In the last decade, WordPress’s market share grew from a little over ten percent to over one-third of the web. This makes it the most used Content Management System (CMS) by a large margin. Can WordPress still grow, and where will that growth come from? Is WordPress your best bet as a CMS? Here’s why I firmly believe that WordPress will cross the magic 50% market share mark before the end of this decade while being the best choice for individuals, businesses and enterprises!
At the time of writing (June 2020), WordPress’s market share is at a staggering 37.3%. At the start of 2011, its market share was 13,1%, so it reached an average growth of 2.47% per year.
If WordPress continues at this rate, we’ll end up with over 60% market share on January 1st, 2030 (hitting 50% at the end of 2025). However, as WordPress is already used by so many websites, where will those new users come from and why will WordPress be interesting to them?
“In the coming years, 3 billion new people will be connected to the internet. WordPress is free to use and translated into over 50 languages. As translations are a community effort, they don’t need to make sense from a business perspective.” said WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg in this 2017 interview.
I agree that this will be a logical driver for adoption from a macro perspective. However, I will look at it from an enterprise perspective, presenting you five drivers that will fuel further WordPress adoption this decade:
- WordPress at Scale: Enterprises use WordPress too!
- The WordPress Ecosystem and Its Economics
- Marketing is Changing and WordPress Fits in Perfectly
- Google Loves WordPress
- WordPress and e-Commerce
After exploring these drivers, you might agree that just half of the web at the end of this decade, or even by 2025 is a conservative estimate. Joost de Valk, the founder of Yoast SEO, made a bold guess: “WordPress has reached critical mass in multiple ways and is on its way to 50%, maybe even within the next two years”.
1. WordPress at scale: Enterprises use WordPress too!
Is WordPress a tool for blogs and small businesses? Yes, it is! But it’s not just for them. 2,645 of the top 10,000 sites on the web are built with WordPress. There’s a reason why TED, News Corp, Disney, New York Post, and many more are using it.
“We make it simple to create and deliver modern customer experiences at scale. Why is simplicity so important? The simpler your tools are, the more likely your team is to actually use them.” states the website of WordPress VIP, responsible for many enterprise WordPress websites.
Large WordPress specialized agencies such as 10up, Human Made, Pragmatic Agency, and also Automattic itself recognize the potential of its usage at scale, introducing WP VIP.
Even if your website is currently not built with WordPress, you can still use it. Our agency receives more and more requests from big e-commerce companies for publishing content, seamlessly integrated with existing e-commerce and CRM platforms.
Thus, WordPress at scale? Many enterprises preceded you. These enterprise use-cases will bring other enterprises and major digital agencies to WordPress, contributing to the road to 50%.
2. The WordPress Ecosystem and Its Economics
Often, open-source communities and software have the reputation of being slow-evolving, insecure, and not enterprise-ready. WordPress is different. We matured massively on three important aspects: technology, finance, and community.
Over the last years, the APIs of both WordPress and WooCommerce have thrived massively, integrating seamlessly with many tools on the web. Simply said: if there’s no WordPress connector for the system you work with, there might be no connector at all.
A few examples:
- There are over 36 plugins that integrate Mailchimp with WordPress, the most popular one being WordPress for Mailchimp (over one million active users!);
- Software-as-a-Service tools Zapier makes you connect WordPress to over 2.000+ different platforms, including Google Docs, CRMs, and more. Often without even touching one line of code;
- Deep custom integrations with back offices like Salesforce or ERPs, where WordPress feeds the back-office, acts as an interface to the back-office, or a combination of both;
- WordPress is a major player in headless CMSs (decoupling content management from the front-end), feeding both apps, second screens, and lightning-fast sites.
This makes WordPress a perfect building block for your tech stack, being highly connected to CRMs, ERPs, and any other organizational workflows.
Financially: $300M Investment from Salesforce in Automattic
WordPress.org offers open-source WordPress. On WordPress.com, the WordPress software is utilized in a Software-as-a-Service model by Automattic, which was founded by WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg. WordPress.com and WordPress.org benefit two-ways, having a flywheel effect on each other. If Automattic grows, WordPress grows and the other way around.
And Automattic grows. To give you an indication: recently they onboarded Salesforce, the multi-billion recurring revenue CRM solution, as an investor. Is this just for fun? Probably not, since 10% of the shares were sold for $300M, valuing Automattic at a stunning $3 billion.
And although that’s an investment in Automattic, here’s an interesting number on the balance in revenue between Automattic and WordPress’ ecosystem. In 2017, Matt Mullenweg stated: “For every dollar that Automattic makes, twenty or twenty-one dollars are made by the other companies in the WordPress ecosystem” concluding “When you are able to create a platform in a movement, it doesn’t just benefit one company, it benefits a whole ecosystem”.
Community: WordPress’s Healthy Ecosystem
You can’t mention WordPress without mentioning its community. On a yearly basis, over 1000 events with highlights like WordCamp Europe (3500 visitors) and WordCamp US (2500 visitors). The community consists of tens of thousands of developers, designers, copywriters, business owners, freelancers, and others. Beyond these, there are major players participating too:
- Automattic is the biggest contributor to the open-source WordPress software, with over 100 FTE working on WordPress Core;
- Google has, by contributing to projects like AMP, Progressive Web Apps, Site Kit, a growing team significantly contributing to WordPress Core;
- Yoast (you know them from “WordPress SEO”) contributes massively to the entire ecosystem. Their SEO software is running on over 10M WordPress sites and they have 10 FTE working on WordPress core development. That’s 10% of their staff! Why? “To grow Yoast, we need to grow WordPress”, founder Joost de Valk stated.
The quantity and quality of the community, combined with the healthy and well-funded ecosystem and technology, are a fruitful basis to evolve on.
Let’s broaden the vision: in what world does WordPress operate?
3. Marketing is Changing and WordPress Fits in Perfectly
The world wide web is ever-changing, which causes marketing methods to change as well. How does WordPress adapt?
How Digital Marketing changes: Zero Click Results replace Links to your Website.
Search engines play a big role in the number of visitors your platform gets. In 2016, already 71% of all purchases started with search engines.
This number didn’t shock me, but this one did: the increase of Zero-Click results (a rich result in Google which tries to answer the users’ question without the need to visit a website). Today, over 49% (!) of all searches end without a click to a website like yours.
How do you make sure that Google presents your information, product, or service as a rich result and not that of your competitors?
“Lots of content on the web is hard to process and understand. It’s not structured, which is why, in 2011, they launched Schema.org, A structured way to make sense of the content on your website,” says Jono Alderson, head of special operations at Yoast. Only by integrating Schema.org deeply, explaining all your content in detail, will Google consider your site to be, indexing it above that of your competitor.
How to integrate Schema.org deeply? Here’s your answer!
The Gutenberg Editor
In the early ’00s, WordPress was the first open-source CMS with a well-functioning WYSIWYG editor. I firmly believe that this led to its initial mass adoption. In 2016, WordPress started to fully redesign its editor, called Gutenberg. The idea of Gutenberg is that every component will be modular until everything is a block, and blocks are structure!
Due to its modular nature, Gutenberg is the perfect fundament for WordPress to benefit from the changing marketing dynamics on the internet.
With its simplified block-for-everything approach, the author automatically makes content ready for Google to interpret it with Schema.org. A product, a review, a recipe, an event, how-to information, quotes, products; you name it and you can create it in a few clicks from your Gutenberg editor.
WordPress and Gutenberg can lead toward perfectly structured data without writing a line of code. Thus, shifting to Gutenberg makes sense from both an editor perspective as a marketing perspective. Hence another logical driver for WordPress’ further adoption.
If you’re not working with WordPress; the good news is that Gutenberg is already ported to other platforms like Drupal and Laravel. The bad news is: Gutenberg alone doesn’t do the trick. Gutenberg is where content is created, while Google is the place where buyers start their journeys. How to bridge the gap in between? Let’s shift gears and take Google’s perspective.
4. Google loves WordPress more than any other platform
In 2019, Jono Alderson, head of special operations at Yoast, gave a keynote in which he elaborated on Google’s massive involvement in WordPress and the reasons behind it: “To stay the dominant search engine, Google needs robust structured markup on every single website. It’s in Google’s benefit to create a level playing field where every small business can win. If it’s difficult for small businesses to compete, they go to Facebook and advertise, or sell their products directly through Amazon, resulting in Google’s index becoming smaller.”
Google has to make sure that content and e-commerce won’t end up in closed app stores. This is part of the reason why they came up with Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and Progressive Web Apps (PWA). These aim to make the web so lightning fast that there’s no need to ever make an app again.
“Google realized that they can only fix the web if they work on the underlying technologies that power those websites, which is why they are now deeply invested in the WordPress community”, Alderson continues “At Yoast, we’re working with Google to tie all of these bits together. We’re the glue that connects your AMPs, your Gutenberg, and your Schema.org, and so on. And yes, you can do all of this without WordPress, without the AMP plugin, and you could roll your own Schema.org solution instead of using Yoast SEO, but you will lack the flywheel effect of tying it all together.”
Alderson concludes in his talk:
- If you’re building your own technology stack, that’s probably a bad investment.
- If you think of WordPress as a toy for amateurs which is not suitable for B2B or enterprise, you should probably reconsider.
- If you or any of your competitors are embracing this new stack, they now have an insurmountable, unfair advantage on multiple fronts.
Even if you are comfortable with spending $100K a year on integrating your platform with Google, you might be better of having a WordPress-based stack, as it is like having Google’s team working on your site, full-time.
By just updating your WordPress plugins, your website also gets better over time. It automatically adopts these new features. This fact alone makes the business case for using WordPress no brainer, albeit only for the content part.
And yes, I agree that having Google in your site can be scary, but knowing the positive impact of ranking high in Google – both natively and paid – I’d rather join them than keeping them out.
5. WordPress and e-Commerce: WooCommerce wins massive market share
With the support for Magento M1 ending and the acquisition of the Open-source Magento by Adobe, Magento’s market share (and therefore Open-source e-Commerce) is decreasing rapidly. This creates opportunities for other solutions to grow, like Shopify, which became a major e-Commerce player. Luckily WooCommerce (an e-Commerce plugin for WordPress) is positioned well to fill the Open-source e-Commerce gap that Magento will leave behind. In the last 12 months, WooCommerce grew from 4,6% to 5,9% of the web, an increase of 28% (!):
Source: CMS market share: November 2019 analysis by Joost de Valk
To be honest, I never advise enterprise shops with 1000s of products to use WordPress as their e-commerce solution, but I will always advise them to manage their content with WordPress. For smaller shops and large shops with small amounts of products, WooCommerce is a very good solution.
WordPress growth in e-commerce will be two-fold: users will move from another platforms to WooCommerce, and big e-Commerce websites will start to use WordPress on the side as their content solution.
WordPress is here to stay. Are you?
WordPress’ unique market position and strong fundamentals make it the best solution for websites with a strong focus on content. Enterprises use it, tech giants embrace it. It’s an economic and sustainable choice for businesses of any size, enterprises included.
What are your thoughts? Does the onboarding of Google and Salesforce into the WordPress ecosystem as long-term partners make sense to you? Do you agree that the sum of these drivers make WordPress the go-to CMS for the coming decade? And are you, therefore, convinced that WordPress will reach the 50% market cap? Let me know what you think in the comments!
Jelle van der Schoot and I invested numerous days putting this article together, aiming to showcase WordPress’s massive potential to any possible stakeholder. Thank you for writing this together, Jelle!