Why You Should Invest in Web Design & Avoid Free Website Builders
- Christine Hazel
- 2 Aug 2019
What makes a great website? Is it design, speed or user experience? A website that deserves applause is one that deftly pays attention to appearance, loading time, ease of navigation and other factors that, when taken together, encourage users to navigate further or keep coming back to your site. Factors like SEO-friendliness, the type of content management system used and Google rank can affect how well a website performs in the long run.
In a study conducted by Fresh Chalk, 150 small businesses were interviewed and asked about their preferred website builders. Website builders are usually marketed as affordable options for small businesses who do not have sufficient budget for custom web designs. In this article, we present a comparison of four popular website builders and highlight their respective pros and cons.
Everyone knows Wix, Wordpress, Weebly, Go Daddy and Squarespace. While each platform has strengths and weaknesses that differ from the others, we want to identify the ones that are best for SEO. Sometimes it comes as a surprise when websites with limited SEO activities actually rank well on search engines. We can attribute this good ranking to their website builder, which search engines may find easy to crawl or SEO-friendly.
What is a Website Builder?
There are three ways to build a website. For starters, an explanation may be in order:
(1) Drag-and-Drop Builder – These are easy tools for creating a website. Designed for do-it-yourself website building, drag-and-drop builders involve pre-set themes, which can be customised to a limited extent. Focusing on ease of use, this type of platform lets you drag or rearrange website elements as you see fit. Weebly, Squarespace, Wix, and GoDaddy have drag-and-drop features as well as platforms like Shopify and Google My Business.
(2) WordPress Hosting – WordPress.com, and WP Engine, is a user favourite. WP is a popular website-building tool because it allows you to create a sophisticated website with little restrictions. Some WordPress providers are popular among SMEs because they offer sufficient room for customisation, which you cannot find in a drag-and-drop builder.
(3) Digital Marketing Agencies - The small business ecosystem is also populated by digital marketing agencies that take the cudgels of web design and development on your behalf. If for example, you prefer to build a website from scratch, with features beyond the capability of a drag-and-drop builder, then the best people for the job are digital marketing agencies. Unless you have an in-house web designer and developer in your company, then the agency creates your dream website following your instructions. What’s more, digital marketing firms tend to have a team of SEO specialists. They can optimise your website through keyword-rich meta tags and alt tags, making your website easy to crawl.
What Website Builder Should You Use?
Website owners have the leeway to identify their own priorities. Do you feel the need to build an aesthetic website at the expense of speed? Or will you be okay with minimalist web design and focus on fast load time? Of course, if you can have both, why not? But website builders these days are one or the other and it is often difficult to create the right balance between good web design and speedy loading.
Which Website Builders Rank Well in Google SERPs?
As far as speed, Google rankings, and popularity are concerned, however, Fresh Chalk unearthed the following findings:
(1) Many small businesses prefer to use Wix. With a market share of nearly 22 per cent, it is the most popular website builder for SMEs. Because of its drag-and-drop interface, anyone – even those without web design background – can build a website from scratch using Wix. The caveat? Wix websites load at a snail’s pace. In fact, this is one reason why Wix websites tend to have low rankings in Google.
(2) Squarespace has limited popularity. It caters to niche markets but the general public has yet to hear about this web builder. Compared to Wix, Squarespace accounts for a fragment of the web builder market. However, websites built from Squarespace rank better than Wix. Squarespace outranks Wix by 13 per cent in Google search result pages.
(3) While not exactly the easiest or most convenient website builder, GoDaddy’s market share is quite impressive. But its popularity and performance are on a case to case basis. In some states in the U.S., where GoDaddy has already taken root, its performance is weak and less celebrated.
(4) In the website building industry, Google My Business is like the new kid in town. In fact, not everyone knows that their Google My Business page is more than just a web directory. It also comes with a simple website that is directly linked with your business page on Google. Despite its minimalist appearance, Google My Business websites are super fast with a load speed that’s 61 per cent faster than sluggish Wix sites.
(5) But this talk about website builders seems pretty bland without mentioning WordPress. Pretty much the game-changer, WP engine websites outrank most website builders by a whopping 23%. If you’re a small business still trapped in a Wix platform, you may want to reconsider your choice of a web builder. The benefits of using WordPress outweigh the costs you’re likely to incur.
(6) You may have heard of digital marketing agencies that charge a premium for SEO. Be careful as they may not be any better than Squarespace. Unless these SEO companies use WordPress or any builder that is not Wix, then you can guarantee better rankings and traffic for your website.
Based on the findings above, the most trusted method for building websites is WordPress. Squarespace, GoDaddy, Weebly and Google My Business perform well on the SERPs. Whereas Wix is the least trustworthy when it comes to site speed and Google rankings.
Not to discredit this drag-and-drop builder, it still has the largest market share than all other website builders after all. But still not worth the risk if you want to increase your online presence within a short timeframe.
Our advice is to not sell yourself short. Find a website builder where you can have the best of both worlds – a good SEO-friendly design and a fast loading time. Just because it’s free and easy to use that does not mean you will be able to achieve your business goals in the long run. Your website is one way you can grow your business. You must thoroughly invest in it and not settle for less.
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