There are simply too many drawbacks to using website builders and even if you never hire me please do not ever use these all-in-one-builders.
I believe any serious business owner should avoid these platforms like the plague. Frankly even new businesses should never use them because once you decide to finally have a website you fully own then you are starting to build you organic reach from scratch. It’s the next worse thing to not having a website when you have your first success. So that you are capturing that organic reach while you are hot and people are searching for you. But if you use an all-in-one then you wont be able to set up your SEO to be pulling that traffic either.
A far better option is to choose an open-source platform like WordPress, which you can install yourself and find free or inexpensive themes if you’re on a tight budget, or you can hire a designer to handle it all for you. Knowing what fonts and colors go good together, knowing the new trends in design, the new algorithms the search engines are using, and so much more.
Any time, resources, and money you put into a website builder site will be wasted because you’ll have to start over when you’re ready to get serious about your online presence.
You Don’t Have Access to Your Root Folder or Code,
They Offer No SEO Advantage.
To properly address and fix technical onsite SEO issues, you need full access to the HTML behind your website.
But you don’t have access to that with these builders.
You only have their front end WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor. More on this below
When you’re using WordPress, Drupal, or any other open-source platform, you atleast have the ability to do literally anything you want with your website.
That’s important because each website will have different needs and those needs will change over time.
There are a tremendous number of tasks you may need to perform to improve onsite SEO.
These tasks go far beyond the basic details, like title and heading tags, URL slugs, structured data, canonical URLs, or meta descriptions.
Sure, you have the ability to add HTML to a page, but you don’t have the ability to edit HTML that’s already there.
That’s a monumental problem for any serious business.
We’ve already addressed the plethora of general performance and HTML validation issues, but there are plenty of other more specific issues that may arise.
For example, something I often do is modify the URL structure of blog categories, and then modify breadcrumbs to accurately represent the new URL structure.
This required the ability to modify the PHP code that powers a website.
Or you might need to set up redirects after deleting a large amount of old content.
Well, with a website builder, you’re stuck manually configuring each individual redirect, as opposed to a traditional platform where you have access to your .htaccess or web.config file and can usually create the appropriate redirects for all of the deleted content with just a few lines of code.
On larger websites, the ability to modify HTML and your database directly often allows you to quickly fix issues for a large number of pages at once.
This might include:
- Changing how a particular part of your theme is marked up.
- Adding or removing a critical element sitewide.
- Updating a particular link within the content of multiple pages of your website.
Because you don’t have access to the code behind the scenes or what we are root access, you can’t fine-tune your website’s performance.
This is essential because speed optimization is both a science and an art, and what works for one website might slow down or even break another website.
There is a lot of trial and error involved.
But website builders don’t give you the ability to do anything about this, which is insane considering their abysmal speed.
There is an unlimited number of potential onsite SEO issues you can run into that you simply cannot fix if you’re using a website builder.
Website Builders Don’t Just Limit Technical SEO – They Also Limit Business Options
The inability to directly edit your website’s HTML creates problems that go beyond SEO, though.
For example, my agency is wrapping up a website for a large contractor who offers a variety of services in several locations.
We built a system where they can simply enter the service type and the contact information into a set of custom fields for a particular page, and then that page will display its unique address and phone number in the footer, wrapped behind the scenes in the appropriate schema markup.
For any page that doesn’t have data in these custom fields, it defaults to the corporate contact information and schema.
You could never do something like that in a website builder.
When using an open source platform like WordPress, however, you can generally find a plugin to accomplish pretty much anything you can imagine.
And in the rare case that you can’t, you can either develop it yourself or hire a developer.
If you’re not very technical, you might be thinking, “What’s wrong with this? It seems a hell of a lot faster and easier than learning everything I’d need to know to design my own website, and it’s a lot cheaper than hiring an agency.”
If that’s where your head is, you are correct on both counts.
But these website builders are still a terrible choice for any serious, long-term business.
What’s Wrong With WYSIWYG?
A fast-loading website is critical in creating a positive user experience, and it has a significant impact on:
- How long visitors stay on your site.
- How many visitors convert into buyers.
- How much you pay per click in paid search.
Where you rank in organic search.
W3C valid HTML is important because a webpage with valid HTML is more likely to display and function properly.
It’s also important because your HTML markup sends certain signals to search engines.
Another way to look at this is that it helps them to better understand your content.
When they can better understand your content, assuming it fits what searchers are looking for, your webpages will generally rank higher and earn more organic traffic.
The HTML markup created by any page builder will always be exponentially more bloated than HTML handcrafted by an expert web developer.
The average person may ask “Who cares what the code looks like as long as I have a pretty design in the browser?” But it really matters from a technical perspective and from a search engines perspective.