Which Website Platform Is the Friendliest for SEO in 2018?

Which Website Platform Is the Friendliest for SEO in 2018?

If you’re looking to build a website in order to rank on Google to build your brand image, then it’s important to choose the right website platform in order to get the most for your money. With so many platforms and sophisticated builders out there today, it’s becoming an increasingly difficult task.

To help you out, we’ve put together a list of the 10 most popular website platforms to use for SEO in 2018, and we’ll be discussing some of the major features and advantages when it comes to SEO.

1. WordPress

General Features

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 isn’t inherently designed for certain 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.

Pricing

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

SEO Pro’s

  • Comprehensive list of existing plugins
  • A lot of tutorials available covering many techniques
  • Support can be found to help solve technical issues relatively quickly

SEO Con’s

  • Can be overwhelming at times
  • SEO is not “built-in” into the starter templates
  • Requires some technical experience

Summary

Highly customizable and an attractive price, but ultimately not suitable for certain business applications due to its nature as a blogging platform.

2. Wix.com

General Features

Known as a drag and drop website builder, Wix has a bad reputation when it comes to SEO. 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.

Pricing

Wix has various prices that range from basic domain plans to VIP. Bundled with the plans are $75 ad vouchers, builder apps, and site booster apps which bolster the value.

SEO Pros

  • Includes a simple wizard to optimize your site
  • Fixed many of their historical issues
  • Offers a lot of plugins to optimize for SEO

SEO Cons

  • We continue to see clients suffer for slow indexing
  • Site is AJAX based so Google takes its time indexing pages
  • Not a modern site architecture which is far from AMP standards

Summary

Unless you need the most SEO power you can get, 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 it may be best to seek a better platform from the beginning.

3. Squarespace

General Features

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.

Pricing

$12/month Personal
$18/month Business
$26/month Basic Online Store
$40/month Advanced Online Store

Squarespace is a little on the pricey side when you consider the price of the entry-level personal subscription, but it does offer more features than competing platforms.

SEO Pro’s

  • Visually appealing and easy to modify HTML elements
  • Supports basic functions like XML Sitemap & Robots.txt
  • Custom FTP access to the backend

SEO Con’s

  • Issue with indexing. We observed issues where both non-forward slash and forward slash ending URLs appear in crawling of sites. This is a severe issues and we have seen clients site have zero pages indexed after 3 months. If you are high-end its best to avoid.
  • No automatic HTML sitemap

Summary

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. It’s better suited for SMB and not sustainable for the long-term when you need more control over the backend.

4. Shopify

General Features

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.

Pricing

$9/month Lite
$29/month Basic
$79/month Regular
$299/month Advanced
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.

SEO Pro’s

  • A lot of plugins available to Optimize SEO
  • Large community and support for SEO
  • Shopify stores seem to do better if you are just starting out (keyword rankings for instance)

SEO Con’s

  • A lot of plugins cost money
  • HTML Sitemap is not free and requires payment
  • XML Sitemap has documented issues by us here and after working with hundreds of Shopify clients we apply the workaround for our clients.

Summary

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 complement our Shopify clients success with technical and onsite SEO.

5. Weebly

General Features

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.

Pricing

Free plan
$8/month Starter
$12/month Pro
$25/month Business
$38/month Performance

All Weebly subscriptions are paid upfront a year in advance, and each plan comes with $100 worth of Google Ads credit.

SEO Pro’s

  • Most features are built-in
  • The most user-friendly choice available
  • Includes simple SEO support

SEO Con’s

  • Includes meta keywords box which should be excluded from sites
  • URLs contain and .html suffix which is not clean or modern

Summary

Weebly is a great introduction to website platforms but is overshadowed by its competitors like WordPress and Wix that offer more control, customization, and features. It is one of the lowest barriers to starting a website, store, and membership site. Highly recommend it for my clients just starting out.

6. Magento

General Features

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.

SEO Pro’s

  • 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 and Robots right from inside magento

SEO Con’s

  • 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
  • Some expanded SEO features cost extra
  • Clearing cache on pages after changes can become cumbersome

Pricing

Free

Magento as a CMS is free, but additional costs such as hiring developers and web hosting need to be considered.

Summary

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. The SEO features are great if you have experience working on Magento and can be quick if all necessary access is available. If you don’t have the patience to learn how to use Magento, then it will be incredibly difficult to use.

7. Ghost

General Features

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.

Pricing

$19/month Personal
$39/month Advanced
$79/month Team
$199/month Business

Prices are based on annual billing. Ghost also has a 14 day no obligation free trial.

SEO Pro’s

  • Extensive JSON Schema built int
  • Native AMP integration
  • Simple Metadata editors right inside the editor

SEO Con’s

  • Missing native HTML Sitemap
  • Only supports bloggers till it launches a wider release for ecommerce and other support
  • There are no 3rd party plugins and they have been promising for years

Summary

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 easier 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).

8. Joomla

General Features

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.

SEO Pro’s

  • Full control of your SEO implementation
  • Well supported community

SEO Con’s

  • Require some configuration out of the gate
  • Small learning curve if new to the platform

Pricing

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 web hosting. While they do offer free hosting through their partner, it’s certainly not the level of hosting you’d want for SEO and business purposes.

Summary

Joomla certainly isn’t for beginners, but it does offer plenty of flexibility if you’re looking for it and are willing to learn.

9. PrestaShop

General Features

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 compared to other similar platforms. There are several SEO options, but you will need to set this manually and there are no simple tools to help you do this unless you resort to additional modules.

SEO Pro’s

  • We have not seen sites that performed poorly using Prestashop after SEO configuration.

SEO Con’s

  • SEO Plugins are expensive and add hidden costs
  • SEO Configuration is global and requires more massaging on individual pages
  • You will end up finding open source Sitemap git repositories to make prestashop work if you want to save time and money

Pricing

Free

Although PrestaShop is free, you do need to find your own hosting provider and install it yourself. If you’re not willing to study and learn how to do this, then you will need to hire an expert which can easily ramp up costs. We have handled several PrestaShops and the performance has increased in each case we have experienced.

Summary

Although simple, setting it up can be a hassle without any development knowledge and a lack of simple SEO options makes it hard to recommend. The highest barrier of entry is PrestaShop requires users to spend more money just to make it functional.

10. BigCommerce

General Features

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 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.

SEO Pro’s

  • Offers a lot of native SEO features that other big platforms do not
  • Great support documentation and community support

SEO Con’s

  • PHP sitemap can be a little annoying but works with search Engines

Pricing

$29.95/month Standard
$79.95/month Plus
$249.95/month Pro
Negotiable/month Enterprise

Discounts are available for annual subscriptions.

Summary

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 works for our clients and we have seen cases where clients have been successful in each. If you are looking to migrate to a new provider or start a new site here are the final recommendations.

Recommend

WordPress
Magento
Ghost
BigCommerce

Neutral

Shopify
Weebly
Joomla

Do not Recommend

Wix
Squarespace
PrestaShop

  • Category: SEO

Posted by Michael Zima

Michael Zima is best described as a “Data Artist.” A results-driven Web Analytics and SEO expert with more than 10 years of experience in digital marketing.