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14 Ways to Improve Ecommerce Product Pages for SEO

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14 Ways to Improve Ecommerce Product Pages for SEO

For e-commerce websites, optimizing product pages is one of the most critical aspects of SEO.

Optimized product pages enhance the user experience and rank better for long-tail search terms, which typically have lower competition and high commercial intent. This is vital for ecommerce because users searching for specific products are usually further down the sales funnel and more likely to purchase.

In this article, I’ll discuss several recommendations for optimizing ecommerce product pages for SEO, including improving on-page elements, making the most of rich snippets, and enhancing user engagement.

1. Start with in-depth keyword research

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Keyword research is an essential first step because the data can guide the order in which pages are optimized and how they are optimized.

There are a few ways I usually do this, depending on the size of the site:

  1. Scraping product names and gathering data
  2. Using Ahrefs’ Site Explorer
  3. Using Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer

Scraping data for large sites

A significant challenge for some product page keyword research is the sheer number of pages many ecommerce stores have. For instance, manually entering target keywords for 20,000 products and researching them would take weeks. Thus, a more efficient method is necessary.

One approach is to scrape data from product pages to create your keyword set and then use Keywords Explorer to collect keyword data in bulk.

Here is how I’d do that for AO (Appliances Online):

First, I would conduct some quick research to understand how users generally search for different types of products. To do this, I’d search for the product in Google and then:

  1. Copy the page’s URL into Site Explorer
  2. Go to the Organic Keywords report
  3. Filter for top 5 keyword rankings

For example, we can see above that most people search for this smart TV with some combomination of the brand name and SKU. But a few people include the category (“smart TV”) and other related attributes in their query too.

Armed with this information, I can try to scrape that data from the page (and all other similar pages on the site).

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Often, you can locate what you require to scrape in a specification table or similar. For AO, they have some JSON containing product data embedded in the HTML.

AO product JSON in HTMLAO product JSON in HTML

This JSON is on every product page, so I’m going to extract all of that using Screaming Frog’s custom extraction:

Screaming Frog custom extractionScreaming Frog custom extraction

I also extracted categories and sub-categories. AO has this in JSON, but you can also extract this information by scraping breadcrumbs.

Here is an example of the regex I’ve used to extract data from the JSON:

<[^>]*id="product-json"[^>]*>[^<]*"sku":s*"([^"]*)"*

Start your crawl, then head to the custom extraction tab and export. You may need trial and error to extract the data you want correctly. If you’re not a pro at regex, I recommend using ChatGPT; if you want an example prompt, here is one from my ChatGPT prompts for SEO resource.

Example ChatGPT promptExample ChatGPT prompt

I haven’t completed a full crawl of the site for this example, but after exporting, the CSV should look like this.

Exported CSV file exampleExported CSV file example

Next, I can use the TEXTJOIN formula to merge the SKU and brand name in the format I wanted like this –

=(LOWER(TEXTJOIN(" ",TRUE,B6:C6)))
An Excel screenshot with AO product dataAn Excel screenshot with AO product data

And then, copy and paste the keyword column into Keywords Explorer.

Data via Ahrefs' Keywords ExplorerData via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

We now have keyword opportunity data for these products. The TP (Traffic Potential) metric is particularly helpful. It gives us an understanding of the total traffic potential, even if the brand plus product code combination we’ve used isn’t the most-searched-for query.

This is just an example of how you could scrape useful data in bulk. The methodology will change for each site, but the process is the same.

Sometimes, you may just scrape the H1, and other times, spec tables. If you’re lucky, like in this example, there will be some JSON with all the data you need.

While I’m focusing on product pages for this guide, I’ve written another example on my blog for analyzing competitor site structure using a similar methodology. It’s well worth a read if scraping data for SEO purposes interests you.

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Using Ahrefs’ Site Explorer

If scraping information isn’t an option, you can collect data for large websites using Ahrefs’ Site Explorer. But, this method might not be as precise. It also requires having all product pages in a URL directory.

Begin by entering the domain and directory where product pages are located (for example, ‘www.example.com/product/’) into Site Explorer. Next, go to the Top pages report and filter for the country you want data for.

Location dropdown box on the Top Pages report in Ahrefs' Site ExplorerLocation dropdown box on the Top Pages report in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Then, use the ‘Top keyword’ column to identify the keyword that brings in the most traffic for the URL.

This approach is more effective for websites that already have a good ranking. However, the keyword driving the most traffic may not necessarily be the best one for the page. So you may get mixed results.

Looking up top keywords for product pages with AhrefsLooking up top keywords for product pages with Ahrefs

Sidenote.

Interesting to note with the example above, there may also be an opportunity to export from the Top Pages report, and then use the product URL structure to gather keywords by using some REGEXREPLACE and REGEXEXTRACT formulas.

Using Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer

You could also manually enter target keywords into Keywords Explorer and do specific research for a product. However, this approach will only be viable if there are fewer products to research as it’s more time-consuming.

More often than not, you’ll need to use various tactics to get the best results for stores with many different product types.

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2. Adjust product names (H1s) and titles to align with user searches

Use universal H1 and title tag templates for optimal results. These templates should incorporate product H1s and other relevant product data, such as SKUs or brand names to create the most effective format, guided by your keyword research.

Consider creating templates for each category level if you run a large store. For instance, TVs might need a different title/H1 template than cables.

You’ll need to do this if your keyword research shows that users search differently for the various products you sell.

For instance, AO uses different templates for various categories.

The <h1> for their AV (audio visual) products consistently begins with a combination of brand and product code.

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An AO product page with the first part of the product name highlightedAn AO product page with the first part of the product name highlighted

However, looking at the page with Ahrefs SEO Toolbar, they don’t follow this trend through to title tags, which they likely should do to better match user search queries:

Meta title and description of a productMeta title and description of a product

In AO’s ‘Sound’ category, they changed their H1 to be just the brand + product name rather than the product code + brand name combination shown previously.

Amazon product page exampleAmazon product page example

They likely have done this as users don’t search for product codes for this product, as shown in Keywords Explorer.

Keywords grouped by Parent Topic in Ahrefs' Keywords ExplorerKeywords grouped by Parent Topic in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Of course, in some situations, you’ll want to set a H1/title combo that best matches the user’s search query and intent for an individual product if the potential traffic return is worth the time investment.

3. Add unique, helpful content

Manufacturer descriptions serve as a useful foundation for your store. However, you are in a great position as a retailer to offer more than what the manufacturer provides.

This might include offering recommendations or comparisons to assist customers in purchasing decisions.

There are a plethora of strategies to make your product pages more beneficial. Here are some examples.

Add FAQs

FAQs are a great way to succinctly provide additional information about your product. For example, Virgin Experience Days has accordions answering key user objections before purchasing, such as the activity’s day plan, insurance, availability, and more.

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Example of an FAQ section on a Virgin Experience Days product pageExample of an FAQ section on a Virgin Experience Days product page

Add a short review

Alongside the manufacturer description, write a short opinion on what you think of the product. This works best for physical products.

Projector retailer Projectorpoint does this brilliantly by writing 4 or 5 paragraphs on important product pages and scoring them on set criteria.

Example of a product page reviewExample of a product page review

Add a Q&A

Adding a Q&A section to product pages is a great way to address customer queries, enhance content, and aid informed buying decisions.

Source questions from customers or competitors and provide clear, concise, and valuable responses. Toner Giant is a great example of a brand doing this well.

Example of customer questions and answersExample of customer questions and answers

Always provide essential information

Every industry has a key piece of information that greatly influences the customer’s buying choice. Providing this information is helpful, which is precisely the type of content Google is looking for when ranking.

This might sound simple, but many websites fail to provide this information on product pages. Here are some examples of what helpful content could be on product pages for different industries:

  1. Clothing and Footwear: Offer detailed size charts specific to the clothing item or shoe model.
  2. Electronics: Clearly list out key features like battery life or storage capacity.
  3. Furniture: Provide height, width, and depth measurements to ensure the item fits the intended space.
  4. Beauty Products: Detail the full list of ingredients to cater to those with allergies or specific preferences. As a bonus, explain why this information is in the product.
  5. Food Products: Present a detailed nutritional breakdown per serving.
  6. Books: Give a brief summary or blurb to provide readers with an insight into the content.
  7. Sports equipment: Describe the material used and its longevity, especially for items like tennis rackets or running shoes.
  8. Jewelry: Detail the type of metal or gem and provide care instructions to maintain shine and prevent damage.

Add creative, helpful content

Also, consider creative ways to emphasize the advantages and features of your product.

Bellroy does this exceptionally well by showcasing how their slim wallets compare to regular wallets. This highlights their main selling point: their wallets stay slim and small even when they’re full.

Bellroy's sliding scale on their websiteBellroy's sliding scale on their website

Adding useful content like this also turns your product pages into linkable assets, as it did for Bellroy.

Referring domain growth via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerReferring domain growth via Ahrefs' Site Explorer
Data via Ahrefs’ Site Explorer

Much of this can be credited to their excellent product and the smart way they showcase its advantages.

There are many ways in which you can replicate this success; here are some to consider, alongside examples of brands implementing similar strategies (albeit not always directly on product pages):

  • Calculators: Casper, the mattress brand, has a sleep calculator that helps users determine their sleep schedule based on wake-up times.
  • Interactive comparison features: Apple effectively uses this strategy to compare different models of their iPhones, iPads, and Macs.
  • Augmented reality experiences: IKEA uses AR through its IKEA Place app, which allows customers to virtually place furniture in their homes to see how it fits and looks.
  • Size guides and fitting tools: ASOS uses a “Fit Assistant” that recommends sizes based on a customer’s details and previous orders.
  • Environmental impact or sustainability information vs. the competition: Patagonia provides information on their environmental impact and sustainability practices.
    Example of a product sustainability breakdownExample of a product sustainability breakdown
  • Information about the production process or origin story: Everlane details the production process, from materials sourcing to manufacturing to the costs to make the product.
    Example of a product price breakdownExample of a product price breakdown
  • User-generated content like customer photos or videos: Glossier encourages users to post their own photos using their products, creating a community feel.
    Example of user-generated contentExample of user-generated content
  • 360-degree product view or virtual try-on: Warby Parker offers a virtual try-on feature for their glasses using a phone’s camera.
    Example of a virtual try-onExample of a virtual try-on
  • Engaging video demonstrations: Blendtec, known for its series of “Will it Blend?” videos, showcases their blenders’ power and durability.
  • Detailed product breakdowns, showing all the components and their functions: Dyson often breaks down its vacuum cleaners component by component in both images and video content to demonstrate their innovative technology.
  • Interactive quizzes or tools: Sephora offers quizzes like “Foundation Finder” to help customers find the perfect product match for their specific needs.
    Example of an interactive quiz on Sephora to help customers find productsExample of an interactive quiz on Sephora to help customers find products

4. Implement a semantic heading structure

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A semantic heading structure is essential for improving the accessibility and readability of your website. It helps users understand the content hierarchy and quickly find the necessary information.

This practice is also key for SEO, as search engine algorithms will understand page structure better.

To use heading tags semantically on your product pages effectively, keep these points in mind:

  • The H1 tag is your primary heading; it usually closely matches the text in the title tag. There should be only one H1 per page.
  • H2 tags are secondary headings that denote major sections within your page.
  • H3-H6 tags are used for subsections within these sections.
  • Each level should be nested within the level above it — for example, H3 tags should be nested within an H2 section, and so forth. You shouldn’t jump levels, so don’t go from a H2 to a H4.
  • Make your headings descriptive and concise.

Here’s an example of how Bellroy could do this for a product page:

  • H1: Bellroy Slim Wallet 
    • H2: Key Features 
      • H3: Ultra Slim Design
      • H3: Premium, Sustainably-Sourced Materials
      • H3: RFID Protection
    • H2: Customer Reviews 
      • H3: Review 1
      • H3: Review 2
      • H3: Review 3
    • H2: How to Care for Your Wallet 
      • H3: Cleaning Instructions
      • H3: Maintenance Tips

This structure provides a clear, logical information flow to help users and search engines understand and navigate the page.

Use top-notch photos or videos to display your product from various viewpoints. This enhances the quality of your product pages, which can improve how well they rank, but it also opens you up to receiving traffic via Google Images.

For certain types of products, like decor or fashion, many users utilize image search to discover products. Here’s an example of what an image result listing looks like for an image search of “walnut side table” – Google is showing this image in search results directly from the product page.

Product showing in Google Image searchProduct showing in Google Image search

Under the selected image result, Google also displays visually similar products.

Related products showing in Google Image searchRelated products showing in Google Image search

But how do you ensure your products perform well on image search? Here are a few pointers.

Use descriptive alt text and file names

Alt text is important for accessibility as it describes the image for visually impaired users.

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Alt text and a descriptive filename for a product image on Bellroy’s site would look something like this:

<img src="https://ahrefs.com/blog/ecommerce-product-page-seo/bellroy-slim-wallet-black.jpg" alt="Bellroy Slim Wallet in Black">

This alt text accurately describes the image, which helps both search engines and screen readers.

Use <img src>

A common issue with image SEO is using CSS to include images as background elements instead of the <img src> tag in HTML.

All images must be included in the HTML code with the <img src> tag to ensure Google can effectively index the image like this:

<img src="https://ahrefs.com/images/bellroy-slim-wallet-black.jpg">

Host images on your own domain

While not essential, hosting on your domain rather than a third-party one will simplify tracking your performance in Google Images. All you need to do is change the search type filter to “Images” in Google Search Console.

Search type filters in Google Search ConsoleSearch type filters in Google Search Console

If you’re using an image CDN, make sure the one you pick provides an option for a custom CNAME so that you can host it on a subdomain like images.yoursite.com.

Semantic HTML is a great way to improve how well search engines understand your content. While heading tags are commonly discussed for SEO purposes, several other ways to optimize product pages with semantic markup exist.

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Here are a few key examples:

  1. Definition lists (DL, DT, DD) or <table>: These can be used to structure and present specification data in a clear and organized manner. DL represents the list itself, DT represents the term or label, and DD represents the definition or value. You can optionally wrap DT and DD in a <div> for styling purposes.
  2. Unordered lists (UL) and list items (LI): Utilizing UL and LI tags can help create bullet-pointed lists to highlight features, benefits, or other relevant information about your products. You can also use it for product carousels.
  3. Other examples: There are numerous other semantic HTML elements that can be used to enhance the structure and meaning of your product pages. Some examples include using <section> to group related content, <article> to define individual product sections, or <figure> and <figcaption>.

Of the above, I favor the use of definition lists the most and always apply them for my clients. Let’s take Virgin Experience Days, one of my clients, as an example.

I was exploring methods to enlarge their SERP snippet on product pages. I noticed each page has a list of helpful product information. This includes details such as the available locations, people involved, and the product’s validity period.

Example of product information Example of product information

Before, the area used <div> tags which lacked semantic meaning. I requested a change to definition lists. As a result, the markup of that section now appears like this:

Product page with semantic markupProduct page with semantic markup

I hoped that Google would start displaying this information in search results as it comprehends the content structure better. A few weeks later, my hope became reality. This valuable product information also started to appear alongside other rich data from structured data on product SERP listings.

Example of an enhanced SERP listingExample of an enhanced SERP listing

By implementing semantic HTML in these various ways, you can provide search engines with more context and make it easier for them to understand the content and relevance of your product pages. This, in turn, can improve rankings and the information shown in your SERP listings.

7. Add unique meta descriptions

Many retailers neglect to prioritize unique meta descriptions for product page SEO due to the large number of products they carry.

To address this, they often use templates to generate meta descriptions using the product page name and any relevant product attributes.

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For example, Schuh, a shoe store, creates its product page meta descriptions this way.

A page's metadata in Ahrefs SEO ToolbarA page's metadata in Ahrefs SEO Toolbar

The main problem is that the meta descriptions are too generic. They don’t describe the product being sold or do a great job of matching intent and attracting clicks.

Thankfully, large-language models (LLMs) like GPT have made generating meta descriptions that follow best practices easy.

It’s now simple to provide some information within a prompt and then request the AI to generate the description. You can use Ahrefs’ free AI meta description generator to do this. Just describe your page, choose the writing tone, and set the number of variants you want.

Example results from Ahrefs' free AI meta description generatorExample results from Ahrefs' free AI meta description generator

8. Use structured data (and pair with Merchant Center)

Structured data enhances a product page’s SERP listing, often improving click-through rates and organic performance. It includes details like product name, price, and availability, aiding search engines in better understanding page content.

Although structured data is not a ranking factor, Google’s Gary Ilyses notes:

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It will help us understand your pages better, and indirectly, it leads to better ranks in some sense, because we can rank easier.

Pairing structured data with product feeds from the Merchant Center amplifies eligibility for enriched results and diverse search experiences, also enabling free Google Shopping listings. This dual data optimizes visibility across various Google products.

Providing structured data impacts how you’ll be displayed in various Google products, such as:

You usually find prices and reviews in the detailed results. However, adding more product details to your structured data can improve your listings and Google’s understanding of your content further. This data could cover product pros and cons, shipping, returns, and stock information.

To use structured data, JSON-LD is the recommended option. Here’s an example of some simple product schema for a Bellroy slim wallet. It includes pricing, shipping, returns, reviews, and more:

<script type="application/ld+json">
{
  "@context": "http://schema.org/",
  "@type": "Product",
  "sku": "bellroy-00001",
  "gtin14": "01234567890123",
  "name": "Bellroy Slim Wallet",
  "image": [
    "https://ahrefs.com/images/bellroy-slim-wallet-black.jpg"
  ],
  "description": "A slim, minimalist wallet made from premium, sustainably-sourced leather.",
  "brand": {
    "@type": "Brand",
    "name": "Bellroy"
  },
  "offers": {
    "@type": "Offer",
    "url": "https://www.yourwebsite.com/bellroy-slim-wallet",
    "itemCondition": "http://schema.org/NewCondition",
    "availability": "http://schema.org/InStock",
    "price": 79.00,
    "priceCurrency": "USD",
    "priceValidUntil": "2024-12-31",
    "shippingDetails": {
      "@type": "OfferShippingDetails",
      "shippingRate": {
        "@type": "MonetaryAmount",
        "value": 5.00,
        "currency": "USD"
      },
      "shippingDestination": {
        "@type": "DefinedRegion",
        "addressCountry": "US"
      },
      "deliveryTime": {
        "@type": "ShippingDeliveryTime",
        "handlingTime": {
          "@type": "QuantitativeValue",
          "minValue": 1,
          "maxValue": 2,
          "unitCode": "DAY"
        },
        "transitTime": {
          "@type": "QuantitativeValue",
          "minValue": 2,
          "maxValue": 7,
          "unitCode": "DAY"
        }
      }
    },
    "hasMerchantReturnPolicy": {
      "@type": "MerchantReturnPolicy",
      "applicableCountry": "CH",
      "returnPolicyCategory": "https://schema.org/MerchantReturnFiniteReturnWindow",
      "merchantReturnDays": 60,
      "returnMethod": "https://schema.org/ReturnByMail",
      "returnFees": "https://schema.org/FreeReturn"
    }
  },
  "review": {
    "@type": "Review",
    "reviewRating": {
      "@type": "Rating",
      "ratingValue": 4.5,
      "bestRating": 5
    },
    "author": {
      "@type": "Person",
      "name": "Jane Doe"
    }
  },
  "aggregateRating": {
    "@type": "AggregateRating",
    "ratingValue": 4.6,
    "reviewCount": 150
  }
}
</script>

9. Include customer reviews

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Customer reviews are an invaluable way to help users make a purchasing decision and can also significantly impact SEO. Here are a few key benefits of reviews for product page SEO:

  • Relevant, helpful content: User-generated content, such as reviews, provides fresh and relevant content that is helpful to users, which is exactly the type of content Google aims to reward.
  • Improved CTR: Product pages with positive reviews tend to have higher click-through rates (CTR) than those without (if you add the structured data mentioned above).
  • Increasing Conversion Rates (CVR): Various studies have found significant benefits to CVR. One study by the Spiegel Research Center found that displaying reviews can increase CVR by up to 270%. A similar study by Bazaarvoice found that products with 25 reviews receive 108% more traffic than those without reviews.
  • Building trust and transparency: Reviews show that you value user opinions and are transparent about the quality and performance of your products. This transparency can increase customer loyalty and repeat purchases, which can indirectly impact SEO.

So it’s clear collecting reviews is something you should be doing; here are some additional tips you need to consider to ensure they positively impact SEO.

Use pagination with <a href> links for product pages

A common SEO misstep on product pages is insufficient indexing of review content, often as they aren’t crawlable.

This often happens as sites load reviews using AJAX and don’t include crawlable pagination, restricting search engines’ ability to crawl and index review content, which can help them understand relevancy.

Here are two key considerations to ensure that search engines can index your customer reviews.

Utilize <a href> links

You should use standard <a href> links when creating pagination for your reviews. This ensures search engines can easily discover and crawl each component page. Here’s an example of how you might implement this in HTML:

<nav>
  <ul class="pagination">
    <li><a href="https://ahrefs.com/product-page">1</a></li>
    <li><a href="http://ahrefs.com/product-page?page=2">2</a></li>
    <li><a href="http://ahrefs.com/product-page?page=3">3</a></li>
    <li><a href="http://ahrefs.com/product-page?page=4">4</a></li>
    <li><a href="http://ahrefs.com/product-page?page=5">5</a></li>
    <!-- etc. -->
  </ul>
</nav>

Incorporate self-referencing canonicals on each paginated page

Self-referencing canonicals inform search engines that each paginated page should be treated separately. This can help prevent issues with duplicate content.

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Here’s how you might add a self-referencing canonical to each paginated page:

<!-- On /product-page?page=2 -->
<link rel="canonical" href="https://example.com/product-page?page=2" />

<!-- On /product-page/reviews?page=3 -->
<link rel="canonical" href="https://example.com/product-page?page=3" />

<!-- etc. →

Internal linking is a critical part of improving the SEO of your product pages. Adding strategic internal links to different products and categories helps search engines better understand your site structure and helps PageRank flow throughout the site.

One great element of product page internal linking is that it can be largely automated. Here’s an overview of the common types of internal linking you’ll see on product pages and how they’re often implemented.

Complementary products

Often, you’ll see complementary products to the one being purchased. For fashion retailers like Reiss, when viewing a blazer product, a complementary product would be recommending shirts and trousers.

Example of complimentary productsExample of complimentary products

This is usually manually selected by a site merchandiser or is rule-based. For example, if the product is a blazer, rules would be configured to show products from categories like “shirts,” “trousers,” and “pocket squares.”

Related products

Alongside complementary products, you’ll often also see directly related products to the one viewed.

Example of recommended productsExample of recommended products

These would often be automated by displaying products belonging to the same category and sometimes ones with common attributes to the one being viewed.

Frequently bought together

This is another common way related products are displayed on product pages.

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Amazon is known for this feature; when viewing a product, you’ll often see a “Frequently Bought Together” section that shows you common products that others typically buy with the one you’re viewing.

Example of frequently bought together itemsExample of frequently bought together items

This is automated based on customer purchasing data. If customers often buy a camera, a tripod, and a camera bag, these items would display.

Links to all parent categories

In some instances, product pages will feature links that lead back to all parent categories to which the product belongs.

This allows users to navigate back and explore other items within those categories easily. It also benefits SEO by getting PageRank to flow back to important categories on the site.

This is usually implemented by simply listing the categories to which the current product has been added.

Example of linking to all parent categories on a product pageExample of linking to all parent categories on a product page

Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs enhance navigation by showing users their location within a site’s hierarchy. Starting from the home page, they chart the path through categories and subcategories to the product.

Example of breadcrumbs on the Sephora websiteExample of breadcrumbs on the Sephora website

Breadcrumbs should remain static, even if a product falls into multiple categories. Static breadcrumbs ensure a consistent user experience and display the most relevant parent category path, helping users better understand site navigation.

Link to important products globally

If you have particularly important products, either for the site’s revenue or for organic traffic potential, consider linking to these products globally in the header or footer.

Here’s an example of that on Fanatical, a PC gaming site.

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Example of of top selling games on the Fanatical websiteExample of of top selling games on the Fanatical website

By doing this, you’ll significantly increase the amount of PageRank flowing to them, helping their rankings and improving the user experience by prominently displaying key products.

Link to related categories from specification tables

Here’s another internal linking tip. Some websites link product details to related categories on their site.

Here’s another Fanatical example. They provide game details such as the publisher, genre, themes, and features of each game on their product pages. All these details connect to related categories on their site.

Example of game details on the Fanatical websiteExample of game details on the Fanatical website

They’ve inserted internal links in these detail tables, helping ranking signals flow to categories.

This practice can also apply to other sectors. For instance, a skincare retailer might link product ingredients to category pages targeting searches for products containing that ingredient.

11. Manage variants correctly

Managing product variants correctly is crucial for the SEO of a product page. Variants are minor changes in a product. For example, a car may have different colors or engine sizes. You need to have the right strategy for your variants because:

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  • It impacts whether you’ll show in Google Shopping.
  • Variants are usually near-duplicates. If ranking signals aren’t consolidated across multiple variants, they are diluted between them rather than consolidated into one stronger product page.

Think about using URL parameters or path segments if you want to internally link to specific product variants. This gives each variant a unique URL like “/t-shirt/green” or “/t-shirt?color=green”. It can make your site structure clearer for users and search engines.

But don’t forget to use canonical tags in this case. Choose one product variant URL as the canonical URL for the product. If you use optional query parameters for variants, pick the URL without any parameters as the canonical one.

For example, if you sell T-shirts in different colors and used URLs like the below:

  • /t-shirt?color=green
  • /t-shirt?color=blue
  • /t-shirt?color=red

You would make “/t-shirt” the canonical URL for all T-shirt variants. This helps Google understand how different product variants relate to each other.

<!-- Canonical URL for all variants: -->
<link rel="canonical" href="https://www.example.com/t-shirt" />

However, it’s worth considering whether you really need different URLs for each product variant. If:

  • Users aren’t searching for variants based on your keyword research.
  • There’s no advantage to having separate listings on Google Shopping.
  • You don’t want to list variants on category pages.

Then you might prefer to use just one product page URL and manage variant client-side using AJAX. This way, all variants are shown on one page, and customers can select their preferred variant on one URL.

XML sitemaps help enhance the crawling and indexing of your content. This is particularly useful for big e-commerce stores.

XML sitemaps aren’t a new concept, but I do suggest using the <lastmod> attribute in your XML sitemaps if you offer many products. Here’s an example of what that looks like:

<url>
   <loc>https://www.yourwebsite.com/blue-widget</loc>
   <lastmod>2023-09-25</lastmod>
</url>

Note that I’m not recommending including <changefreq> or <priority>. Google or Bing uses neither of these, so they’re safe to remove.

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When you add <lastmod>, Google more efficiently detects changes to your products. This approach saves crawl budget, especially for sites that have many changes. Sites can use this attribute to let Google know about content updates.

13. Have a discontinued + out of stock strategy

In ecommerce, managing discontinued and out-of-stock products is not just about inventory management. It’s a crucial aspect of user experience and search engine optimization.

Addressing these products correctly can determine whether a potential customer stays on your website or bounces off.

Understand the value of discontinued pages

Beyond inventory considerations, recognize that these pages, especially ones with high traffic or inbound links, can carry significant SEO weight. Pages with value should always be redirected to a relevant product or category.

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Handle temporarily out-of-stock products

  • Keep the product page live if a restock is anticipated.
  • Label the product as “out of stock,” providing clarity and preventing user frustration.
  • Offer notifications for restocks, ensuring return visits.
  • Suggest alternative products, catering to the user’s purchase intent.

Manage permanently discontinued products

  • Retain the page if it has a high search demand, but ensure users are presented with alternatives or clear communication about the product status.
  • If there is low demand, redirect users to a related product that is a new version of the old product. If that isn’t possible, consider redirecting to a category with a notice explaining the discontinuation and offering alternatives.
  • Consider re-using the URL without redirecting if the product is the same but a small change to a previous product.
  • Use HTTP Status 410 for products not returning and without significant SEO or user value. It informs search engines to deindex the page.

Remember to tidy up site navigation:

  • Regularly audit and remove internal links to old products.
  • Update XML sitemaps and on-site search functionalities.

By implementing this strategy, you maintain SEO value and ensure a seamless and informative experience for your users, enhancing brand trust and loyalty.

14. Be selective with linking & indexing

Not every product page warrants equal attention from search engines. This is especially true for industries with intricate product variants, where sheer volume could dilute the overall impact of your site’s SEO efforts.

Take, for instance, a diamond retailer. A single diamond can have countless variants based on cut, clarity, carat, color, and other distinguishing features. When you multiply these variations across numerous diamonds, you end up with a staggering number of individual product pages.

Here’s why this is an SEO issue:

  1. Content quality: If you have 100,000s of product variants for items like a diamond, it’s very likely the content between each variant will be very similar.
  2. Indexing overload: Search engines probably won’t index thousands of product pages that have only slight differences. There’s usually no search interest in these minor variations. This could hurt your site’s SEO, particularly if the pages are not of high quality. Moreover, this situation will likely lead to diluted ranking signals between all these pages.
  3. User experience: For industries with extensive variations like diamonds, users often prefer browsing categories or filters to narrow down their choices. They also don’t tend to search for specific diamond variants. They’ll search more broadly for shapes or sizes.

The way forward:

  • Emphasize categories: Instead of focusing on individual product pages, prioritize categories like “Princess Cut Diamonds” or “1-Carat Diamonds.” These category pages can then be optimized for relevant search queries, driving traffic more effectively.
  • Use noindex strategically: Implement the noindex directive for product pages that don’t need to be discovered by search engines. This ensures that search engines focus on your category pages that users actually search for.
  • Don’t use <a href> links to products: Instead, use JS to load them. This method helps avoid too much crawling of pages marked with noindex, wasting crawling resources. You might consider using robots.txt. However, based on my experience, if you continue using <a href> links, Google might index your product pages. It sees the links and assumes they’re significant while not being able to see the noindex because you’ve blocked page crawling.

This method is effective for certain types of sites in particular situations. You need to apply it thoughtfully. Also, a well-organized category page structure is necessary to make the most of it.

Final thoughts

Navigating the intricacies of product page SEO can be daunting, but with the insights from this guide, the journey becomes more manageable.

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Remember, it’s not just thinking of ranking signals, but providing value to your audience. As you optimize, keep your end-user at the forefront, and success will follow.

Have a question about optimizing product pages? Find me on X.



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25 WordPress Alternatives Best For SEO

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25 Best SEO-Friendly Alternatives to WordPress Websites

WordPress powers hundreds of millions of websites, but it is not the only content management system (CMS) option.

There’s a diverse marketplace of publishing platforms for those seeking alternatives. This review provides an overview of 25 leading alternatives to WordPress across key website categories.

We explore user-friendly website builders like Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly, which offer drag-and-drop simplicity. We look at flexible open-source options for developers and tech-savvy users, including Joomla, Drupal, and Hugo.

Ecommerce merchants can choose between hosted platforms like Shopify or open-source solutions like Magento. We also cover blogging-focused options like Ghost and Tumblr, web hosting providers like Bluehost, and community management tools like vBulletin.

For each alternative, we summarize the key features, benefits, and drawbacks to consider. Factors like budget, technical abilities, and website goals are examined to help identify the best fit based on individual needs.

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While WordPress powers a large share of sites, there’s no shortage of quality options for creating the perfect online presence for those seeking alternatives.

Why Consider A WordPress Alternative?

There are several reasons why someone might consider a WordPress alternative for their website:

  • Specific needs: While WordPress is versatile, some websites may have particular requirements for which other platforms are better suited.
  • Ease of use: Some users may find WordPress challenging, especially if they lack technical skills.
  • Maintenance and security: As an open-source platform, WordPress requires users to handle updates, backups, and security measures themselves.
  • Built-in features: Some alternatives come with built-in features that WordPress requires plugins for.
  • Customization: While WordPress offers many customization options, some users may prefer platforms that allow more granular control over the website’s appearance and functionality.
  • Simplicity: Other publishing platforms might be a better fit for users who want a simple platform to publish content without dealing with the complexities of managing a website.

How To Choose An Alternative To WordPress

Choosing the right WordPress alternative depends on your specific needs and goals. To help you make an informed decision, consider the following factors:

  • Purpose of your website: Determine its primary purpose. Is it a blog, an online store, a portfolio, or a complex business website?
  • Budget: Consider your budget for building and maintaining your website. Some alternatives are free, while others require a subscription or a one-time payment.
  • Technical skills: Assess your technical skills and those of your team. Some alternatives are designed for users with little coding experience, while others may require more technical knowledge.
  • Customization and flexibility: Evaluate how much control you want over your website’s appearance and functionality.
  • Scalability: Consider your website’s potential for growth. If you anticipate a significant increase in traffic or content, choose a platform that can scale with your needs.
  • Support and community: Look into the level of support and the size of the community surrounding each alternative.
  • Hosting: Decide whether you prefer a self-hosted solution or a hosted platform.
  • Features: List the features your website requires. Ensure that your alternative offers these features natively or through extensions.

Once you’ve considered these factors, research various WordPress alternatives and compare them based on your requirements.

Read reviews, explore user communities, and, if possible, test out the platforms through free trials or demos.

This will help you better understand how each alternative works and whether it aligns with your needs and expectations.

25 Best WordPress Alternatives

1. Wix

Screenshot from: Wix.com, March 2024.

Wix is best suited for individuals, small businesses, and entrepreneurs who want to create a professional-looking website without extensive technical skills or a large budget.

The platform’s user-friendly drag-and-drop interface makes it easy for users to design and customize their websites, offering various templates and design elements suitable for multiple purposes.

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As a hosted platform, Wix takes care of technical aspects like server maintenance and security updates, making it ideal for those who don’t want to deal with these issues.

Wix also offers a free plan, allowing users to create a website without cost, although with limitations such as Wix branding and a non-custom domain.

One nuance to remember when using Wix is that once you’ve chosen a template and started building your site, it can be challenging to switch to a different template without redesigning your content.

Key Features:

  • Full hosting solution.
  • No software to self-install.
  • Drag-and-drop visual builder.
  • Extensions are available.
  • Optimized for mobile.
  • Blog module.
  • Ecommerce store.
  • Social media tools.

Pros:

  • All-in-one website builder and platform.
  • Free version available.
  • Premade designs and templates.
  • Free subdomain available for all plans.
  • Free custom domain available with paid plans.
  • Customer support.

Cons:

  • There is no option to retain complete control of your site as you can with WordPress.
  • No access to source code.

2. Squarespace

1713545870 853 25 Wordpress Alternatives Best For SEOScreenshot from: squarespace.com, March 2024.

Squarespace is best suited for creatives, bloggers, and small business owners who want to create visually stunning websites with minimal technical knowledge.

The platform is known for its sleek, modern templates, which showcase content beautifully and are optimized for mobile devices.

As an all-in-one platform, Squarespace includes hosting, domain registration, and various tools for managing your website.

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While Squarespace offers a high degree of customization, it may not be as flexible as some alternatives. The platform has a specific structure and set of features, which can be limiting for those who require advanced functionality or integrations.

Nonetheless, for most users, Squarespace’s built-in features and integrations are more than sufficient.

One tip for getting the most out of Squarespace is to use its built-in SEO and marketing tools, such as custom meta descriptions, alt tags, and automatic sitemaps.

Key Features:

  • Complete hosting solution (including video).
  • No software to self-install.
  • Drag-and-drop visual builder.
  • Extensions are available.
  • Optimized for mobile.
  • Blog module.
  • Ecommerce store.
  • Social media tools.

Pros:

  • All-in-one website builder and platform.
  • Free version available.
  • Premade designs and templates.
  • Free subdomain available for all plans.
  • Free custom domain available with an annual subscription.
  • Customer support.

Cons:

  • There is no option to retain complete control of your site as you can with WordPress.
  • No custom coding.
  • No access to source code.
  • No third-party extensions.

3. Weebly

weebly website homepageScreenshot from: weebly.com, March 2024.

Weebly is best suited for individuals, small businesses, and entrepreneurs who want to create a simple, functional website without investing much time or money.

The platform’s drag-and-drop interface and intuitive editor make it beginner-friendly and easy to use, even for those without website-building experience.

However, it may not be as powerful or flexible as other alternatives, with a limited set of features and integrations that can be restrictive for those requiring advanced functionality or custom solutions.

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One tip for getting the most out of Weebly is to explore its app center, which offers a range of third-party apps and integrations to extend your website’s functionality, including tools for marketing, social media, and ecommerce.

Key Features:

  • Full hosting solution.
  • No software to self-install.
  • Drag-and-drop visual builder.
  • Extensions are available.
  • Optimized for mobile.
  • Blog module.
  • Ecommerce store.
  • Social media tools.

Pros:

  • All-in-one website builder and platform.
  • Free version available.
  • Premade designs and templates.
  • Free subdomain available.
  • Inexpensive premium plans are as low as $6.00 per month.
  • Free custom domain available with premium plans.
  • Customer support.

Cons:

  • No option to retain complete control of your site as you can with WordPress.
  • No access to source code.
  • The free version restricts you to a maximum of five pages.

4. Google Sites

google sites website homepageScreenshot from: workspace.google.com/intl/en_ph/lp/sites/, March 2024.

Google Sites is best suited for individuals, educators, and small businesses who need a simple, easy-to-use platform for creating basic websites or intranets. Its seamless integration with other Google tools, like Google Docs, Sheets, and Drive, makes it an excellent choice for those familiar with and heavily using these tools.

Google Sites also offers collaboration features, allowing multiple users to work on the same website simultaneously, making it ideal for team projects or class websites.

However, it’s a relatively basic website builder compared to other alternatives, with limited features and customization options. It may not be the best choice for those needing advanced functionality or design flexibility.

Additionally, it lacks built-in ecommerce features, making it less suitable for online stores.

One tip for getting the most out of Google Sites is leveraging its integration with other Google tools, such as embedding Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides into your web pages or using Google Forms to collect visitor data.

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Key Features:

  • The creator has complete control over page access and permissions.
  • Tools can be accessed anywhere.
  • It can be used as a basic project management program.
  • Plenty of web development and deployment options.
  • Real-time editing.
  • Uses website speed optimization tools to minimize loading times.

Pros:

  • Fast to get started and easy to use.
  • Free to use.
  • Integrated with other Google products.

Cons:

  • Limited functionality compared to other website builders.
  • It may not work with non-Google apps.
  • Limited customization options.
  • No SEO tools, and you can’t edit metadata.
  • It cannot integrate Facebook pixels.

5. Jekyll

jekyll website homepageScreenshot from: jekyllrb.com, March 2024.

Jekyll is best suited for developers, bloggers, and tech-savvy individuals who prefer a lightweight, flexible website creation platform. It’s particularly popular among the GitHub community, as it can be easily integrated with GitHub Pages for free hosting.

Jekyll requires specific technical knowledge, as users must be comfortable working with the command line and writing code. While Jekyll offers plugins and themes to extend its functionality, users may need to rely on their coding skills to customize their website fully.

One tip for getting the most out of Jekyll is to utilize its built-in blogging features, which offer a simple, intuitive way to create and manage blog posts using Markdown.

Another nuance to remember is that Jekyll generates static pages that may not be the best choice for websites requiring frequent updates or complex functionality.

Key Features:

  • No programming is involved.
  • SEO is built-in.
  • GitHub manages redirects.
  • Easy setup of custom domains.

Pros:

  • No server maintenance.
  • Very fast.
  • Secure.
  • Free hosting.
  • Free SSL certificate.
  • Works with GitHub as CMS.

Cons:

  • It can’t create contact forms.
  • No dynamic content options.
  • Posts cannot be scheduled.
  • Does not include image manipulation functionality.

6. Hugo

hugo website homepageScreenshot from: gohugo.io, March 2024.

Hugo is best suited for developers, bloggers, and content creators who value speed, flexibility, and simplicity. Its lightning-fast build times and static page generation make it ideal for those who frequently update their site or publish new content regularly.

While Hugo offers themes and templates to help users get started, creating a unique design may require coding skills.

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One tip for getting the most out of Hugo is to leverage its built-in shortcodes, which allow users to easily add complex functionality to their web pages without writing extensive code.

Another nuance to remember is that, as a static site generator, Hugo may not be the best choice for websites that require dynamic features like user authentication or real-time data updates.

Key Features:

  • Can build most websites in seconds.
  • Cross-platform with easy installation.
  • Allows you to host your site anywhere.
  • Customizable URLs.
  • “Minutes to Read” and “WordCount” functionality.
  • Integrated Google Analytics and Disqus comment support.

Pros:

  • It easily integrates with Google Calendar and other apps.
  • Easy to use with responsive customer service.
  • Multilingual capabilities are built-in.
  • Extendable as needed.

Cons:

  • It can’t create one-off tasks.
  • It can be confusing upon initial use, particularly in templating syntax.
  • No plugins are available.
  • Limited text formatting features.

7. Webflow

webflow website homepageScreenshot from: webflow.com, March 2024.

Webflow is best suited for freelance designers and small agencies who want complete control over their website’s design without worrying about hosting, security, or performance.

One nuance of Webflow is that extending a site’s functionality is not as straightforward as installing a plugin like WordPress.

Users must either set up integrations between their Webflow site and other platforms using third-party tools like Zapier, or they can embed custom code blocks on pages to add features.

A key aspect to note about Webflow is its pricing structure. Building a site is completely free, and users only need to purchase a site plan and custom domain when they are ready to launch.

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This makes it an attractive option for freelancers and small teams who want to design and prototype sites without upfront costs, paying only when they are ready to go live.

Key Features:

  • More than 100 templates to choose from.
  • Design is prioritized, with animation, interaction, and parallax scrolling options.
  • Offers automatically generated sitemaps and customizable 301 redirects.
  • Multiple payment options for ecommerce sites and automatic tax calculation.

Pros:

  • Affordable plans range from free to $235 for top-tier ecommerce plans.
  • Free starter plan.
  • Numerous learning and help resources.
  • Good range of templates.
  • Good security.

Cons:

  • Steep learning curve.
  • Integration with social media can be frustrating.
  • Advanced capabilities aren’t built-in and require integration.

8. Joomla

joomla website homepageScreenshot from: joomla.org, March 2024.

Joomla is best suited for creating social networking, community, and membership sites. With its built-in multilingual support and advanced user and content management options, Joomla enables site owners to manage hundreds of users, create custom post types, and publish content in multiple languages.

One nuance of Joomla is that it has a steeper learning curve compared to more beginner-friendly CMSs like WordPress.

While Joomla aims to combine the power and flexibility of Drupal with the user-friendliness of WordPress, users with some web development experience will be better equipped to understand and take full advantage of Joomla’s built-in features and settings.

Users can choose from over 6,000 extensions available in the official directory to extend a Joomla site’s functionality. However, unlike WordPress plugins that can be installed with just a few clicks, Joomla extensions must be installed via the backend.

This process requires more technical know-how and may be challenging for beginners.

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Key Features:

  • Almost 6,000 extensions are available.
  • Traditional content editing (no drag-and-drop visual editor).
  • Optimized for mobile (depending on the template).
  • Blog module.
  • Ecommerce store.
  • Social media tools.

Pros:

  • Free, open-source software.
  • Premade designs and templates.
  • Access to source code.

Cons:

  • No free subdomains or custom domains are available.
  • No customer support.
  • Requires a PHP-enable server to run.
  • Fewer templates and extensions than WordPress.

9. Drupal

drupal website homepageScreenshot from: drupal.org, March 2024.

Drupal is best suited for large corporations, government agencies, and universities with dedicated teams of developers. With its extensive customization options and ability to handle large data and heavy traffic, Drupal is ideal for complex, high-performance websites.

One key nuance of Drupal is its steep learning curve. Drupal is designed for developers or users with a strong understanding of HTML, CSS, and PHP.

Customizing a Drupal site involves working with numerous modules and themes, which can be highly configurable but require technical expertise to set up and maintain.

For organizations with the necessary technical resources, Drupal’s flexibility and robustness make it a top choice for building highly secure and customized websites.

Key Features:

  • Content management system (CMS).
  • Over 47,000 modules are available.
  • Traditional content editing (no drag-and-drop visual editor).
  • Optimized for mobile (depending on the theme you choose).
  • Blog module.
  • Ecommerce store.
  • Social media tools.

Pros:

  • Free, open-source software.
  • Premade designs and templates.
  • Access to source code.
  • Strong security and data encryption.

Cons:

  • No free subdomains.
  • No customer support.
  • Requires a PHP-enabled server to run.

10. DataLife Engine

datalifengine website homepageScreenshot from: dle-news.com, March 2024.

DataLife Engine (DLE) is best suited for media companies, news websites, and blogs, prioritizing SEO, security, and performance. The platform’s focus on handling high traffic levels with minimal server load makes it an attractive choice for websites that expect significant visitors and must ensure a smooth user experience.

DLE’s user-friendly interface and content management features suit organizations with multiple users involved in creating and publishing well-suited content.

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The platform’s ability to track statistics and automatically filter words in comments can benefit media websites and blogs that need to moderate user-generated content and analyze audience engagement.

However, there are some nuances to consider when using DLE. The limited number of plugins and themes may restrict how much websites can customize their appearance and functionality compared to other CMSs like WordPress.

It’s also important to note that while DLE supports English users, they are considered a secondary focus.

Key Features:

  • Content management system (CMS).
  • Designed for multiple users.
  • SEO-focused.
  • Tracks statistics.
  • Automatically filters words in comments.
  • It supports an unlimited number of categories.
  • Low server load.
  • Allows plugins.

Pros:

  • Stores data using MySQL.
  • Excellent user experience
  • Websites load quickly, even on low-end servers.
  • Excellent for publishing news and blog posts.

Cons:

  • No free version licenses vary from $79 for basic to $199 for unlimited.
  • English users are a secondary focus.
  • A limited number of plugins and themes.
  • The lowest license doesn’t include customer support.

11. Sitefinity

sitefinity website homepageScreenshot from: progress.com/sitefinity-cms/, March 2024.

Progress’ Sitefinity is best suited for organizations that manage multiple websites, brands, or marketing channels from a single platform.

The CMS’s ability to sync assets across pages and sites makes it an attractive choice for companies with a diverse online presence. It streamlines content management and ensures consistency across various touchpoints.

One notable advantage of Sitefinity is its low-cost license compared to other CMS options, which may make it an attractive choice for budget-conscious organizations.

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Additionally, the minimal coding required for integration and the flexible deployment time can help businesses reduce development costs and bring their websites to market faster.

However, Sitefinity setup and administration can be challenging. Organizations may need to invest time and resources into training their teams or hiring experienced professionals to ensure a smooth implementation and ongoing management of the platform.

Key Features:

  • Manage multiple sites from one location.
  • Sync assets across pages and sites.
  • It makes personalization simpler.
  • Integrated analytics and optimization.
  • Four versions include basic, marketing-focused, PaaS, and ecommerce.
  • Multilingual capabilities.

Pros:

  • Low-cost license compared to other CMS.
  • No setup fee.
  • Minimal coding is required for integration.
  • Flexible deployment time shortens time to market.
  • Options for marketing automation.

Cons:

  • Free trial, but no free version.
  • Setup and administration can be challenging.
  • No mobile interface.

12. CMS Hub

CMS hub website homepageScreenshot from: hubspot.com/products/cms, March 2024.

CMS Hub, previously known as Hubspot CMS, is best suited for businesses that already use HubSpot’s marketing, sales, or service tools and want to integrate their website with their existing HubSpot ecosystem.

It combines the ease of use of a drag-and-drop website builder with the flexibility and performance of a CMS.

CMS Hub seamlessly integrates with HubSpot’s CRM platform, allowing businesses to create personalized content experiences, optimize marketing efforts, and streamline sales processes.

It also focuses on security and performance, with HubSpot handling website hosting, SSL certification, and CDN configuration.

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However, while CMS Hub offers customization options, it may not be as flexible as other CMSs like WordPress or Drupal, potentially limiting businesses with particular design or functionality requirements.

Additionally, CMS Hub’s pricing model can be expensive compared to other CMS options, so companies must carefully consider their budget and weigh the benefits of its all-in-one approach.

Key Features:

  • Cloud-based.
  • Includes SEO recommendations.
  • Includes numerous themes and responsive templates.
  • Fully integrated CRM.
  • Drag-and-drop webpage editor.
  • Built-in security.

Pros:

  • Adaptive A/B testing helps you identify the best page layout.
  • All-in-one publishing tools.
  • Built-in SEO tools.
  • Supports smart content with personalized rules.
  • Mobile pages supported with Google AMP.

Cons:

  • Does not support ecommerce.
  • No automatic backup and recovery.

13. Contentful

1713545870 70 25 Wordpress Alternatives Best For SEOScreenshot from: contentful.com, March 2024.

Contentful is a headless CMS best suited for businesses and developers requiring a flexible, scalable, and customizable content management solution.

It’s particularly well-suited for organizations delivering content across multiple channels, such as websites, mobile apps, and IoT devices.

One of Contentful’s key advantages is its content modeling capabilities. The platform allows users to create custom content models that can be easily adapted to their needs.

When using Contentful, it’s important to remember that it’s a headless CMS that focuses on content management and delivery rather than providing a built-in front end or presentation layer.

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Developers must build a front end using their preferred tools and frameworks and then integrate with Contentful’s API to retrieve and display the content.

Another aspect to consider is the learning curve associated with Contentful. While the platform is designed to be user-friendly, it may take some time for content editors and managers to become familiar with its interface and content modeling concepts.

Features:

  • RESTful API gives you complete control over assets, translations, and versions.
  • Customizable interface and framework that works across third-party component providers.
  • It provides regional autonomy, so pieces in multiple languages and time zones can be published globally.
  • Content modeling allows you to structure content by channel.
  • Single sign-on and secure access.

Pros:

  • Focus on integration simplifies the technology stack.
  • User-friendly with a clean interface.
  • Free version for up to five users.
  • Good scalability.

Cons:

  • Expensive for an upgraded version ($489/month).
  • Poor internal search tools.
  • Modeling content can be tricky.

14. Adobe Experience Manager

adobe experience manager homepageScreenshot from: business.adobe.com/products/experience-manager/adobe-experience-manager.html, March 2024

Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) is an enterprise-level CMS best suited for large organizations with complex content management needs and a significant budget. AEM’s target audience includes global brands, financial institutions, healthcare providers, and government agencies.

One of AEM’s key strengths is its tight integration with other Adobe products, such as Analytics, Target, and Creative Cloud.

This integration allows organizations to leverage the full power of Adobe’s digital marketing suite, enabling them to create, manage, and optimize content and experiences across the entire customer journey.

AEM also offers advanced features like intelligent content delivery, AI-powered content tagging, and multi-site management, making it a comprehensive solution for enterprise content management.

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The platform’s complexity and extensive feature set can overwhelm smaller organizations or teams with limited resources. Additionally, AEM’s licensing and implementation costs are among the highest in the market, making it a significant investment for any organization.

Key Features:

  • Comprehensive marketing platform.
  • End-to-end digital document solution.
  • Enterprise-level security.
  • Analytics included.
  • Intelligent search.
  • Scalable to your needs.

Pros:

  • Streamlines workflows by keeping everything on one platform.
  • Individual marketers can handle authoring and publishing.
  • Easy authorization of workflow.
  • Can handle massive content loads.
  • Can manage multiple sites at once.

Cons:

  • Steep learning curve.
  • Requires different sign-ins to access other areas.
  • Doesn’t integrate well with external DAMs.
  • Not ideal for communities and forums.

Ecommerce Platforms

15. BigCommerce

big commerce website homepageScreenshot from: bigcommerce.com, March 2024.

BigCommerce is a hosted ecommerce platform best suited for businesses of all sizes looking to create and manage an online store. It caters to many users, from small and medium-sized businesses to large enterprises.

One of BigCommerce’s key advantages is its scalability. The platform accommodates businesses as they grow, offering features like unlimited products, file storage, and bandwidth.

BigCommerce also provides a range of advanced ecommerce functionalities, such as multi-channel selling, abandoned cart recovery, and built-in SEO tools, which can help businesses optimize their online sales performance.

When considering BigCommerce, it’s important to remember that while the platform offers a wide range of features, some of the more advanced functionalities may require a higher-tier plan or additional costs.

BigCommerce also enforces certain design limitations on its themes, which may restrict the level of customization available without diving into custom coding.

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Key Features:

  • Full hosting solution.
  • No software to self-install.
  • Drag-and-drop visual builder.
  • Extensions are available.
  • Optimized for mobile.
  • Blog module.
  • Ecommerce store.
  • Social media tools.

Pros:

  • High level of customization options.
  • Over 100 themes to choose from (including some free).
  • No platform commission fees.
  • Free subdomain available.
  • Customer support.

Cons:

  • No free version is available.
  • No access to source code.
  • Pricing is based on revenue, which isn’t great if you have tight margins.

16. Shopify

shopify website homepageScreenshot from: shopify.com, March 2024.

Shopify is an ecommerce platform well-suited for entrepreneurs and small business owners who want to establish an online presence quickly without extensive technical expertise.

Shopify’s extensive app marketplace allows businesses to extend its functionality and customize their online store to meet specific needs.

The platform also provides built-in features like inventory management, payment processing, and abandoned cart recovery to help streamline operations and optimize sales performance.

When using Shopify, consider the platform’s transaction fees, which vary depending on the payment gateway. Some advanced design changes may require HTML, CSS, and Liquid knowledge.

Despite these considerations, Shopify remains a top choice for businesses seeking a reliable, scalable, and feature-rich ecommerce platform.

Key Features:

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  • Full hosting solution.
  • No software to self-install.
  • Drag-and-drop visual builder.
  • Extensions are available.
  • Optimized for mobile.
  • Blog module.
  • Ecommerce store.
  • Social media tools.

Pros:

  • All-in-one website builder and platform.
  • Premade designs and templates.
  • Free subdomain available.
  • Customer support.

Cons:

  • No free version is available.
  • No access to source code.
  • Platform commission fees.

17. Magento

megento website homepageScreenshot from: business.adobe.com/products/magento/magento-commerce.html, March 2024

Magento is an open-source ecommerce platform best suited for medium to large enterprises with complex online selling needs.

Magento’s flexibility and scalability come with a steeper learning curve than other ecommerce platforms. It requires more technical expertise to set up, customize, and maintain, making it less suitable for small businesses or users without web development knowledge.

When using Magento, remember that its powerful features and customization options can impact website performance if not optimized properly.

Choosing a reliable hosting provider and working with experienced Magento developers is crucial for ensuring optimal store performance and security.

Key Features:

  • Option to pay for Magento Commerce for a complete hosting platform or download the free, open-source software to install on your web server.
  • Drag-and-drop visual builder.
  • Extensions are available.
  • Optimized for mobile.
  • Ecommerce store.
  • Social media tools.

Pros:

  • All-in-one ecommerce platform or open-source ecommerce software package.
  • Free version available.
  • Designed for large-scale ecommerce.
  • Premade designs and templates.
  • Free subdomain available (mainly for setup and testing purposes).
  • Customer support (paid version only).
  • Access to source code with the downloadable version.

Cons:

  • No blog module, although you can add it as an extension.
  • Not optimized for web projects or website purposes outside of ecommerce.
  • The steep learning curve for inexperienced users.
  • A large investment for small-scale ecommerce.

18. PrestaShop

prestashop website homepageScreenshot from: prestashop.com, March 2024.

PrestaShop is an open-source ecommerce platform best suited for small to medium-sized businesses looking for a cost-effective and customizable solution.

PrestaShop offers a wide range of themes and modules, allowing businesses to customize their online store’s appearance and functionality. The platform also has a strong community of developers and users, providing support and resources for store owners.

While PrestaShop is generally easy to use, some advanced customizations may require coding knowledge. Additionally, the number of installed modules can impact the platform’s performance.

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Key Features:

  • Customizable to your needs, including themes and features.
  • Includes backend tools like payments, shipping and data.
  • Community of translators for multilanguage digital stores.
  • Secure payment modules.
  • Scalable.
  • Includes demographic assistance.

Pros:

  • Free version available.
  • Open source so that you can customize your site to your needs.
  • 5,000+ themes, modules, and services are available with the premium plan.
  • Excellent user experience.

Cons:

  • Limited scalability.
  • No support team.
  • Initial setup requires some programming knowledge.

19. OpenCart

opencart website homepageScreenshot from: opencart.com, March 2024.

OpenCart is a free, open-source ecommerce platform best suited for small—to medium-sized businesses with limited budgets.

OpenCart offers a decent range of features and extensions, allowing businesses to customize their online store. However, its marketplace is smaller than other platforms, which may limit advanced functionality options.

When using OpenCart, be mindful of its performance limitations as the store grows. Optimizing and carefully selecting extensions may be required to maintain a smooth user experience.

Additionally, its simplicity may not be suitable for businesses with complex ecommerce needs.

Features:

  • The administrator dashboard gives you information at a glance.
  • User management allows you to assign permissions and separate access.
  • Allows you to run multiple stores from one dashboard.
  • Customizable variables let you include options for sizes, colors, or anything else.

Pros:

  • The platform is entirely free, as are many add-ons.
  • Extensive metrics and reports were provided.
  • Works with your current payment gateway.
  • Comes with dedicated technical support.
  • Flexible.

Cons:

  • Often creates duplicate pages, which can cause SEO problems.
  • Not all extensions, modules, plugins, and add-ons work well together.
  • Checkout can be slow, particularly if you have numerous plugins.
  • Can be difficult to import a list of inventory.
  • Requires some degree of technical ability for optimal use.

Blogging Platforms

20. Medium

medium website homepageScreenshot from: medium.com, March 2024.

Medium is a publishing platform best suited for individual bloggers, writers, and content creators who want to share their ideas and stories with a built-in audience.

Medium’s clean and minimalistic interface allows readers to concentrate on the content. The platform also offers a built-in social network, making it easy for writers to connect with readers and other creators.

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However, this simplicity comes with limited customization options for branding and design.

When using Medium, it’s important to understand that the platform controls the distribution and monetization of content. While this can lead to increased exposure, it also means less control over the presentation and ownership of your content compared to self-hosted solutions.

Key Features:

  • Full hosting solution.
  • No software to self-install.
  • Optimized for mobile.
  • Blog module.
  • Limited social media tools.

Pros:

  • A community site for blogs.
  • Free version available.
  • Medium Partner Program to earn revenue.
  • Customer support.

Cons:

  • No extensions.
  • No ecommerce stores.
  • No premade designs or themes.
  • No free subdomains.
  • No third-party extensions.
  • No access to source code.

21. Ghost

ghost website homepageScreenshot from: ghost.org, March 2024.

Ghost is a lightweight, open-source publishing platform best suited for bloggers, writers, and small publications who value simplicity and performance. It’s designed for users who want a clean, focused writing experience without the complexity of more feature-rich CMS platforms.

Ghost offers a simple, intuitive editor and a minimalistic default theme, allowing users to create and publish content quickly.

The platform also provides built-in SEO features and supports memberships and subscriptions, making it a good choice for content creators looking to monetize their work.

As Ghost primarily focuses on publishing, it may not be the best fit for users who require extensive customization options or advanced functionality beyond blogging.

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Key Features:

  • You can subscribe through Ghost’s hosting platform or download the free, open-source software to install on your web server.
  • Basic drag-and-drop visual builder.
  • Extensions are available through integrations with other tools.
  • Optimized for mobile.
  • Blog module.
  • Ecommerce store (subscription only).
  • Social media tools.

Pros:

  • All-in-one website builder and platform.
  • Free version available.
  • Premade designs and templates.
  • Free subdomain available with the paid version.
  • Customer support.
  • Access to source code.

Cons:

  • Not compatible with all third-party web hosts.
  • Highly specialized with limited capabilities beyond blogging.
  • Not built to scale up into a business site or complex website.

22. Tumblr

tumblr website homepageScreenshot from: tumblr.com, March 2024.

Tumblr is a microblogging and social networking platform best suited for younger audiences who enjoy sharing short-form multimedia content.

Tumblr’s emphasis on community and content discovery makes it easy for users to connect with others who share similar interests. The platform’s reblogging feature spreads content quickly, increasing visibility and engagement.

When using Tumblr, it’s important to understand the platform’s unique culture and demographics. Tumblr is known for its diverse, often niche communities, which can be both a strength and a challenge for brands and marketers.

Additionally, while Tumblr offers some customization options, it may not be the best choice for users who require a highly professional or branded online presence.

Key Features:

  • Features strong social media functionality.
  • Customizable.
  • Google Analytics Integration.
  • Unlimited storage.
  • Ad-free blog themes.
  • Free SSL certification.

Pros:

  • Free to use; no upgrades are required to access all features.
  • Free web hosting.
  • User-friendly and easy to set up.
  • No storage limits.
  • Can post audio, video, images, gifs, and more.

Cons:

  • Daily posting limit (250/day).
  • Files must be under 10 MB.
  • No plugins.
  • Safety and security leave something to be desired.
  • Unsuited to long-form content.

23. Bluehost

bluehost website homepageScreenshot from: bluehost.com, March 2024.

Bluehost is a web hosting provider best suited for beginners and small businesses looking for an affordable, easy-to-use hosting solution.

Bluehost’s advantages are its user-friendly interface and one-click installations for popular CMS platforms like WordPress.

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This makes it easy for users with limited technical knowledge to set up and manage their websites. Bluehost also provides 24/7 customer support and a free SSL certificate with each hosting plan.

While Bluehost is known for its reliability and performance, it may not be the best choice for websites with high traffic or complex requirements. Some users have reported issues with slow loading speeds and limited storage space on shared hosting plans.

Key Features:

  • Domain names can be purchased through Bluehost.
  • Versatile hosting options let you choose what works best for you.
  • Dedicated servers and virtual private servers are available.
  • A variety of plans are available based on your needs.
  • Comes with customer service chat options.

Pros:

  • The first term is inexpensive.
  • Lots of storage and unlimited bandwidth.
  • Good uptime.
  • Free SSL certificates.

Cons:

  • Extra features come with added costs, which can get pricey.
  • High renewal rates.
  • Speed could be better.
  • All servers are U.S.-based.

24. Blogger

blogger website homepageScreenshot from: blogger.com, March 2024.

Blogger is a free, beginner-friendly blogging platform best suited for hobbyists, casual bloggers, and those who want to start a blog without investing in a self-hosted solution. It’s ideal for users who prioritize simplicity and ease of use over advanced customization options.

Blogger offers a straightforward, intuitive interface that makes it easy for users to create and publish blog posts.

The platform provides a selection of customizable templates and allows users to add gadgets and widgets to enhance their blog’s functionality. However, unlike other blogging platforms, Blogger’s design and customization options are relatively limited.

Blogger’s simplicity and lack of advanced features may make it unsuitable for professional bloggers or those looking to create a more sophisticated online presence.

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Features:

  • Clear analytics.
  • Included layout/themes.
  • Monetization options, including Google Adsense integration.
  • Uses Google security.
  • Unlimited storage.

Pros:

  • Free to use.
  • Extremely user-friendly.
  • Free SSL security.
  • Good uptime.

Cons:

  • You don’t own your website.
  • Fewer options and control over design.
  • Limited support.
  • Hard to port to a different platform.

Community Management

25. vBulletin

 

vBulletin is a proprietary forum software best suited for businesses, organizations, and communities looking to create and manage an online discussion platform.

vBulletin offers many features, including private messaging, user groups, and content management tools, making it a powerful solution for managing large, active communities.

The platform also provides a high level of customization, allowing administrators to tailor the look and feel of their forum to match their brand or website.

One of the primary considerations when using vBulletin is its licensing cost, which can be a significant investment for some users.

Additionally, while vBulletin offers a range of customization options, some technical knowledge may be required to optimize and maintain the platform entirely.

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Key Features:

  • Built-in SEO and security.
  • Includes a chat app.
  • Easy to get started.
  • Built-in applications.
  • Optimized for mobile users.
  • Blogging functionality.
  • Fully customizable.

Pros:

  • Frequent patches and bug fixes.
  • Customer support.
  • Easy to install and get started.
  • Designed to host forums.
  • Includes templates.

Cons:

  • No free option.
  • Limited features compared to some other platforms.
  • Requires some tech skills to take full advantage of the functionality.
  • It can’t customize code for the cloud-based version.

Which One Is Right For You?

With so many options, determining the right alternative to WordPress depends on your specific needs and goals.

For individuals and small businesses seeking an easy-to-use website builder, Wix, Squarespace, or Weebly offer intuitive drag-and-drop interfaces. Those prioritizing simplicity and speed may prefer static site generators like Jekyll or Hugo.

Developers and tech-savvy users who value flexibility and customization can explore headless CMS options like Contentful or more robust open-source platforms like Joomla and Drupal.

Ecommerce merchants must evaluate features like inventory management, payment processing, and scalability when choosing between Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and others.

No matter your requirements, there is likely a WordPress alternative that is well-suited to your needs. Thoroughly assessing your website goals, budget, and technical abilities will help you select the right platform to build your ideal online presence.

With some research and planning, you can find the perfect alternative to take your website beyond what WordPress offers.

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2024 WordPress Vulnerability Report Shows Errors Sites Keep Making

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2024 Annual WordPress security report by WPScan

WordPress security scanner WPScan’s 2024 WordPress vulnerability report calls attention to WordPress vulnerability trends and suggests the kinds of things website publishers (and SEOs) should be looking out for.

Some of the key findings from the report were that just over 20% of vulnerabilities were rated as high or critical level threats, with medium severity threats, at 67% of reported vulnerabilities, making up the majority. Many regard medium level vulnerabilities as if they are low-level threats and that’s a mistake because they’re not low level and should be regarded as deserving attention.

The WPScan report advised:

“While severity doesn’t translate directly to the risk of exploitation, it’s an important guideline for website owners to make an educated decision about when to disable or update the extension.”

WordPress Vulnerability Severity Distribution

Critical level vulnerabilities, the highest level of threat, represented only 2.38% of vulnerabilities, which is essentially good news for WordPress publishers. Yet as mentioned earlier, when combined with the percentages of high level threats (17.68%) the number or concerning vulnerabilities rises to almost 20%.

Here are the percentages by severity ratings:

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  • Critical 2.38%
  • Low 12.83%
  • High 17.68%
  • Medium 67.12%

Authenticated Versus Unauthenticated

Authenticated vulnerabilities are those that require an attacker to first attain user credentials and their accompanying permission levels in order to exploit a particular vulnerability. Exploits that require subscriber-level authentication are the most exploitable of the authenticated exploits and those that require administrator level access present the least risk (although not always a low risk for a variety of reasons).

Unauthenticated attacks are generally the easiest to exploit because anyone can launch an attack without having to first acquire a user credential.

The WPScan vulnerability report found that about 22% of reported vulnerabilities required subscriber level or no authentication at all, representing the most exploitable vulnerabilities. On the other end of the scale of the exploitability are vulnerabilities requiring admin permission levels representing a total of 30.71% of reported vulnerabilities.

Permission Levels Required For Exploits

Vulnerabilities requiring administrator level credentials represented the highest percentage of exploits, followed by Cross Site Request Forgery (CSRF) with 24.74% of vulnerabilities. This is interesting because CSRF is an attack that uses social engineering to get a victim to click a link from which the user’s permission levels are acquired. This is a mistake that WordPress publishers should be aware of because all it takes is for an admin level user to follow a link which then enables the hacker to assume admin level privileges to the WordPress website.

The following is the percentages of exploits ordered by roles necessary to launch an attack.

Ascending Order Of User Roles For Vulnerabilities

  • Author 2.19%
  • Subscriber 10.4%
  • Unauthenticated 12.35%
  • Contributor 19.62%
  • CSRF 24.74%
  • Admin 30.71%

Most Common Vulnerability Types Requiring Minimal Authentication

Broken Access Control in the context of WordPress refers to a security failure that can allow an attacker without necessary permission credentials to gain access to higher credential permissions.

In the section of the report that looks at the occurrences and vulnerabilities underlying unauthenticated or subscriber level vulnerabilities reported (Occurrence vs Vulnerability on Unauthenticated or Subscriber+ reports), WPScan breaks down the percentages for each vulnerability type that is most common for exploits that are the easiest to launch (because they require minimal to no user credential authentication).

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The WPScan threat report noted that Broken Access Control represents a whopping 84.99% followed by SQL injection (20.64%).

The Open Worldwide Application Security Project (OWASP) defines Broken Access Control as:

“Access control, sometimes called authorization, is how a web application grants access to content and functions to some users and not others. These checks are performed after authentication, and govern what ‘authorized’ users are allowed to do.

Access control sounds like a simple problem but is insidiously difficult to implement correctly. A web application’s access control model is closely tied to the content and functions that the site provides. In addition, the users may fall into a number of groups or roles with different abilities or privileges.”

SQL injection, at 20.64% represents the second most prevalent type of vulnerability, which WPScan referred to as both “high severity and risk” in the context of vulnerabilities requiring minimal authentication levels because attackers can access and/or tamper with the database which is the heart of every WordPress website.

These are the percentages:

  • Broken Access Control 84.99%
  • SQL Injection 20.64%
  • Cross-Site Scripting 9.4%
  • Unauthenticated Arbitrary File Upload 5.28%
  • Sensitive Data Disclosure 4.59%
  • Insecure Direct Object Reference (IDOR) 3.67%
  • Remote Code Execution 2.52%
  • Other 14.45%

Vulnerabilities In The WordPress Core Itself

The overwhelming majority of vulnerability issues were reported in third-party plugins and themes. However, there were in 2023 a total of 13 vulnerabilities reported in the WordPress core itself. Out of the thirteen vulnerabilities only one of them was rated as a high severity threat, which is the second highest level, with Critical being the highest level vulnerability threat, a rating scoring system maintained by the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS).

The WordPress core platform itself is held to the highest standards and benefits from a worldwide community that is vigilant in discovering and patching vulnerabilities.

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Website Security Should Be Considered As Technical SEO

Site audits don’t normally cover website security but in my opinion every responsible audit should at least talk about security headers. As I’ve been saying for years, website security quickly becomes an SEO issue once a website’s ranking start disappearing from the search engine results pages (SERPs) due to being compromised by a vulnerability. That’s why it’s critical to be proactive about website security.

According to the WPScan report, the main point of entry for hacked websites were leaked credentials and weak passwords. Ensuring strong password standards plus two-factor authentication is an important part of every website’s security stance.

Using security headers is another way to help protect against Cross-Site Scripting and other kinds of vulnerabilities.

Lastly, a WordPress firewall and website hardening are also useful proactive approaches to website security. I once added a forum to a brand new website I created and it was immediately under attack within minutes. Believe it or not, virtually every website worldwide is under attack 24 hours a day by bots scanning for vulnerabilities.

Read the WPScan Report:

WPScan 2024 Website Threat Report

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An In-Depth Guide And Best Practices For Mobile SEO

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Mobile SEO: An In-Depth Guide And Best Practices

Over the years, search engines have encouraged businesses to improve mobile experience on their websites. More than 60% of web traffic comes from mobile, and in some cases based on the industry, mobile traffic can reach up to 90%.

Since Google has completed its switch to mobile-first indexing, the question is no longer “if” your website should be optimized for mobile, but how well it is adapted to meet these criteria. A new challenge has emerged for SEO professionals with the introduction of Interaction to Next Paint (INP), which replaced First Input Delay (FID) starting March, 12 2024.

Thus, understanding mobile SEO’s latest advancements, especially with the shift to INP, is crucial. This guide offers practical steps to optimize your site effectively for today’s mobile-focused SEO requirements.

What Is Mobile SEO And Why Is It Important?

The goal of mobile SEO is to optimize your website to attain better visibility in search engine results specifically tailored for mobile devices.

This form of SEO not only aims to boost search engine rankings, but also prioritizes enhancing mobile user experience through both content and technology.

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While, in many ways, mobile SEO and traditional SEO share similar practices, additional steps related to site rendering and content are required to meet the needs of mobile users and the speed requirements of mobile devices.

Does this need to be a priority for your website? How urgent is it?

Consider this: 58% of the world’s web traffic comes from mobile devices.

If you aren’t focused on mobile users, there is a good chance you’re missing out on a tremendous amount of traffic.

Mobile-First Indexing

Additionally, as of 2023, Google has switched its crawlers to a mobile-first indexing priority.

This means that the mobile experience of your site is critical to maintaining efficient indexing, which is the step before ranking algorithms come into play.

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Read more: Where We Are Today With Google’s Mobile-First Index

How Much Of Your Traffic Is From Mobile?

How much traffic potential you have with mobile users can depend on various factors, including your industry (B2B sites might attract primarily desktop users, for example) and the search intent your content addresses (users might prefer desktop for larger purchases, for example).

Regardless of where your industry and the search intent of your users might be, the future will demand that you optimize your site experience for mobile devices.

How can you assess your current mix of mobile vs. desktop users?

An easy way to see what percentage of your users is on mobile is to go into Google Analytics 4.

  • Click Reports in the left column.
  • Click on the Insights icon on the right side of the screen.
  • Scroll down to Suggested Questions and click on it.
  • Click on Technology.
  • Click on Top Device model by Users.
  • Then click on Top Device category by Users under Related Results.
  • The breakdown of Top Device category will match the date range selected at the top of GA4.
Screenshot from GA4, March 2024

You can also set up a report in Looker Studio.

  • Add your site to the Data source.
  • Add Device category to the Dimension field.
  • Add 30-day active users to the Metric field.
  • Click on Chart to select the view that works best for you.
A screen capture from Looker Studio showing a pie chart with a breakdown of mobile, desktop, tablet, and Smart TV users for a siteScreenshot from Looker Studio, March 2024

You can add more Dimensions to really dig into the data to see which pages attract which type of users, what the mobile-to-desktop mix is by country, which search engines send the most mobile users, and so much more.

Read more: Why Mobile And Desktop Rankings Are Different

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How To Check If Your Site Is Mobile-Friendly

Now that you know how to build a report on mobile and desktop usage, you need to figure out if your site is optimized for mobile traffic.

While Google removed the mobile-friendly testing tool from Google Search Console in December 2023, there are still a number of useful tools for evaluating your site for mobile users.

Bing still has a mobile-friendly testing tool that will tell you the following:

  • Viewport is configured correctly.
  • Page content fits device width.
  • Text on the page is readable.
  • Links and tap targets are sufficiently large and touch-friendly.
  • Any other issues detected.

Google’s Lighthouse Chrome extension provides you with an evaluation of your site’s performance across several factors, including load times, accessibility, and SEO.

To use, install the Lighthouse Chrome extension.

  • Go to your website in your browser.
  • Click on the orange lighthouse icon in your browser’s address bar.
  • Click Generate Report.
  • A new tab will open and display your scores once the evaluation is complete.
An image showing the Lighthouse Scores for a website.Screenshot from Lighthouse, March 2024

You can also use the Lighthouse report in Developer Tools in Chrome.

  • Simply click on the three dots next to the address bar.
  • Select “More Tools.”
  • Select Developer Tools.
  • Click on the Lighthouse tab.
  • Choose “Mobile” and click the “Analyze page load” button.
An image showing how to get to Lighthouse within Google Chrome Developer Tools.Screenshot from Lighthouse, March 2024

Another option that Google offers is the PageSpeed Insights (PSI) tool. Simply add your URL into the field and click Analyze.

PSI will integrate any Core Web Vitals scores into the resulting view so you can see what your users are experiencing when they come to your site.

An image showing the PageSpeed Insights scores for a website.Screenshot from PageSpeed Insights, March 2024

Other tools, like WebPageTest.org, will graphically display the processes and load times for everything it takes to display your webpages.

With this information, you can see which processes block the loading of your pages, which ones take the longest to load, and how this affects your overall page load times.

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You can also emulate the mobile experience by using Developer Tools in Chrome, which allows you to switch back and forth between a desktop and mobile experience.

An image showing how to change the device emulation for a site within Google Chrome Developer ToolsScreenshot from Google Chrome Developer Tools, March 2024

Lastly, use your own mobile device to load and navigate your website:

  • Does it take forever to load?
  • Are you able to navigate your site to find the most important information?
  • Is it easy to add something to cart?
  • Can you read the text?

Read more: Google PageSpeed Insights Reports: A Technical Guide

How To Optimize Your Site Mobile-First

With all these tools, keep an eye on the Performance and Accessibility scores, as these directly affect mobile users.

Expand each section within the PageSpeed Insights report to see what elements are affecting your score.

These sections can give your developers their marching orders for optimizing the mobile experience.

While mobile speeds for cellular networks have steadily improved around the world (the average speed in the U.S. has jumped to 27.06 Mbps from 11.14 Mbps in just eight years), speed and usability for mobile users are at a premium.

Read more: Top 7 SEO Benefits Of Responsive Web Design

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Best Practices For Mobile Optimization

Unlike traditional SEO, which can focus heavily on ensuring that you are using the language of your users as it relates to the intersection of your products/services and their needs, optimizing for mobile SEO can seem very technical SEO-heavy.

While you still need to be focused on matching your content with the needs of the user, mobile search optimization will require the aid of your developers and designers to be fully effective.

Below are several key factors in mobile SEO to keep in mind as you’re optimizing your site.

Site Rendering

How your site responds to different devices is one of the most important elements in mobile SEO.

The two most common approaches to this are responsive design and dynamic serving.

Responsive design is the most common of the two options.

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Using your site’s cascading style sheets (CSS) and flexible layouts, as well as responsive content delivery networks (CDN) and modern image file types, responsive design allows your site to adjust to a variety of screen sizes, orientations, and resolutions.

With the responsive design, elements on the page adjust in size and location based on the size of the screen.

You can simply resize the window of your desktop browser and see how this works.

An image showing the difference between Web.dev in a full desktop display vs. a mobile display using responsive design.Screenshot from web.dev, March 2024

This is the approach that Google recommends.

Adaptive design, also known as dynamic serving, consists of multiple fixed layouts that are dynamically served to the user based on their device.

Sites can have a separate layout for desktop, smartphone, and tablet users. Each design can be modified to remove functionality that may not make sense for certain device types.

This is a less efficient approach, but it does give sites more control over what each device sees.

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While these will not be covered here, two other options:

  • Progressive Web Apps (PWA), which can seamlessly integrate into a mobile app.
  • Separate mobile site/URL (which is no longer recommended).

Read more: An Introduction To Rendering For SEO

Interaction to Next Paint (INP)

Google has introduced Interaction to Next Paint (INP) as a more comprehensive measure of user experience, succeeding First Input Delay. While FID measures the time from when a user first interacts with your page (e.g., clicking a link, tapping a button) to the time when the browser is actually able to begin processing event handlers in response to that interaction. INP, on the other hand, broadens the scope by measuring the responsiveness of a website throughout the entire lifespan of a page, not just first interaction.

Note that actions such as hovering and scrolling do not influence INP, however, keyboard-driven scrolling or navigational actions are considered keystrokes that may activate events measured by INP but not scrolling which is happeing due to interaction.

Scrolling may indirectly affect INP, for example in scenarios where users scroll through content, and additional content is lazy-loaded from the API. While the act of scrolling itself isn’t included in the INP calculation, the processing, necessary for loading additional content, can create contention on the main thread, thereby increasing interaction latency and adversely affecting the INP score.

What qualifies as an optimal INP score?

  • An INP under 200ms indicates good responsiveness.
  • Between 200ms and 500ms needs improvement.
  • Over 500ms means page has poor responsiveness.

and these are common issues causing poor INP scores:

  1. Long JavaScript Tasks: Heavy JavaScript execution can block the main thread, delaying the browser’s ability to respond to user interactions. Thus break long JS tasks into smaller chunks by using scheduler API.
  2. Large DOM (HTML) Size: A large DOM ( starting from 1500 elements) can severely impact a website’s interactive performance. Every additional DOM element increases the work required to render pages and respond to user interactions.
  3. Inefficient Event Callbacks: Event handlers that execute lengthy or complex operations can significantly affect INP scores. Poorly optimized callbacks attached to user interactions, like clicks, keypress or taps, can block the main thread, delaying the browser’s ability to render visual feedback promptly. For example when handlers perform heavy computations or initiate synchronous network requests such on clicks.

and you can troubleshoot INP issues using free and paid tools.

As a good starting point I would recommend to check your INP scores by geos via treo.sh which will give you a great high level insights where you struggle with most.

INP scores by GeosINP scores by Geos

Read more: How To Improve Interaction To Next Paint (INP)

Image Optimization

Images add a lot of value to the content on your site and can greatly affect the user experience.

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From page speeds to image quality, you could adversely affect the user experience if you haven’t optimized your images.

This is especially true for the mobile experience. Images need to adjust to smaller screens, varying resolutions, and screen orientation.

  • Use responsive images
  • Implement lazy loading
  • Compress your images (use WebP)
  • Add your images into sitemap

Optimizing images is an entire science, and I advise you to read our comprehensive guide on image SEO how to implement the mentioned recommendations.

Avoid Intrusive Interstitials

Google rarely uses concrete language to state that something is a ranking factor or will result in a penalty, so you know it means business about intrusive interstitials in the mobile experience.

Intrusive interstitials are basically pop-ups on a page that prevent the user from seeing content on the page.

John Mueller, Google’s Senior Search Analyst, stated that they are specifically interested in the first interaction a user has after clicking on a search result.

Examples of intrusive interstitial pop-ups on a mobile site according to Google.

Not all pop-ups are considered bad. Interstitial types that are considered “intrusive” by Google include:

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  • Pop-ups that cover most or all of the page content.
  • Non-responsive interstitials or pop-ups that are impossible for mobile users to close.
  • Pop-ups that are not triggered by a user action, such as a scroll or a click.

Read more: 7 Tips To Keep Pop-Ups From Harming Your SEO

Structured Data

Most of the tips provided in this guide so far are focused on usability and speed and have an additive effect, but there are changes that can directly influence how your site appears in mobile search results.

Search engine results pages (SERPs) haven’t been the “10 blue links” in a very long time.

They now reflect the diversity of search intent, showing a variety of different sections to meet the needs of users. Local Pack, shopping listing ads, video content, and more dominate the mobile search experience.

As a result, it’s more important than ever to provide structured data markup to the search engines, so they can display rich results for users.

In this example, you can see that both Zojirushi and Amazon have included structured data for their rice cookers, and Google is displaying rich results for both.

An image of a search result for Japanese rice cookers that shows rich results for Zojirushi and Amazon.Screenshot from search for [Japanese rice cookers], Google, March 2024

Adding structured data markup to your site can influence how well your site shows up for local searches and product-related searches.

Using JSON-LD, you can mark up the business, product, and services data on your pages in Schema markup.

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If you use WordPress as the content management system for your site, there are several plugins available that will automatically mark up your content with structured data.

Read more: What Structured Data To Use And Where To Use It?

Content Style

When you think about your mobile users and the screens on their devices, this can greatly influence how you write your content.

Rather than long, detailed paragraphs, mobile users prefer concise writing styles for mobile reading.

Each key point in your content should be a single line of text that easily fits on a mobile screen.

Your font sizes should adjust to the screen’s resolution to avoid eye strain for your users.

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If possible, allow for a dark or dim mode for your site to further reduce eye strain.

Headers should be concise and address the searcher’s intent. Rather than lengthy section headers, keep it simple.

Finally, make sure that your text renders in a font size that’s readable.

Read more: 10 Tips For Creating Mobile-Friendly Content

Tap Targets

As important as text size, the tap targets on your pages should be sized and laid out appropriately.

Tap targets include navigation elements, links, form fields, and buttons like “Add to Cart” buttons.

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Targets smaller than 48 pixels by 48 pixels and targets that overlap or are overlapped by other page elements will be called out in the Lighthouse report.

Tap targets are essential to the mobile user experience, especially for ecommerce websites, so optimizing them is vital to the health of your online business.

Read more: Google’s Lighthouse SEO Audit Tool Now Measures Tap Target Spacing

Prioritizing These Tips

If you have delayed making your site mobile-friendly until now, this guide may feel overwhelming. As a result, you may not know what to prioritize first.

As with so many other optimizations in SEO, it’s important to understand which changes will have the greatest impact, and this is just as true for mobile SEO.

Think of SEO as a framework in which your site’s technical aspects are the foundation of your content. Without a solid foundation, even the best content may struggle to rank.

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  • Responsive or Dynamic Rendering: If your site requires the user to zoom and scroll right or left to read the content on your pages, no number of other optimizations can help you. This should be first on your list.
  • Content Style: Rethink how your users will consume your content online. Avoid very long paragraphs. “Brevity is the soul of wit,” to quote Shakespeare.
  • Image Optimization: Begin migrating your images to next-gen image formats and optimize your content display network for speed and responsiveness.
  • Tap Targets: A site that prevents users from navigating or converting into sales won’t be in business long. Make navigation, links, and buttons usable for them.
  • Structured Data: While this element ranks last in priority on this list, rich results can improve your chances of receiving traffic from a search engine, so add this to your to-do list once you’ve completed the other optimizations.

Summary

From How Search Works, “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

If Google’s primary mission is focused on making all the world’s information accessible and useful, then you know they will prefer surfacing sites that align with that vision.

Since a growing percentage of users are on mobile devices, you may want to infer the word “everywhere” added to the end of the mission statement.

Are you missing out on traffic from mobile devices because of a poor mobile experience?

If you hope to remain relevant, make mobile SEO a priority now.


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

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