Let’s say you’re business isn’t getting the results you’d like. So you decide that it’s time for a website refresh.
But you’re also not a website developer. So ‘ease of use’ is going to be huge when it comes to deciding on a content management system (CMS).
Who has the better, easier to use, features? Which system will get you ranking higher in search engines like Google?
We broke down the perks and pitfalls of both. And put together an objective comparison that will help you decide which one is best for you and your new business.
WordPress and SEO
WordPress is an open source platform. Which means its source code is available to anyone wishing to develop their own templates, themes and plugins. And because these elements can be shared or sold to users by their creators, it means an almost infinite number of functions and design options are at your disposal.
That makes WordPress a very flexible platform where much of the code can be modified to suit your needs.
Combine that with its simplicity of use, and it’s easy to see why the platform has become so popular in recent years; powering close to 30% of the internet.
WordPress users make 41.7 million new posts and 60.5 million new comments each month. Every six months, WordPress registers 1.1 million new domains. And there are currently more than 44,600 WordPress plugins available.
But the enormity, accessibility and simplicity of WordPress doesn’t come without a few conditions and concessions.
Take those 44,600+ plugins for example. They’re available with little to no quality control. So in the unregulated landscape of WordPress, the mileage really can vary when it comes to user-created content.
The best way to know whether or not something like a plugin is worth your time, or worthy of your site, is to check its customer reviews. When 92% of consumers are trusting peer recommendations over advertising, it’s hard to argue against the fact that social media marketing is more important than ever.
In terms of SEO, selecting the right plugins can be crucial to your site’s success. SEO specific plugins like Yoast, All In One and The SEO Framework feature automated tools that can be very useful to users not well-versed in SEO techniques.
Even if you already have some SEO experience, there are less-general plugins that focus on particular SEO elements which can still be of use to your site.
But there’s more to WordPress than just plugins that give it a leg up on a lot of its competition.
Rich snippets are structured data markups that can be added to a site’s HTML. Adding rich snippets to your WordPress site will give search engines a better understanding of precisely what information each page on your site contains; which results in improved rankings.
Search engines take into account the loading speed of a website. And because WordPress gives you the opportunity to choose your hosting, it gives you greater control when it comes to optimising your site’s load speed. Another factor that has a significant impact on search engine rankings.
WordPress also offers a caching plugin that creates static versions of your content and applies other techniques that achieve a higher load speed. Which will allow you to set your speed code according to Google’s PageSpeed recommendations.
Squarespace and SEO
Unlike WordPress, Squarespace is not an open source platform. Only their developers are able to build tools for your use.
While this limits the sheer number of available tools, it maintains a consistent level of quality across all their offerings.
Elements like plugins are well tested before they’re made available. And if you do encounter a problem with a particular tool, their support team should fully understand your question due to their familiarity with the product.
The compromise with Squarespace is flexibility.
While its drag-and-drop interface is easy to use, even if you have zero tech or design experience, Squarespace is less responsive than WordPress.
On the other hand, Squarespace’s drag-and-drop model lets you see what your finished site will look like in real time as you’re building it. Unlike WordPress where pages need to be previewed or published before you can see how they’ll ultimately look. With Squarespace, your every move is automatically saved and shown to you in its ‘live’ version.
Squarespace does lack many of the SEO tools present inside WordPress. There are no SEO plugins. So you’re limited to captions, descriptions and extracts visible on the page for search engine rankings.
Rich snippets cannot be used directly. They can only be used through Google’s Data Highlighter tool. Which undoes some of the platforms surface convenience.
Sites created with Squarespace can only be hosted through Squarespace’s shared hosting service. So your hands are a bit tied when it comes to increasing the speed of your website loading; code cannot be adjusted to search engine requirements.
But there are benefits to Squarespace that search engines do value.
With Squarespace, you can generate the sitemap XML file. Or use the clear HTML markup.
Squarespace is an incredibly mobile-friendly platform. The importance of which in today’s climate cannot be denied.
With Squarespace, you can create the SSL version of your website; creating the kind of secure HTTPS website that search engines adore. You can also register your web page with Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools to show search engines that you exist and offer the valuable content.
It’s hard to pick a “winner”. And there’s no one platform we can recommend over another. Because user needs and experience levels can vary wildly.
If you’re a beginner that can’t be bothered with plugins and prefer simplicity, Squarespace can still earn you positive SEO gains through high-quality content, smart use of keywords and attractive SEO titles.
But if you’ve got a little experience, or are patient and willing to learn, the advanced tools available through WordPress truly set the sky as the limit when it comes to SEO for your new website.