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Wordpress code good for google ranking, vs hand-coded sites?

   
3:56 am on May 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Hello All -

I was having a discussion with a friend last night regarding whether to use a WordPress or a hand-coded site for a new project.

The point of the project is to get ranked by google asap.

He's under the impression that - for some reason - WordPress sites are "pre-wired" with some sort of code that google looks for/likes and would rank quicker than a new hand-coded site WITH THE SAME CONTENT.

Of course, he couldn't give me an example of this "magic" code.

At any rate, I find this hard to believe... but maybe I'm wrong. I'm not a professional SEO person by any means (I am a custom coder) and all of the information I've read regarding good google rankings (nowadays) are essentially based upon continual, relevant content being added to the site.

Can anyone who "knows" give their opinion on if it makes any difference at all (regarding google ranking) if a NEW site is built from scratch or from a WordPress template?

Thanks to all in advance.
4:33 am on May 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brotherhood_of_lan is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



It wouldn't surprise me if there were many 'custom parsing routines' for known DOM structures/CMS... after all, it has to be fairly good to strip out templates to properly cross-examine similar pages and similar content.

From what I know of Wordpress, the user written 'themes' can customise pretty much every aspect of what is output to users, so it's less likely that there'd be a unified routine to 'parse Wordpress sites'. Perhaps in the majority of cases it's quite obvious it's a Wordpress site though.

You do see cases of SERP results listing forum pages with "# of posts on the thread" and similar metadata, though I suspect the forum format is a little more rigid than something like WP.
6:28 am on May 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Your friend might be thinking of "pinging", a capability built into Wordpress (and also available as a separate service or as a script) to signal to Google that fresh content has been published.

Pinging will get Google to index your fresh content quickly, but there's no guarantee that it will rank. Additionally, the success of pinging (I believe) assumes "QDF" (that the Query Deserves Freshness)... and it's most successful with high authority sites. I'm not sure that it's necessary if Google has your site identified as a high authority site with lots of fresh content.

Pinging should not be confused with another technology, a protocol called PubSubHubbub, also available for Wordpress, which works only if you have a full RSS feed (which not many do these days)... and pushes the entire feed to Google in what's called a "fat ping". Very hard to get good information on this, IMO. It was beginning to be used a lot when full RSS feeds were were more in fashion than they are now. See this thread for the best discussion I've been able to find on WebmasterWorld. (I had to brute force the discussion to keep it on topic)....

Questioning the wisdom of using fat pings to deal with scrapers
Nov 2012
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4520212.htm [webmasterworld.com]
10:59 am on May 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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neophyte, you are right to be skeptical of your friend's "theory". If he's right (he's not), then Wordpress is the perfect platform for spammers to gain an advantage over more legitimate sites that don't know of this "secret sauce" that the Wordpress platform provides. And at the end of the day, whatever platform you choose just produces a block of HTML / CSS that Google spider records - on-page optimization is nothing new and most platfroms are interchangeable in regards to the quality of their on-page structures.
11:53 am on May 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Agree with COS! Wordpress is cheap compared to handcoding so it would make no sense to give this advantage (and for other reasons).

Wordpress looks good but is junky/bloated and never properly optimised for speed/usability compared to what a decent hand coder can achieve, so if google puts any weight on site speed then handcoding gives u the edge! (if ur good at it)

Id put this down to a myth like "if you use adwords your organics rank higher"
1:23 pm on May 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Can anyone who "knows" give their opinion


If you really want to kick-start it fast and rank well then user Google's own Blogger, it gets preference over almost everything, and yes, I have tested it, within a couple of weeks I was able to outrank my own hand-coded pages which had been at #1 for years.

I can show you sites now that have scraped information ranking way above the originals and all on Blogger.

I've read regarding good google rankings (nowadays) are essentially based upon continual, relevant content being added to the site.


And that's yet another myth, regular, quality, relevance...G does not understand any of them.
4:51 pm on May 16, 2014 (gmt 0)



It really depends on the theme you use, and your ability to modify its code. Pretty much every WordPress theme claims to be good for SEO, but I have seen plenty that generate some absolutely atrocious markup.
11:30 pm on May 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Wordpress looks good but is junky/bloated and never properly optimised for speed/usability compared to what a decent hand coder can achieve, so if google puts any weight on site speed then handcoding gives u the edge! (if ur good at it)


Very true CS2. As far as I know, the basic install of WordPress doesn't contain any caching and you need to install plugins to have caching (which speeds up page loads and less strain on server as fewer database calls required). reddit.com has killed many WP sites when it gives them traffic! I've installed WP on my servers a few times over the years and am amazed at the CPU spikes I see when pages are loaded. Sure, caching plugins can be added, but how many sites use these? Not to say WP doesn't have decent on-page optimization for spiders, but the actual server-side scripting does leave a lot to be desired. Perhaps the caching plugins require root access to be installed as to why the basic install has no caching (as far as I know)?
11:35 pm on May 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I can show you sites now that have scraped information ranking way above the originals and all on Blogger.


Blogger, the perfect platform for spammers to rank high in Google. Provided by Google. I don't think so (unless Google really doesn't care about the quality of organic listings).
1:03 am on May 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



He's under the impression that - for some reason - WordPress sites are "pre-wired" with some sort of code that google looks for/likes

My reading was that this is a nebulous reference to the assorted "SEO-friendly" plugins that their authors think --and/or want the user to think-- will improve pages' standing automagically.

Dang. Where's the SEO fairy when you need her? :(
6:58 am on May 17, 2014 (gmt 0)



While I'd say it is probable that Google could find a site quicker through pinging, that wouldn't lead to improved rankings.

WordPress is a CMS, why would a search engine consider the management of content something that should improve ranking?
9:42 am on May 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

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WordPress is a CMS, why would a search engine consider the management of content something that should improve ranking?


Exactly, especially when all popular CMS's are interchangeable when it comes to SEO-friendliness, as are the thousands of less-well-known developer-made templates. In fact with WP, there's an argument that running an out-of-date WP install may hurt your rankings if that version is known to be vulnerable - Google could see that site as a "sitting duck" for hackers and prefer not to rank it well.
1:06 pm on May 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

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(unless Google really doesn't care about the quality of organic listings).


Blimey, where have you been? In my sector the results are absolutely diabolical to the point of nonsensical and as for Google.co.uk, it just seems to be a vehicle for promoting US companies...Unfortunately Blogger absolutely rules in some areas but that's another thread.
5:53 am on May 18, 2014 (gmt 0)



Not only an out of date install.
I have recently been clearing a lot of duplicate content on a WP site of mine. There aren't that many pages, but there were a lot of duplicate &cat=whatever pages.

Just now starting to see improvement after 30 days of cleaning.
9:32 am on May 18, 2014 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



It clearly depends on the theme. I suspect that very flexible themes tend to generate a lot of junk - and some particular sites do, but there is very little difference between handwritten HTML and a theme designed or customised to suit your site. On the other hand the latter is much easier to maintain.

The same goes for every other CMD as well.

It is possible that search engines understand the default structure of Wordpress sites.

I have never come across an SEO plugin that does anything that cannot be done better by modifying the theme.
5:54 pm on May 18, 2014 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



How much value (if any) do you think is given for a website that is not run by Wordpress when 99% of page 1 is dominated by Wordpress? Of course links and content to one side for this question.

Just playing devils advocate, I have often wondered if there is any credit given for not using Wordpress when the rest of the competition do, but I've never done any research into it.
10:12 pm on May 18, 2014 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



I know my hand coded content ranks like crazy but I'm not sure if Wordpress would rank as well since I didn't try it in the same niche.

However, it shouldn't make a damn bit of difference how the website is built as long as the page sent to the search engine contains all of the proper SEO elements in all of the right places.

FWIW, I've gotten top rankings using blogger so the platform is pretty meaningless as long as you know what you're doing.
11:14 pm on May 18, 2014 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



However, it shouldn't make a damn bit of difference how the website is built as long as the page sent to the search engine contains all of the proper SEO elements in all of the right places.

What about page speed? If the html is bloated with divs nested eight deep, and recurring inline styles for every variation from the norm, and external stylesheets going into double digits, then you're looking at a big increase in load time in proportion to the amount of visible content.

All things being equal, that should make a difference. Assuming for the sake of discussion that all things are equal, which of course they never are.
11:53 pm on May 18, 2014 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



What about page speed


enable gzip page compression

I know sites with 140K+ pages, plus all the crap they include, that rank well.

Page speed is just one factor which won't keep you off the top 10 best I know but might keep you out of the top 1 and a few little <divs> don't add up to squat compared to the miles of CSS and javascript people include these days, and the improperly compressed images, etc.

If the html is bloated with divs nested eight deep

<div><div><div><div><div><div><div><div>Hello 8 Deep Nested World</div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div>

This does not a slow page make.

I let Google decide what's slow or not and they OWN blogger ;)
1:23 am on May 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I switched a blog that's part of my (hand-coded) main site over to Blogger because of security holes in WP and I was unable to upgrade to their latest 'n greatest version. Seemed to put an end to the jerks trying to hijack my domain name so they can get some traffic, lol.
.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 1:45 am (utc) on May 19, 2014]

2:27 am on May 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I've always had pretty good 'luck' with hand coding ... I still work with wordpress though, but it has various redundancies that I don't like - Flat pages can perform well if they are maintained and edited periodically - Dynamic stuff tends to return a re-indexed every single time they're parsed even if it's hit at 30 second intervals and the content never chages.

These days, I work into using a combination of static and dynamic and if I do use Wordpress during the overall write, I'm always sure to eliminate as many of it's redundancies that I can before I put it on - seems to do okay.
8:00 am on May 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I have never seen a wordpress site score very well for googles own speed and usability test

[developers.google.com...]

My handcoded sites now score 100% on all tests, mobile/desktop and usability! IMO wordpress is way to bloated for MOBILE, at least all the themes I have seen!

Not saying this is a ranking factor but as a coding purist I like to know my foundations are solid!
8:26 am on May 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Page speed is just one factor which won't keep you off the top 10 best I know but might keep you out of the top 1 and a few little <divs> don't add up to squat compared to the miles of CSS and javascript people include these days, and the improperly compressed images, etc.


And even THAT doesn't add up to squat when you compare a bloated shared server(i.e. what 99% of the web is hosted on) that struggles to keep up with requests..... with a dedicated server with less demand on it.
8:27 am on May 19, 2014 (gmt 0)



Would 'build your own' sites likes Wix and SquareSpace be particularly worse off that hand-coding a site in terms of SEO?

Also as a follow up question, what website would you recommend is the best out of all the 'build your own' sites?
3:41 pm on May 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Hand coded sites that are outsourced will need to be maintained at regular intervals.

Wordpress sites are constantly updated and have regular security releases.

The question should not be wordpress vs hand coded it should be experienced coder or not.

If you are an experienced coder you might also go with wordpress as it does not take as much effort to make sure everything is up to date. It is easy to fall behind with updates when hand coding a site.

If you lack experience and your budget is not large, it makes sense to go with a structured route like wordpress.

Also, some coders think they are great coders but their commenting can be really poor. That means another coder will find it hard to step in in the absence of the original coder. This is not such an issue with wordpress.

So in my experience, code it yourself if you have the time and the skill the required, otherwise go for a structured solution like wordpress.
1:40 am on May 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

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100% myth!

Still, there are lots of folks that think WP has an SEO advantage. I often wonder how these bunk notions get started. The future of SMB webdev, IMHO, is the DIY builders like WIX, Google, GoDaddy, and SquareSpace. I wonder if these services really offer SEO best practices? Will we be hearing the same thing about these services in a year? Let’s face it, the masses would prefer to forgo the services of a web designer, web developer, and SEO expert. And why not... the low-end can be automated. I suspect the answer is yes, the DIY’s are going to do an okay job with SEO in the long-run. The race to the bottom is well underway. Even WP and the $19 theme is going to have a difficult time competing with $8/month.
2:06 am on May 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I don't think that Wordpress has an SEO advantage really .. At the end of the day, it's the coder or SEO that determines whether or not a site is going to perform.

As far as places like WIX? ... heh ... Keep 'em coming ... 60% of my contracts lately come from those online site building programs .. These online site builders are so limited that often times, SEO is the last thing one might worry about - .. Wordpress is a step or two above the online site builder .. but just barely in that you can, if you know what you are doing, optimize.

My writes are blended these days, to take the fullest advantage over the manual writes and the dynamic ones ... In my world, there is "no one way to go" .. The site builders bring me business, and I take it from there with various types and kinds of combinations outside of those site builders ... Site builders are the plastic toy hammers of the internet and are always leaving the end user wanting more - or at best - something real.
4:28 am on May 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



As said above, ping and the other complex name notifications are the only advantage but you can do it yourself. My cms does pings automatically and you can do it by hand too bookmarking your page submission at pingomatic.

Other than that I will say hand coded website wins. Of course, not build by the son of the friend of the ant of... etc. Any experienced WebmasterWorld member could beat any wordpress.

As an old WebmasterWorld member: sure we won't have any real life example of the exact website built in both platforms with same content, specially because in such case, one would be penalized for dup content, and if you switch the sites platform, search engines will take time to get stable due to identifying the change (you know, even the best changes take time on old sites to reflect on results)

BUT... if you managed to build the EXACT same animal (100% same code) even a replica of whatever WP spits out... hand coded will win. There is so much space to beat WP in speed!. I know it might be open to discussion but from my years of experience I can beat any WP site building it hand code, it will be heavily optimized and speedy.

I'm actually doing it right now. At work they had this site made on WP that sucks, I'm doing it from scratch using a framework and it's super fast, less and cleaner html code, best response, etc you name it. And it could be (perhaps) faster avoiding the framework I'm using. I have a big site using my custom made cms and it's even faster, a big portion of the sites even creates real html files compressed and optimized, the amount of bandwidth used is minimal.

That was too long but it covers a lot of points.

Remember: there was a time when G put a lot of attention to blogs... that's gone, specially WP became the alias of "copied content".
4:45 am on May 20, 2014 (gmt 0)



I hand coded a site once. Once.

Now I use WordPress for most of my personal sites or side projects (work is on its own solution). I think the correct answer is more along the lines of "in-between."

If you're a small site, you can probably get away with WordPress or another CMS solution. However, as you grow, you will have to implement other technologies to speed up the site, and maybe re-code some things on the backend to make the product work faster.

Whatever you do, I'd still probably have something that can handle content, especially if you plan on having multiple people using the site.
11:34 am on May 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

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A CMS has once huge advantage: you can change things cross site easily: if you have a hand coded site and you want to remove all your meta keywords tag or add schema.org markup its a lot of work.

If you are using a CMS (or, as I keep saying, better still a site built on a framework), anything that uses data you already have in the database is easy to insert into a template.
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