Let me begin by saying that I really like WordPress. It’s not my intention to discourage people from using it as their web platform of choice in any way. My intention is to make people aware that using a hosted WordPress.com blog comes with some fairly serious limitations in terms of SEO and marketing.
For anyone starting a new blog, whether your are trying to make revenue by selling stuff, advertising, affiliate marketing, or just trying to get your message across, it is important to… get your message across, by doing some marketing and promotional work. People need to know about your blog, otherwise, what’s the point?
In order to properly implement an internet marketing plan, as outlined in the post entitled “Easy 8 step marketing“, it is important to not only be able to implement good SEO and marketing practice, but also analyse and refine your methods. This is where WordPress.com falls down.
Wordpress.com is designed to be as easy to implement as possible for the average non-technical person. In this regard they do a fantastic job. However, with great ease of use inevitably comes a loss of flexibility and power. This stands to reason because the more powerful and more flexible a platform, the more work is needed to understand and implement the greater array of choices and options available.
For example, WordPress.com users are unable to edit their own robots.txt file. This prevents them from exerting fine grained control over how their blog is indexed by the search engines. It’s not a train smash, by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a loss of control that can be important under certain circumstances.
Far more importantly, WordPress.com, at the time of writing, implements its own analytics facilities (Site Stats), which are at best a shadow of the power and flexibility provided freely by Google analytics. This is a real problem because it is not possible to properly analyse and refine your marketing campaigns without access to fine grained data about traffic patterns and user behaviour.
In addition, WordPress.com users are not able to access the underlying page source code (HTML). This means that you are not able to add META keywords and description tags. Again, while this doesn’t directly affect the SEO standing of your pages according to Google, it does affect your control over how your pages are presented in search engine results, since the meta description is often used here by Google. In other words, it’s important for human readers to make up their own minds about the content and value of your pages.
I can go on, but I guess the point I am trying to make is this:
While WordPress.com makes it easy to set up and operate a blog; it does not provide some important SEO and marketing features.
The upshot of this is that you need to think carefully about where you want your site or blog to go in the future before deciding on a web platform like WordPress.com. If, at some stage, you think you might want to do some serious traffic building, SEO and marketing then you need to look at a WordPress.org blog…. or better yet, a Drupal website.
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