WordPress Vs. Wix: Which is Better for SEO?
Search engine optimization plays a central role in modern marketing strategies, resulting in a landscape of tools and software solutions that are geared towards managing, improving, and understanding the outcome of SEO efforts. This has led to a trend towards automation and simplifying marketing tasks through the use of software in order to help marketers keep up with increasingly complex workflows.
With search engine optimization (SEO) driving website design trends and standards, your business’s website becomes the central platform around which your marketing efforts revolve, so it’s important that it’s fully optimized to attract and filter leads. While this can be done manually by teams of expertly trained designers and marketing professionals, some organizations don’t have it in the budget to bring in such support. Of those automation and marketing tools on the market, content management systems were built specifically to simplify the process of building a website while providing powerful marketing support for SEO.
In this article, we are going to compare two of the top content management systems (CMS) on the market, WordPress and Wix, and find out which provides the most value, versatility, and utility for users.
Why Use a Content Management System?
Content management systems operate on two levels. The first is for the small business getting started who has some technical skill but little budget at the start to get a website and marketing infrastructure up and running. The many integrations and plug-ins users can take advantage of through a CMS can help even the most unskilled team build a powerful website that helps to track and manage user traffic and SEO performance.
Alternatively, CMS platforms help skilled professional marketing freelancers and agencies quickly and efficiently build professional, user-friendly websites for clients. With the added experience building and coding websites and knowledge of SEO practices, marketing agencies and freelancers can handle more clients and monitor performance more efficiently, but to a degree, content management systems are limited by the platforms upon which they are built.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Content Management Systems and Site Builders
Before diving into a CMS or site builder solution, there are some common questions you should know the answers to so you understand the scope of the tools you’re about to integrate into your marketing technology stack.
What is the difference between a site builder and a CMS?
Content management systems are a full, end-to-end solution designed for building and maintaining your website in-house. You can fully customize and control the look and flow of your website from a CMS.
A site builder is often a much more simple interface with less customization that allows novice page builders to drag and drop content into templates or premade themes that have some customizability but not as much as a CMS platform offers.
Do I still need a web designer or graphic designer?
It honestly depends. If you have an eye for visuals and you can research design trends easily online and work those elements into your site built with a CMS or site builder, then no, you don’t necessarily need a web designer. And similarly, if you can either source royalty free or paid design elements and graphics or source photos in-house, you can do without a graphic designer. If neither of these is something you can pull off well in-house, you might consider hiring one or the other or seeking out a freelancer or agency.
Can I host my site myself or do I need to find a hosting service?
This also depends on the type of service you use to build your site and if the CMS or site builder provides hosting. It also depends on your own team’s expertise and resources. It’s often more secure, cost-effective, and reliable to go with a hosting service if the CMS or site builder vendor offers a domain name and hosting as part of their service plan.
Let’s take a deep dive into WordPress and Wix, and see which offers a more robust overall experience.
Comparing Two CMS Powerhouses
There is a wide range of CMS platform service providers operating in the marketing landscape today but when you look at ranked listings, WordPress and Wix often appear near the tops of those rankings. Each platform has a unique history and approach that sets it apart from competitors.
Initial development on WordPress began around 2003 when a popular blogging software b2/cafelog’s development team discontinued work on the platform. Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little decided that they enjoyed using b2/cafelog so much that they forked the development code and started working on their own platform. Today, the current WordPress software is used by approximately 455 million websites, a figure said to be growing daily through the free and paid versions of the software. While the self-hosted wordpress.org software platform itself is largely open-source and allows contributors to modify and create versions of the platform wholly their own, the commercial front end and website Wordpress.com are financially backed and owned by privately-owned Automattic and provides users with a hosted-website building experience.
The Wix platform got its start in 2006 when the three founders—Avishai Abrahami, Nadav Abrahami, and Giora Kaplan—decided in the process of building out a website for a startup that the process was entirely too complex and costly. At that moment, they decided to build a tool that would allow small businesses and entrepreneurs to build websites on par with professionally built websites. Figures online show that the platform is used by more than 200 million users.
Each platform comes with a host of specifications that draw in users looking to leverage the power of the website construction tools to make a business website they can rely upon.
It’s important to understand that there are two versions of WordPress users can access depending on their needs, and it would be misleading to compare Wix to one or the other. In this overview of specifications, we’ll include a brief description of both platforms. Regardless of which platform is right for your business or skill level, there is an added degree of technical expertise required for either version of WordPress to get the full functionality, and we’ll cover third-party tools and integrations in a separate section below. However, each platform is flexible enough to allow users in any industry the ability to build out the appropriate type of site, from eCommerce shopping solutions to portfolios and blogs, as well as versatile single- and multi-page sites with customized landing pages and logical inbound marketing funnels.
The free open-source version of WordPress requires you to either obtain your own hosting provider solution through a third-party provider or to install and maintain hosting on your own equipment. With this version, it’s 100% free if hosted yourself, and you can build and edit your website easily through the included tools. There are entire platforms dedicated to WordPress themes that can be installed and provide a visual appeal to your site that would otherwise require a designer to manually code and design.
This paid version of WordPress is much more in line with the Wix platform in that it is an all-in-one website creation and hosting solution. This managed hosting experience can be customized to your business’s needs and allows you to install a custom theme and manage it as if it were your own website built by a designer.
Wix is a one-stop website construction and hosting solution, with flexibility built in to either allow the user to customize the visual aesthetic themselves or through the use of a powerful AI-driven design tool, creating a website that fits in with the organization’s industry aesthetic and functional needs. Wix is versatile enough to also support eCommerce, blogs, and portfolios, and business websites intended to support inbound marketing efforts. The Wix learning curve is largely less steep and less advanced coding skills are required, establishing it as a tool that is targeted at beginners and teams with little technical skill.
Who Comes Out Ahead on Specifications?
While both platforms offer a hosted experience, the fact that WordPress comes as either a stand-alone open-source solution or a fully-managed customizable experience makes it a more versatile tool with advanced features that can be leveraged by beginners or established marketing professionals. Wix, on the other hand, really is a tool designed for the individual entrepreneur or small business just getting established and handles much of the heavy lifting on the back-end. While this can be seen as an advantage if we were talking about private individual use, the fact is, we are looking for a tool versatile enough to handle users of all skill levels and provide an experience commensurate with the experience and needs of the users at both an individual level and an agency level.
The ability to create customized themes and visuals for your website is crucial in order to both attract potential leads and keep your online real estate in line with your business aesthetic. Each of the platforms under review here has a different approach to customization options.
Once you’ve established either the open-source version of WordPress or the hosted version for your site, a little bit of coding knowledge or the right theme plug-in will allow you to modify the visual look and feel of your site from text sizes and colors to the overall color schema. Some tools that can be integrated are drag-and-drop for the less skilled, while other interfaces allow the site owner to fully change page layouts, add menus, or even create entirely new pages for landing pages and marketing content.
There are entire communities dedicated to both free and paid themes, which provide WordPress users even more options for customizing and modifying the visuals and functionality of their sites to better exceed the SEO efforts of competitors. Even as customizable as they are, the WordPress framework maintains a clean and easy-to-navigate URL structure that helps websites to quickly load and remain SEO friendly.
The Wix interface is built as a simple drag-and-drop editor that allows users to drop content and visual assets into fully customizable framework options. The Wix ADI interface also automatically builds websites for users without design skills. However customizable the Wix templates might be and despite how user-friendly the interface is for newcomers, online sentiment tells a story of a framework that slows down Wix website loads and hinders SEO despite recent improvements overall. While they might be a great solution for their target audience of small business owners, they are not necessarily the most versatile tool.
Who Comes Out Ahead on Customizability?
The Wix editor does offer an easy-to-customize interface, but it doesn’t offer the widest range of customizability. Through a combination of flexible tools and third-party integrations (discussed under “Plugins”), the WordPress platform gives users the ability to create much more complex and targeted site assets to enhance the functionality of your site and meet the requirements of SEO search algorithms much more effectively.
Each of the industry leading platforms has very different pricing models, depending on the scope of the website you’re trying to build and intended use and traffic.
The WordPress.org open-source platform is free to use, with the only cost being if you need to secure separate hosting or the third-party costs associated with any themes you might integrate into your design. The Wordpress.com platform has 4 standard pricing tiers based on the scope and function of your site:
- Personal ($4/mo)
- Premium ($8/mo)
- Business ($25/mo)
- eCommerce ($45/mo)
Cited pricing is the annual cost broken down to a monthly amount; monthly billing increases the cost of the service slightly. Personal and Premium tiers are for individuals and freelancers, and don’t include advanced SEO tools or access to plugin functionality. Business and eCommerce scale with your business and offer access to search engine optimization interfaces as well as a number of functionality-extending plugins. Each plan includes a free domain and WordPress hosting as part of the service arrangement. The eCommerce plan allows users to fold in eCommerce plugins to support an online sales platform.
Wix bases its pricing tiers on storage space, the number of hours of video content that can be uploaded, and access to advanced marketing tools such as the ability to create and include professional logos and access to a booster app and marketing calendar app. They also offer a free domain for a year. Pricing models come in three categories: Professional Websites, Business/eCommerce, and Enterprise. For business or professional sites:
- Combo ($14/mo)
- Unlimited ($18/mo)
- Pro ($23/mo)
- VIP ($39/mo)
The company also has separate plan structures for eCommerce and the ability to sell services online:
- Business Basic ($23/mo)
- Business Unlimited ($27/mo)
- Business VIP ($49/mo)
For Enterprise level solutions, plans start at $500/mo.
Who Comes Out Ahead on Price?
While Wix advertises itself as a flexible and versatile, yet affordable tool for small businesses, its plans are still somewhat more expensive overall in the short run. Wix also falls short with how high up the service tiers you have to go in order to remove the ads from your page.
Websites built with CMS are often modular and require the addition of third-party apps or plug-ins to extend and enhance the functionality and keep the site up-to-date with current marketing trends and SEO requirements. This is truly where a platform can outshine the competition by ensuring the tools made available to users provide true value.
Reports vary from review sites, but figures this year place the WordPress plugin marketplace at somewhere over 50,000 unique customization tools that users can integrate into WordPress websites to improve various functionality. One of the most popular categories of plugins is SEO tools that enhance and expand WordPress’s already robust SEO tools, such as those that allow users to create sitemaps and enhance various SEO features throughout the site. Together, these tools help users customize both the metadata of a site and craft targeted content across their site to help search engine result page (SERP) rankings. These plugins from the WordPress marketplace come in the form of free plugins, plugins that are initially free but with paid add-ons, and subscription-based solutions. This does not include the plugins that come as part of the various themes you can choose from offered through WordPress and other channels. It’s important to note that some plugins are built for specific themes or are built and released prior to the release of new themes, and sometimes will require adjustment or tweaking in order to work with your site’s existing framework. The marketplace is diverse enough that if one tool you find and like doesn’t work, there is bound to be another with the same functionality that does fit your needs.
The Wix app market is a much smaller, curated collection of about 300 software add-ons. The difference here is that all apps on the marketplace are designed and tested for compatibility with the Wix platform specifically. This highlights Wix’s user-friendly interface and the brand’s focus on ensuring the platform can be used by amateur web-design enthusiasts.
Who Comes Out Ahead on Plugins?
The fact is users like versatility, choice, and a range of solutions that they can use to customize their site. For more advanced users, this means the expansive WordPress marketplace is exactly the tool for the job. For less skilled site builders, we can see how the expansive landscape of more than 50,000 tools might be daunting, and it’s a much safer app marketplace to choose from with the Wix platform, but looking at the user base as a whole, the WordPress platform comes out ahead.
The debate as to which webpage builder or CMS is a more secure solution is tricky. The fact is, any platform that is connected to the internet is vulnerable in many ways, and new ways are being discovered every day by malicious actors. However, several factors for each platform allow one a slight edge over the other.
When we talk about cybersecurity and a site’s vulnerability, we often have to consider the exposed portions of the website that are beyond the hosting service’s control. The fact is that the benefits of such a large marketplace of apps and plugins that can be integrated into your WordPress site equally act as a threat vector hackers can use to gain a foothold within your website to compromise data. We assume that plug-ins that make it to the marketplace have been vetted properly but the best thing to do is to protect your site with a security plugin that helps to monitor and expose malicious interactions. In addition, WordPress includes an SSL certificate by default with all websites now, in accordance with the change in the last few years where Google announced it would down-rank sites not secured with a security certificate. Ensuring the security and safety of your site requires vigilance, the right tools, and an awareness maintained by whoever is managing your website internally.
The threat exposure from third-party integrations is much lower due to the limited number of apps on its marketplace and the fact that all are vetted for compliance and compatibility with the Wix site builder framework. The site also encrypts traffic through an SSL certificate as standard with all plans. Updates are easy to manage, and financial transactions have a system in place across eCommerce and business sites to encrypt and protect financial data and transactions.
Who Comes Out Ahead on Security?
Less from the level of security and quality of the services on offer than from the sheer exposure WordPress is subject to from its massive marketplace of services and plugins. Otherwise, the platforms appear to have equally sufficient security measures and security certificates in place to protect user data from malicious actors.
Help and Support, Ease of Use
Sometimes, the measure of a software platform comes down to how well it supports and helps its user base. The goals and intent of each of these platform’s customer support infrastructure are somewhat different due to the nature of the client base each is focused on supporting.
At the lowest entry tier, WordPress users must rely on email support to handle their needs. From Premium and up, users can access support via live chat and via unlimited email support. There is also a robust library of online resources through the site that walk users through commonly asked questions and projects related to building out a website. Additional resources include business branding tools, discussion forums, tutorials, paid training courses, regular webinars, and a community of experts at the user’s fingertips.
As discussed throughout, the Wix platform is designed for amateur users, and its support infrastructure supports that demographic well. Aside from the 24/7 online support channels via chat and email, the Help Center is a full database of help articles about any and all topics related to building a website, account maintenance, and other relevant topics
Who Comes Out Ahead on Help and Support, Ease of Use?
Winner: It’s a Tie!
Both platforms have an extremely extensive and impressive database chock full of useful website building support and other documents to help make the user experience easier to navigate.
Overall, WordPress Provides a Superior Service
Aside from the slight edge Wix has in terms of securing its platform, WordPress is a more complete and complex tool for supporting the creation and ongoing maintenance of a website. This isn’t much of a surprise given that in reviewing both service providers, it becomes clear that Wix focuses on being a website building platform, while WordPress is more concerned with the overall experience and providing an end-to-end content management system solution.
Whether you’re a small business or entrepreneur just getting started and establishing your online presence, or a marketing agency seeking a solution for managing client content and creating websites to meet the needs of a wide array of clients from different industries, you should consider folding WordPress into your toolbox. The robust support platform combined with an extensive marketplace of third-party integrations and plugins makes for an extremely versatile and powerful content management system platform upon which to grow and expand your business.