Someone tweeted their intention to build a Wix site to test how well it ranks for local search compared to WordPress. John Mueller responded with a series of helpful suggestions, emphasizing that platforms that take care of the technical are ideal for small business owners.
Wix Versus WordPress
The initial tweet was about creating a test between Wix and WordPress.
“Going to get and build a @Wix site and see if I can get it ranking in some local city (here) for #SEO related services (as a test against WordPress) – just to see if it will work. Will take all appropriate steps/measures for best practices. Huh. Wonder how that will go?”
Tests Can Be Misleading
One of the things about SEO tests is that they are subject to interpretation. In other words, the meaning of the result cannot ever be known because the conclusions reached are only guesses about what is going on at Google.
Without a complete understanding of how Google ranks a site, the conclusions reached are strictly limited by the amount of understanding the person interpreting the results has.
Data is objective. The interpretation of that data is subjective.
Mueller alluded to this in his response:
“Test sites can be hard to use as… tests. Put the same effort in as you would with a real site.”
Test sites can be hard to use as… tests. Put the same effort in as you would with a real site.
— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) February 15, 2021
Rob May agreed, tweeting:
“Absolutely John. Absolutely! Think I’m looking at it from “clients side”. New business/idea. Do they need full out WordPress 10K build if they are testing a business idea? Perhaps a less expensive option to start and help budgets along on the marketing. Would Wix be that option?”
Mueller responded that the technical side of SEO is increasingly less important than the content side of it.
“The more small business sites I see, the fewer I see with technical SEO issues, and the more the issues lie with the content (stale, duplicated across multiple sites, incorrect, low-quality, etc). CMSs tend to get most technical things right (or “right enough”) nowadays.”
The more small business sites I see, the fewer I see with technical SEO issues, and the more the issues lie with the content (stale, duplicated across multiple sites, incorrect, low-quality, etc). CMSs tend to get most technical things right (or “right enough”) nowadays.
— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) February 15, 2021
John Mueller followed that tweet with this observation:
“What I recommend to small businesses is: never self-host, avoid plugins, buy your domain name, use a simple & reliable platform, use 2-factor authentication, have 2+ people internally who can update your site’s content, get local SEO help.”
What I recommend to small businesses is: never self-host, avoid plugins, buy your domain name, use a simple & reliable platform, use 2-factor authentication, have 2+ people internally who can update your site’s content, get local SEO help.
— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) February 15, 2021
Uncomplicated and Reliable
Simplicity is always the stumbling block for many small businesses. A chef cannot be expected to also be a WordPress expert. During a pandemic the restaurants that are surviving are the ones that can take orders online.
Taking the complexity out of the online presence is super important for small businesses who can’t always afford to have an IT person on staff.
WordPress Versus Wix
The challenge in the original tweet was WordPress versus Wix. Which platform is ideally suited for small businesses?
WordPress for Small Business?
WordPress is slowly working toward becoming a platform that allows publishers to focus on content and less on code. Their Gutenberg publishing technology, currently still in development, is designed with non-coding publishers in mind.
But Gutenberg is still a work in progress. Full Site Editing (FSE) capability is scheduled to be released on June 2021.
The version of Gutenberg to be released in June is what is known as a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). An MVP is a release that has all the features necessary to be useful but not in a complete state.
The development of the different WordPress Gutenberg features is split between different groups working on the different projects.
“Knitting each project together creates a vision of the minimum viable product (MVP) for FSE. Together they outline an architecture that allows the expression of a full theme using blocks and an editor capable of customizing that theme.
The MVP should make it possible to build a version of the Twenty Twenty-One theme, using only blocks, without any coding knowledge.”
Clearly, WordPress is not an out of the box solution. A small business owner must think about structured data, hosting, updating the WordPress software including plugins and themes.
Wix Handles the Technology
Wix, on the other hand is expressly designed to take the hurt out of creating a web presence for local businesses.
I asked Mordy Oberstein (@MordyOberstein) , the Wix Liaison to the SEO community why Wix might be ideally suited for small businesses.
“Wix does a lot in order to provide its users with the proper defaults so that our site owners can focus on running their businesses and growing their online presence.
This takes the form of anything from not allowing multiple canonicals for the same URL to converting images to WebP automatically (when appropriate) to providing out-of-the-box markup for various page types. The latter is a perfect example.”
Self-serve or Managed
For web hosting there are thousands of different options. But out of all the options they are actually just two kinds. Self-managed and managed.
Self-managed is cheaper because the customer updates the server software, uploads new software and so on.
In a managed environment the customer pays extra so that the hosting company takes care of all the little details that come with managing a hosting environment.
Creating a web presence has not yet reached the same level as managed or self-managed. In most cases, particularly with WordPress, a small business owner is looking at self-managed solutions.
That quality of self-managed is what Rob May was looking for from Wix, in addition to seeing if it could rank well.
He related that his agency deals primarily with WordPress but he wanted to test if Wix could handle the technical parts of a web presence in order to create a more frictionless experience.
When someone asked Rob if he was against WordPress he answered no.
“Not against it. Our agency operates in WordPress primarily (and Shopify). I just want to see if I can get a basic Wix site ranking – easier without dev help, plugins, – keeping it simple, light and hopefully fast/mobile responsive and what that timeline and outcome will look like”
An increasingly important aspect of ranking well in Google, particularly for small businesses is structured data. Structured data communicates a great deal of information that can result in rich results.
I asked Mordy about how Wix handled structured data and he explained:
“When Google updated their requirements for Event Structured Data to include the offers.priceCurrency property there was nothing Wix users needed to do, we already included this property in our out-of-the-box markup.
As such, Wix business owners running paid events could focus on the business of running paid events without having to worry about their appearance on the SERP as a rich result.
In terms of Structured Data, Wix users can add custom markup, in JSON-LD, to any of their static pages with ease. We automatically create out-of-the-box markup for dynamic pages related to products, events, bookings, and beyond.
Currently, the out-of-the-box markup we create can be overridden by using our recently renamed development tool, Velo, so that SEOs who want to add custom properties can.”
Rob May was optimistic about his test. Wix has a lot to offer in a fairly managed web platform. Anything that can handle the technology side will free the small business owner to focus on their business.
“Yep. Will be giving it a go, but the test will revolve around speed and load time, mainly for images as Ecomm sites usually have many that impact across various plugins which impact rendering and load time. Still need to work out some details. Want a real site to give it a go!”
Keep an Open Mind
In all things it’s important to keep an open mind. There’s a lot to recommend about WordPress. It’s the top choice for building an online presence. It has a huge ecosystem of paid and free options that can make most any online business a reality.
Wix on the other hand frees the small business person to focus building a business as opposed to building a website.
Looking forward to seeing the results of Rob’s test.
Roger Montti is a search marketer with 20 years experience.
I offer site audits and link building strategies.