How Moving Your Site into a CMS Like WordPress can Help with SEO

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Wordpress Rocket

We could sit here and give you a long-winded breakdown about all the various types of content management systems (CMSs) and how they help with search engine optimization (SEO), but the truth is we’re biased.

We have a favorite. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the title of this article, it’s WordPress. It has major benefits if you’re looking to step up your SEO strategy.

Watch: What’s a CMS?

Moving into a CMS helps SEO

Before we go into why the WordPress CMS is numero uno in the SEO department, let’s talk about how the act of just moving into a new CMS can help improve your site’s visibility.

That’s because a few of the tasks that need to happen in order to prepare and implement the site in the new system can improve your rankings.

Here are some of the steps that will be taken during site migrations:

  • When you audit your existing site to determine what to move over, you’ll evaluate your current SEO efforts (or lack thereof) and will be able to establish a baseline for what needs to be done for the new website.
  • You’ll create new, more search-engine friendly URLs in the new CMS.
  • If you create new URLs in your new site, you’ll probably need to set up 301 redirects. These redirects let search engines know that you have new URLs and that the pages have moved.
  • Once your new site is built, your web team will need to resubmit the website to be crawled by the search engine to re-index the pages. Hopefully, the search engines will look favorably upon your efforts to impress them and will reward you handsomely.

And with WordPress, there are several other system features that help you rank successfully.

SEO Plugins

One of the beautiful things about WordPress is the huge availability of plugins and add-ons that can transform your site into a high-powered machine. Plugins like Yoast SEO (we use it) can play a big role in amplifying your SEO efforts.

Yoast SEO helps optimize your site by analyzing the content of each page. It also provides a detailed breakdown of how well your SEO efforts are going, as well as what areas need improvement.

Here’s a little snapshot of what we see when we’re building sites:

Yoast SEO Screenshot

Recommendations from the Yoast SEO plugin include improvements to content readability, as well as updates to page titles, meta descriptions and URLs. This is important because all of these components play a role in search engine rankings.

As an example, metadata is highly visible in search engine results pages (SERPs), so it can play a major role in SEO, and whether or not someone will click through to your page.

This is what the metadata information looks like when you search for our company name and “social media” on Google:’

The SEO page title here is “Social Media – Authentic Web Solutions” and meta description is the sentence below the URL. The description clearly defines what the page is about. Additionally, the keyword “social media” is used in the title, description and URL.

The Yoast plugin helped us know that this information was in tip-top shape.

WordPress helps optimize your images

When it comes to SEO, copywriting and metadata may be top of mind, but don’t forget about the images on your site. They contribute to a large number of SEO factors.

Consider these benefits:

  • Large images contribute to slow load times. WordPress has built-in features and plugins that edit and compress your image. This can help speed up your page.
  • Well-named images have a better chance of showing up in image searches. WordPress makes it easy to title your image
  • It’s also easy to add alt-text descriptions. These are important because they increase the accessibility of your site. Making your site more accessible isn’t just good practice, it helps SEO. Search engines give more clout to accessible sites.
  • The ability to easily add images and edit them in WordPress makes your content more interesting, which improves user experience and helps boost your rankings.

Well-structured Permalinks

Just the simple appearance of a URL can impact your SEO efforts. WordPress bakes this idea into their system with “Pretty” Permalinks.

From WordPress:

“Pretty” Permalinks is the idea that URLs are frequently visible to the people who click them, and should, therefore, be crafted in such a way that they make sense, and not be filled with incomprehensible parameters.

So there are a few reasons why this link structure is beneficial to SEO:

  • Permalinks are easy to edit for even the most novice of CMS users, which can help speed SEO efforts.
  • You can also use them to add keywords.
  • The format of the Pretty Permalinks helps increase click-through-rates. Pages with more traffic are considered more important by Google. And as a result, the pages will rank higher in the search engine results.

For example, would you click on a link that looked like this?:

Probably not. It looks like it’s a link to a portal in some deep, dark corner of the Internet.

You’d probably be more likely to click on this link (feel free to click away) because it’s pretty clear what kind of a page you’re about to visit.

In WordPress, the part of your URL that you can edit when writing a new post is called a “slug.” Yoast SEO does a good job of explaining slugs in this video:

SEO Optimized Themes

WordPress themes make building websites easier, but they are also pretty well-liked by search engines and for a good few reasons.

  • Clean Code: There is a wide availability of themes that come with well-written HTML markup that the search engines love. The simple framework and link structure that is baked into WordPress makes it easy for search engines to crawl and index website pages.
  • Responsive Designs: WordPress themes are responsive, which is a big deal with search engines like Google who favor mobile-first design.
  • Visual Appeal: If your site looks good, visitors will want to hang out a little longer. This stickiness shows the search engines that you have a quality site with relevant information, which helps you rank higher.

It should be noted that not all themes are created equally, so as you would for any CMS, be sure to evaluate your theme carefully to make sure it comes with these benefits. And of course, the upkeep of your WordPress site is important. So make sure you keep your site maintained.

Make SEO Part of Your (Content or Digital Marketing) Strategy

SEO has quickly become not a “want,” but a “need” for businesses hoping to gain a competitive edge on the Internet. The CMS you choose can greatly impact these efforts, for better or worse.

When developing a comprehensive game plan to boost your Internet presence—and ultimately your bottom line—SEO is a critical part of the engine that makes your digital motor run.

So choose wisely, friends. And let us know if you need a hand getting set up.

Website Migration SEO Checklist

If you’re working on migrating your website into a new CMS, follow this checklist to ensure you optimize your SEO efforts.

Setup and install Google Analytics, Google Search Console and Bing Search Console for your website

Conduct a website/SEO audit 

Evaluate the pages that are getting traffic. Determine if those are pages worth removing, or keeping.

Create a sitemap – We recommend letting the Yoast SEO tool do this for you, but be sure to customize it to only include the pages you want search engines to see.

Reevaluate content and the use of meta-tags, alt tags and headings.

Setup 301 redirects from old to new, non-www to www, HTTP to https

Submit sitemap to search engines

Submit domain change request (if changing domains)

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