Transcript For Does Switching to WordPress from Wix, Squarespace, or Duda Affect Your SEO? – 143;
Jesse Dolan: If you’re in a niche that is not very competitive and you’re the only game in town can you dominate with a Wix website? Yeah, because there’s not really anybody competing against you. If somebody comes in with that Ferrari WordPress website, that’s just fast and has everything else they’re going to kick your butt.
Welcome back to Local SEO Tactics, where we bring you tips and tricks to get found online. I’m your host, Jesse Dolan. Here you’re going to Sue Ginsburg.
How’s it going, Sue?
Sue Ginsburg: Really good. Thanks. Really good.
Jesse Dolan: So today we’re going to be fielding a question coming at us from Philadelphia.
Sue Ginsburg: That’s right.
Jesse Dolan: Is that the city of brotherly love? Did I get that right? Nice. I’ve been there once.
Sue Ginsburg: Yeah. Something like that.
Jesse Dolan: Been there once real quick. Got to get back there someday. What are we talking about today, Sue? What is the question? Why don’t you go ahead and fire us off?
Sue Ginsburg: Today comes to us from a listener and a valued client. Really good question. Does switching web hosting platforms affect your SEO and how do you recommend handling this to preserve the ranking that your SEO has achieved? A great Medspa client of ours in Philadelphia. Really good question. Had a really good discussion with her about this very sharp, thoughtful question and one that I think many, many business owners have thought about, have considered because you build your website, your first website, or your initial website on one web host platform doesn’t mean you need to stay on that for the rest of your life. So with that quote of the day today, “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.” Don’t you love that?
That is a quote from a man named Red Adair who is famous for taming oil well fires in Kuwait, set on fire by Iraq, and whose life was the subject of a movie starring John Wayne. Movie called Hellfighters based on his saying he made a few mistakes in his day and got a disappointing outcome. Been there, done that, already got that T-shirt. I don’t know about you. Most recently, I hired a neighbor’s kid to fix my moped and man did I pay for that literally and figuratively. Paid the kid and then paid the bike store to fix what the kid just did to my moped. So very familiar with that one.
Jesse Dolan: Indeed.
Sue Ginsburg: As an aside, has anybody seen the movie Hellfighters with John Wayne about Red Adair’s life? If you have, please, please, please email me. I love this guy’s attitude and I want to hear about the movie. Want to hear if I should see it or not if it’s worth seeing. So please let me know. All right, before we get to your answer, Jessie, I want to ask our listeners out there. Have you ever switched website platforms to make your life easier or to make your website better? Do you remember how easy or how not easy that was? Was it like moving to a new city where you have to change your address, change your utilities, change everything, or was it just one change and everything else could stay the same?
Think we all know certain changes that you make in life or with your website or online there’s a domino effect and many things have to be changed after that. Is changing your website platforms like that, or is it easier? Thinking about changing website platforms is not uncommon. Like I said, just because you build your website on one platform, you’re not married to that platform for life and I don’t think that there are any companies out there at least any successful growing companies that haven’t changed their website when they’ve gotten to be two years old, five years old, 10 years old, whatever.
So making this change is something that I think is not uncommon for business owners to think about. And just like our very sharp entrepreneurial client asked me, what are the ramifications? What does it mean? What do you have to do? Does it affect your SEO? How do you make up for that? Et cetera, et cetera. So as usual let’s toss that to the expert, Jesse, and tell us what you have to say about this, about the impact of switching web platforms, and if there is best practices or something like that for when you are doing this to get a better website.
Jesse Dolan: Kind of a multi-part question here. So we’re going to answer it in a few different phases. The first chunk I think to tackle Sue is, does switching web hosting platforms affect your SEO? This is one of these, it depends answers because if you’re doing it right, the answer is no, it doesn’t impact your SEO in a negative way. It doesn’t harm your SEO if you’re doing it right. Also, if you’re doing it right, it should improve your SEO. Okay. Now just like anything else you’re doing to your website in this case, switching from one platform to another, if you do it wrong. Yeah, it can totally screw up your SEO and we’ll talk about some of those pitfalls and things to avoid here quick. Before we get into that though, I want to back up maybe to give everybody just a quick reframe on what do we mean when we’re saying this even. Switching web platforms, right?
So we prefer WordPress as the web platform to build your website on to have your website on. Also, people call a content management system or a CMS, or a web builder, different ways to frame it up. We’re putting that in a juxtaposition against the likes of Wix, Square, and Duda. Those are three very popular web platforms, web builders, web hosting platforms, kind of all-in-one solutions out there. And that’s really what this question is all about is if I am on Wix, for example, and I switch over to WordPress, does that affect my SEO? It’s kind of a different way to frame this up using Wix as the example. But again, if it’s not Wix if it’s Duda if it’s Squarespace, whatever going off of one of these platforms into something else, does it affect your SEO?
So again, if you’re doing it right, it should improve your SEO. If you screw it up, it’s going to be a negative impact. Okay. Of course, it can always just be flat. No impact whatsoever if you do it right, but don’t improve anything. So now what do I mean by it can improve your SEO? Well, those platforms aren’t really created for you to have good SEO. It doesn’t mean you can’t optimize these platforms and these pages in your website on Wix. But what it means is or what I mean by that is that Wix is there to make it easy for you to set up a website and get a website and get online for a presence. Its first mission is to be easy for you to have a website as a business owner and just like anything else, there’s pros and cons.
If the easy button is that you get a website, well guess what? SEO is always hard. It’s always technical. That’s why it’s optimization. It’s not search engine easy button or whatever, for a different stupid way to say it. Just the term optimization means you’re going to have to put in some work and do the granular details and things like that. These platforms just really aren’t set up like that. What they are set up for is for a person without a ton of knowledge. I mean that in a good way. They allow you without having a ton of knowledge to make a great website, to have a good showcase and a good image and brand impression for your business.
The trade-off on that is they don’t have a lot of the granular things that we need as SEO pros to really tweak, modify, and optimize webpages, to rank and Google. Especially if we’re faced with a pretty, pretty tough competitor. Again, our platform of choice is WordPress because there are a ton of options on how to optimize pages and content within WordPress. There’s a bunch of developers working on plugins, working on themes, working on SEO tricks, tips. Just like us. So the knowledge base out there for how to optimize a website on a platform like WordPress is gigantic compared to what’s out there for Wix, Squarespace, Duda, things like that.
Additionally, these platforms, these all-in-one platforms like Wix, Square, and Duda are truly all-in-one platforms. Usually, you’re hosting your website on Wix, you’re building your website on Wix, and you’re building your website with Wix’s builder. It’s kind of a closed universe, closed environment. You are working within their options, their configurations, their settings, their abilities and it’s not completely open and modifiable like it would be again on something like WordPress. Because with WordPress, again, there’s risk-reward here. With something like WordPress, can it be more complicated? Yes. Can it be more sophisticated and powerful? Well, yes, as well.
Also then, because it’s really all on you at that point if you break it you have to fix it too. Right. Well, Wix doesn’t want to have those challenges of breakage and things going wrong. So again, they kind of limit the options, limit what you can do so you never screw it up. You can change how things look, you can change the content on the pages and things like that. But again, the granular things within SEO that you need to really optimize and dominate just aren’t there.
So that’s just quick frame-up of why are we picking on Wix and Square and Duda or if a client is on those platforms, why do we always tell them as an agency on the front side, “Hey, we can do some things here, but just so you know, we’re going to be a little limited. We’re not going to be able to use all the tools in our toolkit like we could if you’re on WordPress.” I believe this conversation Sue, like I, should say the question here came out of that kind of a conversation with, well, why would I do this? Is it going to impact my SEO? And again, our reason for this and the answer we really want to focus on is yes, it can change your SEO. It can affect your SEO in a positive way. You should have better results in your SEO, jumping over to WordPress instead of again, Wix, or one of these builders.
Hey, everyone, just a quick message about our free SEO audit tool on localSEOtactics.com, and we’ll get right back to the show. If you haven’t taken advantage of it yet, go on out to localSEOtactics.com/freeSEOaudit, or look for the yellow button up in the top right corner click that and it’s going to take just a couple seconds. You enter in the page that you want to optimize, what you’re looking for the audit to score against, enter in that page, enter in the keyword you’re looking to get optimized for, and enter in your email address, click the button and it’s going to take a few seconds. Then it’s going to send you off a PDF report via email. It’s a great report. It’s going to give you an overall score of some vital SEO areas for that page and for your website at large. Even though it’s auditing this page, that’s going to tell you some of the good things that are happening.
Some of the bad things that are happening too, and give you basically a checklist of some things that you need to shore up and what you can do to improve your SEO for that page, for that keyword that you’re auditing. Now, you can use this as many times as you want. You can do multiple keywords, multiple pages, multiple keywords on the same page. You can even use this to check against your competitors if you want to do a little reverse engineering, see how they’re scoring for a certain keyword, what they may be doing good, that you’re not and some things to improve there. So lots of different ways to use it completely free. Again, go on to localSEOtactics.com/freeSEOaudit, or look for the yellow button in the top right corner of the website. Now that being said, WordPress on its own doesn’t just mean you’re going to have great SEO results. Again, what this is, is this gives you an advanced web platform now that you can build and optimize your website on, whereas a closed environment, one like a Wix, Square, and Duda, and things like that.
They do have some SEO ability, but you’re limited to whatever it is they provide and that they put in front of you. Now, the other side here, how can this affect your SEO, but in a negative way. Now, this is if you’re switching from these builders over to something like WordPress, you’re also switching hosts. You’re effectively creating a brand new website and there’s always the danger in doing that to screw it up. Doesn’t matter if you’re coming from Wix to WordPress, or if you’re building a brand new WordPress website and replacing your old one. Again, as we talk about these hosted platforms, it’s your web host, it’s your web theme, your web builder, everything all wrapped into one. So when you migrate away from it, you are changing everything, and some pitfalls to watch out for are going to be, if you add, let’s just say 50 pages on your Wix-built website.
If you wanted all of those pages to be indexed by Google and to be ranked and to be found, you need to make sure all 50 of those pages are replicated on your new site, depending on the builder that you’re in and depending on your WordPress setup and everything else, you may or may not be able to just export all those pages and then work them into your new WordPress theme. Some of this you may have to manually recreate. So you just want to have some checklists when you do this. You want to replicate all of your pages. You want the URLs to be exactly like they were before so there’s no broken links out that. If you had 50 pages on your Wix website and Google had all 50 pages in the index, if you convert those over, but you make some errors.
If you got 50 pages on your new WordPress website now, but you changed the actual address on the URL on let’s say 10 of those pages. Well, Google will recognize you have 50 pages on your new site, but it will also have 10 broken links out there from your old website. Because again, I’m talking to you, the examples, you had 10 pages that you had different URLs. That’s going to show as 10 broken links, 10 nonexistent pages from your old website. In the context of SEO that’s not a good thing. Not only do you have the potential for users that maybe had those links or trying to navigate to those pages hit to a dead end or a 404 message on your website, which usually they’re going to need to bounce out or go somewhere else because that looks like that’s wrong or an error.
Likewise, Google sees that as like, okay, they have pages that aren’t existing. This is a messy website and you just don’t want to be sending those kinds of signals without getting too technical. You don’t want to send those kinds of signals to Google. If you have pages that Google expects to exist, you want to make sure those exist. If for some reason you want those pages to no longer exist or you do want to change those URLs, you have to put redirects in place. If a page was abc.com/redballoons, and now you want it to be abc.com/redballoon with no S you have to make sure that if anybody types in red balloons with a plural, it’s going to redirect them to that red balloon with no S to make sure the link still works. They’ll go to the new page but that old page won’t show that it’s a broken link and thus error out.
So that’s one example of, one of the pitfalls is just again, copying all your pages over, making sure all your URLs and your links are working and there’s going to be no errors there. Additionally, page speed and page security are two big factors within Google that Google has said are definite ranking factors and you want to pay attention to those. Typically you’re going to be able to get some good, fast performance within WordPress, but to your point about hiring an amateur versus hiring a professional, one of the pitfalls with WordPress is that it’s so easy to add features and plugins to your website, that you can do too much of that. And plugins within WordPress just if anybody doesn’t know, it’s kind of like on your iPhone or your Android, you can install apps to provide additional functionality to your phone. You can do that in WordPress, too. There’s plugins instead of apps that are called plugins, that you can install onto your website to have some new feature, some new function that didn’t exist there.
You make it real easy for you as the person designing the website to add to your website. Every time you add a new plugin, you’re adding more code, more information, more file space if you will. However you want to think about it you’re adding more bloat, more bulk to your webpage that can make it load slower. So it can be real attractive to add all these fancy new things that weren’t on your old website but now were on your new website, because it’s so easy to do on WordPress that can slow your website down. So you want to watch out for that, that can negatively impact your SEO if you do too much of that. Then again, on the security part, if you’re using Wix or Square or Duda or any of these hosted all in one platforms, they’re going to have your website be secure. It’s hosted on their server, they’re in charge of the uptime, everything else. So just by nature, you should be using SSL security and have a security certificate.
If you set up your own WordPress website, that’s just something you’re going to want to be aware of with your new web host, whether you’re using GoDaddy or Bluehost or any of these big places out there. We always recommend SiteGround. We’ve had great luck with them. You want to make sure you have your security set up to have your site be secure. Not only to make sure your users are protected from any malicious phishing attacks or things like that. But also again, Google has said that this is a ranking factor. They want to see secure websites. All things being equal, Sue, if you have a secure website and I do not, you’re going to outrank me because Google’s going to favor that. So you want to make sure that that is part of your new website as well and not overlook that because depending on how you set up WordPress and what buttons you push it may or may not be like that just out of the box.
All of this, I would still go back to your amateur versus professional hiring Sue in that all of these builders, including WordPress, make it easy for even a novice to put together a good-looking and website. As we get into SEO, optimizing, and really these granular detail. This is an area that we always say to it’s free with a headache or headache free. You can listen to our podcast and a ton of other resources and spend the energy and the time and the trial and error to figure these things out when you migrate to WordPress and set up these new pages, or you can hire some professionals that just get it done right the first time for you. This is kind of a critical thing your website for your business your SEO, your rankings. I would definitely before I would start pushing buttons to do any kind of a migration like this on my own. Talk to a couple SEO firms, maybe get some quotes, get some advice before you just jump in headfirst. Not that it can’t be done, but just weigh the pros and the cons.
How long is this going to take you? What’s the cost for a professional to do it? And make that decision. Whatever’s going to be right for you and your business is going to be a personal decision. But like we always tell everybody, if I need a cavity filled, I’m not going to go on YouTube and figure out how to fill cavities and do my own dental work on myself, even though I’m sure that’s out there. I’m just going to go have the dentist, do it for me and get it done right the first time.
Sue Ginsburg: Good idea.
Jesse Dolan: This is an area that is pretty critical. You don’t want to screw this up or you’re going to be getting to your point spending twice the money, twice the effort, twice the energy to have a pro redo it after an amateur screws it up. The larger your website, the more complex it is, the more pages you have, the higher your rankings, all these things for me would give me more pause to slow down, make sure I get some competitive quotes, talk to some professionals, and weigh that option there. So I know that wasn’t part of your exact question, but it’s rooted in this question about switching and then what are the pitfalls and how do we handle this the right way to make sure nothing gets screwed up.
Sue Ginsburg: Oh, I love how you started your answer, which was saying yes, switching web coasts can affect your SEO positively. There’s a reason of improving your SEO to switch websites. I would ask you, is it only switching from Wix, Squarespace, or whatever to WordPress that would improve your SEO or there are other things that you an expert could be doing when you switch platforms other than choosing to now use WordPress?
Jesse Dolan: Yeah. So are you saying, for example, if somebody wanted to switch to Wix? Is that what you’re saying?
Sue Ginsburg: What if they wanted to switch from Wix to Squarespace? Are there things they could be doing to either negatively or positively impact their SEO?
Jesse Dolan: Good question. So a disclaimer, I guess I would say I’ve never had personal experience nor have we as an agency of doing that kind of intermigration from Wix to Square or from Square to Wix or from Wix to Duda and all that. We’ve only worked with taking people off of those platforms and bringing them onto WordPress. So disclaimer there. I am talking and having an opinion here on something that we have not done extensively on both sides of the fence. That being said we do as an industry, generally lump all of those hosted solutions like Wix, Square, and Duda together into the same bucket, because they share the same characteristics. They’re just kind of different flavors and brands of that same solution.
They are all going to have their similar drawbacks. Again, same closed environment. They’re built not with SEO as a big factor. They’re built with the ease of use, the quick setup, and have you have a good professional looking website fairly easily. Would also say that pretty much over the last couple years you’ve seen campaigns and efforts and things like that through each of these platforms to get out there to the public and say why they can be good for SEO. Basically, they’ve spent a lot of marketing dollars and tried to convince people that you can do SEO with these platforms. They’re doing that to kind of offset a lot of the negative connotations that are out there because you can’t. There’s been a lot of tests within the SEO industry that have shown how you just can’t dominate with those.
Now don’t get me wrong again with just like everything with SEO it depends. We’ve talked on other episodes if you’re in a niche that is not very competitive and you’re the only game in town, can you dominate with a Wix website? Yeah, because there’s not really anybody competing against you. If somebody comes in with that Ferrari WordPress website, that’s just fast and has everything else they’re going to kick your butt. There’s not a whole lot of options you have on Wix to combat that. So now Wix compared to Square compared to Duda and migrating between all of them again if we’re just limiting to within those, I’m sure there can be some pros and cons to each platform and one platform will be better than the other. Thus, if I moved somebody from one to the other, we could have a similar conversation, forget about talking about WordPress and just speak towards Wix being the best one, maybe right.
Conversation just doesn’t happen out there in the wild because WordPress is so much better and we’re talking about WordPress, Sue, because it is a content management system that allows people just like we always say, if you can open up a Word document and edit it, you can edit your pages in WordPress. That’s kind of how it’s built is to allow you to easily do that. Even though a lot of these advanced features like the SEO and the optimization probably should require an experienced professional or agency to help you. But the ongoing management of your content is fairly easy. There are other options, like just building your site from scratch, just with HTML or PHP, and hand-coding it. But that’s a completely different solution here and much more advanced. Another reason we always prefer WordPress is because it’s so popular. Again, the amount of people out there that can help you and support you can almost throw a rock down the road, like we say and it’ll hit somebody who knows something about WordPress. So there’s some confidence as a business owner in migrating to this. It’s the most popular platform out there.
Now, I guess we should temper it a little bit too. Always try to be fair and balanced. Rollback the clock a number of years ago, WordPress was looked at as a bad solution for SEO. It was slow, it was bloated. It didn’t have a lot of features. It was primarily there for people to have blogs. It really wasn’t like a corporate website solution but to their credit and to the community, people really worked on it to make WordPress the go-to solution. A couple years from now a decade from now who knows. Maybe Wix invests and really turbocharges their SEO feature set to allow themselves to really be dominant and have all the abilities they need.
As it sits right now today, here we are recording November 2021. That’s just not the case. That’s just not the case. You can choose these hosted platforms for easy, quick websites that make you look good as a company. But if what you’re trying to do is dominate through SEO you’re just not going to get there with these platforms. If your competitors are putting their money into SEO, they’re going to be using some other tools and you’re going to come up short in what you have the ability to do.
Sue Ginsburg: Interesting. I know you have your favorite WordPress themes when you’re building or redoing a website. Do the themes impact your level or your flexibility to do SEO?
Jesse Dolan: Yeah. Primarily from a code bloat standpoint, like how much code is involved, the more code the more thing you have to make the website presented online. That’s just like a larger file it’s slower to load. So without getting super deep in the technicality is I would say your theme can have an impact on how fast your website loads or not. Now with each theme, there’s also going to be maybe some visual or functional things that are more conversion-related, not so much pure SEO ranking factors. But yes, some of the most popular themes out there, you have Elementor, Divvy, Avetta. Those are probably three of the biggest ones that are out there that people in SEO use.
A bunch of other ones but those are extremely powerful, pretty much universally customizable to produce a website to look however you want it to look, and are not going to be too bad at all for your SEO. But yeah. Great question. I’d say themes and then like I said earlier, so the plug-ins, the apps, if you will you can install onto your website. Those two things should not just be done willy-nilly. They should be researched, compared against other options to find the best solution with the least amount of code, the least amount of bloat to make your website as fast as possible.
Sue Ginsburg: Awesome.
Jesse Dolan: Good question.
Sue Ginsburg: That’s great. Okay. Really good answers as usual. Not as simple as meets the eye when you first hear the question. Right?
Jesse Dolan: Right.
Sue Ginsburg: All right. All you listeners, if you remember one thing, and one thing only remember this, everything you do to your website can have an impact on your SEO effectiveness. As Jesse pointed out, it can be a positive impact. That doesn’t mean don’t ever change anything about your website. It means either learn how to do it without negative SEO impact or hire an expert who can do it and improve your SEO with a change. Changing web hosts can improve your SEO especially when we’re talking about switching to WordPress and that’s the type of thing we help our clients do when they’re looking to switch web platforms or they’re asking for our recommendation.
Jesse Dolan: Right on.
Sue Ginsburg: Quote of the day, “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.” That’s from Red Adair and again, if anybody has seen that movie, Hellfighters, starring John Wayne, please, please reach out to me. Tell me if it’s worth seeing and just love this guy from the saying that he has.
Jesse Dolan: I have to check that out. I haven’t seen that either. All right. Well, I think that’s pretty good for the topic here. If you’re listening and if you thought that was helpful, maybe that spurred some questions you have related to this that you’d like us to follow up on. Maybe you have another question you’ve just been poking around for a while you’d like an answer for. Either way, if it’s in the realm of SEO, we’d like to hear about it and we’d like to try to answer it for you on the show. Go to localSEOtactics.com, scroll down at the bottom, click the button for submit a question. You can type it in, or you can follow the instructions to call it in, leave a voicemail in our system and we’ll play the audio on here.
If we do that, we’ll send you off our free Intrix T-shirt if you leave the audio and you can also give a little shout-out and promotion to whatever your website is and say your name and everything else, and we’ll include all that. Either way, you don’t have to do that. You can also, again, just type it in. Doesn’t matter to us. We’d love to hear your questions and helps everybody out. The tide rises for everybody as we can ask these questions, get answers and try to improve our business. So until then, we’ll look forward to the next question, Sue, on the next episode, and everyone take care in the meantime, talk to you later.
Sue Ginsburg: See ya.