By: Rebecca Gill
Until recently, I hadn’t thought much about website SEO and which website builder was best for supporting search engine optimization efforts and best practices. I’m a WordPress girl after all, and in my head, WordPress is the only option.
But recently, my private Facebook group has received a number of questions asking about SEO and how Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly compare against WordPress. While I provided some initial thoughts on each post that arrived, I knew I needed to dig in further and try each service out for myself. So I did. And then I went further again and added in HubSpot COS, because out group wanted this information as well.
I created a test website in Weebly, Wix, and Squarespace. As I moved through their website build options, I paid close attention to SEO features and I documented options each platform offered. I also obtained access to a live HubSpot COS site so I could dive into this platform’s options for SEO.
Instead of giving you long winded posts on each software package, I thought I would provide an overview table that you can scan and see feature comparisons in a quick and efficient manner.
So without further ado, below are my results of the website SEO battle of WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, and HubSpot COS.
CMS Comparison of Website SEO Features
This table compares the most popular website builders and content management systems for their SEO features and ability to support solid search engine optimization.
Spoiler alert: I wasn’t overly surprised with the results, but hey, it was fun to validate my thoughts.
|SEO friendly URLs||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Manual override for URLs||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Content silo creation||Yes||Yes|
|Subheader control (H2, H3)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Set focused keyword||Yes||Yes|
|On-page optimization scoring||Yes||Yes|
|Meta titles by URL||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Meta descriptions by URL||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|No index, no follow at URL||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Image alt text||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Link anchor text||Yes||Yes|
|Featured image for social||Yes||Yes|
|Facebook Open Graph||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Twitter Open Graph||Yes||Yes|
|Social sharing buttons||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Blog post commenting||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Podcast support and embeds||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Video support and embeds||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Schema and structured data||Yes|
Note: The WordPress column is referring to WordPress.org self-hosted software with a few free plugins installed.
So Who Really Won the War for Most Robust Website SEO?
My table included 39 data points. When you convert each yes responses to a binary 1, you can easily obtain a point score per CMS package. With this approach, you’ll see a clear break out between website builders.
Total SEO scores by CMS platform:
- WordPress SEO = 39/39
- Squarespace SEO = 29/39
- Wix SEO = 23/39
- Weebly SEO = 21/39
- HubSpot COS = 37/39
While Squarespace did have a lot of functionality, it did lack some major SEO features that I can’t imagine living without.
Squarespace’s SEO gaps included:
- Content silos
- Focused keyword identification
- On-page SEO scoring
- Link anchor text
- Schema and structured data support
For the new webmasters, those are not critical items, but they are showstoppers for website owners who rely on search to bring in traffic, leads, sales.
Wix and Weebly are missing out on all of those Squarespace SEO gaps, but these two website builders are also missing the following functionality:
- Canonical links
- Control over or proper usage of H1 headers
- XML sitemaps
- Robot.txt files
To make matters worse, Wix doesn’t even let you change design templates. You literally have to create a brand new site to modify the design style. Say what? Yep, this perplexes me too.
Weebly lacked even a few more SEO options that the other three included. These were:
- Image alt text
- Subheader control
- Blog tags
- AMP support
- CDN option
While I understand the lack of support for AMP, the lack of control on image alt text and ability to add subheaders truly surprised me.
When I went back and added HubSpot COS into our data, I was pleasantly surprised to see it does offer a lot of options for SEO. It doesn’t support Schema and structured data, which I did find surprising given the fact that HubSpot COS is very expensive.
WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, and HubSpot COS Fail to Truly Compare
So I tried to bust out of my WordPress snob mode and embrace the other CMS packages, but I just can’t do it. I am a serious SEO consultant and I quote SEO consulting packages that require things like content silos and structured data.
I need these advanced SEO features to compete in search. And I’m not alone.
If you put SEO aside, Weebly and Wix did offer the ability to create some decent looking websites with minimal effort. That is great for the microbusiness who doesn’t rely on SEO. Even I know WordPress and its 50,000+ plugins can be overwhelming at times.
If you are a first-time website owner, Weebly and Wix might make suitable options. However, if you need to complete in search and you are going to rely on SEO generated traffic, you need to utilize Squarespace or WordPress.
If you are looking at the HubSpot options and thinking this might be viable, please oh please consider the true cost of the HubSpot COS platform. It is very pricey and when you see WordPress offers just as many option, it just doesn’t make sense.
Note: If you are interested in joining the Facebook group that started this entire discussion, just head on over to SEO Launchpad and request access.