Find Out What are The Best SEO Website Builders [2019 Update]
Updated, January 15, 2019:
If you’re hoping to build an effective website that ranks on Google, then it’s essential to choose the best SEO website platform for your needs so you can get the most for your money’s worth. However, with so many platforms and sophisticated website builders out there, this has become an increasingly difficult task for everyone from influencers to small businesses to eCommerce stores—which is why we’ve written this article to help you make the best decision for you so you don’t waste time down the line.
Below is a list of the 10 most popular website platforms used for SEO. For each platform, we’ll discuss the most significant features and advantages it offers in terms of SEO. Then, at the very end of this article, we will break down the platforms and make recommendations that are suitable for influencers, local small businesses, and e-commerce small business sites.
Now, let’s dive right in to see what the best DIY website builders are for SEO!
Website Builders Featured in This Article
10. Not so Easy SEO With PrestaShop
As the name might imply, PrestaShop is similar to Shopify in that it’s targeted toward store owners. PrestaShop is ideal for those new to website building and SEO who want to get started with their very first online store.
While Prestashop is simple to use, and there’s a free version available, it suffers from a lack of functionality when compared to other platforms. PrestaShop does have several SEO options, but they have to be set manually, and there are currently no simple tools to help you do this unless you resort to additional plugins.
PrestaShop has a free option available, but you do need to find a hosting provider and install it manually. If you want to pay, PrestaShop pricing includes an option where they host it for you.
If you’re short on time and have a bigger budget, it could help to hire an expert to get your site up and running correctly the first time. We’ve handled dozens of PrestaShop stores for our own clients, and the website performance has increased in each case we worked on.
- Websites built on PrestaShop have consistently positive SEO results when they are configured properly.
- PrestaShop is available as a free download (open source) that you can configure yourself, satisfying the inner geek inside.
- SEO plugins can quickly increase costs.
- SEO configuration is automatic (global) and comes set up with plugins, so you don’t have to worry about optimizing individual pages.
- You can easily find open source XML sitemap git repositories to help you set up PrestaShop if you want to save time and money.
- Many freelancers are inexperienced with this platform, and for maintenance/upkeep you will have to hire a technology partner to help manage your site.
- We have not reviewed a PrestaShop with AMP pages integrated (read more about AMP pages here).
- PrestaShop tends to have slow mobile page speed.
While PrestaShop is a more simple option, setting it up correctly can get complicated without any solid development knowledge and the lack of SEO options makes it hard to recommend.
The highest barrier of entry with PrestaShop is that it requires users to spend more money to make it functional. With many choices at your disposal to launch a new website, the best option for SEO is further down our list. We would recommend avoiding PrestaShop unless developers, designers, and content writers are all in place to handle this project.
9. Why is Wix Good and Bad for SEO?
Wix is best known as a drag-and-drop website builder, and it doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to SEO. Many of the issues that have plagued
Wix in the past have now been fixed (for example, before users could not customize page titles) and it does remain a decent choice for most needs. We often get asked if Wix sites are SEO-friendly and what can we do to improve keyword positions with Wix. Below is our analysis:
Wix has different pricing that ranges from basic domain plans to VIP. Bundled with the plans are $75 ad vouchers, builder apps, and site booster apps which bolster the value.
- Includes a simple wizard to optimize your site.
- They fixed many of their historical issues.
- It offers a lot of features to optimize for SEO.
- Wix SEO Wizard is helpful for quick setup.
- Includes AMP pages inside of Wix which increase ranking performance.
- You cannot customize canonical tags.
- Wix does not offer FTP Access
- There is limited customization of product URLs, titles, and meta descriptions.
- We continue to see clients suffer from slow indexing even in 2019.
- SEO plugins for Wix are absent as everything is “backed in.”
- The site is AJAX based, so Google takes time to index pages.
- Does not have a modern site architecture which is far from fast mobile page speeds.
- Services/Product pages are not coded as actual web pages and therefore cannot be optimized for SEO.
- It is recommended to create individual pages for services and products to allow for optimizations for those page titles and meta descriptions.
Unless you need the most SEO power you can get, Wix is a reasonably standard choice that is acceptable, but not remarkable in any way. Wix gives users some flexibility, it’s easy to use, it requires no installation and is ready to go right away (i.e. out of the box). It’s an excellent first choice for a website, but bear in mind you’ll need an upgrade in the future, and for some it may be best to seek a better platform from the beginning to avoid more hassle later.
Wix does include new AMP pages which Google likes but it falls short on the mobile Page Speed testing receiving scores in the low 20’s to 30’s in our own testing. Wix is a global powerhouse that has saturated both domestic and international markets with its simple advertising and website builder. However, the ease of use falls short when your customers cannot find you online due to SEO.
8. Why is Squarespace Good for SEO?
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 currently no SEO tool built into Squarespace.
$26/month Basic Online Store
$40/month Advanced Online Store
Squarespace is a little on the pricier side when you consider the cost of the entry-level personal subscription, but it does offer more robust features than competing platforms.
- Visually appealing and has easy to modify HTML elements.
- Supports basic functions like XML Sitemap & Robots.txt.
- Custom SFTP access to the backend.
- Includes options for AMP pages on Squarespace.
- We have observed issues when trying to index Squarespace sites with our clients.
- We observed issues where both non-forward slash and forward slash ending URLs appear in the crawling of sites. This is a severe issue, and we have seen client sites have zero pages indexed after three months.
- There is no automatic HTML sitemap created.
- Squarespace SEO has issues with custom titles & meta descriptions on blog posts and product pages.
- Squarespace adopted their own naming system for SEO fields which can confuse customers, for example, they call a meta description an “SEO Description.”
Squarespace is a fantastic option that comes with great features and is simple to use. However, it’s also a little on the pricey side. Squarespace 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. Squarespace may not be the most sustainable for the long-term when you need more control over the backend.
Squarespace has its methods when approaching SEO, but when looking at modern features like AMP pages, SFTP access, and flexible controls, they all fall short regarding the SEO problems mentioned in the Con’s.
7. Joomla SEO
Joomla is a free and open source solution that rivals WordPress. With millions of downloads and plenty of developer support it is an excellent option for businesses of all sizes.
Sadly, due to its nature as an open source platform, it does require extensive developer knowledge to configure its tools for optimal SEO usage. Joomla has many settings that must be customized and updated, but once you grasp the basics, it’s a popular and powerful tool that grants you much more control than competing solutions.
Free (to a certain degree)
Joomla itself is free as a CMS, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be paying for other things such as website hosting. While they do offer free hosting through their partner, it’s certainly not the level of hosting you need in order to have good SEO and for overall business purposes.
- Full control over your SEO implementation,
- Well-supported community for help and tips.
- Available Joomla AMP plugins for optimization.
- Fast mobile page speed score (however, not 90 or above out of 100)
- Requires some configuration.
- Medium learning curve if you’re brand new to the platform.
Joomla isn’t for beginners, but it does offer plenty of flexibility if that’s what you’re looking for and are willing to learn. To a certain degree, it is comparable to WordPress and provides a lot of flexibility. With the flexibility in mind, this results in fragmented consistency and it is hard to tell if Joomla site A will do better than Joomla site B.
We have learned from experience the desired results will always require a developer and often clients are stuck with a site that is unsupported and can quickly fall behind in rankings against competitors.
6. Weebly SEO Overview
Weebly is a straightforward do-it-yourself approach to website building. It’s possible to create a free website, and has the necessary tools allow you to edit metadata such as tags and descriptions. There is a reasonably 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 due to its lack of features.
$4/month Connect (new)
All Weebly subscriptions are paid upfront a year in advance, and each plan comes with $100 worth of Google Ads credit.
- Most features are built-in.
- It’s the most user-friendly choice available.
- Includes a simple SEO support guide.
- Includes a meta keywords box which should be excluded from sites.
- URLs contain a .html suffix which is not clean nor modern.
- <h1> plugin has to be installed manually, and most business owners are not aware of this limitation.
- Weebly AMP pages have not been integrated into the platform.
Weebly is an excellent introduction to website platforms but it tends to be overshadowed by its competitors like WordPress and Wix which offer more control, customization, and features. It is one of the lowest barriers to starting a website, store, and membership site. We highly recommend it for our clients who are just starting out.
Where it falls short is many of the all-in-one SEO platforms include AMP pages and offer a little advantage in speed when compared to Wix or Squarespace. In our testing, we were getting 20’s on the Weebly Google Page speed test.
5. Magento SEO Plugins are Fancy
Designed for professionals, Magento is not inherently SEO-friendly (even though it is out of the box/ready to go) and it requires you to change specific settings in order to get the best SEO support. There are plenty of guides (including Magento’s support website), but it’s certainly not easy to get it working. On the plus side, it’s an open source solution that developers can tweak to their liking.
Magento as a CMS is free, but additional costs such as hiring developers and website hosting need to be considered. There is also an enterprise edition offered by Magento which can cost upwards of a thousand dollars a month.
- Average SEO features that are customizable from the backend.
- Allows for programmatic SEO changes—globally add title tags and meta descriptions.
- Allows for HTML & XML Sitemaps, and robots right from inside Magento.
- Setting up SEO on a Magento site requires admin access in some cases and a developer to install plugins. It can take weeks if there is a long change of requests, which is a huge loss in time for businesses.
- Some expanded SEO features will cost extra.
- There are URL structural issues with parameters and not removing SID parameters can hurt Magento SEO.
- You must clear the cache on pages after changes which can become cumbersome.
- It requires the use of plugins in order to enable Magento AMP pages.
- Magento creates duplicate URLs and many search engines will block your site from appearing in search results for this, so it is something you have to monitor constantly.
Many big names use Magento. Sadly, those big names are also backed by seasoned developers who have both the time and knowledge to tweak Magento to their specific needs. The SEO features are great if you have experience working on Magento and can be quick in getting it properly set up.
If you don’t have the patience to learn how to use Magento, then it will be incredibly difficult to use. Currently, it can be the most SEO-friendly when setup correctly but often works better with paid plugins. The issue with its URL structure can get you in trouble, and you need to watch out for duplicate URLs from Magento inside of Google. Finally, the speed on Magento is slow when compared to other e-commerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce.
4. BigCommerce SEO
BigCommerce is a paid hosted eCommerce solution that makes it simple to set up an online store and sell products. It’s similar to Squarespace and Shopify in its simplicity, so unless you’re willing to develop your 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 needed.
- Offers a lot of native SEO features that other big platforms do not.
- It has great support documentation and community support.
- BigCommerce supports AMP pages that can be quickly enabled.
- PHP sitemap can be a little annoying but works with Search Engines.
- BigCommerce has slow mobile page speed.
Discounts are available for annual subscriptions.
BigCommerce is a fantastic alternative to other simple site builders such as Shopify and Squarespace with decent SEO options to help you rank your website. With the addition of AMP pages, this makes up for the slow mobile page speed on BigCommerce. We have not seen yet BigCommerce rank poorly.
3. Is Shopify Good for SEO?
Shopify is another simple-to-use website platform that is targeted toward online store owners and eCommerce. It has a simple integration with most payment methods, and it allows you to sell physical or digital goods with no hassle. Shopify SEO features are also decent, and it’s easy to add relevant keywords to products and pages.
However, many of the plugins to extend the features of Shopify require a monthly subscription which can make costs go up quickly. We have yet to see a Shopify store perform poorly simply because of it being on the Shopify platform.
Enterprise option for large businesses, negotiable fees
Shopify’s entry-level is a little expensive, but there is a 14-day free trial that doesn’t require a credit card.
- There are a lot of plugins available to optimize SEO.
- There is a large community and support for SEO.
- Shopify stores seem to perform better if you are just starting out (keyword rankings for instance).
- Shopify AMP can be abled through the use of paid plugins.
- Using a lot of plugins will cost money.
- The HTML Sitemap is not free and requires payment.
- The XML Sitemap has documented issues by us here and after working with hundreds of Shopify clients we have had to apply workarounds for them, which they pay for.
- Shopify has slow mobile page speed that we found during our testing.
Shopify is fantastic for anyone selling physical or digital products, but it’s not so great if you want a simple website for SEO purposes. It seems to perform very well in the short-term, and our experience can complement our Shopify clients’ success with technical and onsite SEO. The price of the platform can also get expensive as paid plugins add up quickly. We would be happy to see more core SEO principles baked into the platform without incurring additional fees.
2. Find out if WordPress is Best for SEO
Okay, now let’s find out if WordPress really is best for SEO. The platform has become a significant player in the SEO space over the last five 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 website building tools on offer.
Unfortunately, WordPress suffers due to its roots as a blogging platform. It isn’t inherently designed for specific tasks such as eCommerce and functionality is severely limited until you get a grasp of how the widgets, themes, and plugins work. This means that it requires you to have some experience with the development side of things.
Free for life, 3GB storage, ads
$4/month Personal, 6GB storage, removes ads
$8/month Premium, unlimited themes, advanced designs, 13GB storage, monetization
$25/month Business, unlimited storage, SEO tools, plugins, themes
- It has a comprehensive list of existing plugins.
- Because it is widely used there are many resources and tutorials available covering anything you want to know and/or do with your WordPress site.
- Support can be found to help solve technical issues relatively quickly.
- AMP for WordPress is not native but options exist in the form of themes and plugins.
- WordPress can be fast on mobile as long as it is configured properly.
- The platform is complicated and can be overwhelming at times without development help.
- SEO is not “built-in” to the starter templates.
- It requires some technical experience.
- WordPress can also be slow on speed if you’re using a combination of plugins that don’t work well with the site or with each other.
- All WordPress sites are affected by the Lighthouse update from Google when they started moving sites over to mobile-first indexing.
WordPress offers highly customizable sites at an attractive price, but ultimately it is not suitable for specific business applications due to its nature as a blogging platform. This does not stop many innovative developers from finding different uses for WordPress (other than blogging) for their customers. In fact, Google is about to release a WordPress plugin that is likely going to resolve some issues we have seen regarding technical SEO. With the addition of a better page builder native to WordPress, better integration of speed, and AMP pages, it is the default choice when considering the costs and SEO benefits it offers.
1. Ghost SEO Review
Ghost is a simple and modern alternative to website platforms and builders such as WordPress. On the surface, Ghost has a primary interface and accessible features, but underneath the hood, you’ll find that Ghost is entirely 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, it doesn’t require extra plugins, and there is no need to hire a developer to write the code. It simply works and is straightforward enough solution that anyone can do regardless of their experience.
$39/month Advanced (Discontinued)
Prices are based on annual billing. Ghost also has a 14 day no obligation free trial.
- There is an extensive JSON Schema built in.
- It has native AMP integration
- There are simple metadata fields right inside the editor
- It has extensive Zapier integration and dozens of other useful integrations available.
- Allows for custom homepage design (new).
- Allows for custom URL structure and taxonomy (new).
- It is missing a native HTML Sitemap
- It can be complex to support because it is a relatively geeky platform.
- There are no eCommerce features so it falls short if you’re selling products online.
- There is a lack of support within the Ghost community.
Although targeted more toward bloggers and publications, Ghost is a formidable competitor in the sea of website platforms on offer right now. While not free, the pricing is fair for the features you get, and it’s one of the easier platforms to use if you want to get started with no hassle. If you wish to have SEO that works right away, Ghost is the most advanced platform out there. In fact, we used to use Ghost but in June 2018 decided to switch to WordPress because the support in the Ghost community was too slow. However, in 2019 we launched another site on Ghost because of the features in its latest release.
|Platform||Pricing||Mobile PageSpeed||SEO Configuration||AMP|
|Ghost||Free option available||Fast (after optimization)||Medium, Good control||Available plugins|
|WordPress||From $5.15/month||Slow||Easy, Basic control||Integrated|
|Wix||From $12/month||Slow||Easy, Many Issues||Integrated|
|Squarespace||From $9/month||Slow||Easy, Expensive plugins||Available plugins|
|Shopify||Free option available||Slow||Easy, Basic control||Not integrated|
|Weebly||Free option available||Very Slow||Hard, Full control||Available plugins|
|Magento||From $29/month||Fast||Hard, Full control||Integrated|
|Ghost||Free||Fast (<90)||Medium, Full control||Available plugins|
|Joomla||Free option available||Slow||Hard||NA|
|Prestashop||From $29.95/month||Slow||Easy, Good control||Integrated|
2019 Recommendations below:
Do not Recommend
While the above are our overall recommendations as far as well-rounded website builders go, here is what we recommend for the more specific needs of different groups:
If you are an influencer, Ghost or WordPress are going to be the best options to use. Although we did not recommend Squarespace, Weebly or Wix, don’t count these options out right away as they can be quite useful for influencers who need to quickly launch a fast site that will later have options for eCommerce.
For Local Small Businesses
Weebly and WordPress are going to be a good choice.
For eCommerce Stores
Shopify, BigCommerce, and WordPress in that order are the best choices.
In 2018, we saw both Ghost and Shopify take significant strides to build a more stable platform for SEO going into 2019. We still discourage people from using our ‘do not recommend’ especially if your goal is to launch an eCommerce website right away.
This blog post is a follow-up on different issues we observed in 2018, and we will continue to track these platforms into 2019 and reevaluate them as needed.
While different platforms are better depending on your exact situation and needs, we recommend keeping an eye on ghost as it has shown itself to be the most progressive platform so far and it is likely to be an all-around contender in the years to come.
That said, we do think that each platform mentioned here presents a justifiable solution for users depending on their needs, as we’ve seen each platform work well for the needs of our very different clients. As long as you know what your criteria are and have the proper set up going, it is possible to be successful in any of these tools mentioned.
If you’re looking to enlist a little bit of help in the SEO arena, we have worked with thousands of clients across many industries all over the world. With our experience and consistent positive results, we can help you, too. See our offers here as we work with each of the above platforms mentioned.