WordPress is the 'platform' behind your website. When you log in to your website, you're logging into the WordPress dashboard. From there, you can manage all of the affairs of your site.
WordPress versus Traditional Websites? What makes WordPress the better choice?
What is WordPress?
Wikipedia will tell you that “WordPress is a free and open source blogging tool and a content management system (CMS) based on PHP and MySQL. It has many features including a plug-in architecture and a template system. WordPress is used by over 16.7% of Alexa Internet’s “top 1 million” websites and is currently the most popular blogging system in use on the Web.”
If that was confusing, let’s just say that WordPress is the ‘platform’ behind your website. When you log in to your website, you’re logging into the WordPress dashboard. From there, you can manage all of the affairs of your site. It’s where you’ll go to add new posts, pages, and control the general look and feel of your website. These features and functionality may change depending on what type of ‘theme’ or ‘framework’ you’re using, which we’ll discuss in a second.
What are the key benefits versus a Traditional Website?
There are a ton of great benefits with WordPress. For this post we’re going to cover the 8 most important:
1) Easy Editing
The WordPress dashboard is fantastic, and constantly being updated. You can easily add pages, posts, control what goes on your menu, add items to your website sidebar, footer etc. If you normally have to pay a designer to do these things you’re spending a lot of money unnecessarily. In a part of a ‘boxed’ solution, where you can make these edits yourself, chances are that WordPress has lots more features and infinitely more flexibility.
If you’ve had a custom site designed and didn’t have access to edit your site, chances are that you weren’t happy when it came time to add new content to your site. Who wants to pay $50 every time they want to add a new page to their website or move a menu item around? Not only does this suck, but it fosters an attitude whereby you’re discouraged from updating your site with new content and information, which is ultimately what gets you ranked (more on that later).
When you first install WordPress, you get the ‘core’ WordPress installation, like a blank canvas. From there, there are literally hundreds of thousands of plugins that you can add to your site that extend its functionality. As a real state professional, you’ll want to start with a good IDX plugin (which we’ll cover in Part 2 of this series of articles), a form builder, some social media plugins, and maybe mortgage calculator plugin, live chat, etc etc. IF you can dream a particular feature that you want on your site, chances are that there’s a plugin for it.
3) Social Media Integration and Automation
Most of the agents and broker we speak with indicate that they know they should be using social media, but simply don’t know how. With the traditional site offering, this can sometimes be a pain or very limited at best. A lot of the agents I speak with are under the impression that social media integration means ‘having a link on my website to my Facebook page.’ Oh man…
With WordPress, you can find all sorts of social media plugins that allow you to easily add social media buttons to your homepage, share buttons to posts or pages, add Facebook commenting to posts, or even automate syndication of your posts to your favorite social networks. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Adding videos and images to posts and pages are extremely easy. With YouTube, you can usually just copy and paste a link to the video directly into a post or page and WordPress will embed it automatically. WordPress also has a fantastic media library that you can use to manage all of the media on your site. Add alt tags and captions, and when you use the image in a post or page, the alt tags and caption are inserted with the image automatically. Furthermore, you can install plugins that will let you easily find creative commons images that you can use in your blog posts without having to worry about infringing on someone’s copyright.
5) Scalability and Upgrades
WordPress and all of its components are constantly being updated. As the years’ pass, your traditional site is, in most cases, rendered more and more obsolete. With WordPress, you’ll never have to worry about this. All of the great plugins you add to your website are, in most cases, periodically updated as well so that when browsers evolve or search algorithms change, your site stays current.
Because it’s constantly updating, you don’t have to worry about finding a new ‘hot’ website solution every few years. If you ever decide in 5 years that you want to upgrade the look of your site, you can usually just activate and install a new theme and everything will format to the new styling! In most cases, you’ll just have to re-adjust your widgets.
There are tons of Real Estate based WordPress themes for you to choose from (you’ll still probably want a designer to implement your particular vision of a theme). If you plan on using one of the more popular WordPress IDX solutions, like Diverse Solutions or IDXBroker, there are actually themes that have been engineered to work instantly with the previously mentioned companies WordPress IDX plugins. With a traditional website, if they offer ‘themes,’ chances are that they’re extremely limited in what you can customize. Furthermore, to integrate IDX requires you to iframe something into your site, or have it hosted elsewhere, which just isn’t good for SEO when you could have that stuff actually indexing as part of your site.
7) Designer Friendly
If you really want to make your WordPress site look incredible, you are going to need to enlist the help of a designer. Unlike a traditional site, where you could end up paying thousands on a custom site, with WordPress, a lot of the basic framework and architecture is already there. You’re a designer has an extremely high powered toolbox to work with.
This means that their job is easier, and you end up paying less. Now don’t get me wrong, you could still pay thousands of dollars for a WordPress site, and it could be well worth it for you, but with the availability of themes, you can find something that looks good, re-skin it, and end up with a site that looks custom but at a fraction of the cost. And the best part? When it’s all said and done you’re still able to do your own site management (i.e. adding and editing pages, organizing menu’s) so that you don’t have to pay for the things that you can easily do yourself.
8) Search Engine Optimization
If you don’t have good content, you’re not going to rank well, period. That being said, if you are going to have good content, then you may as well have a site framework that is optimal to make sure that you get the maximum impact. WordPress has an extremely clean code that’s been streamlined of any excessive HTML, so Google will have no problem indexing your site. This is coupled with fantastic hierarchy (you can organize your content into categories, tag it, set parent pages etc) and permalink customization options (the URL that displays to your particular post or page). So you can make sure that your site is not only organized but promoting the right keywords.
WordPress also has some fantastic SEO plugins that guide you in creating optimized content without abusing Google’s ranking mechanisms. You can also find plugins that will let you add Google Analytics, or Google / Bing webmaster tools to your site in just a few clicks.
To reiterate, good search engine rankings requires good content, and where WordPress really shines is in how it makes it so much easier, and actually encourages you, to write good content. There’s a lot more we could say about SEO so we’re just going to cover it in Part 3 of this series of articles. Stay tuned for next weeks article, WordPress for Real Estate? Part 2: How Themes and Plugins have Changed the Game.