WordPress vs Google Sites: Why You Should Be Using WordPress
March 9th, 2018 by
WordPress is by far the most popular website management system in the world and shows no sign of slowing down at all. What started in 2003 as a PHP and MySQL based open source software has turned into a community of millions of users worldwide that all collaborate to make website management easier and more intuitive. What this means is that all of their site files are available for download at their website for free. Uploading the files to your web server allows you to connect a domain and start using WordPress for your own site. Just one look at this breakdown from Fresh Consulting shows the dominance of WordPress in the CMS market.
So Why Should I Use WordPress?
- It’s Free
Well, first and foremost, it’s free. As previously outlined, upload the files to a web server and you can work from there. Immediately cutting down on a business cost at the very beginning is always a bonus.
- Constantly Updated Options for Themes and Plug-ins
In addition to that, it is also an insanely popular open source software, which means that millions of users are creating and updating new themes and plugins to help customize your website experience as both an administrator and for users visiting your website. Did I mention it was free?
- Easy to Use Editor
The ease of use of WordPress is also another big selling point of using this platform. For the non-developers out there, WordPress offers a native “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWIG) editor that is easy to use and gives you complete control of the page.
- Media Storage & Access
It also preserves the capability to all sorts of media such as videos, audio clips, and images and has a very convenient file uploader for non-developers who aren’t using an FTP GUI such as Filezilla. This is a convenient way for developers to upload small batches of files that might not necessarily require connecting directly to the server.
- For Developers: Open Source Customization
For the developers, a completely open source code allows complete customization if desired, and easy access to the template files makes minor edits quick and easy. What this means is that if you do happen to have a developer or developers on your team, they won’t necessarily have to struggle and create workarounds in many situations—all of the code is available to them from the beginning. In addition to that, there is also a bustling community of users that create all sorts of templates and plugins that are all open source as well.
- WooCommerce for Ecommerce
Sure, building and creating a website is one thing, but WordPress also offers the WooCommerce plugin, the world’s most popular E-Commerce platform that currently powers 30 percent of the world’s E-Commerce websites. So if your desire is more on the side of selling goods as opposed to brand awareness, then WordPress has you covered there. WooCommerce is free and comes ready to sell right out of the box with loads of free extensions, including one that provides full Google Analytics integration whether you’re using the standard or enhanced Google Analytics E-Commerce. When configured properly, this extension can show detailed data, such as drop off points in your sales funnel.
- Search Engine Optimization
Probably the most important feature of WordPress is the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a cinch. So easy that Matt Cutts gave them a shoutout in one of his presentations when he was the head of the Web Spam Team at Google. The easiest way to tackle this solution is by adding a free SEO plugin, such as Yoast SEO or All in One SEO, which gives you complete control over your title tags and meta descriptions. Your developer can also easily implement structured data (the code that creates the answers and fancy cards in Google search results) in JSON-LD, which is Google’s preferred format. It’s worth mentioning that some other CMSs don’t play nice with this code and will strip it from your pages. Optimizing your massive images that you may have taken of your business or product with your fancy DSLR camera is an easy task with a plugin like Smush Image Compression and Optimization to help your site maintain its speed, which is something Google definitely cares about dearly.
How Does WordPress Compare to Other Content Management Systems?
- Open Source Software
As I stated before, WordPress and all of its code is open source, meaning that it is available to the general public. The platform itself is coded in PHP and MySQL, which allows developers to have a field day, creating beautiful templates and all sorts of cool effects that they want for websites. In addition to that, open source code helps create larger communities of users that can help with any sort of idea that you can think of, rather than having to simply rely on WordPress documentation. This community effort leads to a very expansive forum where WordPress users can oftentimes find the answer to any question they may have or join in and offer some unique solutions that they may have come up with.
A lot of WordPress critics often parrot that a WordPress site isn’t much fresh out of the box, which I personally find to be very disingenuous. SquareSpace and Wix both have a strong selling point for making beautiful websites, while WordPress users see the Twenty Seventeen theme and more than likely cringe at its visage. However, anyone can navigate to the free themes that WordPress offers. After finding one that you like, implementation takes about 5 minutes and 3 clicks of your mouse. This makes it very easy to dispel the myth of all WordPress sites being ugly.
How Can Other CMSs Be Problematic?
Here at Search Influence, I’m on the Web Development team where, in coordination with our Account Management team, I implement our proprietary tracking system and on-site optimizations, in addition to the various other projects that may come along. Here are a few instances I’ve found in which other CMSs can present problems.
- No Access to Source Code
Having access to the source code of a website is imperative for accurate implementation of anything on a website. So, it’s safe to say that I’ve come across quite a few issues with some of WordPress’ competitors, which creates abounding frustrations.
- Removal of Custom Coding
One example that I see a lot involves CMSs that strip schema from their web pages, whether it’s coded in JSON-LD or in the microdata format. With Google being very mobile and local-focused, not being able to add structured data to your website means that you’re probably missing out on having your business showing up on the knowledge graph on the right-hand side of the search results. Another quick example would be CMSs that strip title tags and alt text from images. Google uses alt text to determine what an image is and then possibly add it to its image results. The title tags are used for accessibility purposes on the user end.
- Lack of a Community
WordPress has a technically apt community that is generous with their knowledge. In addition to the 50,000+ plugins available, WordPress.com hosts a forum for users with 40,000+ topic threads. It’s hard to match that level of technically sophisticated users available as a resource.
- Faulty Built-in Integrations
Just recently, I was setting up E-Commerce tracking on a SquareSpace site that was using the SquareSpace store. After some searching that took much longer than it would’ve taken to find the solution in the WordPress community, I found that SquareSpace has Google Analytics E-Commerce tracking integrated into their platform. Seems easy enough—drop in the tracking code and let the data flow like a river. After completing a test purchase, my data populated perfectly and I gave myself a pat on the back and wished the client a great campaign.
Turns out, the integration was completely busted and stopped tracking. I ended up having to set everything up manually. Also, SquareSpace is a pretty poor platform to setup product data and all the other fancy bells and whistles that can be added via Google Analytics. To top that off, I found that the source of the problem is that their storefront uses the classic Google Analytics code, which was officially discontinued in 2012!
To the contrary, with a WordPress installation, the WooCommerce plugin and the Google Analytics extension can be added to pull all sorts of fancy data, like product data, cart data, dropoff data, etc. The setup for WooCommerce is very clean, and I haven’t had any issues tracking all of the data or the data mysteriously disappearing on me. Even if you don’t have any experience with a particular plugin, the popular plugins have a slew of documentation written by the creators as well as large communities focused on making sure everything works as intended.
So How Does One Take Advantage of This Powerful Tool?
Self-Hosted vs. Hosted Through WordPress.com
WordPress.com does offer its own hosting service, though I will say a business owner should spring for the “business” plan if they plan on hosting through WordPress.com. If not, I highly recommend self-hosting if there is a developer available. Self-hosting truly unlocks the full potential of WordPress, with the ability to completely customize every single aspect of your website. With server access, the possibilities are nearly limitless. Having an open source code that a developer can harness the power of, a community of millions of innovators to back it, and a level of ease that non-developers can take advantage of makes WordPress, in my opinion, the best CMS currently on the market.
Choosing a CMS platform while either creating a site or updating your old site is very crucial to the success of the website. Getting looped into a poor CMS and linking your domain to it for a year or more may feel like you are stuck with it until your contract is over. But if it’s costing you business, it may be worth the switching cost!
We’ve helped many businesses transition to WordPress, sometimes keeping the same general feel of their current site design. If this all seems daunting to you, reach out to us for support. We’ll work with you to figure out the best plan of action. Don’t risk missing out on valuable conversions or leads because of the limitations of a clunky CMS that doesn’t allow you to optimize the potential of your website.