Looking to build a website that builds your brand image and ranks on Google? Then you need to choose the right website platform. But with so many options and sophisticated builders out there today, picking the right one is becoming an increasingly difficult task.
To help you out, we’ve put together a list of the 10 most popular website platforms for SEO in 2020. We’ll be discussing their major features and advantages when it comes to SEO and user-friendliness.
We’ve divided them into 2 main categories depending on what you’re looking for: regular websites and blogging or eCommerce and online stores.
However, please keep in mind that you could use any platform to build a website to your liking or needs – some just work a bit better or are easier to use depending on what you’re looking for. Also, many of them work for both types of websites! Read on to find out more about each one:
WordPress has become a major player in the SEO space of the last 5 years. Originally a free and open source blogging platform, WordPress has evolved drastically with customizable themes, tools, and extensions that can add a lot of functionality to your website. It is one of the most SEO-friendly platforms due to the clean web building tools on offer.
Unfortunately, WordPress suffers due to its roots as a blogging platform. It wasn’t originally designed for certain tasks such as e-commerce, while its functionality is severely limited until you get a grasp of how the widgets, themes, and plugins work. This means that you need to have some experience on the development side of things to be able to tweak your site to your heart’s desire.
However, we have some good news! If you’re planning on opening up an online store, WordPress has recently launched its eCommerce plans – they include clean themes for the best online shopping experience with the same reliable hosting we’ve come to know and love.
Highly customizable and an attractive price, but ultimately not suitable for certain business applications due to its original nature as a blogging platform. The top highlight is its new eCommerce feature which can enable users to create an online store to their liking.
Known as a drag and drop website builder, Wix had a bad reputation when it comes to SEO. However, many of the issues that plagued Wix in the past have been fixed (such as the inability to customize page titles) and it remains a decent choice for most needs. It could be a right fit for blogs, personal websites and certain types of small businesses.
When it comes to SEO, Wix is a fairly standard choice that is acceptable but definitely not remarkable in any way. It gives you some flexibility, it’s easy to use and it works out of the box. It’s a good first choice, but you’ll definitely need an upgrade in the future. And if you’re looking for total SEO power, it may be best to seek a more complete platform from the beginning.
Squarespace is another simple-to-use website platform that allows you to create beautiful websites using pre-made templates and a simple editor. Millions of people use Squarespace on a regular basis thanks to its simple setup and integration with other services. However, there is no SEO tool built into Squarespace and you’ll need to use their existing SEO features.
Squarespace is a fantastic option that comes with great features and is simple to use. However, it’s also a little expensive. It can save you a lot of time and money, but there are more customizable options out there for people who are willing to experiment and learn their tools. It’s better suited for SMB and it’s not sustainable for the long-term when you need more control over the backend
Weebly is a straightforward do-it-yourself approach to web building. It’s possible to create a free website and the basic tools allow you to edit metadata such as tags and descriptions. There is a fairly comprehensive help page that will assist you with things such as metadata optimization and on-page SEO, but as an SEO investment, Weebly doesn’t stack up well against its competitors and falls short with its lack of features.
Weebly is a great introduction to website platforms but is overshadowed by competitors like WordPress and Wix, which offer more control, customization, and features. It is one of the easiest platforms to start a website in, store, and membership site. We highly recommend it for our clients who are just starting out!
Ghost is a simple and modern alternative to website platforms and builders such as WordPress. On the surface, Ghost has a basic interface and accessible features, but underneath the hood, you’ll find that Ghost is completely customizable and can be tweaked to your liking. The best thing about Ghost is arguably the built-in SEO and social sharing features which are easy to use, don’t require extra plugins and there is no need to hire a developer to write code. It simply works and is straightforward enough that anyone can do it regardless of their experience.
Although targeted at bloggers, Ghost is a formidable competitor in the sea of website platforms on offer right now. The pricing is fair for the features you get and it’s one of the easiest platforms to use if you want to just get started with no hassle. If you want SEO that works out of the box Ghost is the most advanced platform out there (full disclosure, we use Ghost).
A free and open source solution that rivals WordPress. Millions of downloads, plenty of developer support and a great option for businesses of all sizes.
Sadly, due to its nature as an open source platform, it does require extensive developer knowledge in order to configure its tools for optimal SEO usage. There are many settings to change, but once you grasp the basics, it’s a popular and powerful tool that grants you much more control than competing solutions.
Joomla certainly isn’t for beginners, but if you’re looking for flexibility (and are willing to learn) then it might be the right fit for you.
Shopify is another simple-to-use website platform that is targeted towards online store owners and eCommerce. It has simple integration with most payment methods and it allows you to sell physical or digital goods with no hassle. It also comes with decent SEO functions and it’s easy to add relevant keywords to products and pages.
Shopify is fantastic for anyone that sells physical or digital products, but it’s not so great if you just want a simple website for SEO purposes. It seems to perform very well in the short-term and our experience can help our Shopify clients succeed with technical and onsite SEO.
Designed for professionals. Magneto is not inherently SEO friendly (even though it is out of the box) and it requires you to change specific settings in order to get the best SEO support. There are plenty of guides (including Magento’s own support website) but it’s certainly not easy to get working. On the plus side, it’s an open source solution that developers can tweak to their liking.
Magento is used by many big names. Sadly, those big names are also backed by seasoned developers that have the time and knowledge to tweak Magento to their needs. In short, the SEO features are great if you have experience working on Magento and can be amazingly quick if you have all the necessary access and availability. If you don’t have the patience to learn how to use Magento, then it will be incredibly difficult to use.
As the name might imply, PrestaShop is similar to Shopify in that it’s targeted towards store owners. It’s ideal for newcomers that want to get started and set up their very first online store. It’s simple to use and there’s a free version available, but it suffers due to a lack of functionality when compared to similar platforms. There are several SEO options, but you will need to set them manually and there are no simple tools to help you do this unless you resort to additional modules.
Although simple, setting up Prestashop can be a hassle without any development knowledge, while a lack of simple SEO options makes it hard to recommend. The highest entry barrier or inconvenience is that PrestaShop requires users to spend more money just to make it functional.
BigCommerce is a paid hosted eCommerce solution simplifies setting up an online store and selling products. It’s similar to Squarespace and Shopify in its simplicity, so unless you’re willing to develop your own online store with a more complicated tool such as Magento or PrestaShop, it’s one of the go-to choices. The SEO is straightforward and it’s easy to change or modify settings as required.
A fantastic alternative to other simple site builders such as Shopify and Squarespace with decent SEO options to help you rank your website.
With all that said, we think that every platform can work for our clients and we have seen cases where clients have been successful in each of them, depending on their business and their needs. If you are looking to migrate to a new provider or start a new site here are the final recommendations:
Also, bear in mind that everything depends on what you need. All builders can accomplish what you’re trying to build – it’s just that some are inherently designed to make it easier. So if you’d like to build an online store directly, Shopify and Magento might work better for you. Or if you’re looking for a content website, personal portfolio or blog, WordPress and Ghost might be a better fit from the start.
But the good news is – they can all be complemented! You can now create online stores in WordPress or you can add a blog to your Shopify store. It’s all a matter of tweaking around and discovering what works for you!
Do you already have a website? What platform did you use and why? Let us know in the comments!
You need to clarify in your WordPress review that you are speaking of WordPress.com and not the opensource software.
Hi Linda, Thanks for the note.
We are talking less about the pricing and more about the SEO in this article. For anyone curious about the difference here is a good article on the subject. https://statenweb.com/blog/wordpress-org-vs-wordpress-com-which-is-right-for-you/
Also, no matter which version of WP it will cost you money in development, hosting, and your own time. There is no free lunch when it comes to building a website.
What about WordPress with Elementor?
Very easy to use?
This is getting into more custom configuration. If you give me to elementor sites one will be fast and one will be slow. Every case is unique and our overall opinion of WP as a whole is favorable.
Really interesting and useful article, thank you. Just wish I’d read it before spending two days building a Squarespace site! I’m surprised about Weebly and the keyword box. I’ve had good rankings with a Weebly site I set up for my stepson a couple of years ago. Would you recommend I remove keywords from the boxes?
Yes. Always remove it as a precaution.
So interesting. Thanks for the 2019 update. I own a wedding venue – so not really ecommerce. My goal is to get couples to visit the property. So, we have lots of pics and 360 video on our website. I’m using Wix now, and since reading your article I understand that Wix may not be the right platform for me. It was sure easy to set up and I’m not very techie at all. We’re in Texas and our area is the wedding capital of Texas. So, I need to be found. Right now, I don’t show up on the first page. I’m slao interested to learn how I can get Seri to list my site when folks ask for a wedding venue. Is there a good non-ecommerce platform for my type of business? Thanks so much!
Hi Sissi, There is a lot baked into your message. WordPress is always a safe bet because you can find developers that are cost-effective and fast. Voice search is coming, and listing your local business will influence your site to come up for voice results. However, voice results are limited where on Google you have ten listings + ad listings.
Over all I think to choose the right blogging platform depends what you website is all about, if it is for business WordPress would be great, if it’s for office use Wiz would be preferable but it’s blog alone blogger would be the best.
Thanks Michael for a great post!
Please suggest that between magento & wordpress, which will be the best platform for an ecommerce website with around 200-250 products that can be easily operated by an individual. Also wanted to know that does it effects the SEO rankings if built on wordpress with 250 products ecommerce store. Thanks:)
I like Magento; however, Shopify is more comfortable to handle if you do not have a full-time developer. Both are equally good, and I would argue Shopify is more user-friendly.
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Thanks for sharing your information. Did you know about Spurtcommerce?
Spurtcommerce launches its Multi-Vendor eCommerce Solution, built on the latest NodeJS and Angular technologies.
Hi, We tend to stay clear of super technical platforms. It requires too much technical SEO when it’s cheaper to launch a WordPress website. We need a great website to handle marketing moving forward.
Weebly supports basic SEO features like setting up Site Titles and Meta descriptions
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I like Shopify; Shopify is one of the e-commerce platforms that allows you to create online shopping websites that integrate with social networking, post products, shopping cart and payment features, order processing, all integrated with Shopify.
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