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So, you want to start your website. Fortunately, when it comes to website builders, you have many options out there. You can choose from popular ones, ones that are easier to use, or even the cheapest ones. You’re definitely not spoilt for choice.

Unfortunately, the sheer number of tools and platforms available makes it difficult to choose. Add to that the fact that you have to optimize your website for SEO, and it gets even more complicated. So, what you want is the platform that’s right for your needs and performs well on SEO. If it doesn’t, you’ll struggle to attract visitors to your website.

But where do you begin? How do you optimize for SEO? Which platform is best? Fortunately, we’re here to help, and this guide will look at two of the most popular website builders out there and how they perform on SEO.

So, read on to see whether Squarespace or Wix will come out on top.

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

So, what exactly is search engine optimization or SEO. Our definition at Spacebar Agency is: The practice of increasing both the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.

Based on this, several things go into SEO. The first is the quality of traffic. This means attracting visitors to your site who are interested in the products or services you offer. In simple terms, you can attract all the traffic in the world, but if they’re not coming to your site for your products or services, it’s not quality traffic.

The second aspect is the quantity of traffic. This means once you have the right people clicking on your site in the search results, you’ll want more of them. It’s simple, the more traffic you get, the higher your leads. The final part is organic results. This simply means that, through SEO, you attract traffic to your site that you don’t have to pay for.

At its core, SEO uses keywords to attract traffic to your site. These keywords are the words or phrases that people use when searching for your products or services online. As a result, you’ll have to optimize your site for SEO to make it easier for your audience to find it.

How To Optimize Your Site for SEO?

SEO goes far further than only keywords, though, and there are several other things you need to do to make sure your site is SEO optimized. When it is, search engines will send more traffic to your site, which ultimately increases your leads and your revenue.

With that in mind, let’s look at the things you should do to make sure your site is SEO optimized before launch, at launch, and after launch. As a bonus, we’ll also look at some content best practices that you can use to improve your SEO further.

SEO Before Launch

Before and when launching your site, Spacebar Agency suggests looking at the following things to make sure that it’s optimized for SEO:

  • Site title. Even if you’re using a site logo, it’s always best to add a site title. This is simply because the text in your site title may be indexed by search engines and will help visitors find your website. When you add your site title, you should, if possible, keep it under 60 characters and include one or more of the keywords that you wish to target.
  • Site description. You should add a site description for your site. This short, relevant, readable description of about 50 to 300 characters may appear below your site title in search results and show visitors what your site is about.
  • Location. Your site is more likely to appear in local search results for your area if the search engine and customers can see your location. Therefore, if you have a business location, it’s best to add it to your site. In addition, you should also create and manage your online listing for your business’s physical location.
  • Custom domain. Although many site builders give you the option of using a free domain, it’s always better to add a custom domain. This strengthens your brand and makes it more likely that visitors will find your website through search results.
  • Social Media. You should set up social sharing so that every time you publish something on your website, it’s automatically pushed to your social media accounts.
  • Browser icon. Because your site’s browser icon or favicon appears in search results, browser tabs, and elsewhere on the web, you should add one to give your site greater visibility.
  • Social sharing images. It’s essential to add social sharing images to your entire site or for each page separately to make sure your site is portrayed the way you want it to when you or someone else shares your site on social media.
  • SEO descriptions. You need to make sure that every page on your site has a unique SEO description. This short description should describe the page’s content, whether it’s a blog post, product, or event.
  • Page and title formats. You should configure how your page titles appear in browser tabs, social shares, and search engine results.
  • 404 page. It’s best to customize your 404 page with links to some of the popular and important areas of your site. When a visitor reaches this page, they can go to one of these areas instead of going back to the search results.
  • Blog post URL format. You should configure how your blog post URLs will be created. Here, it’s always best to include your post’s title in the URL.
  • URL slugs. You’ll need to make sure that your URLs reflect the content of the page.
  • SSL. Always make sure that SSL is enabled for your site. If it’s not, you can be penalized in the search rankings.
  • Review your existing content. Once you followed all the above steps, it’s essential to ensure that you followed the content best practices for all the pages on your site. We’ll deal with these content best practices in more detail later.

SEO After Launch

After you’ve launched your site, there are several things you should do to make sure your site is optimized for SEO. These include:

  • Verifying your site with Google Search Console. If you verify your site with Google Search Console, you’ll be able to manage your site’s presence in the search results and see how visitors find your site.
  • Requesting that Google index your site. You should ask Google’s bots to review your site and update search results with your newest content.
  • Verifying your site with Bing Webmaster Tools. You should also verify your site with Bing, which will enable you to manage your site’s presence in Bing and Yahoo search results.
  • Connecting to Google Analytics. Connecting your site to Google Analytics will enable you to track your visits and improve your site’s performance. Every time you make changes to your site or add new content, you’ll see what the effect of it is and how you can improve by making updates strategically.
  • Enabling AMP. If you have a blog, you should definitely consider enabling AMP. This creates a stripped-down version of your site that loads faster on mobile devices.

Content Best Practices

One of the best things you can do after you’ve launched your site is continually updating and adding content. This shows search engines that your site is active.

When you add content, though, it’s essential to keep in mind that you should:

  • Use keywords strategically by adding text on your site that matches the words and phrases people will use to find your site.
  • Structure your content and pages with headings to make sure text is easy to skim over and help search engines navigate the content.
  • Add alt text to images which helps search engines identify the content of your pages.
  • Add social shading images and SEO descriptions for any new pages that you add to your site.
  • Give your images readable filenames.
  • Use content links to link your site’s content and connect the pages to each other.
  • Customize your site’s URL slugs to ensure that they reflect the content on the pages.
  • Make sure that your site loads fast, which improves the user experience.

Squarespace vs. Wix SEO

Now that you’ve seen what you should do to optimize your site for SEO, we’ll compare Squarespace and Wix based on how they allow you to use these optimization features on your site.

To start off, let’s look at some SEO-specific features that both platforms offer and how they compare.

  • Page titles. While you can only customize page titles for certain pages in Squarespace, it’s available on all pages for Wix.
  • Meta descriptions. Like page titles, Squarespace only allows you to use meta descriptions on your main pages, while Wix allows you to use meta descriptions on all your pages.
  • Custom URLs. Although both platforms allow you to use custom URLs for your pages, it’s worth noting that Wix adds an extra short string to the URLs of blog posts and product pages. This is not ideal for SEO purposes.
  • Headings. With Wix, you can use h1 to h6 headings for all the regular pages of your site, and you’re able to use h1 and h2 for your blog posts. Squarespace lets you use h1 to h3 headings on all your pages. Keep in mind, though, that you don’t use headings lower than h3 often.
  • Image alt text. With both platforms, you have the ability to set image alt text for images.
  • SSL. For both platforms, SSL encryption is available on all their plans.
  • Sitemaps. With Squarespace and Wix, you can download your sitemap, but neither platform gives you the ability to customize it. Despite this, it should still be sufficient for most users.
  • Mobile responsiveness. Squarespace automatically makes all the pages of your site mobile responsive. In contrast, Wix comes with a mobile editor.
  • Google Search Console. Both of the platforms give you the ability to link your site to Google Search Console.
Photo by Myriam Jessier on Unsplash

Because both Squarespace and Wix offer you an all-in-one solution to build your site and get it online, each comes with its own analytics suite built in. Both platforms’ analytics tools allow you to see who visits your site, where your traffic comes from, and much more.

As a result, you don’t need any other analytics tools, but if you’d like, you can use Google Analytics with both. This gives you more advanced insights compared to the built-in tools.

Pricing for Squarespace starts at $12 per month for the Personal Plan, while the Business Plan comes in at $18 per month. In addition, the platform also offers two Commerce plans, Basic and Advanced, which start at $26 per month and go up to $40 per month.

Although the Business Plan does have some eCommerce features, the two Commerce plans offer far more advanced features.

One thing to note with these prices is that they’re only valid if you pay annually. When you pay monthly, the price for the Personal Plan goes up to $16 per month, and the price for the Business Plan goes up to $26 per month.

Likewise, the prices for the Commerce plans go up to $35 per month and $54 per month, respectively. It’s also worth noting that when you pay monthly, you won’t receive a free custom domain.

In respect of Wix’s pricing, its plans start at $4,50 per month for the Connect Domain Plan and go up to $8,50 per month for the Combo Plan, $12,50 for the Unlimited Plan, and $24,50 for the VIP Plan. Wix also offers three business and eCommerce plans which start at $17 a month for the Business Basic Plan and go up to $35 per month for the Business VIP plan.

Like Squarespace, these prices are based on a yearly subscription, and if you opt for the monthly subscription, you’ll pay more.

Keep in mind, though, that the Connect Domain Plan isn’t available in the US. For the regions where it is available, it displays ads on your website. Also, the combo plan comes with a maximum bandwidth of 2 GB.

Other Features

Now that you’ve seen both platforms’ SEO-specific features, their analytics capabilities, and their pricing, you probably already have a good idea of which one you would prefer. They, however, also have ever other features that you could consider when you need to decide.

Although these features don’t specifically relate to SEO, they are important to keep in mind.

One of the main differences between Squarespace and Wix is their respective page editors. Here, Wix offers an unstructured editor. This means you’re able to move any element anywhere on the page to get it exactly where you want it.

Now, this may sound good because your possibilities for editing your website are basically endless. In practice, though, it could cause frustrating issues.

In contrast, Squarespace offers a structured editor. This means you can’t move elements anywhere on your page, and you’re only allowed to move elements into rows and columns. It, therefore, gives you a structure that you need to stay in.

So, while it doesn’t give you the flexibility that Wix does, it eliminates much of the problems that you’ll encounter with Wix’s editor.

Templates are where Squarespace really shines. Sure, Wix has more templates than Squarespace, but none of them can match the clean and modern designed templates that Squarespace offers.

It goes further than just the number of templates and their design, though. What nudges Squarespace ahead is the fact that templates are easier to customize than in Wix.

Both platforms give you the fundamental features to build an eCommerce store. In addition, both platforms include advanced eCommerce features like digital products, custom email receipts, a point-of-sale system, automated cart recovery, recurring payments, and many more.

What sets them apart is that Squarespace has additional e-commerce features that Wix doesn’t have. These include:

  • Gift cards.
  • Back in stock notifications.
  • Low stock notifications.
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

When it comes to blogging, Squarespace probably has the best blogging platform of any website builder. As such, it has a long list of blogging features like post tagging, categories, drafts, comments, moderation, and more.

Although Wix’s blogging platform isn’t that bad and has a decent blog editor, it’s just a bit outdated to Squarespace’s offering.

Which Platform Performs Better?

So, it’s time for the verdict. Is Wix better than Squarespace for SEO, or will Squarespace come out on top?

Although both platforms offer similar features and are good choices in their own right, the win, ultimately, has to go to Squarespace. The reasons are simple:

  • Squarespace’s structured editor is easier to use than the unstructured version of Wix. Although it’s less flexible, it eliminates many of the frustrations that the unstructured editor introduces.
  • Squarespace has far superior templates, and it’s easier to customize these templates if you want to.
  • Although Wix has more features than Squarespace, Squarespace implements its features better.
  • For those who want to start an online store, Squarespace has more eCommerce features.

There you go, Squarespace is our winner. Ultimately, though, it’s about your needs, requirements, and preferences, and you should choose the platform that meets these.

Originally Published on the Spacebar Agency guides