While attending WordCamp Porto, I had an opportunity to attend Ivan Popov’s presentation on Headless WordPress. It is one of the obscure areas for SEO, and I want to share a few insights with SEJ readers.
Headless WordPress brings the opportunity to feed many channels from your WordPress install.
One can push data from WordPress into:
- Mobile app.
- Third-party apps.
It makes WordPress more than just a CMS; it integrates into the whole ecosystem of web and mobile apps where users can still take advantage of using the WordPress admin panel.
It also brings developers from modern technologies such as React.js or Node.js into a WordPress world and makes it attractive to the younger generation of developers who prefer to learn modern programming languages.
But, the main question for SEOs still is, “What does it mean for SEO?”
In order to learn more, I have done a short interview with Ivan Popov, CEO of Vipe Studio and a speaker at WordCamp Europe 2022.
Headless WordPress is one of the obscure areas for SEOs. A lot of SEOs don’t understand why it is used for or what it should be used for. When should Headless WordPress be used and when should it not be used?
Ivan Popov: “I believe the Headless real value is coming when we are having a high traffic website, a really visited one, for example. We are just not talking about hundreds of visits we are talking about millions of users.
They need real power and they need real value counts because it’s not the technology that is suitable just for starting business. It is more of the expensive ones that I really advise to be used only if your website is getting enough value and it is big enough.”
“Also, the SEO problem can be resolved. It can be fully SEO-ready, but it is not just like WordPress where you can simply install a plugin and make it work.
Here, you need developers to do the job – even the simplest task requires developers to do it.
As long as you can invest in your technical team, every SEO problem you may face is resolvable – fully resolvable.”
If you have a simple business website, like a company website or a simple shop, you should not worry about using Headless. You mentioned that it’s suitable for high-traffic websites. How many users per day, per hour?
Ivan Popov: “We are speaking about heavily visited websites. Like for example, if they have a thousand visitors every second, or ten thousand readers right now online reading the news, so we’re really speaking about highly visited websites.
Headless does not rely on caching, which is essential when it comes to highly dynamic websites which have personalized content, job postings, or listings websites with hundreds of thousands of webpages.
Caching risks the user to not always receive a fresh copy of the webpage, while Headless will always provide the live data.”
Did you see any indexing issues Headless websites may suffer from? Any SEO issues from Headless?
Ivan Popov: “Not only have I haven’t seen any issues, but I have seen benefits because Headless WordPress websites, for example, provide perfect green (Core Web Vital) scores from page speed tester tools and also the web dev tools testers.
And because of those green results and good grades, the websites are actually benefiting with SEO rather than having issues.”
So, you didn’t see any indexing issues, such as pages dropping from indexing?
Ivan Popov: “No, as long as everything is setup correctly, there is not an issue that can occur.”
So, it comes down to basic best SEO practices that should be implemented with Headless WordPress. If implemented, will the website get ranked normally?
Ivan Popov: “Absolutely. The thing here is that it is not like plugins that are just plug-in and play.
You need the technicians that need to do everything manually. But as long as it’s set up correctly, there is nothing that you can lose the rankings from.”
For those who want to learn Headless WordPress, what kind of educational materials do you recommend?
Ivan Popov: “Because everything is open-sourced, you can just try to learn this like you traditionally approach new technology. Just read as much material as you can. There are a lot of free materials as well.
Everything is open-sourced. There is a community. So, everything is just starting. Starting a project – the first project is the hardest – but then try to do as complicated things as possible, and you will learn naturally just like approaching any new technology.”
In your presentation, you mentioned that Headless WordPress based on NextJS is more SEO friendly than ReactJS. Can you please expand on that more in what kind of issues one might run into when using ReactJS and what kind of opportunities are given NextJS as you name it a more SEO-friendly framework?
Ivan Popov: “For example, if we are using a setup with ReactJS and reading the data from the REST API, then we rely on real time communication between the REST API on WordPress and the ReactJS website.
That’s why, at some point, this communication can interfere or something can be fetched, which is not super reliable when it comes to SEO because SEO relies that Google has quick access to meta, SEO titles, description titles – things like these.
Those are the issues that can result, but for example if you are using next website with, let’s say, graph communicator, then we have everything server side pre-rendered, and then we have no issues at all.”
Basically Google is able to index meta descriptions as a part of HTML and not at the rendering phase. Rendering sometimes may take big computing resources and Google may drop off from indexing during rendering.
Ivan Popov: “Yes, correct.”
In case of ecommerce, when would you recommend Headless? For eocmmerce stores with a certain number of products, customers, etc. in order to consider switching to Headless.
Ivan Popov: “When using it for ecommerce, we should be really careful. It is scaling for large shops not for any shop but for a large shop. We are basically building everything from scratch.
When it comes to woo ecommerce, we have plugins for payment types and shipping providers. If you are switching to Headless, our developers need to code those integrations.
So, now our developers need to code integrations for payment providers and integrations for shipping providers.
So, we will still benefit because our webstore is becoming super fast and getting served globally to millions of customers, but on the other side, the investment is a lot bigger because you need to invest in coding every single functionality your website is involved in.”
In the case of ecommerce, is it better to consider other platforms instead of Headless?
Ivan Popov: “I cannot say this because I’m a die hard WordPress fan, but you need to make sure the investment is worth it.”
Headless WordPress is a complex tech, and using it should be justified by business goals.
It is completely redundant and waste of budget to use Headless WordPress when you have basic website or blog.
It should be considered as an option when you need cross-platform capabilities or a highly dynamic website with hundred thousands of pages, no matter you use Headless or not always use Google Search Console’s URL inspection tool to see how Google does crawl your webpages.
Featured Image: Primakov/Shutterstock