WordPress Site Identification Tips

Are you curious if a website is using WordPress? It can be difficult to tell, especially as more webmasters are hiding the fact that they use the popular content management system. In this article, we’ll explore different ways to confirm if a site uses WordPress or not, discuss why some webmasters feel the need to hide the fact they use WP, and show you a neat trick to find out what theme a site uses.

Why Do Some Webmasters Hide the Fact They Use WordPress?

First things first: you should never be ashamed of using WordPress! In fact, you should proudly tell everyone your site is powered by one of the best pieces of open source software ever created. However, some webmasters choose to hide the exact version of WP they’re using due to the ever-growing risk of being hacked. Exposing the exact version number can make a site more vulnerable to being hacked.

Most “Hackers” Are Lazy

When hackers try to take down as many sites as possible in the shortest period, they utilize a principle called the “low-hanging fruit.” This means they target the most vulnerable sites first. They either find a new WP vulnerability or choose an older one that’s already patched in newer versions but exists on many sites because people don’t update WP often enough. By using Google, they get a list of thousands of sites using those specific versions and then perform an automated attack that takes all of those sites down using the same vulnerability.

Your site might still be using that specific (problematic) version of WordPress, but if you make just a tiny effort to hide the version it uses, it’ll mean you won’t be hit in that first wave as you are not a “low hanging fruit.” That won’t help you if someone is targeting your site specifically but it will with these automated attacks.

How to Find Out if a Site Uses WordPress

1. Use a Service

As with most things on the Internet, if you need a service that automates a simple task, chances are it already exists. If you don’t want to mess with code, head over to WP Loop’s Is it WordPress tool. Enter the site’s URL, and it will tell you if it uses WordPress.

Another great resource is the SoftwareFindr Theme Detector tool. Paste in the link to the website you’re curious about, and you’ll find out in an instant if it’s WordPress and if it’s a theme you can get for yourself. SoftwareFindr also offers recommendations and reviews of top themes and plugins, so even if you can’t use the exact same theme as a website you love, you can definitely find a theme and some plugins to create a similar design.

If you’re not satisfied with the results or want more technical info, BuiltWith can help you. Type in the site’s URL and click search. You can also utilize specialized services like What WP Theme is That? to find the theme powering a site. But please bear in mind that all those sites use the methods described below. There’s no magic to them.

2. Read the Footer

Many sites are proud to use WordPress, so if you just scroll down to the footer, you’ll probably see a “Powered by WordPress” line. If you happen to be on a blogger’s site, you can find out a lot more by visiting the about, how it was made, technology stack or some similar page where an up-to-date list of all plugins and tools used to create the site is shown.

3. Dig Into the Source – The Dreaded Generator Tag

For this method and a few following, we’ll need the HTML source of the site’s home page. Right-click somewhere on the page (that’s not an image or a link) and choose “View Page Source.” Now that you have the HTML, hit Ctrl+F to bring out the search field and type in “generator.” You’re looking for a line that looks like this:

No such line? Read on; there are plenty of other methods to confirm if a site is on WP or not.

Did you find it, but it doesn’t look like that? That’s possible too. One often seen variation is just “WordPress” – that means the webmaster doesn’t want to disclose the exact WP version (which is, as we’ve already discussed, a good thing). Another possibility is that the site isn’t powered by WP so the generator can be something else, like Joomla.

4. Search for Often Used Paths

Still in the source, search for “wp-content”. Found a bunch of lines with that string? Great – the site is undoubtedly using WordPress.

Want to know what theme they’re using? Search for “wp-content/themes/”, and you’ll probably get a few hits. Now look for the line that ends in “style.css” or “style.css?v=x.y” – that’s the main theme’s CSS file. Click that link to open it or copy/paste it into a new tab. The whole URL will look something like “http://domain.com/wp-content/themes/twentysixteen/style.css?ver=4.6.1”. The first ten-ish lines of that file will give you enough data to find the theme on the web.

No luck with this method? It seems somebody doesn’t want us to know they’re using WP. No worries. Let’s continue with our detective work.

5. Check WP Specific URLs

Try opening readme.html file in the site’s root, i.e., “http://domain.com/readme.html.” If it worked, you’ll get something similar to this. No luck? Then try http://domain.com/license.txt. It should look like this sample file. Still no luck? Give http://domain.com/wp-admin/ a go, and the WP login screen should pop up.

Wrapping Up

If none of the methods above worked, then somebody invested a lot of work into hiding the fact they use WordPress or, as sad as that is, they are just not using WordPress. Have you tried any of these methods? Or do you have another to add? Let us know in the comments below!

Stay in Touch


Related Articles