Web design and development may be the largest, but unserviced, SEO product in demand.
It seems like most businesses follow this formula: building a website first, worrying about the SEO later.
But as I'm sure most of us have seen, it's hard to give results to our clients when they operate a five page site using Wix or Weebly.
Of course, it can be as difficult to work with a client using a WordPress website that has errors that can take hours after consultation to disclose.
Web design and development should be developed with SEO thinking in mind.
While I admit that my knowledge of website design and development is arbitrary at best, my experience and knowledge of the industry has shown me that some platforms are better for SEO than any others.
Website vs. Builder. CMS: What is the difference?
Unless you're a coding genius, most website development projects are built either using a fairly basic website builder or a more sophisticated content management system.
A website builder should be quite familiar to anyone in SEO. The most common examples include Wix, Weebly, and GoDaddy Website Builder.
Web builders incorporate UX drag and drop and UI which makes it easy for anyone to build a site without hiring a developer.
For this reason, website builders are often a great choice for small businesses that have been strapped with cash, although this comes at scale cost and sophistication.
While a website builder offers intuitive style features, developers will be forced to make any changes to the backup or files that are maintained by the builder.
For this reason, developers often prefer the flexibility and empty slates that CMS like WordPress provides.
Content management systems are software applications that enable developers to store and structure content on their site.
It is often a misconception that WordPress is a website developer, when it really is a CMS that can incorporate website builders and other plugs into its API.
Using CMS, developers are free to:
- Add their own HTML.
- Handling .htaccess files.
- Organize content on their website, whichever they choose.
In addition, CMS platforms offer themes and templates that can make building pages much easier.
Advantages of Website Builder
- Easy learning curve.
- Cost effective.
- Features drag and drop.
Cons Builder Website
- Limited development options.
- Often, poor URL structures.
- Some schemes may be limited in size of pages.
Benefits of CMS
- Flexibility / sophistication.
- Data management.
- .htaccess file management.
- Plugins and SEO tools.
- Simple and intuitive interface.
- Steep learning curve.
- Easy to cut.
With this in mind, you may be more likely to turn to CMS for the extra SEO value. But different businesses should look at different options.
The following factors should determine which platform you are using to build a new website:
- Your budget
- Your level of expertise
- The purpose of your website
Which Program is the Best for Your Business?
An open source WordPress software platform and library of plugins means that this is the one of the most robust CMS for SEO professionals.
WordPress is great for companies that produce lots of content and are looking for simple designs.
Plugins, such as Yoast and WP Rocket can help improve your SEO strategy on site.
WordPress offers flexibility and adaption to website designers and developers who need them to create a SEO-friendly website that is fast and responsive.
One issue that often arises with WordPress is its security.
WordPress is right for most publishers and businesses, but some e-commerce companies and financial institutions prefer their own proprietary code and other platforms for this reason.
Shopify is one of the most innovative web builders on the market.
Perfect for e-commerce stores, Shopify allows webmasters to create a business and online market all in a self-contained platform.
Businesses do not have to worry about hosting guests and they have the flexibility to modify their CSS and HTML, however, as they wish.
I recommend Shopify for small retailers and mom-and-pop stores that are looking for a more sophisticated platform then Etsy or a basic website builder.
Squarespace has long been a favorite website builder for small businesses, offering impressive design templates and flexible pricing options.
Squarespace is one of the best website builders for small, local businesses who don't have a ton of money to drop into a new website.
With that said, Squarespace is getting smaller when it comes to SEO features and other API integration.
Its lack of support for third party apps and restrictions on what you can do on the back of a website means you will have to go the extra mile in terms of marketing to reach new customers.
Messaging with meta data on Squarespace can be a bit tricky and many of their SEO features, such as setting up redirects, are too easy to count for first time users.
You won't have much love for Wix in the SEO community, it's like a Wix builder is the best solution for creating a small website that is thin on content.
Wix is affordable and very simple to design, and Wix is a great short-term solution for websites that don't require a huge organic presence over traditional search to succeed.
Of course, Wix's SEO features are bare bones at best. Wix is really limiting your ability to optimize new content, set up canonical tags, or add new marks to your site to help search.
Worse, it is not possible to export data from Wix.
Finally, Weebly is the most simple website builder on this list. Its drag and drop features make it easy for anyone who doesn't understand source code to create a website.
Unfortunately, Weebly makes it difficult to implement advanced technical features, such as schema necessities and other technical SEO.
Worse, moving from the Weebly site to the Wix or WordPress site is extremely frustrating. In general, I ran weekly as one of the worst website builders, although it's not a bad place to start a small business.
Further SEO Considerations for Website Development
You want search engines to see the exact page that a user sees.
Design for Mobile First
All mobile phone designs should be considered first.
Whether you build a WordPress or Wix website, it is important that your actual design complies with the smaller physical screen size requirements and different user habits.
With the first-mobile index, search engines will rank sites that provide the following:
- Responsive web design
- Fast page speeds
- Easy accessibility
Finding a robust website builder and CMS that can account for these considerations is important for your ongoing SEO.
What are your favorite tools and platforms?
Every web designer and developer has a different philosophy on how to balance their UX and SEO.
How do you go to this topic? What insights can you provide to help bridge the gap between website development and SEO?
I would like to read your comments in the comments.
Featured image: Pexels
All screenshots taken by author, March 2019