I love WordPress, and have developed sites using WordPress.org for years. As a WordPress.org fanatic I never thought I’d be writing a blog post about the pros of WordPress.com, but after taking a good hard look at it recently I’ve realised there are actually more advantages to using WordPress.com than I thought. Here’s what I found:
There is no bandwidth limit
So, you could have a site with hundreds of thousands of hits per day, and you do not have to pay more for this (nor will your site go down). If you self-host your website, many hosts stipulate a bandwidth limit on your package. Many hosts will also say bandwidth is unlimited, but if you read the small print you will see they have set the bandwidth limit to a level they assume most small bloggers will not reach. If you pass this limit, your site will go down, generally until the end of that month.
Security is taken care of
When you self-host your site, you need to make sure you have regular site backups and employ various measures to keep your site secure. With a site hosted at WordPress.com this is taken care of for you. All sites are served over SSL, and WordPress.com utilises encryption, firewalls, and monitoring to help protect against DDoS attacks. You can also sign up for two-step authentication to make your site even more difficult for attackers to gain entry to. This is more than enough for most small sites.
You have control over your backups
If you self-host your site you are responsible for making sure your site and it’s contents are regularly backed up. As with security, WordPress.com regularly backs up your site (daily from what I can tell). This again is absolutely perfect for most small to medium sites. However, it seems what they backup is just your theme, so if you want to back up all your content you can use the export option to export the content of your site as an XML file. As with WordPress.org, you can utilise some of the backup plugins available if you have a Business plan, OR you can upgrade to a paid plan on VaultPress which is included in the free and personal plans by default.
Other backup options include subscribing to your blogs RSS feeds (and in so doing backing up all your blog posts).
Out of the box, the SEO is quite good
WordPress.com take care of 80-90% of the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) mechanics behind the scenes for you. What you need to do is write consistently and provde useful information about the topic or product you want to rank for, as well as make sure you make best use of on-page SEO – just as with any site. Every site has an XML sitemap, and you can also link to Google Webmaster tools to help you identify any issues with your site.
Your content is not tied in to WordPress
I find that with some website builder services, if you choose to migrate your site you cannot easily and cleanly migrate your site content. As with WordPress.org, WordPress.com allows you to export your site content for use elsewhere.
You CAN have a completely custom design
It is possible to have a completely custom design for a site hosted on WordPress.com. While with the Premium plan you can customise CSS to make an existing design look unique, in the Business plan you can upload themes (and install plugins for custom functionality as well).
Ease of Use
Setting up a website with WordPress.com is incredibly easy. This is one advantage of WordPress.com over WordPress.org for users who want a very easy-to-set-up website.
Is there more?
I’m sure there is! I’ll do my best to keep this list updated as I uncover more.
However in brief, as a ‘safe’ option for a small – medium blog or brochure site with simple requirements, WordPress.com is definitely a contender. I’d certainly recommend it over any of the other page builders out there. And even for larger sites, the premium plans will allow you to have a custom site with all the support you could need – with the Business Plan for example you could have a custom theme and functionality, as well as the support of the crew at WordPress.com.
As Matt Mullenweg (WordPress founder) has been quoted as saying:
Hosting your site on WordPress.com is like renting an apartment, as opposed to a self-hosted WordPress blog that you own outright.
With a self-hosted WordPress blog, you can do anything you want. Knock down walls. Redecorate it any way you want. But you’re responsible for the upkeep as well. (i.e. security update, backups, feature upgrades)
Whereas with WordPress.com everything is done for you. But you lose some control. Can’t have a yard. Can’t tear down walls, etc.
So for the security and knowledge that everything has been taken care of for you, and still getting prime real estate that can bring through as many visitors as you want, WordPress.com is a great choice.