We’ve been telling people that WordPress was the number one tool to get to number one with Google- organically, since 2005 when we started our Websitetology Seminar (then called Blogosopher).
We’ve watched as WordPress has taken over the web, for all sizes of business, far eclipsing other CMS options like Drupal and Joomla. Now, with their official attendance at the most recent WordCamp US, Alberto Medina a Developer Advocate in the Content Ecosystems Team at Google, explains why Google has joined the WordPress cult:
Why has Google chosen to align with WordPress
The CMS space encompasses an important cross-section of the web; there are a plethora of players out there, and many of them offer pretty cool technologies. In terms of functionality and capabilities WordPress has strong similarities with other CMSes on the market, but arguably there are a few things that set the WordPress ecosystem apart:
- First, is the success of the platform; WordPress accounts for ~59% of the CMS market share, and about ⅓ of web content nowadays is powered by WordPress
- Second, is the large and ever-expanding ecosystem of themes, plugins, hosting providers, developers, consultants, and specialized WordPress experts which all work together on the creation of WordPress-powered content.
- And third, is the WordPress community. The more we get involved with all aspects of the WordPress ecosystem, the more we realize the kindness, diversity, inclusiveness, passion, and effort at every level of the community, bottom up, and top down.
But in essence, the missions of Google and WordPress are naturally aligned. An essential part of Google’s mission is to contribute to the prevalence of a healthy, flourishing, and vibrant web. We are investing significant efforts and resources to help to bring a delightful (i.e. user-friendly, fast, engaging) user experience to all users: everywhere, on every device, and over any connection. Similarly, an essential part of WordPress’s founding mission is democratizing web publishing, which itself implies providing an awesome UX on WordPress-powered sites for all users (content creators, site owners, developers, content consumers). Therefore, by working together we can double down on our efforts and accelerate the success of our overlapping missions.
Source: Google’s Presence at WordCamp US
When you realize some of the most trusted sites in the world like the NY Times are built with WordPress, you start to understand why there isn’t any excuse for you to use dumbed down proprietary sites from SquareSpace, Wix or Weebly.
Anything you can do on any of those sites, you can do in WordPress- with the proper training and assistance. That’s why starting with Websitetology might be your best bet to get online and get seen.
If you use WordPress to manage your content online, you’re smart and far from alone. Stats say that somewhere around 28% of the web we use is running on WordPress right now. The thing is, many of you have no idea you are looking at it when a master developer builds a site.
The secret sauce of WordPress is that the content, the stuff that brings visitors to your site, is in a database and separate from the presentation- the theme, the way it all displays. This is what makes things super easy to manage and maintain, and to format the output for any size screen and device. The part that makes Google search such a big fan is that the content is organized nicely using the four main tools: Posts, Pages, Categories and Tags. If you’ve taken our Websitetology seminar, you fully understand why most of your site should be using posts- in really well organized and thought out categories. If you haven’t taken our seminar- you should sign up.
However, there are a few big changes coming on the horizon to the World of WordPress- both from the top, the people who built and maintain this open source tour de force- Automattic (named for Matt Mullenweg, the guy who proved you can get rich giving something away that you don’t own).
First up is the subscription service JetPack, which builds upon a suite of plugin tools that were and still are free- but always required a wordpress.com account to tie you back to the “mothership.” In that form- JetPack did some cool stuff-
Keep any WordPress site secure, increase traffic, and engage your readers.
Traffic and SEO Tools
Traffic is the lifeblood of any website. Jetpack includes:
- [free] Site stats and analytics
- [free] Automatic sharing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Reddit, and WhatsApp
- [free] Related posts
- [paid] Search engine optimization tools for Google, Bing, Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress.com
- [paid] Advertising program that includes the best of AdSense, Facebook Ads, AOL, Amazon, Google AdX, and Yahoo
Security and Backup Services
Stop worrying about data loss, downtime, and hacking. Jetpack provides:
- [free] Brute force attack protection
- [free] Downtime and uptime monitoring
- [free] Secured logins and two-factor authentication
- [paid] Malware scanning, code scanning, and threat resolution
- [paid] Site backups, restores, and migrations
Add rich, beautifully-presented media — no graphic design expertise necessary:
- [free] A high-speed CDN for your images
- [free] Carousels, slideshows, and tiled galleries
- [free] Simple embeds from YouTube, Google Documents, Spotify and more
- [free] Sidebar customization including Facebook, Twitter, and RSS feeds
- [free] Extra sidebar widgets including blog stats, calendar, and author widgets
- [paid] High-speed, ad-free, and high-definition video hosting
Discussion and Community
Create a connection with your readers and keep them coming back to your site with:
- [free] Email subscriptions
- [free] Comment login with Facebook, Twitter, and Google
- [free] Fully-customizable contact forms
- [free] Infinite scroll for your posts
So, you say- there are only a few pieces that are paid- I’ll jump in. However, that’s the beginning down the slippery slope to letting someone else control how your site works and see everything you do. We’ve avoided it for years- instead using tools from third parties.
The newest release of Jetpack gets its own site- Jetpack.com and looking at the business side (since we do WordPress for business as our bread and butter) you start seeing that it’s almost as if you are buying hosting from Automattic too- which isn’t a bad thing, until things go wrong in a big way, and the support just can’t deal with their scale. Automattic has been doing their VIP hosting for a long time, so they probably are pretty solid at this now, but, we’re still a little wary, and frankly, the price is pretty steep. You don’t need access to hundreds of premium themes- you just need one good one.
No matter what, the push into hosting smaller business sites and offering their own sets of tools, could be seen as direct competition with the entire ecosystem that has been built around WordPress. One of the key reasons WordPress has been so successful is the thousands of businesses that have been built on the platform- from theme and plugin developers to hosting firms and web developers.
And, as if that isn’t enough… here comes “Guttenberg”
What? Moveable type presses? Nope, a new way of editing text outside the standard text block editor that is the default. In other words, a builder- much like many of the builders that come with premium themes. There are plenty out there- we’ve gravitated to using Divi from Elegant Themes– which is both plugin and visual site builder/theme- but there are plenty of others.
What does the coming of Guttenberg mean for some of us? We’re not entirely sure. The Customizer was the first Automattic attempt to provide an interim WYSWIG interface to WordPress- and it didn’t change anything. What we are seeing is Automattic reacting to competition like SquareSpace/WIX/Weebly – all of which are WordPress with training wheels for those who can’t be bothered with doing a website right.
Guttenberg is still in beta and not ready for prime time. We’re waiting to see if it is in WP 4.9 or part of the major 5.0 release. In the meantime, you should be aware of the impending changes.
Major WordPress version updates come a few times a year, and we now have version 4.8, named after Jazz Pianist Bill Evans. We call it the Widget edition.
For those of you who don’t know what widgets are, they started as the way to put stuff on the sidebar- the thing on the side of your blog, that’s there all the time…
wait? Does that sound a little foreign to you? It should. Because with the Theme Universe exploding, and responsive design (that resizes to any device size) widgets have become the way to put things anywhere on your site- from the front page to the sidebar, to the footer etc.
Other than stock widgets, many widgets are installed by Plugins, and some by themes and theme builders.
What used to require a bit of a hack, is now easy with these new widgets:
Adding an image to a widget is now a simple task that is achievable for any WordPress user without needing to know code. Simply insert your image right within the widget settings. Try adding something like a headshot or a photo of your latest weekend adventure — and see it appear automatically.
A welcome video is a great way to humanize the branding of your website. You can now add any video from the Media Library to a sidebar on your site with the new Video widget. Use this to showcase a welcome video to introduce visitors to your site or promote your latest and greatest content.
Are you a podcaster, musician, or avid blogger? Adding a widget with your audio file has never been easier. Upload your audio file to the Media Library, go to the widget settings, select your file, and you’re ready for listeners. This would be a easy way to add a more personal welcome message, too!
Rich Text Widget
This feature deserves a parade down the center of town! Rich-text editing capabilities are now native for Text widgets. Add a widget anywhere and format away. Create lists, add emphasis, and quickly and easily insert links. Have fun with your newfound formatting powers, and watch what you can accomplish in a short amount of time.
Source: WordPress 4.8 “Evans”
And of course, with the customizer as the WordPress answer to SquareSpace, Wix and whatever other WYSIWG proprietary website solution- you can now do a drag and drop element in your site.
Just remember to always use a child theme to make your customizations. There are plugins that can help you set that up (right now, Child Theme Configurator seems to be the most popular)
Some of our favorite Widgets are:
Source: Ad Inserter — WordPress Plugins
WordPress Popular Posts is a highly customizable widget that displays the most popular posts on your blog.
And the SiteOrigin widget installer – which bundles a bunch of useful tools:
SiteOrigin Widgets bundle:
- Google Maps Widget that’s going places.
- Button Widget that you’ll love to click.
- Image Widget that’ll let you add images everywhere.
- Call To Action Widget that’ll get your users performing the actions you want.
- Slider Widget that slides images and HTML5 videos.
- Price Table Widget that’ll help you sell more.
- Post Carousel Widget that displays your posts as a carousel.
- Features Widget that lets you display a set of site or service features.
- Video Widget to get your videos out there.
- Headline Widget to get you noticed.
- Social Links Widget to show you’re active.
The beauty of WordPress is that there is a complete selection of vetted tools on WordPress.org to extend and expand the capabilities of your site. Come to our next Websitetogy Seminar and learn about widgets, plugins, best posting practices and a whole bunch more.