A full-time sponsored contributor to WordPress discussed how publishers and members of the search marketing community can influence WordPress so that it’s more useful for all the things they want it to do.
The person I spoke with was Naoko Takano, a full-time sponsored WordPress contributor whose focus is on contributor experience improvement. She has also been responsible for organizing WordPress events in Asia.
Many regard WordPress as software to manage content. But WordPress is more than that.
WordPress is actually a community that creates WordPress together.
As part of that reality, WordPress holds community organized conferences called WordCamp where members of the WordPress community attend workshops and presentations.
But, as far as I know, it’s never been a high priority with the search marketing community or even with publishers.
It seems like many of the publishers and SEO professionals who use WordPress don’t participate in the WordPress community itself.
I asked Casey Markee of Media Wyse (LinkedIn), a consultant for Food and Recipe bloggers, why WordPress publishers don’t seem to get involved with the WordPress community.
Casey offered this opinion:
“I think that’s a valid statement that publishers don’t get involved with the WordPress community.
I can’t tell you of any of my clients who have even considered going to Wordcamp and all I do is WordPress sites.
With the free training, masterminds, other conferences, etc, Wordcamp is not really a top recommendation.”
Perhaps the lack of interest is a perception that WordCamp is for developers and web designers, not for publishers and SEOs?
What WordPress Events Offer SEOs, Affiliates & Publishers
A September 2023 WordCamp in Rochester, New York has sessions about:
- Improving sales pages
- Using AI with WordPress
- The pros and cons of page builder plugins
- Tips on how to cultivate long-term readers
WordCamp is a chance for everyone who uses WordPress to share their ideas about what they want for WordPress and to share how to have success with it.
What follows is an interview with Naoko Takano, a full-time sponsored contributor involved with community at WordPress.
Interview With Naoko Takano of Automattic
It seems like WordPress core contributors seem to get the most spotlight.
However, about non-developers and programmers?
Question: How can SEOs, affiliates and publishers make WordPress better?
More than 20 Make WordPress teams regularly contribute to the project in different ways—from documentation and translation to marketing and support.
A new Sustainability team was formed a few months ago to help ensure sustainable practices and processes for WordPress.
Projects like the Photo Directory have introduced new ways to get involved in the project, catering to those interested in openly licensed photography.
Inclusivity is a core principle of the community, which strives to provide contributing opportunities for everyone.
Moreover, ongoing efforts are to improve the contributor journey and onboarding, such as the WordPress Mentorship pilot program.
For those unsure where to get started, this new tool aims to help them identify areas of contribution that match their skills and interests.
I get the feeling that there are subsets of WordPress users like SEOs, food bloggers, affiliate marketers, and local businesses (plumbers, restaurants, etc.) who may have specific needs that they’d like to be understood by the WordPress ecosystem.
WordPress Wants Insights From Real Users
Question: What would you say to those people who may not know that they can contribute to the development of WordPress?
Contributing to WordPress means your skills, needs, and interests can drive innovation and progress within the project.
The insights from real users are immensely valuable and can help shape WordPress in ways that benefit everyone.
You can share feedback, join discussions and events, report issues, or even participate in testing.
Feel free to reach out through the official forums or local meetups.
Together, we can make WordPress even better for all its users.
Question: What is WordCamp?
“WordCamps are community-organized events where people who use, build, and work with WordPress come together to learn, contribute, and connect.
They typically include talks, panel discussions, and occasional workshops and hackathons. WordCamp organizers are encouraged to create welcoming and open events, so content often ranges from web development to business to content writing.”
Question: How do WordCamps fit into the overall WordPress community?
“WordCamps began as a gathering for like-minded individuals, but they have grown to become a key connector within the WordPress community—nurturing education, collaboration, and inclusivity.
Like occasional in-person meetings in distributed companies, WordCamps have been essential for the open source project collaboration, allowing contributors to meet and bond.
With 1179 WordCamps across 393 cities in 65 countries (as of August 2023), they have acted as a grassroots marketing tool in the early days of community marketing, with enthusiastic users teaching and inspiring others.
In light of changes in how people gather, especially in recent years, the community looks to evolve the purpose of WordCamps and introduce innovations in both format and content offerings.
While we are seeing a new wave for WordPress events, their core values of inclusion and diversity remain the same.
Fresh, new ideas for events are not only welcome but highly encouraged.”
Offer Feedback To Your Favorite Plugin, Themes & Web Hosts
Plugin makers, hosting companies, and other well-known brands associated with WordPress attend WordCamps.
Question: Are there opportunities to meet with these companies and provide feedback or get more information about how they can help publishers?
“WordCamps often include a designated area with sponsor booths where companies display their products and services.
Representatives from these companies are present as attendees during the event and at after-parties, and they welcome people to ask questions, provide feedback, and learn about their offerings.
WordCampers love “hallway tracks” where informal conversations and networking happen outside the scheduled sessions.”
WordPress Events Are Opportunities To Grow Your Business
It seems that publishers should be at the heart of the WordPress community.
What can you say to publishers like food bloggers or affiliate marketers that would encourage them to attend a WordCamp?
Question: What’s in it for bloggers and affiliate marketers? What can they get out of it?
“Attending a WordCamp or WordPress event provides publishers, bloggers, and marketers valuable insights into the ongoing evolution of the WordPress platform and its ecosystem, such as plugins and themes.
WordCamps present numerous opportunities to grow their business and build connections in diverse ways, particularly through networking and learning from experts and fellow creators.
These events are designed with an inspirational approach and contribute significantly to the personal and professional development of those participating.”
The Difference Between WordPress.org & WordPress.com
For some users of WordPress, it might not be apparent that there’s a difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com.
Question: Where do WordPress.com and Automattic fit into the overall picture of WordPress.org, the CMS most people use?
“WordPress (often referred to as WordPress.org) is free, open-source software that anyone can download and install on the hosting platform of their choice.
Supporting its mission of democratizing publishing and the freedoms that come with open source is a large community of people and organizations collaborating and contributing to the project.
Throughout its 20-year history, WordPress has given rise to an ecosystem that represents a thriving economy in its own right, being the foundation for commercial products built on top of the open source software, such as WordPress.com—owned and operated by Automattic.
WordPress.com is a fully hosted version of WordPress with added features for security, speed, support, and more.
In other words, there’s no software to install or manage.
You can just sign up and start publishing content.
In addition to WordPress.com, Automattic has other WordPress-related commercial services and products and significantly contributes to the open source project.
Resources like this one from Learn WordPress provide a more detailed explanation of the differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com.”
The Future Of WordPress
The WordPress open-source project is a remarkable success story that has many chapters yet to be written.
Question: What are some of those chapters that users can look forward?
“The present and future of WordPress hold exciting opportunities for everyone, from builders to enterprises.
Explorations for Phase 3 of the WordPress roadmap, which have already begun, are focused on fostering real-time collaboration and streamlining the publishing flows to improve how creators and teams work together within WordPress.
This will help pave the way for the much-anticipated multilingual feature (Phase 4), making WordPress more accessible across different languages.”
How Can Publishers, Bloggers and Search Professionals Get Involved?
The publishing community, including affiliates and search marketers, have specific needs for how websites perform.
But these people are not coders.
Question: How can search marketers, affiliates and other publishers help make WordPress better for their specific requirements?
“Participation in future development is not limited to coding; it involves providing feedback, testing new features, and sharing feedback with the community of contributors.
By actively engaging, every user can have a say in shaping the future of WordPress and ensuring it remains a platform that thrives in the changing digital landscape.
WordPress Belongs To You
The search marketing community, for a long time and even today, experienced frustration from the low core web vitals scores of WordPress sites.
I can’t help but think that if SEOs and publishers had participated more in the WP community, core web vitals would have been addressed years earlier.
We can dump on WordPress and point fingers but ultimately, WordPress is all of us who use the CMS, so some of those fingers should rightfully point back at us.
An important takeaway from this interview is that WordPress does not improve in a top-down manner, where SEOs, affiliates and publishers passively wait for improvements to happen.
There are many opportunities that WordPress offers publishers and SEOs to get involved, including testing and offering feedback.
WordCamp is something that all publishers should view as important to their business.
It’s an opportunity to tell the people who make the plugins, the business that host your sites and create the themes, the people who work on the WordPress core what we want to see improved, what features we need right now to make our businesses perform better.
There’s a lot going on at WordPress where publisher and SEO influence is needed.
Check out the WordCamp schedule to see if there’s one near you.
It may help you improve your bottom line.
Logo by WordPress/Featured image by author