I was recently wondering about the pro’s and con’s of using WordPress as an eCommerce site. Apart from killing the sacred cow regarding keeping blogs as blogs and eCommerce sites as distinct entities (*shock*, *horror*… “how dare I taint the blogosphere” :P ), Leslie Rohde once pointed out: “Ultimately [a site] is just a bunch of pages. That’s all”.

I’m fully in agreement.

Having done some extensive research into possible Content Management Systems (CMS) from Drupal, Joomla to even using an old bespoke solutions I created long ago (using XHTML Strict and CSS to ensure usability and accessibility for screen readers), I’ve now been looking at WordPress as a very possible ecommerce solution.

There are a number of reasons that WordPress would make an excellent CMS solution for eCommerce as well as blogging:

  1. Search Engines & Pings.
    Having learnt how to blog and ping recently with some minor success. I found that using this method, it was possible to get a website was spidered within around 2 days and managed to gain excellent movement of search results position in Google for a few keyword terms.Since WordPress already “pings” and search engines love this, then why not cut out the middle man?Were there any good technical reasons why it shouldn’t be done?Surely any new products would get “discovered” more quickly than if they were placed on a normal static html driven website that would be spidered by the likes of Google… well, eventually? Why waste time waiting? These were just a few questions that kept going round in my head.
  2. WordPress Templates Are Search Engine Friendly.
    Looking at the source code of the default WordPress Kubrick template, you can see that there is no need to “linearize” the content – the posts automatically are positioned at the top and the navigation comes at the bottom. In terms of an underlying site structure, this is ideal site. This pretty much follows the CSS Zen Garden philosophy of using stylesheets to separate style from content in order to create visually fantastic sites.As the default WordPress template is more or less already screen reader/accessibility friendly, with a few minor modifications it could realistically be made to be fully SEO’d.
  3. Users Are Already Confident With The WordPress Dashboard.
    In terms of a CMS, WordPress is very simple to use. Compared with Joomla, anyone with a modicum of intelligence can more or less set up a vanilla installation of WordPress using Fantastico scripts on the control panel of their hosting provider. Using the system to create a Post or Page is again a very simple. The user interface is pretty self explanatory – create a Post or Page, add text and hit publish. What more do you need? This makes it very appealing for users that don’t like complicated systems (e.g. like Joomla).Additionally, sites created using WordPress offering a “add content and publish” facility would require less maintenance if the site was going to be administered by someone else. For example, handing a WordPress site to a client could theoretically result in the number of support calls being reduced. Wouldn’t that be great?
  4. WordPress Files Are Easily Edited.
    Having played with WordPress, I quite like how easy it is to make amendments to the header or footer and having direct access to the PHP via the Themes editor. This is very powerful as it means site wide changes can be made very quickly. It would be very simple to place products in the sidebar, for example.
  5. Powerful Plugins.
    Playing with the Adsense Deluxe plugin I found that I no longer used this for AdSense, it is possible to use it for inserting near enough any bit of code that you need to place in certain positions on a site. For example, using it to display newsletter opt-in box on the sidebar could mean that these controls are accessible within the Admin interface instead of having to amend the PHP files. You can imagine the implications of creating individual product “boxes” to be used across the site – having one central location to make an amend to several instances across a site is very powerful indeed!
  6. The Ability To Create “Invisible” Pages.
    One cool things I found recently was how to “exclude” pages from being listed – this effectively means that you can create a page, link to it but not need to have it as part of a menu. If you used this process together with AdWords, I could imagine that you’d be able to do something like split test pages quite effectively.

Anyway, this leads me to the conclusion that WordPress is very cool.

I really like it.

I’m hoping that there’s no technical issues with using it for creating an eCommerce site. In fact, I’m hoping that what I’ve described makes sense and actually works in getting new sites spidered more quickly than a “normal” site.

If anyone can help me brainstorm these ideas or provide any skills to start building a new WordPress community interested in creating search engine optimised “authority” sites, then I’d appreciate any assistance you can give (in any form!).

In order to get the ball rolling, I’ve commissioned a new free WordPress plugin called FAQ-Tastic as an example of what can be done when WordPress and internet marketing ideas are put together. I hope you find it useful and enjoy using it. Hopefully, this will help sow the seeds of how powerful WordPress can be and the potential of using it as the #1 CMS solution. All it would take is a little focus, time, effort and some co-operation.

WordPress as an effective search engine optimized eCommerce site? It’s all very possible…

Bye for now,

Zain