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Demand for WordPress is up 11.3% in 2023, demand for WooCommerce up 1.0%

Demand for WordPress is up 11.3% over the last 12 months, and demand for WooCommerce is up 1.0% over the same period.

These are the headlines from our latest WordPress search volume analysis. This gives us a lens into the state of different segments of the WordPress economy and the pace of its growth.

We collect data on hundreds of thousands of keywords in order to power our FALCON AI. Last year we released our WordPress Weather Report, which we’ve been updating weekly since, in order to give a real time view into the growth of the WordPress economy.

The Weather Report remains incredibly useful, but it’s a rolling average and thus tells you how we’re doing versus the previous period. It’s useful to zoom out and take a closer look at the data occasionally, and that’s what this post does.

Half a million more people are searching for WordPress and WooCommerce solutions, every month

Growth in demand for WordPress, at 11.3%, is up 53% from the growth rate we measured last year. This equates to half a million more WordPress and WooCommerce searches each month, compared to the same time last year.

Given the maturity of the WordPress ecosystem, in its 20th year this year, double-digit growth is something to be pleased with. Certainly, my experience with WordPress for 15 of those years tells me that whilst there are things all of us want to improve, market growth keeps everyone happy.

Chart of year-on-year % change in demand for WordPress and WooCommerce, showing 2023

WooCommerce has had a much tougher year. After years of record pandemic-related growth, the increase in demand of only 1.0% is rough.

We can put WordPress and WooCommerce’s growth in context by looking at growth going back to 2020, when we first started measuring changes in demand.

You can see that WordPress’ growth has been pretty consistent, with an average of 6.5% YoY growth over the last 4 years. WooCommerce, on the other hand, has a higher average growth rate of 12.1% but it’s primarily powered by the increase in 2020:

Chart of year-on-year % change in demand for WordPress and WooCommerce, showing 2020 through 2023

All of the above is mid-year to mid-year. If we break out the last year’s data, we can see:

Chart of month-on-month % change in demand for WordPress and WooCommerce, showing 2022 to 2023

You can see the fortunes of WordPress and WooCommerce are closely linked. The growth is very similar, but you can see WooCommerce’s fortunes are a bit more erratic, with stronger negative swings.

We’re measuring the month-on-month search volumes for approximately 100,000 keywords on WordPress and WooCommerce topics (which is roughly all of them). This is not CMS market share: instead, it’s demand for solutions around WordPress and WooCommerce. CMS market share measures the overall size of the pie; the search volumes give us more insight into the activity of those sites.

As in previous years, we’re looking at a “basket” of keywords: we’ve taken all the keywords and aggregated their data in order to get these results. The methodology is tried-and-tested over a couple of years (2020, 2021, 2022), and as in previous years the dataset is significantly larger than before. The 2023 dataset is 273x larger than the 2020 dataset. More size increases our coverage and increases the quality and reliability of these figures.

Half a million more people are searching for WordPress and WooCommerce plugins each month

We’ve previously seen the demand for plugins outstrip the demand for WordPress in general. This year we still see this, and demand for WordPress plugins increased 11.24% year-on-year.

This is 7% higher than the growth in general demand for WordPress. Here’s the aggregated demand for plugins, month-on-month:

Chart of month-on-month % change in demand for WordPress plugins, showing 2022 to 2023

Our dataset now covers every conceivable plugin and solution users are searching for — the dataset on plugins is 50x larger than 2 years ago — and with this comes a closing of the gap between plugins and the rest of the market.

Inside the community, we’ve known for 10, 15 years that plugins are essential for enhancing a WordPress site, but the alignment of WordPress’ general growth with growth in demand for plugins tells us that consumers needed a while to get the same message. We’re no longer seeing that plugins get to be their own special category in WordPress’ growth; their fate is now intrinsically linked with the overall health of the project.

The small % numbers can make these numbers feel small. The 11.24% increase in demand for WordPress and WooCommerce plugins equates to ~100,000 more monthly searches for plugins, for a total of ~1 million plugin searches per month.

WooCommerce’s growth has slowed significantly

WooCommerce has historically been the standout performer in our demand analyses. In previous years we’ve seen growth as high as 52% month-on-month. This year, growth has slowed right down with only a 1.0% year-on-year demand growth.

The month-on-month data gives us a little more insight:

WooCommerce has a lot of good months, but we’re seeing big swings in activity: up one month, and then down the next. The biggest 3 months were all followed by decreases the following month.

WooCommerce has historically seen big spikes in the run up to Black Friday. We only saw a modest run-up this year, with October/November being the only consecutive demand growth months.

There’s a reasonable thesis that the pandemic accelerated WooCommerce’s growth by a couple of years, and we’re seeing the tail-end of this now. The pandemic, arguably, pushed businesses who need a web presence into making a website in March/April 2020. We’re then seeing fewer businesses start stores now.

This thesis does make sense, although it raises an interesting question: is there, for all intents and purposes, an infinite supply of businesses needing WordPress and WooCommerce websites? Or is the pool much more finite than we realised? We might be finding out it’s the latter.

We’re fortunate not to have too much pressure from public markets, in the way, say, Shopify has; the market is still growing and we need to come up with better solutions to help people build, maintain, and grow their eCommerce stores.

Hosting, speed, and enterprise are the most valuable portions of the market — but they’re growing at a slower pace

The average CPC across all the keywords in our dataset is $13.67, which is relatively high. We’ve written before about how buying search traffic has become more popular in recent years.

I’d like to focus our analysis on the top of the market. High CPC generally corresponds with high product/service value or high purchase intent. I therefore sorted the keywords by average CPC as of June 2023, and then filtered to return the top 0.5% keywords with the highest CPC.

The average CPC for the 500 keywords in this dataset is $64.31, which is 4.7x higher than the average across all keywords.

This gives us a very interesting insight into the most valuable products and services in the WordPress ecosystem. To understand it better at a higher level, we took the keywords and performed topic clustering to group them by topic. This gives us the most valuable parts of the WordPress ecosystem:

HostingAWS, managed hosting, self-hosting
High-value integrationsSalesforce, BigCommerce
Agency servicesDevelopment, speed optimization, accessibility

You can notice a couple of things here:

  • Hosting, especially expensive or bespoke hosting, remains one of the most valuable parts of the WordPress economy.
  • Bespoke and enterprise WordPress services, including headless, enterprise migrations (from platforms like BigCommerce), and cloud infrastructure like AWS sounds expensive, and is also one of the most valuable parts.
  • Site speed remains essential and extremely high-value. We noted a couple of years ago how every WordPress host claims to be the fastest. You can see why that’s still the case: people want faster and faster sites, and demand for this topic remains strong.

Whilst demand overall increased 11.3% across all keywords year-on-year, we however only saw a 6.1% increase for this most valuable segment of the market.

I suspect this fits with what we’ve seen from those who operate in this high end of the market, especially the biggest WordPress agencies: whilst the outlook continues to be positive and there is growth, that growth is a bit slower than the “consumer” market at large and has also been up-and-down over the last 6 months in particular.

More and more people are searching for WordPress and WooCommerce solutions — how are you capturing that demand?

I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you: THERE ARE A MILLION PEOPLE A MONTH SEARCHING FOR PLUGINS! Half a million more people are searching every month for WordPress solutions, versus a year ago!

SEO Content remains by far the best way to make sure your product is seen by those million searchers each month: with ads, the minute you stop paying, you stop getting visitors. SEO Content that ranks keeps getting you the traffic, every month. In a scenario where that search demand keeps increasing at speed, as we can tell is clearly the case, being at the top of the search results pays off huge dividends.

Ellipsis is a best-in-class SEO Content agency. We take care of the entire process end-to-end, from SEO strategy, to in-house writing, to tracking and reporting for you, and we deliver results, powered by our proprietary FALCON AI.

You might like to read some of our recent case studies about how we achieved:

We produce best-in-class content specifically for WordPress and WooCommerce businesses. If you’d like to understand the opportunity for your business better, get in touch today!

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Alex Denning

Alex Denning is the Founder and Managing Director of Ellipsis®, a world-class SEO Content agency. Alex is the inventor of FALCON AI®, the next-generation AI SEO platform that helps you predict how your content will perform – before you create it. Alex is an international speaker and publishes regularly on the future of SEO. @AlexDenning on Twitter