SEO has become a fundamental aspect of web marketing practices: moving up those all-important page rankings is a serious business for any self-respecting organization after all.
For an in depth look at Local SEO and how it relates to real estate check out our Ultimate Guide to Local SEO for Real Estate.
So is there anything in these rumors that suggest using a website building platform will mean you end up being prejudiced against in terms of Google page rankings?
Yes and no, because as long as you use a well-respected website builder to complete the task, there is no reason why your SEO efforts shouldn’t be every bit as successful as constructing your customized site on WordPress. But let’s delve a little deeper.
Website Builders VS. WordPress
WordPress isn’t a website builder. It can be used to build a website, of course, but that is not its primary function, for WordPress is actually a content management system (CMS), which means you can control every aspect of your site using a product such as WordPress.
With most website builders, you ca only do what the product says on the tin: build a website. That will mean you’ll then need a CMS to manage your newly established website, and it may turn out that WordPress is the very solution you are looking for.
But let’s focus solely on building your site, and before we delve strictly into SEO, let’s look at some of the broader considerations when making a decision between WordPress and a common Website Builder, such as Weebly or Squarespace.
How easy are they to use?
This is a great place to start, because the vast majority of people or companies who are looking to build a website are not technical experts. That means they are looking for something which will allow them to perform the task without fuss, and without many of the technical considerations someone with more experience and expertise would seek out.
To start with, a platform such as Weebly utilize page editors which help you insert and remove pages and elements as easy as anything. The user interface on WordPress is a little different, but what WordPress does well is uses a system by which you can see what you are building as you build it, essentially by dragging and dropping elements, akin to a basic Word document. However, where WordPress may fall down for some is that to insert themes or plugins, you may need to implement a little bit of coding, which would not be the case with many of the best-known website builders on the market. There are definite pros and cons to consider here, and in terms of those tricky elements of using WordPress, you can always engage some assistance.
How flexible are they?
Here’s where WordPress really comes up trumps: you can use it for everything from an online bog to an online store.
This degree of flexibility can obviously mean navigating around can get a little more complex at times, so you win some and you lose some, but it all depends what you really need.
What about themes and plugins?
As touched upon previously, the sheer number of themes and plugins available on WordPress make it the choice for those who are looking for something a little more comprehensive in terms of what their website can actually do.
If you want it, chances are there is a WordPress plugin that can do it. But then we are back into the realms of simplicity Vs variety. Horse for courses, as they say.
How easy are they to host?
When you use a website builder, hosting will be taken care for you, and everything will get set up and configured on your behalf – there is great value in that. With WordPress, you will need to seek out a web host by yourself. There is a greater degree of flexibility here, though, as you could switch users whenever you want, whereas with a website builder, you are essentially stuck to the one service.
Now let’s talk about SEO
This is why you are here, right? We want to know what is best – website builders or WordPress – for maximizing your vital SEO efforts that mean so much to every organization.
So let’s break it down and see what both have to offer in this context.
Website builders and SEO
As touched upon previously, there are issues around the effectiveness of some website builders when it comes to SEO, simply because they do not hold much weight with the most powerful search engines.
Yet with the well-established platforms, that is simply not an issue, and there is no reason why any website builder couldn’t be every bit as effective as WordPress when it comes to SEO, but then it depends on capabilities.
As standard with the vast majority of website builders, you will get the SEO standard (and essential kit) of items such as:
- Customizable meta titles
- Alt text
- Keyword support
- SSL certificates
- Social media integration
In short, all of the necessities which facilitate important SEO practices. A sitemap will often come as standard too (as it does with Squarespace, for example) as will certain other elements such as indexable pages, so, in essence, you are fully setup and optimized before you even begin to insert all the little cheats and tricks that we know influence page rankings.
WordPress and SEO
What, then, about WordPress? Does it not deserve its reputation as SEO royalty?
Unlike website builders, the site you construct on WordPress will not be automatically optimized for SEO purposes, so this is something you will have to manage yourself. Of course, this frightens people depending on their level of experience with such things, and to the uninitiated, the idea of a website builder setting all of that up for you as standard can be mightily enticing.
However, on the other hand, if you are a little bit more clued in with how to set your site up to really maximize SEO efforts, then WordPress provides the capability and flexibility that a standard website builder just cannot match. There are plugins to help as well, so you need not be totally alone in your quest for SEO glory, and there are plenty of online resources and providers such as JasonFox who can assist you set everything up so that you are totally SEO compliant.
There’s another thins to consider here too, and it all comes down to the reams and reams of content that have been created regarding Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERP), including user guides and best practice documents. Absolutely nowhere in any official guidance does it suggest that Google discriminates against website builders. In fact, the focus is always on how you set up your site rather than the platform you use to do it.
Fundamentally, Google doesn’t care if you use a website builder or WordPress, and it is all the standard practices of:
- Quality content
- Making your links relevant
- Optimizing your site for mobile
- Having the necessary security certificates
and so on that really make the difference when it comes to SEO, and of course all of these things are eminently achievable on both website builders and WordPress (just once again on WordPress you will need to set a lot of that up yourself).
In Google’s Webmaster Guidelines it references Wix (a popular website builder) as being crawlable by Google bots, and Google even has its own website building service, Google Sites. Furthermore, Google Domains has established partnerships with a number of high-profile website builders, including the aforementioned Wix, Squarespace and Weebly. It is highly unlikely that Google would be prejudiced against website builders with these kinds of activities.
Both Website Builders and WordPress have their pros and cons, and clearly there are added benefits based on the level of experience and expertise a user has in terms of constructing a site and optimizing that site for search engines.
Yet what is clear is that there is no fundamental bias in terms of the biggest search engines favoring WordPress over website builders, but instead it comes down to choosing what is best for your requirements, based on your technical ability, and the implementing all of the SEO techniques that have become established best practice in terms of exploiting SERP.
First you must think long and hard about what exactly you want your site to look like and what you want it to achieve.
Then you need to consider your capabilities, and the time and resources you can commit to constructing your site.
Professional help can be sought to fully maximize a WordPress-based site, for example, and of course the capabilities of this kind of site will be potentially greater than anything you can achieve with a website builder. You have more flexibility too in terms of hosting, but again it all depends on what you really need from your site, and what your future requirements will be.
The fact is, both can offer the solutions that people are looking for, it just may be that those individuals are not necessary the same.
Content marketer Micahel Dehoyos is usually found assisting organizations in their digital marketing approach. He is an editor at Academic brits, and a regular contributor to many other well-known sites and respected publications.