The Highlights of WordPress as a Blogging Platform
WordPress is arguably today’s most popular blogging platform – for reasons that the most brilliant Web programmers and developers or novice bloggers and startup business marketers can appreciate.
Actually, WordPress is popular for reasons that even search engine giant Google can appreciate. Matt Cutts – the well-known SEO guru and Webmaster behind Google (which, by the way, has Blogger as its own blogging platform) – even went so far as to praise WordPress, saying that:
“WordPress takes care of 80 to 90 percent of (the mechanics of) Search Engine Optimization (SEO).”
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves – let’s go into more detail about SEO later. For now, let’s go through the list of highlights of WordPress as a blogging platform.
- The process of signing up for WordPress is simple and easy enough. The most awesome part? It’s free. WordPress is open-source software, which means that you don’t have to pay any license fees to use the core platform.
- WordPress is incredibly intuitive. While the dashboard may, at first sight, look intimidating (especially to bloggers who have no knowledge on programming and coding), it typically takes a new user less than an hour to figure out how to create blog posts, publish or save posts as drafts, manage user settings, and perform other core functions. Don’t worry: WordPress isn’t written in Greek. The language is one that you can definitely understand, regardless of your skills in Web development.
- WordPress features a user-friendly WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”) editor. You can choose to write blog posts in the same way you would write, say, a story on Microsoft Word. Want to insert a picture or hyperlink? Feel like highlighting a certain portion of text? Ready for a spell-check? Or wondering if a paragraph would look better if it’s aligned left instead of justified? All of these options – and more – are available on the post editor, which comes with a toolbar that’s as easy-to-use as that of your favorite word processor.
- Meanwhile, if you’re an HTML rock star, don’t jump to the conclusion that the beginner-friendly WordPress post editor would limit your potential for coding awesomeness. It takes one mouse click to customize the editor and be able to write in HTML format or code.
- Did we tell you that WordPress is free?
- WordPress has one the most active and positive communities in the world of the – well, of the “Internets”. Because it’s open-source, you gain instant access to a wide range of references and materials that are refined and expanded every day: how-to’s and troubleshooting issues, themes and templates, plug-ins and hacks, requests and feedback. While other blogging platforms do have active customer and technical support teams, with WordPress you get to engage with the developers and other users.
- WordPress being open-source software also means that other people are always working to make the platform better. It also means that it’s scalable, and that you are free to use WordPress howsoever you want, according to your needs. Let’s come up with a food analogy: proprietary blogging platforms are a la carte – you consume or use it according to the set menu (for which you also pay license fees). WordPress, meanwhile, is a buffet. You don’t have to eat everything, but everything is served anyway just so you have the freedom to choose.
- The WordPress buffet comes with lots of goodies, too. They come in the form of themes, templates, and plug-ins. These basically allow you to customize everything: design, aesthetics, SEO, analytics and reporting, social media, publishing format, etc. If you’re able to understand HTML and CSS and other programming languages, you’ll drool over the infinite possibilities of what you can do with your blog. If you’re a blogging newbie, you’ll still drool – because the developer community describes these goodies well enough anyway, enabling you to understand what it is you’re downloading exactly and how to install and use it.
- Themes: this deserves its own bullet. The default WordPress theme is simple, effective, and fast enough. But have you ever tried Googling “free WordPress themes”? If you haven’t, try it. You’ll be floored by the quantity and quality of the search results: so many beautiful themes (tens of thousands of them), so many high-quality looks and outfits for a blog, so many museum-worthy blog designs that look as though they took several months to create. So many possibilities, and with only a few clicks and no programming language, you can transform your blog into a visual stunner.
- Plug-ins and widgets deserve their own bullet, too. There are close to 15,000 plug-ins right now, available for download from the WordPress.org website. They extend your WordPress blog to do almost anything you can imagine, such as: Interact with your website visitors and blog readers by having a live chat widget; Get an automatic translation plug-in to translate your blog to the world’s different languages; Customize your Contact Us form; Track your stats with a plug-in like Google Analytics for WordPress; Display your Twitter tweets or Facebook Page updates using social media widgets; Create a mobile-phone-friendly version of your blog without modifying a single bit of code or affecting your regular desktop theme; and more!
Search Engine Opti-awesome
- If there’s a blogging platform that’s designed by default to appeal to search engines, it’s WordPress. (Not Blogger, and definitely not Tumblr.) As we mentioned above, even Google’s Matt Cutts has praised the platform. That’s because WordPress is equipped with SEO features which, if used properly, can get your blog to appear in the most relevant search results. And why is that important? Because having a blog that nobody can find is kind of like not having a blog at all.
- A fresh installation of WordPress, for example, gives you the ability to customize – or, more appropriately, optimize – permalinks. Permalinks are permanent URLs to your individual blog posts, as well as your archived blog posts by category, date, or tag. So instead of having blog post URLs that look like this – http://mycooking.com/blog/?p=Ns7y2whiu09832 – you can use WordPress to alter permalink types, in such a way that they look like this:
Individual blog posts: http://mycooking.com/blog/chicken-curry-is-good-for-you
Archived blog posts by date: http://mycooking.com/blog/2011/06
Archived blog posts by tag: http://mycooking.com/blog/tag/vegetarian
- With WordPress’ permalinks, your URLs become a lot more readable than a random string of digits and letters. Apart from being human-readable, pretty permalinks are search engine-friendly, too. You can add tags and keywords that you want to focus on and have your blog post URLs automatically support you. All this then helps you increase your keyword ranking in search results and bring more targeted traffic to your blog. Other blogging platforms don’t have the flexibility to let you modify the URL structure of your blog posts. WordPress does, which is why a lot of SEO-aware bloggers love the platform.
- WordPress also enables you to add tags to your blog posts. To your visitors and readers, this means an extra navigational tool (apart from typing on a search box to find a specific post). To search engines, this means easier and faster crawling of your posts and pages.
- With WordPress you can also add categories and sub-categories to further organize your blog posts, and you can use your favorite keywords (and their variations) as your category or sub-category names. Doing so gets you more search engine love.
- You can even optimize your pictures, an ability that very few other blogging platforms have. WordPress has an Insert Image function on its post editor, which allows you to add extra information about all the pictures that you’ve uploaded and inserted into your blog post: information like alternate text and title tags, captions, and even source URLs – information that Google loves, and which they use to deliver their Google Image Search results.
- WordPress also has its own ping feature, just in case you need that extra oomph to boost your SEO performance. Fill in the ping form with all the URLs you need and – voila! – different search engines and content feeds are informed every time you update your WordPress blog with a new post.
- As if all these formidable built-in SEO features aren’t enough, WordPress gives you the freedom to install choice SEO plug-ins such as the All-in-One SEO Pack, the SEO Rank Reporter, SEO Smart Links, SEO Ultimate, and the Google Sitemap Generator – all so that your blog can become a hardcore SEO beast. The list is poised to grow deeper and longer as the state of search continues to evolve. And while some of these have certainly been developed for advanced users, every plug-in is described in detail by the developer, and every installation and troubleshooting procedure is outlined step by step.
If there’s anything with which you can sum up the many highlights and strengths of WordPress as a blogging platform, it’s this word. Whatever your priorities as a blogger are – cost-effectiveness, design, simplicity, ease of use, flexibility and customization, search ranking performance, social media, multilingual support, etc. – WordPress grants you the freedom to create the blog of your dreams. And it’s a kind of freedom that doesn’t charge you license fees.