WordPress and Unicorns (Or: Why I Actually Love WordPress)

unicorn1The irony of SEO is that nearly everything involved in the industry is speculation and theory. Everything is based on experimentation and observation, so it comes as somewhat a surprise that my last article was received with such criticism.

If you ask me, it makes perfect sense that Google could potentially penalize based on a site footprint. I’ve talked with a few SEOs who also claim that moving away from WordPress has helped their rankings. You can try this, or you can patch your WordPress up with the following suggestions.

Ready for a shocker? I use WordPress. I just keep it locked down and believe that I’m better off not identifying the fact that I run WordPress to search engines.

Call me crazy but I’d squeeze every last ounce out of it and I have absolutely nothing to lose by experimenting with new strategies. What do you have to lose by trying?

If you don’t want to experiment with new techniques or strategies, then feel free to download this totally free Google SEO Starter Guide eBook that will give you plenty of great tips and call it a day.

Now, as mentioned previously, there are lots of ways you can fix WordPress and make it not appear to be WordPress. [Note of warning: if you’re still reading this and disagree with the idea that WordPress could be fingerprinted and potentially penalized in the future, then save yourself some needless aggravation and please stop reading.]

There are already techniques out there that solve the issue (do a Google search for “hide wordpress version”, “hide wordpress installation”, and “secure wordpress”).

Now for some basics:

Hiding the WordPress Version Number

Throw this in your theme header and your version number will disappear magically.

! remove_action(‘wp_head’, ‘wp_generator’);

Did you know Google uses the WordPress generator tag to fingerprint your site? If you run old versions of WordPress, Google Webmaster Tools will actively check your sites and keep you informed, letting you know you’re out of date and need to upgrade WordPress.


Hiding the version number will stop Google from fingerprinting in the most basic sense at least.

What About Security?

Files and folders such as wp-login.php, wp-admin, and wp-content are pretty easy identifiers that you’re running a WordPress installation. The easiest way to identify WordPress: readme.txt. Just try it. Load your site and request the readme.txt. It will tell you what version is running and is one of the ways I use to detect what platform a site runs.

Hiding these files and directories can help you protect your installation. This plugin does the job pretty well and also includes the version number hiding.

If you want more technical details on how to hide anything, there are other resources out there which explain tips and techniques (do a Google search for “hide wp-content” or “hide wp-admin”), or feel free to contact me for help.

Related reading

How to take advantage of the latest updates to Google Search Console
Using Python to recover SEO site traffic (Part three)
how to make SEO-friendly Javascript websites