Any change in this format can lead to clustered information that irritates the user.

    If you use a WordPress search engine optimization theme without a plugin like Yoast SEO, the built-in features (or the lack thereof) can seriously impact the SEO. The inbuilt functions change when you change a format, leading to poor rankings.

    If we make a list of the things that WordPress SEO theme affects, then it will include:

    • Site load speed (simpler themes decrease site loading speed, bloated theme increases site loading speed).
    • Design and User Experience (clustered information can hamper user satisfaction).
    • SEO metadata (change in metadata affects the communication between the website and the search engine).
    • Schema or structured data (this is a type of metadata that search engines use to better analyse the content of the pages).
    • Site search functionality (additional functionality can lead to irrelevancy).
    • Content formatting (HTML contents are affected, confusing the search engine and the user viewing the content).
    • Functionality specific to WordPress (the functionality of some themes might clash with certain SEO plugins leading to the website crashing).
    • Default image sizes (bigger the size, slower the website).
    • Indexing (this includes archives that have WordPress search engine optimization tags).
    • Custom theme settings (this can be checked by looking at the order in which contents on the site load).

    Coders who have been using WordPress for a long time recommend that you always have a full website backup. When you try new changes, there is no guarantee that they will work. The update of themes goes by the same principle. Start slow. Choose something basic that you can easily comprehend. Don’t go for too many features; be precise about which functions you need.

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    How to make WordPress themes SEO-friendly?

    We have discovered how WordPress themes are extremely crucial for SEO. The wrong decisions can lead to tragic consequences for the website. Let us study some vital SEO tips that we should follow to make SEO-friendly WordPress themes:

    • Selecting responsive themes
      The most crucial factor is mobile-friendliness. A mobile responsive theme improves SEO since Google prefers mobile responses. This also benefits the more organic traffic since many Internet users access websites using smartphones.
    • Having themes that are optimised for performance
      Slower speed leads to lower rankings. Implement stuff like minified CSS files and lazy loading for images only to make the theme optimum for high performance.
    • Having crawlable theme content
      Internet bots or crawlers need content to reach their destination. Use Google Search Console to check crawlability. Problems in crawlability can make it harder for search engines to analyse the page’s content.
    • Choose themes that take care of schema markup
      Structured data has two major advantages. One, it helps the search engine understand the content better. Two, it helps generate rich snippets, which improve the click-through rate; the website stands out.
    • Metadata fused in the theme
      We know that metadata is necessary for the website to rank higher on search engines. So, this metadata needs to be present with the theme chosen. Pick a theme that includes metadata and meta tags.
    • Having themes with paginated content
      Pagination means paging the content on various pages. So, themes must be paginated so the user can read them properly. There are instructions to paginate the content properly, so it appears less cluttered.
    • Blocking internal search results pages
      The internal search function that can be added to the themes is great. But internal search pages are to be avoided.
    • Semantic Header tags with themes
      Header tags can be used to organise the content. Header tags include H1, H2, H3, and so on. But their hierarchy should be properly used. For example, H1 should always be used for headings. In any case, H2 shouldn’t precede H1, or H3 shouldn’t precede H2. Interchanging can lead to more confusion.
    • Being up-to-date with the themes
      This is more connected to the overall content. Being up-to-date is directly linked to the website’s ranking chances.

    WordPress vs Shopify

    Comparisons help us to understand better which company/software to go for. Please note that this is not trying to drive home that one is superior to the other. This is a neutral analysis of all the factors that dictate these companies.

    Shopify is a platform primarily designed for people trying to start and build their online store. The themes or templates that Shopify has been designed to meet the business requirements of a particular brand.

    One of the greatest things about a brand like Shopify is that it allows users who do not have much coding experience to work freely. Shopify is more open for everyone and is pretty handy for non-coders. However, people who know how to code can customise their website better and give it a sleeker look. Shopify allows the editing of stuff like the CSS and HTML of your website. Let us try to decipher the various salient differences between WordPress and Shopify:

    Pricing

    • Shopify – the plan you choose can range from $29/month to $299/month. There is a 14-day free trial offered by Shopify so that you can check out the dashboard. Buying a domain can cost anything, starting at $14/month and extending up to more, depending on the budget.
    • WordPress – users can use WordPress free of cost (if you’re using WordPress.com) or in a paid setting (if you’re using WordPress.org). If you’re using WordPress.org, then you get control over the domain. A domain name needs $12/year with additional cost for features like security, plugins, and hosting duties.

    Ease of Use

    • Shopify – an interesting thing to note here is that if you’ve used WordPress, you’ll find that Shopify is pretty familiar with it. The dashboard allows you to view and change the store settings, the various orders, site settings, and design configurations.
    • WordPress – is pretty straightforward and easy to use. You will find it pretty easy to use when you are on the WordPress dashboard. The left side of the dashboard contains various features that are easy to use.

    Themes and Design

    • Shopify – the Shopify Theme Store contains various templates for you to work on. There are over 70+ themes that are all mobile-friendly. The template language of Shopify is known as Liquid. This can be operated by coders who have enough knowledge of HTML. All templates are customised to modern needs.
    • WordPress – has a huge base of templates. These are better suited to incorporate more lines of code and more plugins (in the case of WordPress.org). WordPress.com doesn’t allow changes in the HTML source without custom CSS. Without payment, you can change backgrounds, change colours, upload logos and add sliders.

    Plugins and Extensions

    • Shopify – various merchants can employ APIs to integrate with several apps. Over 2400 plugins are available from paid and free apps. The costs can vary from $15 to $50/month or a one-time charge. Third-party SEO plugins are allowed too.
    • WordPress – there are over 50,000+ plugins available for WordPress users. WordPress custom plugins can also be added to the websites. For Business/e-commerce options only, paid plugins are also an option that can be availed.

    Help and Support

    • Shopify – the fully hosted company, has excellent customer care service. There is 24-hour service available via call, tickets, and live chat with the agents.
    • WordPress – for free WordPress.com, most of the help is self-guided, which means you have to figure out ways to teach and help yourself. For the paid version, you can have a live chat option. As for WordPress.org, there is no official channel. There are a plethora of videos and guides which can help you in this arena.

    What's the difference between WordPress and WooCommerce?

    WordPress is a content management system, while WooCommerce is simply a plugin. WooCommerce is an SEO plugin that helps turn WordPress into an eCommerce blogging and content management system.

    You must be wondering why WooCommerce isn’t just integrated into WordPress. The reason is that not all users of WordPress are e-commerce store owners. Thus, WooCommerce is just one of the functionalities of WordPress.

    So, if you’re looking to open an e-commerce store of your own on the Internet, you need to purchase things like hosting and domain name. The hosting space then needs to have WordPress downloaded on the hosting space. After WordPress is set up, the WooCommerce plugin can be launched to add e-commerce functionality.

    WooCommerce is a huge player in the e-commerce website business. WooCommerce controls a considerable percentage of the market. WooCommerce has thousands of templates and themes which are easy to use and navigate.

    The product recommendation of WooCommerce requires plugins just like WordPress. They are fewer and have more specific functionality.

    • Recommendation Engine: Displays product recommendations based on the user’s parameters, purchase and viewing history, plus the products that are often bought together with the products in question.
    • WooCommerce Products Compare: Features include recommending tables on custom pages, providing detailed information like price, size, quantity, ratings, etc., and encouraging people to spend more time.
    • Products of the Day: This plugin can sort the products in a particular order. It also allows you to assign different products to different days for the user to look at and get various options. These options can include linking to the cart and displaying the thumbnail option.
    • Personalisation: This is pretty easy to use for anyone who doesn’t have much coding knowledge. This provides an analysis of various sales and revenue generation. The products will be recommended according to the people’s tastes.
    • Related products for WooCommerce: This is majorly about managing the various locations and organisation of products. Related products are shown in different sections of the website in a pattern.
    • Cart Add-Ons: This allows displaying a default item when details and conditions aren’t met. This helps you define product-specific and category-specific displays on the website.
    • Context Related Product Recommendations Plugin for WordPress: This helps you with exporting and importing products from one WordPress site to another, displaying recommended products at different locations, and filtering products in various categories according to recommendations provided.

    WordPress is a wider and broader content management system. WooCommerce is narrow and specific to functionality. WooCommerce is another part of WordPress’s impressive artillery. However, WooCommerce is full of impressive functionalities, which makes it very useful.

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    Does Yoast SEO slow down WordPress?

    There is a lot of conflicting information about the functionality of something like the Yoast SEO plugin on WordPress.

    The consensus is that more plugins slow down the page. This is logical since more plugins mean more pressure on the website to compute the information and more functions that need to be implemented.

    What Yoast SEO does is that it increases the chances of a website ranking higher when it appears on a SERP. When the Yoast SEO plugin is activated, it provides the important meta data and meta tags essential for the website’s chances. What this metadata addition does is that it allows Internet bots (crawlers) to know the particular location of the website. Without the metadata, it becomes difficult for the search engine to locate the website.

    Yoast SEO is a pretty useful plugin that delivers on the promise that it makes. It improves the discoverability of a website, but it is a heavy plugin. Since there is a heavy plugin like Yoast on a website, the site will get slower.

    Slow website speed hampers the website’s chances of ranking higher on the search engines’ search pages. It also increases the bounce rate (fewer people stay on the page for less time). You cannot have something as useful as Yoast slowing down the website, which is why you need WordPress speed optimisers. These can include:

    • WP Rocket: Disables WordPress options that slow the website (is the most preferred WordPress search engine optimization option).
    • Perfmatters: Reduces load time by 3 seconds.
    • NitroPack: Stuff like automatic web and image optimization.
    • WP Fastest Cache: 1 click to clear the cache.
    • Cache Enabler: Simple setup with 1 click to clear the cache.
    • WP Super Cache: Multiple caching types supported.
    • W3 Total Cache: Browser Caching, other catching options included too.
    • WP Super Minify: Minifies CSS, HTML, and JavaScript.
    • WP Smush.it: optimises the JPEG compression process.
    • Lazyload: Replaces post thumbnails.

    Is WordPress SEO-optimised?

    Can WordPress improve SEO? This is a question that beckons most website owners. Yes, WordPress is SEO optimised. Since WordPress helps with content management, it has to optimise SEO for its functioning.

    Now that we have seen the WordPress SEO best practices, we should learn about the concept of WordPress search engine optimization audit. Conducting a WordPress search engine optimization audit involves examining the website’s Internet presence relative to the usage of best practices, identifying problems, and assessing them for organic growth.

    • The first thing remains that the visibility settings should be turned on; otherwise, the SEO won’t work.
    • Switch from HTTP to HTTPS since HTTP lacks the security mechanism to encrypt the data present on the website.
    • There are various versions of the URL – www, non-www, HTTP, and HTTPS which can lead to different routes; it is essential to ensure that all of these URLs lead to the same website address.
    • The process of indexing should be done in an optimised way with the sitemap (WordPress XML sitemap).
    • A full debugging of the website should be done to recognise any broken links, and they should be rectified for better usage.
    • Metadata and meta tags are very important for any website to rank higher, so you should try to find if they’re present adequately on the website.
    • A WordPress SEO audit should be conducted to recognise internal and external links.
    • Speed is of the utmost importance for any particular website. So, an SEO audit should be conducted to check the site speed. If it is not speedy enough, WordPress plugins should be used to rectify the site’s speed.
    • Conduct an SEO audit to check how responsive the website is on a mobile phone. If it has an unsatisfactory response, it should be sorted out immediately. Necessary work should be done to rectify this!
    • Often a site can have reduced reachability or more bounce rate due to some malicious content on the website; malicious content (malware) prevents the search engine from accessing that destination. So, detect these with WordPress SEO audit and remove unwanted substances for proper functioning.

    WordPress vs Squarespace vs Wix

    Squarespace is an American brand that allows hosting options and website building. It works very similar to the working style of WordPress – providing domains and beautiful templates to design and modify websites.

    Wix happens to be a web development service as well. It provides ‘drag-and-drop’ tools that allow users to create and modify websites.

    Now, let us compare these three platforms and try to determine their suitability for various requirements:

    Ease of Use

    • Wix – is very intuitive in its functioning. Its drag-and-drop feature is a very handy tool, especially for beginners.
    • Squarespace – is better for beginners – people with little to no coding experience. It is easier to navigate.
    • WordPress – allows users to work on WordPress’s domain to create the website, but a few things must be self-taught.

    Design Flexibility

    • Wix – there are over 500+ themes that are known for mobile-friendliness. But you cannot change the theme after going live.
    • Squarespace – customisation of design with coding is an excellent option on Squarespace.
    • WordPress – due to the huge array of themes, WordPress is pretty flexible in its usage. The themes support plugins as well.

    Pricing

    • Wix – the premium plans, which start from $14/month, can be a little out of the budget for people just getting into this.
    • Squarespace – there is no free plan. You get a 14-day trial period that allows you to check the whole dashboard and its contents.
    • WordPress is free to use (WordPress.com), but the additional costs vary. It is, however, an affordable service to build a website.

    App Markets

    • Wix there are over 200 apps to choose from. This market is easy-to-use and can be easily navigated.
    • Squarespace – the extensions store allows about 23 apps to choose from.
    • WordPress – there are over 54,000 available plugins. These plugins cover various parts of the industry.

    Features

    • Wix – across the board, you can find various features that are easy to use. Additional apps can also be incorporated into this.
    • Squarespace – the blogging features are excellent. The e-commerce features are well-suited for smaller businesses.
    • WordPress – the built-in features are a little less comprehensive. However, the plethora of available plugins can sort all that out. You have site speed, SEO, metadata, and many more plugins.

    SEO

    • Wix – provides SEO Wiz that is helpful for you while fulfilling basic needs. These help you rank higher on the search engines.
    • Squarespace – there is a good range of SEO products. However, there isn’t much help for beginners trying to work through SEO.
    • WordPress – the SEO tools provided by WordPress are very effective. If you know how to code, then that process gets enhanced.

    Help and Support

    • Wix – the customer care support provides help across mobile phones, live chat with customer care agents, and social media. There is no email support.
    • Squarespace – there is no phone support in the case of Squarespace. The support is excellent in emails, live chats with agents, and social media.
    • WordPress – the customer service side is a bit underwhelming. However, the WordPress community is very active and can genuinely help you.

    Overall, the decision-making rests on your shoulders. You have to adjust according to the budget and determine what functionalities you need. It is always advisable to contact a professional since they have experience in this arena before deciding.

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