We love WordPress. Our blog is built on the WordPress platform. We build custom CMS and other applications for lots of our clients using WordPress. It’s open source which means the source is free, there are tons of useful plug-ins and lots of support and documentation.

Does this mean that WordPress is going to solve all of your web marketing woes? Nope. Does this mean you will never need help from a designer, developer or SEO professional? That depends, but generally the answer here is no. Let’s dig a bit deeper into this last idea…

Isn’t Content King?  Does Design Even Matter?

There are lots of popular blogs and web sites that were built using a pre-designed template on the WordPress Blog platform. Some folks have been able to use their basic knowledge of coding to enhance this presence with plugins, upgraded design elements, pictures, etc.

The problem with templates is that you start looking and feeling like every other out-of-the-box WordPress site out there. Sure, some of these templates are decent, but you really need to tweak them quite a bit to achieve any sort of unique look and feel.

Other companies will hire a web designer to modify a template for them. This is definitely a step in the right direction. But if you want to really stand out, a completely custom look is the way to go.

Recently, Google has rolled out a new feature called Google Instant Preview. When you do a search in Google, you will notice a small magnifying glass icon next to the search results. This basically lets searchers preview the site in the listing before they even click on the results link.

So, yes, design matters. User experience matters. Perceived level of trust and experience matters. It is very difficult to be successful in these areas if your site looks like a free WordPress template. (see our previous post on the importance of web design)

And What about Content Management?

Ever since WordPress 3.0 came out, it has been a viable and popular Content Management System (CMS) solution. A CMS is a tool enabling content managers at companies with the ability to edit the content on a web site using a WYSWYG editor – similar to what you would see in most desktop publishing apps like Word.

This has been great for our clients. They love the control they have over their content and the fact that they don’t need us for every single update and edit. We love it because our clients stay engaged with their content strategies and their web sites enjoy greater success. This means happy clients and happy clients give referrals.

Unfortunately, there is a common misperception about CMS solutions. Clients will assume that, because they can edit the content themselves, it’s an easy solution with no training or advanced knowledge needed. Sure, simple edits are generally simple, but not all effectively published content is displayed simply.

Successful web sites that convert visitors to clients use things like call outs, dynamically posted content, social media integration, forms, etc. There are nice widgets and plug-ins for these, but they are a little tricky to manage. With a little testing and some trial and error though, our clients become pros in no time.

With SEO Plug-ins, Optimization is a Snap!  Right?

Sure. With plug-ins like Yoast, wpSEO and others you can now manage your Meta descriptions, page titles, etc. You can even do a quick review of your content for keyword density. These tools are fantastic and really allow the client to be able to manage their SEO on an ongoing basis to achieve maximum results.

But this doesn’t paint the entire picture of SEO. Any SEO expert will tell you that it isn’t just about the keywords. It is about testing, analysis, retesting, more analysis, and more testing.  Get the picture?

Plugging a bunch of keywords into your code and content without some data to back it up is just a bad idea. If you are going to take the reins of your SEO efforts, you need to do some research first and acquaint yourself with the practices of proper SEO.

We recommend the following SEO resources if this is a path you want to take:

  1. Search Engine Journal
  2. Search Engine Roundtable
  3. SEOMoz

So, Is WordPress a Bad Idea or a Good Idea?

It’s a great idea. WordPress is a viable CMS and Blogging solution for many businesses and organizations. However, WordPress implementation is by no means a plug and play affair. With any successful marketing and communications endeavor, it takes planning, the right tools, strategic implementation and lots of testing/trial and error.

The greatest thing about the internet is the wealth of information available at our fingertips. Use it to do some research on WordPress, and I think you will find that it could just be an option for you.

What do you think about WordPress? Let us know in the comments below.

Jon-Mikel Bailey - Before co-founding Wood Street in 2002, Jon worked in sales, marketing and business development for technology and marketing firms. A popular speaker, he gives seminars on marketing, internet marketing, branding and web design to chambers of commerce, trade associations and colleges. He has a BFA in Photography from Frostburg State University and still shoots photos for Wood Street clients.

3 Responses to “WordPress: It’s Great, But No Easy Button
  • This article is right on. As a marketing communications consultant, I am constantly trying to convince business owners that just because a template is available online, it doesn’t mean it’s any good. As a business owner, I am frustrated by the sheer number of people who insist — insist! — that I should “do my own” SEO. It’s like they’re all being paid by the “anti-SEO professionals league.”

    • I think the most important thing to recognize here is that strategy and implementation are separate tasks that invariably need one another for the SEO campaign to be successful.

  • Jon-Mikel, Great timing on this post (and a great website design also). As I have thought about how we will assist our clients with their websites, the WordPress option seems to be the option where we can keep our customers involved in the ongoing maintenance and with the design. Most small businesses don’t really care if their site looks somewhat like someone else’s if it has some level of customization. WordPress fits quite well in this area. (Hi Angeliique. Haven’t communicated with you for awhile 🙂 )

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