Which Website Builder is Best for SEO?

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I am looking to build a new site and want to use the best website builder to help get Google traffic via SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) so that my blog gets traffic quickly .

I understand that good SEO is something that has to be built into a Web platform from the ground up, and that it covers every aspect of site design, from Page load time and speed to HTML structure, avoiding duplicate content, and so on.

Apart from having to learn how to create search optimised content, I want to use the Web design software tools that provide the best underlying SEO software.

Which of the major hosted website builders offer the best platform for SEO, and, are there ways for me to test how good or bad my site's SEO is?

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Choosing a Website Builder for SEO

The major online Web design platforms do a good job of building best practice SEO into their software. The reason? It's an extremely competitive niche so there is great incentive for each platform to ensure their clients enjoy the best chances of ranking in the SERPs.

Before we look at a comparison of the leading site builders' SEO performance, it's important to know what you're looking for, and how to test whether or not you're getting good value for money. There's a lot to learn, but there is also a wide range of tools to help monitor and improve your SEO.

Let's take a quick look...

Learn About SEO (Before Choosing a Site Builder)

If you want to start with a comprehensive overview of SEO, check out this complete guide to optimizing for search. You will learn about everything from:

and much more.

Test SEO (Before, During & After Choosing a Site Builder)

Once you have a website it is easy to test its SEO from here. Go ahead and enter an existing domain or webpage to make use of a range of features including their keyword research tool and backlink checker - remember you can easily research keywords and backlinks for competitors too (commonly used by SEO agencies and experts).

There are a few other online SEO tools & services that do a decent job too, so it's worth checking back here every now and then to run quick, easy and free tests:

  • WooRank: Run a free SEO audit on your domain and access a comprehensive SEO report. Comes with helpful hints and tips to improve on various aspects of your overall SEO.
  • PageSpeed Insights: A free tool by Google that analyzes the performance of your site and provides suggestions and insights into how to improve page load times.
  • Open Site Explorer: A free tool by Moz that monitors backlinks and provides metrics and insights to increase your domain authority and page rankings.

While these SEO tools can provide plenty of valuable insights, be careful not to get bogged down in these issues indefinitely. Remember,

Google wants to rank popular sites; not make sites popular by ranking them.

Focus on making your site popular and high page rankings will follow.

Website Builders (Ranked by SEO)

Some do a slightly better job than others, however, so it is worthwhile checking out the differences. Please note that we have compared eCommerce platforms with others site builders in this table, although we have specified which are which :

Rank Platform YSlow PageSpeed Load Time
1 Shopify (eCommerce) 84 84 0.89
2 Weebly 80 89 0.98
3 Bigcommerce (eCommerce) 76 95 1.52
4 Wix 84 95 1.70
5 Yola 80 86 1.32
6 GoDaddy 79 90 1.44
7 Webs 75 28 0.82
8 Homestead 79 57 2.76

These rankings give you a great idea about performance related SEO, which plays a big role in determining how Google ranks your pages (Google has stated that page load time is factor in their ranking algorithms). It is important to note that eCommerce websites have additional search optimization requirements that we taken into account for the purposes of this comparison.

Page SEO

What you want to have above and beyond great built-in features is the flexibility and control to customise them. In particular, an average page should have the following features available for editing:

  • H1 title tag
  • Meta description (& keywords if necessary)
  • URL
  • Image names
  • Image descriptions
  • Canonical tags

In addition, your Web builder should also have a sitemap file to help search engines pick up new, changed or deleted pages on the site. Fortunately, all of the major site builders mentioned above support these on-page features.

Here are our ratings in terms of SEO features, flexibility and underlying implementation:

Rank Platform Features Flexibility Implementation
1 Bigcommerce (eCommerce) All Excellent Good
2 Shopify (eCommerce) All Good Good
3 Weebly All Good Good
4 Wix Most Average Good

It's worth pointing out that there is no 'penalty' for using one site builder over another. By far, the greatest impact on how well a site ranks is the number, quality and relevance of backlinks and referrals (building your backlink profile is an entire discipline in itself - see the list of helpful articles below for more), combined with useful and interesting content.

Google Rankings (You're In Control)

I should point out that since most website building software solutions are highly configurable, it is important to realize that the Web design choices you make play a big role in determining how good or bad a site's SEO is.

In general, it is important to resist the temptation to use flashy animations, images instead of text, large images that slow the site down, too much JavaScript, and so on.

A simple, uncluttered, easy-to-understand site that is lightweight and well written will generally outperform heavier, effects-laden sites when it comes to generating organic search traffic from Google and the other search engines.

The quality of your content & outreach campaigns play a much greater role in capturing high page rankings and driving valuable organic search traffic.

In addition to the above rankings it is also prudent to take into account the mobile support features of each platform since Google announced that mobile-friendliness is a ranking factor for search (but only for searches performed on mobile devices).

Any new website (i.e. from 2015 onwards) should be responsive. So make sure you choose a responsive theme or template when designing your site with one of builders mentioned above.

Choose a Site Builder

There are two basic classes of website builder. One focuses on professional & personal sites - like blogs, schools, churches, etc. The other provides eCommerce functionality. In order to be successful in either field, your Web design & content needs great built in SEO that is specific to the type of site (i.e. SEO for eCommerce stores is different from blogs).

eCommerce

Setup a free two week trial on a top SEO platform for eCommerce, and build your own online store using the latest, cutting edge technology that makes it quick, cheap and easy to start operating. We have in-depth setup guides for the two biggest eCommerce site builders:

Shopify Setup Guide

Bigcommerce Setup Guide

Professional & Blogs

While there aren't any quick and easy startup services like the ones available for eCommerce sites, the setup involved in a professional site is also a lot quicker and easier. There are two SEO performance leaders to choose from, and you can follow a quick startup guide for either one:

Weebly Setup Guide

Wix Setup Guide

If you're not sure which one is right for you, try both. It only takes a few minutes to get setup and not much longer to get a feel for how the design interface works. Pick the one that seems more intuitive and easy for you to work with.

SEO Lessons (eCommerce Web Design Awards)

It may also be useful to take a look at the online stores that won the 2015 best eCommerce Web design awards because there are some useful SEO lessons implicit in their designs.

In particular, here are the main features of these sites that relate to search optimization:

  • Visually rich & appealing: Yes, Google still only indexes written content in order to understand a page (it can't directly understand the meaning of an image... yet). But, it is getting far better at learning what makes for a great user experience, and part of that relies on using a range of rich media, like images, videos, animations, graphs, etc.
  • Well organized content: Not only is the content on these pages useful and informative about their products, it is also laid out and presented in a way that makes it simple and easy to read. Again, this relates to creating a great user experience.

    Here's an example of nicely organized (and written) content from one of the winners, Frank Body:

    Well organized, easy to consume content for SEO

  • Quality over quantity: One of the reasons I think each of these winners created such great sites is that they invested a lot of time and effort into a relatively small number of pages. Their content is of exceptionally high quality, with stunning pictures, beautiful videos, and great writing.

    Could they have done the same job with a store of 1000 products? Probably not. But it goes to show that quality definitely trumps quantity when it comes to creating genuine quality experiences for your visitors.

I guess the basic lesson is that most of the leading hosted site builders are SEO friendly. But what will distinguish your site from the sea of competitors is how well you craft a great user experience using both compelling written content and visually rich media.