Last updated on October 24, 2018
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is essential to success online. You can have the most beautiful website in the world, but it won’t matter one iota if nobody is visiting it. Strong SEO allows sites to rank for valuable, relevant search engine queries and bring in traffic for free.
It’s very important to keep SEO in mind when choosing your website builder. A good builder not only makes it easy to build and maintain a website – it also supports your climb up the search results. We know our fair share about website builders, and we’re here to help you find the right one for your SEO needs.
Now let’s cut to the chase. The three best website builders for SEO are:
We haven’t plucked these three out of the air. WBE researches all the top website builders, comparing features and conducting user testing to get a bird’s-eye view of the industry. According to our research, these three are ahead of the field where SEO is concerned.
This piece will explore each builder’s SEO credentials, as well as the features to be looking out for when choosing a website builder. By the end, you should have a clear idea of which builder is the best fit for you.
Let’s get to it.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
If you’re reading this article, odds are you have at least some idea of what SEO is, but it’s worth recapping in brief. That way we know exactly what to expect from our website builders.
SEO is how web content improves its chances of appearing in the search results of sites like Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo. Search engines want to connect users with relevant, high-quality information. SEO is the process of ticking those boxes and ensuring search engines know how to find you.
Just a handful of the things that factor into SEO are:
- Meta titles & meta descriptions
- URL structure
- Image alt text
- Site speed & mobile usability
- Structured data
A website needs to be able to address all these things and more. A website builder needs SEO baked in to its interface, as easy to implement as design, content, or navigation. A website builder without strong SEO is not worth your time or money.
The top builders for SEO keep up with the trends and make implementation easy. Depending on the skill level of their target customers, they also teach. If you’re still learning the ins and outs of SEO, worry not – there are builders out there that can support you through this process.
Don’t lose heart. SEO is much simpler than it first appears. If a website builder makes implementation seem beyond you, that’s the builder’s problem, not yours.
A complaint sometimes levelled against website builders is that they’re great for making websites, but not for the graft that comes after. There used to be some truth to this, but not anymore. Wix has improved its SEO game enormously over the last few years, to the point where it’s actually a market leader.
SEO is a long-term game, and you need platforms that can help you keep on top of it. Wix is one of the best builders for those still learning the ropes. Its SEO Wiz walks users through the essentials step-by-step, suggests improvements, and even sets goals for you.
Wix SEO Review – A full breakdown of Wix’s SEO strengths and weaknesses
Wix Review – Our full overview and rating of the builder
No coding is required with Wix. From meta titles to 301 redirects, SEO is built right into the Wix dashboard. Every page has dedicated SEO settings, and every image you upload has a input for alt text – which is how search engines understand images.
Another big plus is the strength of its Google integration. Web analytics tools are essential for understanding your site’s traffic, and Google is the gold standard. Connecting Google Analytics and Google Search Console to Wix sites is simply a case of entering your tracking ID.
SEO is actually much more straightforward than it seems sometimes. Dot your i’s, cross your t’s, try to get some relevant links, rinse and repeat. Wix makes that upkeep easy, and it will let you know when you’re falling short.
Wix has implemented a bunch of SEO features in the last few years, and the knowledge base is as comprehensive as you’re likely to find anywhere. Even if you don’t use Wix, its SEO documentation is well worth a browse.
The trade-off with Wix’s ease of use and in-house functionality is it falters when it comes to more advanced SEO methods. Structured data (which gives search engines additional, highly relevant information about your site) is becoming increasingly important to SEO. To add any to Wix, at present, you have to do so manually – with code.
This is a minor gripe, but one worth being clear about. The learned SEO students among you may find Wix stifling after a while. That’s the game with website builders, though: the price of convenience is control.
For the most part though, Wix understands its users aren’t techies. It balances usability with control superbly. Not only does its builder make SEO simple, it teaches the basics whenever you’re unsure what something means. If you want a comprehensive, supportive SEO experience, Wix is a prime option.
Wix is best for… absolute SEO beginners
Weebly prides itself on its ease of use, and SEO is a big part of that. Everything from meta descriptions to web analytics is baked in to the platform. Like Wix and Squarespace, Weebly keeps all the essentials in-house.
Meta titles and descriptions, custom URLs, and alt text are all part of the page editor. Google Analytics and Search Console integration is as simple as inputting your tracking ID. Its mobile website builder ensures your site looks good and runs well on all devices – something increasingly important to SEO.
Weebly’s plugin library is very strong. There are dozens of SEO-focused plugins in its App Center. Some are better than others of course, but the likes of Site Booster (which helps your site appear on Google Maps, among other things) prove it’s worth having a browse. All in all, Weebly’s SEO is thorough and easy to use.
Weebly Review – Our full overview of the Weebly website builder
In an odd omission, Weebly doesn’t currently allow you to customize alt text on product images. Regular image? Go nuts – but you’re out of luck if you’re trying to sell stuff. We’d be surprised if this was the case for much longer in light of Weebly’s acquisition by Square, but it’s a caveat to keep in mind if ecommerce is central to your plans.
That said, Weebly is pivoting towards ecommerce at the moment. It’s already shaping up to be a strong hybrid of general purpose website builder and dedicated retail platform. The same is true of its SEO, which has a foot in both camps. From page titles to custom product URLs, Weebly hits an especially good balance for the needs of small businesses.
Weebly is best for… an organized SEO experience with one eye on ecommerce
Squarespace is the tall, dark, and handsome enigma of the website builder world – or it likes to think so, anyway. Its SEO features are sophisticated and well integrated, but don’t expect to have your hand held like you would with Wix and Weebly. If you’re familiar with the basics of SEO and want a bit more backend control, Squarespace may well be the builder for you.
Squarespace has a highly organized, almost CMS-like backend. This makes it easy to stay on top of SEO, provided you’re already familiar with best practice. The dashboard still offers the odd prompt or explanation, just not in quite the same guided tour way as its peers. It’s a more casual, controllable experience.
Meta titles and alt text aren’t the only things to think about for SEO (though they are important). Your site also needs links! Squarespace’s social media integration is second to none, and a vibrant, multichannel online presence can do wonders for SEO. After all, search engines trust sites that other sites trust.
A drawback of Squarespace is that it can be a bit fiddly depending on the template you’re using. A handful of them display alt text on the site, which is not the way it’s supposed to work. You can nip this in the bud by browsing the Squarespace template guide, but it’s an odd hurdle to have to jump.
And again, be aware that fancier SEO methods require ‘code injections,’ which means adding code yourself. If the last couple of years have been any indicator, all the major builders will roll out smooth in-house solutions for structured data before too long, but you know what they say about assumption…
On the whole though, Squarespace is an excellent option for SEO. If you want a builder that will teach you the basics of SEO, Wix and Weebly fit the bill better than Squarespace does. But Squarespace has always fancied itself as a more sophisticated class of website builder. If that sounds like your vibe, give their free trial a spin to see if it’s meant to be.
Squarespace is best for… hands-off, structured, scalable SEO
Are Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace the only website builders with strong SEO game? No, but they do provide a particularly strong balance of features and ease of use. They have all the key features built in, and it’s a safe bet they’ll be adding more. If you’re new to the world of SEO, we recommend these three above all others. For a complete side-by-side assessment of the top website builders check out our comparison chart.
However! If you fancy yourself a bit of an SEO connoisseur, WordPress may be better suited to your needs. Some HTML knowhow will be necessary, but that can be worth it for the creative control it affords. It also has tens of thousands of plugins, many of which are dedicated to SEO.
On the ecommerce front, it’s hard to look beyond Shopify at the moment. SEO priorities for online retail are different to those of blogs, and Shopify focuses its efforts accordingly. Logical site structure, alt text, and product tags are front and center – something to keep in mind if the website you’re building will be selling things.
The Best Website Builder for SEO: Final Verdict
Search engine optimization is vitally important to website success. When choosing a website builder, SEO functionality is one of the most important things you should look at. On the best website builders, SEO is comprehensive and easy to use.
To recap, the best three builders for SEO are currently:
They’re feature-rich and easy to use. Wix and Weebly are especially good at explaining features and setting goals, integrating their knowledge bases right into the builder. Which of the two is better for you ultimately comes down to personal preference.
Squarespace is a terrific option for those a little more comfortable with SEO best practice. It won’t hold your hand through the process, but then not everybody wants their hand held. For a hands-off SEO framework, it may well be very best.
All three builders tick the essential SEO boxes, and their dev teams will ensure they keep up with the trends. It ultimately comes down to which builder best compliments the needs of your site. Each offers a free trial period, so there’s ample opportunity to test them out yourself before taking the plunge.
Why is SEO important?
Search engine optimization is one of the best ways to be found online. It’s inherently free marketing. Ranking high for the right search terms can bring in thousands of visitors a day. And the best part is they’re filtered specifically for your site. They’re looking for you! No SEO, no organic traffic. Sad day for you.
Check out our SEO tip articles to get started
- Anchor Text
- Website Architecture
Which website builder is the easiest to use?
For pure ease of use, Weebly came out on top in our research. Weebly and Wix are the safe bets when it come to ease of use. That said, it’s not a black and white issue. Some users find Squarespace easier to use. You click with what you click with. Free trials are a great opportunity to find that out before parting with any cash.
What is alt text?
Alt text is how search engines understand what images are about. Think of them as little private captions. Search engines are smart, but they’re not yet smart to know what an image is by looking at it. They look for the alt text. Alt text communicates the visual elements of your website, and offers a way for you to be found in image search results.
What is structured data?
Structured data is a way of providing specialized information about your pages to search engines. It’s how featured snippets are created in search results (star ratings, recipes, and so on). Google, Bing, Yandex, and Yahoo! have all collaborated on it, so rest assured it’s not a passing trend. Structured data is only going to become more important.
Website Builder Expert aims to provide you with honest data. That’s why we conduct our own research and obtain direct, personal insight. Analyses and graphics in this article are based on authentic sources cross-validated by our in-house experts.
We take great care to ensure the information we publish is reliable and accurate. However, WBE takes no responsibility for any inaccuracy in information supplied to us by users, research participants, or other entities.
Please note the insight contained within this article is for general information purposes only. We’re glad to answer any questions you may have about this article and its supporting research. For further information, please contact Website Builder Expert directly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.