In a nutshell, this article will go over the differences between WordPress and Squarespace highlighting the SEO capabilities that both platforms offer.
When designing a website for your Marin or Sonoma County business, there are a lot of options to choose from. There are content management systems, like WordPress, that have a steeper learning curve and cost a more to build but enable you to have full control over your website. In the Marketing and SEO world, this is a must. There are also drag and drop website services AKA “Do it Yourself”, such as Squarespace that make web design as easy as a few mouse clicks and almost anyone can use if he or she knows how to use a computer. Both WordPress and Squarespace cost relatively the same for hosting.
For a truly successful web design, the term SEO (search engine optimization) has probably come to your attention. The more you learn about it, the more you realize that it’s an integral part of your business plan because using proven SEO techniques in your Marin or Sonoma based company helps potential customers find your site and hopefully keep them there to consider your services or products. It’s not only crucial to assemble a serviceable, relevant website, it’s important to have a site that is fully optimized for the search engines.
The Pros and Cons of Squarespace
Pros: Subscription-based Squarespace is a website building service which enables you to easily and quickly establish a website within an hour (or so they claim). You can register the domain name with Squarespace and web hosting is included in the monthly fee. Using their drag and drop system, you can design your website’s appearance and then easily populate the pages with your content and images. Squarespace might sound appealing if you don’t have much of a budget and you want to get your business launched as quickly as possible. I highly recommend this if you are just starting your business and I don’t recommend spending a great deal on a website when you are just starting out.
Cons: As a Squarespace user, you are greatly limited in your flexibility to make changes to your website within their builder. If you want to add more features or functionality to your site, you may need to either pay more for an upgrade or eventually move to another service or platform.
*I don’t recommend hiring or paying a web designer to build you a Squarespace website unless it is extremely cheap, you could probably do it yourself and you will also hear “no” a great deal since Squarespace limits customization and is very template based.
The Pros and Cons of WordPress
Pros: While there’s a learning curve to WordPress, it can intuitive and easy to use depending on who builds it. WordPress is open source, meaning it is free to use, and has an entire community behind it, offering support with development, themes / plugins which most of the time are also free. There are literally thousands of plugins, free and paid, and they allow you to extend your site by adding new features and functionality like social media sharing, custom forms and sidebars, and more. You could even add a drag and drop editor if you prefer that type of interface. Since WordPress is so extensible, it stands out from “do it yourself” website builders that limit you to the platforms.
Cons: Your main support will be a web designer who understands WordPress, so if you hire someone, make sure they offer support post launch. WordPress is open source, and there is a great deal of documentation on the web, but there isn’t exactly phone or email support for WordPress itself. This is one plus that Squarespace and other “do it yourself” website builders have over WordPress. I would research reviews specific to support for these “do it yourself” platforms to make sure they are as good as they say they are.
*You may need to hire a professional WordPress web designer here in Marin or Sonoma to get things setup, but once designed and launched your site should be relatively easy to maintain. I specialize in WordPress and Shopify website design and can provide tutorial screencast videos teaching you how to maintain your own website post launch.
Who Has SEO Better?
Now we get to the good stuff.
Squarespace wasn’t always optimization friendly but recently, they’ve added features and functionality for this. Their auto-generated sitemaps and the ability to edit page titles and meta descriptions is a step in the right direction. The fact that you can’t change blog page titles and the drag and drop interface adds additional code that impacts the sites’ readability for optimization purposes are big disadvantages in optimization efforts. Since you host your site there, their site speed also has an impact on your efforts.
WordPress is recommended by many SEO consultants for its flexibility in being able to implement solid techniques. Not only does WordPress have several onboard features but it can be enhanced with plugins like Yoast SEO and All in one SEO Pack. These plugins add features like customizable titles and descriptions, greater control over how Google indexes the site, auto-generated maps, and much more.
Food For Thought
Google and other major search engines are trying to clean up the web and in one way of doing this they are forcing website owners to pay for a high level SSL Certificate making company websites more secure once HTTPS is enabled. More information on the topic of SSL Certificates here. That being said, Google and other major search engines have been giving more authority to websites that have key features showing the website owners have invested more than the competition. The question is, even if Squarespace or other “do it yourself” website builders comes up to speed with the same SEO capabilities that WordPress has, will Google and other major search engines still favor WordPress or sites that show a significant higher investment over cheaper options?
Winner = WordPress
WordPress wins this battle hands down as its flexibility allows for it to be fully optimized for Google and other search engines. Time will need to be set aside to learn these practices or you’ll need to hire a consultant for best results. Either way the investment will be more than worth it in increased traffic and conversions.
Squarespace is a newer venue than WordPress and may, in time, catch up. It’s hard for many venues to beat the flexibility of a self-hosted WordPress site that doesn’t limit the user whatsoever.