Headless WordPress and More with Ivan Popov

During my participation in WordCamp Porto, I had the opportunity to attend Ivan Popov’s presentation on Headless WordPress. This is one of the obscure areas of SEO, and I want to share some insights with SEJ readers.

Headless WordPress offers the ability to power many channels from your WordPress installation.

We can push data from WordPress to:

  • Mobile app.
  • Website.
  • Third Party Apps.
Image source: Slide from Ivan Popov’s presentation at WordCamp 2022

This makes WordPress more than just a CMS; it integrates with the entire ecosystem of web and mobile applications where users can always enjoy using the WordPress admin panel.

It also brings developers of modern technologies like React.js or Node.js into a WordPress world and makes it appealing to the younger generation of developers who prefer to learn modern programming languages.

But, the main question for SEOs is always: “What does this mean for SEO?”

In order to find out more, I did a short interview with Ivan Popov, CEO of Vipe Studio and speaker at WordCamp Europe 2022.

Headless WordPress is one of the obscure areas for SEOs. Many SEOs don’t understand why it’s used or what it should be used for. When to use Headless WordPress and when not to use it?

Ivan Popov: “I believe the real value of Headless comes when we have a high traffic website, a high traffic site, for example. We’re just not talking hundreds of visits, we’re talking millions of users.

They need real power and real value, because it’s not the technology that’s just right for starting a business. Rather, they are the more expensive ones that I really advise only using if your website gets enough value and is big enough.

    Introducing Ivan Popov on Headless WordPressThe average hourly rate for React developers is higher than WordPress. Image source: Slide from Ivan Popov’s presentation at WordCamp 2022

“In addition, the SEO problem can be solved. It may be fully SEO ready, but it’s not like WordPress where you can just install a plugin and get it working.

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 tech team, every SEO problem you might face is solvable – fully solvable.

If you have a simple business website, like a corporate website or a simple store, you shouldn’t worry about using Headless. You mentioned that it is suitable for high traffic websites. How many users per day, per hour?

Ivan Popov: “We are talking about highly visited websites. Like for example, if they have a thousand visitors every second, or ten thousand online readers reading the news, then we are really talking about high traffic websites.

Headless does not rely on caching, which is critical when dealing with highly dynamic websites that have custom content, job postings, or listing websites with hundreds of thousands of web pages .

Caching risks that the user will not always receive a fresh copy of the web page, while Headless will always provide the live data.

Have you seen any indexing issues that headless websites might suffer from? Headless SEO issues?

Ivan Popov: “Not only did I see no issues, but I saw benefits because Headless WordPress websites, for example, provide perfect green scores (Core Web Vital) page speed testing tools and also Web development tools testers.

And because of those green results and good ratings, websites actually benefit from SEO rather than having trouble.

So you haven’t seen any indexing issues, such as pages being removed from indexing?

Ivan Popov: “No, as long as everything is configured correctly, no problems can occur.”

So these are the basic SEO best practices that should be implemented with Headless WordPress. If implemented, will the website rank normally?

Ivan Popov: “Absolutely. The thing here is that it’s not like plugins that are just plug-in and play.

You need technicians who have to do everything manually. But as long as it is properly configured, you cannot lose any ranking.

For those who want to learn Headless WordPress, what kind of teaching materials do you recommend?

Ivan Popov: “Because everything is open source, you can just try to learn it the way you traditionally approach new technology. Just read as much material as you can. There are plenty of free materials as well.

Everything is open source. There is a community. So everything is just beginning. Start a project – the first project is the hardest – but then try to make things as complicated as possible, and you’ll learn naturally, just like tackling any new technology.

In your presentation, you mentioned that Headless WordPress based on NextJS is more SEO friendly than ReactJS. Can you please elaborate more on what kind of problems one might encounter while using ReactJS and what kind of opportunities are there for NextJS as you call it a more framework SEO friendly?

Ivan Popov: “For example, if we’re using a configuration with ReactJS and reading data from the REST API, we’re relying 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 clawed back, which isn’t very reliable in SEO because SEO relies on Google having quick access to meta, to SEO titles, to description titles – things like these.

Those are the issues that can result, but for example, if you’re using the following website with, say, a graphical communicator, then we’ve pre-rendered everything on the server side, and then we don’t have any issues.

Basically, Google is able to index meta descriptions as part of the HTML and not during the rendering phase. Rendering can sometimes be computationally intensive and Google may drop indexing during rendering.

Ivan Popov: “Yes okay.”

If e-commerce, when would you recommend Headless? For eocmerce shops with a number of products, customers, etc. to consider switching to Headless.

Ivan Popov: “When we use it for e-commerce, we have to be very careful. It scales to department stores, not just any store, but a department store. We’re basically building everything from scratch.

When it comes to woo e-commerce, we have plugins for payment types and shipping providers. If you are moving to Headless, our developers must code these integrations.

So, now our developers have to code integrations for payment providers and integrations for shipping providers.

So we will still benefit from it because our online store is getting super fast and served worldwide to millions of customers but on the other hand the investment is much bigger because you have to invest in the coding of every feature that your website is involved in. ”

In the case of e-commerce, is it better to consider other platforms rather than Headless?

Ivan Popov: “I can’t say that because I’m a die-hard WordPress fan, but you have to make sure it’s worth the investment.”

Conclusion

Headless WordPress is a complex technology, and its use must be justified by business objectives.

It’s completely redundant and a waste of budget to use Headless WordPress when you have a basic website or blog.

This should be considered an option when you need cross-platform capabilities or a highly dynamic website with hundreds of thousands of pages, whether you use Headless or don’t always use the inspection tool. Google Search Console URL to see how Google crawls your web pages.


Featured Image: Primakov/Shutterstock

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