When you’re setting up your first personal or business website, it is only natural to rely on a website builder.
The ease of use, intuitiveness, the fact that they let you get your website up in minutes while requiring zero coding knowledge… What’s not to like?
Well, the problems start when you need your website to start ranking.
Don´t get me wrong. A website builder would not necessarily wreck your SEO. However, their one-size-fits-all nature takes away the flexibility enjoyed by open-source platforms.
But why is that?
Well. For starters they don´t let you fiddle with the HTML.
Their WYSIWYG approach lets you add pre-written code with total ease, allowing you to add whole sections, widgets and media with a click. Ideas start flowing and you can make them happen in seconds, try different layouts, move stuff around, and add features you didn’t even know you needed.
However, each and every one of these sections, features and widgets are built using tons of lines you will never use, and will remain in the code even if you turn them all off. You cannot tweak them or eliminate unused parts. So you are stuck with hundreds (sometimes thousands) of lines of code that just add to your website´s loading times.
And there are other problems that only people with complex websites (or business models) should be concerned with.
Does it mean that website builders offer NO advantages at all?
Not at all. They remain extremely popular for a reason. Their ease of use makes them perfect for the casual blogger, affiliate marketers who only need cool looking landing pages, and small business owners who are just testing the internet waters.
However, there is a question that still haunts many developers. Does Google take website builders into account for their indexing process?
Until recently, I knew most website builders did a decent job at indexing their websites, and most claim to help you rank higher when you set your website up with them. But with no hard data, we just expressed our best guesses.
Last month, I stumbled upon a study that analyzed websites created using 4 of the most popular website builders, and compared their performance to WordPress and self coded sites. All of them had similar content structures and layouts, so everything was measured solely in terms of platform performance.
I have to say, I expected the results to lean on the side of wordpress and self coded sites. But it seems that Google is platform agnostic when it comes to ranking. Some website builders did perform better in terms of indexing, but all of them performed equally well in rankings for a made-up keyword.
Let’s take a look at their results:
Being a bunch of geeks ourselves, this study prompted some in our team to start digging a bit more.
For those interested in their methodology, or those who would like to replicate the experiment and verify the results, you can check it all out here.