Top SEO-Friendly Website Builders
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Website builders are powerful tools for individuals or small businesses looking to establish an online presence without needing to hire expensive web developers.
There are numerous website builders available and choosing the best option for your needs may require trial and error. However, this guide is meant to simplify your decision by giving you the raw details about the best website builders we would use (without distracting you with marketing mumbo jumbo).
We hope you’ll be able to quickly narrow down your search for the right website builder (that matches your skill level and requirements) so you don’t have to waste time trying several of them out.
Things To Consider Before Choosing A Website Builder
The best website builder for your own website(s) is not necessarily the best website builder for SEO, the cheapest website builder, or the one with the most advanced SEO tools, e-commerce features, free hosting, or other advanced technical tools. It’s the website builder that you feel most comfortable using.
Regardless of your technical skill level or SEO knowledge, you probably want a website builder that’s quick to learn, easy to use, reliable, and effective for your needs.
Sure, everything I mentioned above are excellent features to have depending on exactly what the purpose of the website is planned to be. Are you building personal websites or online stores? Do you want a relatively sophisticated e-commerce website or just a simple website to publish a blog post?
Moreover, do you require SEO tools for ranking, advanced features for backend management/web analytics, efficient blogging tools, or just a simple and trusted website builder platform with the basics?
Most website builders offer a lot of the essential features you’ll likely need to build a professional website. Some of them will also claim to provide the best SEO features to help rank your site in the search engine results pages (i.e. SERP).
In reality, some of these website builders for SEO offer decent SEO features if you know how to use them properly, but some of their SEO tools tend to fall short of truly optimizing your pages for the SERPs and you may not be satisfied with how your website ends up performing.
This is to be expected. Website builders for SEO can be useful for simple websites requiring basic on-page optimization. But that’s basically as far as they go. It turns out that plugins/add-ons can be more effective at delivering the SEO basics than the website builder’s built-in SEO tools. More on this later.
In fact, we rely on an SEO plugin for some of our on-page SEO efforts while using one of the top website builder platforms.
Keep in mind that the best website builders for SEO may offer support for some on-page optimization factors (and maybe provide a keyword research tool or something), but a lot of SEO-related actions will be dependent on your know-how. Moreover, on-page SEO is only half of the overall ranking process. There are important external factors, such as link building, which require certain actions that even the best website builders cannot provide.
Having said that, just because some of these platforms aren’t the best at providing the very best SEO features doesn’t mean they should be dismissed entirely. They are still effective tools that offer solid functionality and customization for building websites, and their usefulness depends on your specific goals (personal or business), SEO strategy, dedication, and propensity to learn.
Your pages won’t rank high in the SERPs simply because you used a website builder for SEO. There are many important components that a site builder(s) does not optimize.
However, if you need an efficient way to build and manage a website while implementing basic SEO functionality, then this article has a few worthy recommendations.
Let’s check them out:
It’s highly probable that you have visited a WordPress site or two in your life. That’s because WordPress is the most widely used website builder software in the world. It’s also one of the best website builders in my opinion. It’s free to get started and offers additional premium services.
Self-hosted WordPress is recommended for its customizable options, a plethora of plugins, simple SEO tools, scalability, and complete user control. I personally use WordPress on most of the sites I build and work on because of these aspects (but I am not endorsing this product on behalf of WordPress).
There are also many web hosting companies that are optimized to improve page speed for WordPress site(s) or have other bits of added functionality.
You can build out a blog, portfolio, business website, e-commerce store, community forum, directory, or almost any reasonably advanced (or basic) website you can imagine, because WordPress excels at customizability and user control.
There are thousands of design themes to choose from and an excellent drag-and-drop interface for beginners. For example, Divi is a highly popular visual page builder and design framework that allows you to easily customize and manipulate every aspect of your site from the ground up.
WordPress also gives you access to thousands of plugin apps to build, customize, and enhance your website (including effective SEO tools). This diverse plugin ecosystem is what makes WordPress truly unique compared to the other popular website builders on our list.
WP plugins allow users to add an incredible range of functionality and additional features depending on the site’s purpose. There are plugins for integrating social media tools, creating shopping carts or photo galleries, clearing website cache, checking for spelling/grammar mistakes, and connecting to Google Analytics (just to name a tiny fraction).
WordPress plugins also provide users with some good SEO functions. Plugins like All in One SEO Pack or Yoast SEO provide users with basic SEO features like a keyword explorer, site audit, and on-page SEO functionalities to help your site get noticed by search engines such as Google.
We use the Yoast SEO plugin to perform some basic on-page actions like setting the SEO titles, page titles, meta descriptions, and slugs.
I’ve spoken highly of WordPress so far. But remember that WordPress is not an SEO website builder that will magically optimize your site simply by using it. Even if you add plugins that provide more advanced SEO options, nothing will substitute for the other important elements of SEO such as publishing high-quality content, choosing the right target niche, and building quality backlinks.
Having said that, WordPress is still my favorite option for business owners, bloggers, and publishers looking for a versatile website builder and content management system.
Although HTML isn’t a website builder per se, it is a website building framework that, coupled with other languages such as CSS and PHP, allows one to truly build a website from nothing, dig deep into the code to make quick adjustments, and truly optimize web pages. You can improve on-page ranking factors in almost every way possible.
To use an analogy, website-building tools are like buying prepared meals. You can choose the general flavor and ingredients, but you don’t cook the meal exactly how you want from scratch.
Using HTML is like cooking your meals from scratch. It’s harder and more time-consuming, but only you (or your web developer) are to blame for not achieving the desired results. I guess you can call it the ultimate free website builder.
Applying this technology is highly effective at improving website usability, page loading times, and SERP rankings (assuming you’re willing to learn HTML or hire a good developer).
You can perform simple optimization by modifying tags, metadata, URL descriptions, anchor text, and internal links on the fly with HTML (and pretty much anything else).
The most robust optimization techniques can be done by writing HTML code.
Keep in mind that it’s relatively costly to hire a good developer to build and optimize SEO-friendly sites in HTML.
It will also take more time to learn HTML to build a simple site compared to publishing a WordPress website. However, the benefit of HTML is the ability to build sites with extreme functionality while learning an advanced skill.
Shopify is probably the best website builder for e-commerce sites. It’s what a lot of entrepreneurs and small businesses use to open their first online store. This e-commerce website builder is designed to improve search engine rankings for your products and provide specialized e-commerce features, although it’s more limited than WordPress in terms of broad scope functionalities and content features.
You can utilize basic SEO features, like adding keywords and meta descriptions, for specific product pages or your entire site. Shopify also helps you optimize site structure for search engines and submit sitemaps.
A couple of small advantages over some of the other best website builders on this list are Shopify’s focus on improving search results for products and providing powerful web analytics for your e-commerce store.
Shopify has plugins for some advanced SEO options, such as on-page optimization, that you may want to try out to potentially improve rankings. It also offers a built-in blogging engine and URL redirects.
Rankable Builders for Non-Competitive SERPs
Sometimes you just need to pump out a simple website to rank noncompetitive terms in a SERP such as long-tail keywords or your personal brand/name (which is still relatively unknown).
So if you want to rank a brand SERP, or maybe just get a SERP for your name, there are certainly some more basic website builders, content-sharing sites, social platforms, and Web 2.0s you can use which provide some of the essential characteristics of a website.
Don’t expect some of these platforms to be website builders for SEO. And although they aren’t the ideal option for targeting bigger keywords, the following website builders may be adequate for some low competition SERPs.
Again, you probably won’t be using any of these platforms for ranking on the most competitive SERPs, but if you’re just getting started and want to brand yourself, and establish an online presence, then these services are a good option.
Web 2.0 web builder technologies provide newcomers with websites and applications for easily creating and sharing content that can rank in noncompetitive SERPs.
These website builders are all about giving the publisher an efficient way to share, collaborate, and communicate with specific people or wide audiences about relevant content.
They don’t require any specialized skills to use and anyone can publish or share their work on the web.
Some examples include Medium.com, Behance.com, LiveJournal.com, and many more. With some of these websites, a large portion of the overall SEO is out of your control and performed by in-house professionals. In a sense, they are doing the heavy lifting for you. Your main focus is on creating link-worthy content (which is also very important to SEO these days). So you will want to focus on keyword research, content optimization, keyword density, topical relevance, and EAT (Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness).
A collaborative, open-source encyclopedia that serves as the most popular general reference on the internet featuring millions of articles.
Wikis can be about a specific topic or general subject area. Volunteers within the community create and edit these articles. Wikis and their associated pages (and page titles) can be considered to behave like websites.
An example would be everyone’s favorite… Wikipedia.org.
Social Network Platforms
Social networks, like Facebook or Reddit, allow users to create a profile to share with other users having similar interests.
Profiles can be public or private and users can share various forms of content with each other such as text, photos, and links.
With the right privacy settings and online presence, your social profiles can show up in search engines soon after creation.
Content Sharing Sites and Hosting Services
Content sharing sites allow users to upload content, usually photos and videos, they’ve created or curated for others to view. YouTube, Flickr, and Instagram are some of the most popular photo and video sharing services on the web.
These are not website builders. They provide some similar functionalities of a hosted website and do contain some basic SEO-friendly features for search engines.
Paid Services That We WOULDN’T Use
The following are solid website builder(s) if you pay for the premium services. The free versions are not as powerful as WordPress or Shopify. They feel like they belong on a list of the “cheapest website builders”.
It is still possible to rank in search engines using these platforms (ranking depends on the level of competition and your content), but their drawbacks make them far less appealing in the long run.
GoDaddy is a web hosting service with an integrated website builder for SEO. The GoDaddy website builder is just a basic website builder without any remarkable features to separate it from the rest.
However, it attempts to draw users by offering GoDaddy’s SEO features as a premium service (and suggesting SEO strategy) for much cheaper than any competent SEO professional would realistically charge.
Some of their advertised features like keyword exploration/generation and on-page SEO checklists are things that anyone can research online for free.
Moreover, many of the basic SEO services they advertise are already built-in to most other website builders for free (i.e. basic on-page such as SEO titles, landing page optimization).
Wix is a popular website builder (like the Weebly site) because it has a simple drag and drop interface that allows beginners to create professional-looking sites. It offers a free plan (with a free domain) whereby your URL must include the “Wix” domain suffix.
Wix doesn’t have advanced SEO plugins like WordPress but it does come with a built-in SEO tool called Wix SEO Wiz that creates a personalized SEO plan for users and provides access to basic functions and page customization (although users have reported critical flaws with the SEO). So it is a very basic SEO website builder for average users running smaller websites.
Wix claims its SEO Wiz will rank your site higher on Google, but like most website builders, this is often a false promise and Wix falls short of successfully ranking your pages in search engines.
Sometimes users just want a free domain to quickly host some content and don’t require any SEO features or potential to rank in search engines. For example, the Wix website builder is great for building personal/professional online portfolios to showcase your work. Or to set up a digital “business card” or any basic online presence that you share directly with other people instead of trying to attract organic traffic.
Squarespace is another easy-to-use website builder for SEO with a drag and drop interface.
Even though Squarespace has improved its integrated SEO suite to include many core functionalities, these built-in features are not part of the free plan and might not improve your site’s SERP performance that much by themselves.
Moreover, what you see is what you get because Squarespace doesn’t offer many customization plugins like WordPress or additional features to further enhance your SEO. It does allow for connecting Google Analytics.
Without a free version or additional plugins, there are just too many limitations to consider Squarespace as a viable option (given the other website builder for SEO) when you expect your site to rank high in the SERPs.
Unfortunately, these paid services simply don’t live up to their promises and you should be wary of using them if you’re serious about ranking high in the SERPs.
Best Website Builders for SEO Wrap-Up
WordPress is hands down the best website builder for SEO available on the internet, free or otherwise. We use the WP website builder and do millions of people around the world.
Even if you have programming skills (or knowledge of HTML and CSS), using WordPress is by far the most efficient way to build an SEO-friendly site above anything else.
Shopify is the second-best website builder for SEO because it’s effective for e-commerce websites/products that need search engine optimization and analytics that are comparable to Google analytics.
There may be more than one best website builder for SEO that is suitable for your goals, so developing a strategy is the most important first step. Some of the cheapest website builders or free domain website builder(s), such as Wix or Web 2.0s, might be sufficient for your needs. We think the Wix website builder is the best website builder for creating simple websites for ranking noncompetitive keywords.
However, if you strongly consider search engine optimization as an important component of your strategy (and SEO success), then WordPress is definitely the best website builder for SEO due to its customizable features, design simplicity, SEO plugins, and under-the-hood complexity.
Contributing Author: Brian Kihneman
Hey I'm Nick, the Founder/Director here at SirLinksalot. I have a passion for building online businesses and taking websites to the next level with the help of my amazing link building team.
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