Headless WordPress CMS – A Perfect Choice For a Marketer?

‘How do I get the most out of my WordPress website?’

‘Why is my WordPress website running so slow again?


Arnold Schwarzenegger losing his mind in Total Recall

Every marketer working with a WordPress website

Let’s face it: WordPress can be a pain in the marketers’ neck.

You’ve been doing your best to optimize your WordPress website, yet lately, it’s been working slower, bringing you less traffic and fewer leads. It’s become bloated with plugins that need to be constantly updated and seem to get heavier every day and no tricks seem to be helping your SEO ranking. 

You’ve come as far as considering trying out headless architecture or even moving away from WordPress altogether. However, you can’t fathom all the hassle that migrating all of the data would cause so you’re feeling a little bit stuck. 

I have some good and some great news. The good news is that you don’t need to give up WordPress and all of its benefits in order to go headless, so no need to worry about the migration part. The great news is that WordPress is a truly exceptional headless CMS, so it’s an absolute win-win.

In this article you’re going to learn the answers to the following questions:

  • What is headless CMS and how can it improve your website’s performance?
  • Why headless WordPress in particular can give you the edge you need?
  • What is Jamstack and how can it enhance your website’s SEO ranking?
  • Should you stick to the current WP back-end, or go with a native headless CMS?

If you already know the answers to these questions and are simply looking for ways to get going, feel free to skip right to this article.

What Is Headless WordPress And How can it boost the SEO rankING of your site?

In a nutshell, Headless WordPress is when you’re using WordPress as your website’s back-end (or in this case a headless CMS) while using a separate entity (usually a JavaScript one) as its front-end. But let us explore the subject a tiny bit deeper.

Traditional CMS vs. Headless CMS

How Does Traditional CMS work?

The traditional (monolithic) CMS approach throws all the good stuff—content, images, HTML, CSS—into a smoothie maker, which is then set to maximum speed. That’s not good either for marketers or web developers.

Even though traditional WordPress continues to be more than enough for most people, for competitive websites and for developers alike, headless offers that little extra when it comes to content management, adaptability, or SEO optimization. But more on that in a bit.

The monolithic CMS stores all the information inside a single ‘head’ (the front-end of your website), and that head is always connected to the body (the back-end). In this traditional system, the head and the body are integrated as one; the head can’t be separated from the body. If it is, everything else falls apart.

An image representing the traditional architecture workflow: Editing Interface - Database - Presentation Layer.

The rise of microservices and the omnichannel landscape

The traditional CMS was initially structured directly for websites, and, at the time, it offered everything that was needed. You may think of the traditional CMS as an all-in-one approach; it’s good for everything but not perfect for anything in particular. 

Fast forward to 2022, technology has come a long way and in some cases, traditional CMS simply isn’t enough anymore.

As we continue to move away from regular desktop devices to more and more channels & services like mobile apps, TVs, smartwatches, fridges, and all the other Internet of Things tech, the need for a multichannel approach that can deliver data to those devices becomes key. And that’s where headless content management systems shine. 

An example image of Internet of Things devices and the importance of having a headless content management system that can send the data to each device fast.

How Does Headless CMS Work?

Let’s start with technicalities. Four major elements make headless what it is. You may connect your headless WordPress CMS to pretty much any publishing front-end, usually a JavaScript one, giving you the power to choose which front-end tech you want to use. 

What that basically means is that you’re the one calling the shots on whether you want to use Angular, React, or whatever your heart desires. Then, you have a back-end specifically for creating and managing your content and a separate back-end database for storing the content and the assets. 

Content management becomes much more pleasant, as all of your content can be stored and re-used, making it so much easier to sustain compatibility across platforms and projects. What’s even more interesting, is that instead of coupling your content to a specific output, headless provides you with content in a raw data format through an API. 

When we separate the codebase into two repositories, implementing tests and deployment becomes easier. 

An image representing the headless content management system workflow: Editing interface - Database - API - Presentation Layer.

Redesigning traditional content management systems to fit any other interface is extremely difficult and time-consuming, if possible at all. When working with a headless model, you simply take what you’ve already got and push it through your back-end to your front-end. That way, you can test and deploy your content much quicker and far more efficiently. Moreover, it allows you to change one without affecting the other.

speed up wordpress page and use it as a healdess cms

Headless Makes Your Platform Run Faster

According to conversion optimization specialists at Crazy Egg, each extra second your website takes to load causes a 7% conversion loss. I mean, who likes to wait for a website to load? This means that a 0.25-second load time improvement could boost your conversion rate by 1.75%!

A typography-based visual discussing the importance of the website's load time for SEO and performance.

Why WordPress Is an Excellent Headless CMS

One thing about WordPress is that it works really well as a headless CMS. Let’s talk about the benefits.

  • Headless WP outperforms traditional WP – Building a detached front-end for your WordPress website gives you access to JS libraries like React, Vue, and much more. That, in turn, opens unlimited front-end possibilities, allowing you to build personalized, high-performance tools, so you can give up on the vast majority of plugins that slow your website down.
  • You get to keep WordPress – You get to keep WP as your back-end. That means you are able to continue to use your favorite and most popular CMS. No need for migrating your content or re-training staff.
  • Unlimited customization – With a headless CMS, you get to stand out and get ahead thanks to the custom-made design. You can now rock highly-personalized animations, charts, or tables that will inevitably outmatch the off-the-shelf WordPress themes of your competitors, making your WordPress site far more unique.
  • More Responsive – Since your pages are custom-made using the most advanced frameworks, they are far more responsive than in the case of a monolithic WordPress. Your website is sure to work like a charm!
  • Your middleman in providing content – Think of it this way: WordPress functions as a content provider for your website; the back-end of your WordPress site provides the content to your front-end through an API. Once the content is ready, it is passed to the middleman, and sent to the front-end magicians who can then use pretty much any tool they want to tailor the code to the needs of a given interface.
  • More USPs – Thanks to the custom-made and off-the-shelf feel of your new website and numerous performance benefits, your project is sure to garner additional USPs!
A visual representation of the headless WordPress CMS workflow.

What is Jamstack and how can it boost your SEO ranking

Originally, the JAM part of JAMstack used to stand for JavaScript, API, and Markup. Nowadays, however, Jamstack has evolved even further, so it’s more of a buzzword for a development approach rather than an acronym for just these three specific features. 

The goal of Jamstack architecture is to make the web faster by taking full advantage of the benefits of decoupling. Jamstack is a microservice-based architecture perfect for building highly-responsive static pages and websites. It makes your websites faster which can benefit your Google ranking.

In simple terms, with Jamstack, you get:

  • All the perks of the headless approach
  • Better load speed and overall performance
  • High traffic resistance (you don’t need to worry about your website crashing once you go viral)
  • Improved security
  • A wider range of SEO tools 
What Jamstack is and how it works

Want to learn more about Jamstack and static pages? Check out this article!

Why Are Marketers Losing Their Heads Over Headless WordPress and Jamstack?

Let’s see. Jamstack is:

  • Lightning-fast 
  • SEO-efficient
  • Totally safe and scale-proof
  • Insanely well optimized for lead conversion 

But what does that mean for your website and its future?

Headless WordPress, Jamstack, and The General Direction of Web Development

As more of your competition begins to switch to Jamstack, you’re starting to wonder whether it’s the right direction to follow. Well, the answer is: it depends.

The most recent trends continue to suggest that modern web development is shifting towards JavaScript, big time. JS frameworks like React, Gatsby, Next.js are all becoming the new staple development tools for setting up websites and apps.

As you’ve learned in the previous sections, there are plenty of reasons why that is. However, there is one especially distinguishable feature that seems to make the difference when it comes to positioning on Google: load speed

Headless websites and apps boast improved load speeds, which in turn translates to better user experience as well as higher positioning in Google Search. 

Headless WordPress—The Future of WWW

You might have deduced that much yourself by now, but let me show you some real data. 

A study of the WP Engine undertaken by Vanson Bourne sought to assess the overall state of the headless technology. As it turns out, the study had found that 64% of enterprise organizations are currently using a headless approach. What’s even more interesting is that a whopping 92% of respondents claimed that deploying headless technologies makes it easier to deliver a consistent content experience. Feeling behind the curve yet? 

Why Are Marketers Gravitating Towards Headless WordPress Specifically?

Because they don’t want to get left behind!

Most marketers, as well as tech teams, are already very well-acquainted and in love with WordPress for its extendability. As mentioned before, headless WordPress, in particular, gives you nearly endless control when it comes to development, allowing your front-end devs to run rampant with JS, providing the user with a more unique and user-friendly experience.

Think of it this way: by going headless you’re combining the best of two worlds: you get to use the latest front-end tools while continuing to benefit from the world’s most popular and loved CMS. What else can you ask for?

Jamstack Makes Your WordPress Stand Out

With Jamstack, you can build super-fast, highly-customizable static pages, but that’s not all. You get much more:

  • Component-based approach and design systems – The component-based nature of React (one of the frameworks used to build headless WordPress front-end) encourages custom design systems – which are not only efficient internally, but a smart way to gain recognition externally too.
  • More efficient ecosystems – Building a detached front-end for your WordPress website opens you up to the React (or Vue, if you prefer that route) ecosystem. That gives you unlimited front-end possibilities, so you don’t have to add plugins that slow you down, but build your own features with no harm to the speed and performance of your website. This way, you can stand out with animation, interactivity, charts, or tables, and you have more options and tools available at your disposal.
  • Your page becomes more SEO-efficient – thanks to the static nature of Jamstack websites, they are super-fast, light, and SEO-efficient.

Rank Higher on Google using Headless WordPress

How does headless WordPress make your website more SEO-efficient?

  • Greater control of your code – WordPress used as a Jamstack headless CMS gives you and your development team greater control of your code. This allows you to take advantage of programmatic SEO, a system of generating many highly targeted landing pages to gain greater organic SEO traffic to your website.
  • Better page speed – Page speed helps your Google rank too. As previously described, the faster your website is, the higher Google will consider it for ranking purposes.
  • Modern tools become available – Headless WordPress lets businesses leverage the SEO advantages of both modern JavaScript frameworks and WordPress as a CMS.
  • Improved Scalability – Once you and your team have managed to develop a well-oiled headless content management system for your WordPress, not only does it upgrade the UX of your website, but it also improves the internal efficiency within your team. When you’re using headless, scaling up on your projects becomes a breeze as your content can continue to be developed on WordPress, regardless of what’s going on on the front-end. Since you are now an API-first shop, you can respond to your user’s needs in a snap.

How Headless WordPress Can Help You & Your Engineering Team

  • Long-run cost-efficiency – When you help your developers by allowing them to do their jobs more efficiently, you can reduce costs in the long run for your business.
  • Separation of Concerns – Jamstack is revolutionizing the way we perceive workflow. When breaking away from the traditional content management system, you get to separate concerns. Simply put, all of your data lives in WordPress, while your front-end can be whatever you like, be it Vue, Gatsby, or React. 
  • Greater Clarity – Your front-end developers can take care of the front-end stuff, the back-end ones can do their back-end magic, same as your engineers. This model simply allows for a smoother transfer of data and faster results in general. By actively focusing on and addressing your team’s needs and expectations, not only do you ensure they can work to the best of their abilities, but you also attract top new talent. 
  • A true win-win scenario – In the long run, your developers are more fulfilled being able to work using the latest tech, while you reap the benefits of having a more efficient and happier team. 

Quick poll

Which option would you consider in the future?

9 votes

When to avoid Using Headless WordPress CMS

Common Circumstances That May Obligate You to Stick With Traditional WordPress

There are only a few reasons to stick with traditional WordPress. For one, if you’re set on using a page builder like Elementor. If you’re relying heavily on free WordPress plugins and are not quite willing to invest a little bit extra into more advanced tech, you’re probably better off without a headless CMS. Keep in mind, however, that as you continue to grow, you will most likely have to make a switch at some point anyway.

You’re an All-Marketers Team

If you lack the developer brainpower, i.e. don’t have a web development team that can get things done, you might want to give headless CMS a pass for now. Without a doubt, headless is great for those who are more tech-savvy or have a team of developers who can run the show for them. However, if you’re neither, then having to deal with all the code stacking, APIs, and JavaScript stuff yourself will probably just make things more confusing. 

You Want to Benefit from All Jamstack Features of Modern headless Native CMSs

Okay, so you don’t have a team of seasoned developers at your disposal but after reading this article you can’t imagine a life without all the headless and Jamstack goodness. ‘Gosh’, you wonder, ‘how do I get all the benefits of a headless architecture without doing all this coding stuff, man?’.

 Well, the fact is that WordPress is not necessarily the easiest solution when it comes to Jamstack integration. Since WP is not a native Jamstack CMS, it has to be optimized quite a bit more to run smoothly. 

So, if sticking to WordPress is not an absolute necessity for you and your business, you might want to consider using a native Jamstack CMS like Storyblock, Prismic, Sanity, or Agility. 

A YouTube video discussing Jamstack, WordPress and Other Low-Code Alternatives.

Wrap Up: Why You Should Use WordPress as A Headless CMS.

Advantages for marketers:

  • You have a new competitive advantage (a performant website).
  • Improved load speed that results in higher Google Search positioning as well as greater conversion rates.
  • Far more room for custom and creative projects that can improve the overall UX of your websites.
  • You have your content already there.
  • You know how to use this CMS.
  • Your back-end is hosted separately from your front-end resulting in greater overall safety. 

speed up wordpress page and use it as a healdess cms

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