So, you’ve decided to launch a blog or real estate website. Once you’ve determined your business objectives, your target audience, and the tone of your site, your next step should be to figure out how you’re going to manage all of this once it’s built.
In web development speak, you’ll need a CMS (Content Management System) to give your site structure. A good CMS will help you simplify all the activities associated with publishing content, enabling search, managing edits, using plugins to add features and functionality, managing your layout, determining site structure, SEO, and lots of other helpful things you’d rather not have to be an expert on.
Of the free CMS systems used for business websites, there are three main contenders:
For several years coming, and particularly since version 3 came out in 2010, WordPress (WP) has emerged the clear leader by a long shot. Here’s why.
1) WordPress Has the Largest Community and the Most Users
First released on May 27, 2003 by Matt Mullenweg as an offshoot of another CMS, WordPress is currently the most popular CMS in use on the Internet. It’s used by over 14.7 percent of Alexa Internet‘s top 1 million websites, and as of August 2011, manages 22 percent of all new websites.
As of December 2011, version 3.0 had been downloaded over 65 million times, while version 3.3 has already been downloaded over 9 million times. All in all, almost 15 percent of all websites are on the Internet are powered by WordPress.
WordPress’s popularity is helpful for you as a website owner for three main reasons:
- It’s open source, meaning that hundreds of thousands of developers can contribute to improving it’s quality.
- The more site owners there are using it, the more feedback the software receives, and the quicker the bugs are fixed. It’s the “squeaky wheel” effect, on a very large scale.
- The market for plugin developers and theme designers is robust and profitable. This compels developers to create great high-quality themes and plugins. As of August 2011, WordPress has over 17,000 plugins and 1,500 free themes, created by several thousand developers. Competition among these developers helps create excellence.
2) WordPress is Not Just For Small Businesses
Some of the world’s most successful businesses and highly-trafficked websites use WordPress. Some notable WordPress users:
…And many more.
3) WordPress Offers Enterprise Capabilities at Entrepreneur Prices
The fact that WordPress is open source means that the core WP system is free. That’s a great starting point and helps to reduce the overall price tag you’ll have to pay for any custom design or integration. Unless you’re doing everything yourself, you’ll have to pay for quality web design, data integrations, custom functionality, content management tools, user management tools, syndication tools, commenting system, media management tools, and web hosting.
For the DIY set, there are countless free themes out there to choose from. (Full disclosure: Placester.com offers a full suite of free and paid real estate themes with data integration, syndication and hosting.)
4) WordPress is Easy to Learn
You can get an initial web site up in about 5 minutes, which often includes setting up the hosting account, depending on the provider. Of course, there’s the data integration, customization, branding, content creation, SEO and copywriting that needs to happen, in addition to all of the additional technologies one may want to integrate. But when you think about it, a simple website that’s ready for you to add content via a world class CMS in about five minutes is astounding.
5) WordPress is Super Flexible
You can make all kinds of websites with WordPress:
- Residential Real Estate Listing Site
- Business Directory
- Vacation Rental Site
- Auction Website
- Rental Property Website
- Review Website
- Recruiting Site
- Social Network Clone
- CRM Tool
- Invoicing System
- E-commerce Website
- Image Gallery Website
6) A WordPress Website Can Do Almost Anything
With WordPress, you can:
- Show property listing data
- Integrate map data
- Share with social media
- Post on Craigslist
- Syndicate content
- Create favorites lists
- Set and show pricing levels
- Enable subscriptions
- Show geotargeted information
- Provide CRM integration
- Capture leads
- Integrate a payment gateway
- Import and export data
- Use coupon or discount codes
7) Websites with Blogs Can Drive More Traffic
Generally, a website without valuable content has a hard time generating traffic. There are some exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, adding a blog to your site can help you provide the answers that your consumers are looking for and build trust with your audience.
A blog with WordPress can make you an SEO super star, in part because of the built-in blogging components but also because of how it manages content, including meta tags (via plugins) and consistent customizable slugs (via the page URL) to make sure keywords get into the right places.
8) Content is At Home in WordPress
With WP, it’s very simple to add posts, pages, photos, listings, videos, music, etc. You name it, if the content can be consumed on the Internet, you can add it to your WP site. The trick is to make your content engaging, relevant to your target audience, and optimized for your desired keywords. If you consistently make lots of great content and develop inbound links, you’ll improve your organic search results like the pros do.
9) Managing Multiple Sites is Easy with WordPress
For those looking to create a network of sites to expand their audience reach, there’s WordPress Multi Site, which allows you to maintain multiple sites from a single administration panel. It’s great for anyone that runs more than one site or blog and would like the simplicity of logging in and administering them all from one place. This is especially helpful if these sites share content, templates, or plugins. One installation means less work and less time to create and manage related content and teams.
10) SEO is Easy with WordPress
Right out of the box, WordPress is ready to play nice with search engines. Its setup helps guide search engines through the posts, pages and categories, making it easy for Google to crawl your website and collect the information it needs to include within its database.
WordPress also has a bunch of other SEO-related tools built in, including permalinks, trackbacks, pinging and the blog roll–all designed to provide interactivity with other blogs (and their readers) and make your content accessible to search engines. Finally, there are a bunch of highly-rated, third-party plugins built specifically for search engine optimization, which are either free or very low cost. See our beginners guide to SEO.
11) Software Updates and Improvements Just Happen
Most technology companies release software updates when there is something major to fix or when their customers yell loud enough. WordPress is different. It’s is a community, and as such it is constantly being updated and improved, often releasing updates quarterly, or at least as often as you need to keep your site secure.
Choosing the right foundation to build your marketing home is just the beginning. Take the time to do a little research. Choose partners and technology that will grow with you and support all of your efforts to build your business. The best part about the WordPress community is that information is shared freely, and the digital citizenry are all looking for better ways to share their knowledge online.