Is WordPress SEO friendly?

By Tim Priebe on November 27, 2019

By Tim Priebe on November 27, 2019

I’ve used WordPress since 2009, and I’ve helped tons of people with SEO during that time. And every once in a while, I hear one of two things:

  • “I hear WordPress is great for SEO.”
  • “I’ve heard WordPress is terrible for SEO!”

So which one is true? As with most things in life, it just depends.

On-page SEO vs. off-page SEO

First, let’s start by talking about a couple different aspects of SEO. When you’re talking about optimizing specific pages on your website, there is what’s referred to as on-page SEO and off-page SEO.

On-page SEO is the content, HTML, and assets for an individual web page. Assets include any external file that’s loaded by the page. That’s typically things like images, CSS, and javascript. Off-page SEO is other sites linking back to that page as well as other external signals.

So when we’re looking at whether WordPress is good for SEO or not, we’re really just talking about on-page SEO.

On-page SEO with WordPress

First the good news. WordPress itself generates pretty clean, SEO-friendly code. Now the bad news. Anyone can create a plugin or theme for WordPress. Those plugins and themes are responsible for a big portion of the code in your final website. And unfortunately, there may be some nasty code that’s not SEO-friendly!

Is WordPress itself SEO friendly? Yes! But many third-party plugins and themes are not.

And even installing and configuring a great general-purpose SEO plugin like Yoast SEO won’t undo the damage done by bad themes or plugins.

Setting up WordPress right

Want to be sure you’re setting up WordPress as well as you can for SEO? Here are some tips you can follow:

  • Install as few plugins as you can get away with, ideally less than ten.
  • Install only reputable themes and plugins, with plenty of good ratings.
  • Don’t just rely on technical SEO but do keyword research and create an actual SEO plan.
  • Or to avoid all that work and stress, just hire a professional!

If WordPress is set up the right way, it can be great for SEO. But if it’s configured poorly or set up by someone who is learning as they go or has no technical SEO expertise, it can be horrible.

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