WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems for both personal and business websites. However, what many people fail to realize is that there are two different versions: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. The two are easy to confuse, but there is definitely one that outshines the other for SEO purposes. In this post, we will compare the two and really explore which one is the better option for your website’s SEO.
What is WordPress.com?
WordPress.com does all the web hosting for you. This means that once you sign up and choose your domain name WordPress.com will take care of all the software and handle the web hosting for you. Basically, they take care of site maintenance, backups, updates, etc. Signing up is free with the most basic plan where your website will be a subdomain of WordPress.com. For example: yourdomain.wordpress.com. However, there are upgrades available where you can pay for a custom domain and remove the WordPress.com branding. WordPress.com also automatically places ads all over your site. Again, you can upgrade and pay more to get rid of the ads. So essentially, WordPress.com can look like a good price at first, but it can also quickly start adding up and cost you more than you initially realized.
What is WordPress.org?
WordPress.org is different in many ways from the .com version. With the .org you will be responsible for hosting your website or finding a web host to take of the maintenance and backups for you. WordPress.org is also free. However, you will have to pay for a web host and to register your domain. So, when it comes down to it WordPress.org technically it isn’t free, but it is more affordable than going through the .com version.
Which is Better for SEO?
Now that we have established a brief difference between the two, let’s talk about which one is better for SEO. Ultimately, both offer SEO tools, but WordPress.com has many limitations that the .org site does offer.
With the .com version, you are not able to upload any custom themes or modify any codes within the themes. There are upgrades available, but this costs money. Themes aren’t super important for SEO, but having an attractive theme that provides easy site navigation is important for user experience.
The .com version is also limited to which plugins you can download. WordPress plugins are especially important when it comes to SEO. If you are familiar with Yoast SEO or the All in One SEO Pack you’ll be out of luck here. Both of these awesome tools aren’t available in WordPress.com. The only way to add unique page titles and meta descriptions is by upgrading to the Business Plan, which again costs additional money. SEO Tools is also very limited and in my opinion, the user-friendliness isn’t all that great.
Another beneficial SEO plugin that isn’t available with WordPress.com is the Redirection tool. This means that if you have any 301 pages that need redirects there isn’t a plugin available for that.
Google Analytics integration is also not part of the most basic plan for WordPress.com. Therefore in order to track organic traffic to your website you’ll have to upgrade to the Business Plan.
When it comes to optimizing your website, the .org version allows for much more freedom and control over your site. As a company that offers WordPress SEO services, we almost always recommend that our client’s sites are built using WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com.
With WordPress.org no theme is off limits. There are free themes that exist, but you can also create your own theme to suit your business needs. WordPress.org also features all the plugins you’ll need for SEO, such as ones already mentioned such as Yoast SEO, All in One SEO Pack, and Redirection. There are also additional plugins to create a site map, check broken links, and make sure your website’s images are SEO friendly. It is also free to add a Google Analytics tracking code to your site’s theme. You can manually add it in the tracking code or download one of the many Google Analytics WordPress plugins.
In the End…
If you haven’t already gotten the gist, WordPress.org is the champ when it comes to optimizing your website for SEO. It features all the plugins, themes, and SEO tools that are beneficial for optimization. While the .com version certainly makes it easy when it comes to hosting and maintenance, there are downsides that come with it for SEO purposes. It all boils down to what you want to do with your website, how much control you want, and if you want to optimize your site to its full potential. In conclusion, WordPress.org is the best option for SEO.