WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) in the world, but as you may have noticed in recent years, Squarespace has been gaining substantial ground. Squarespace offers an all-inclusive website builder that lets you build your own site with intuitive drag-and-drop actions. While it’s always tempting to go with the easiest and fastest way to build your website, is it worth is in the long run? I will compare Squarespace vs. WordPress and identify the pros and cons of each when it comes to ease-of-use and SEO.
Why Easy is Not Always the Best Option
If your goal is to build a website fast, with no learning curve and a low cost, Squarespace is the clear winner. This all-inclusive website builder is great for producing a professional looking website with your personal branding through drag-and-drop functionality. Squarespace uses a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) website builder, so when you drag and drop pictures, text and other elements into the website builder, you get an immediate glimpse into what the page will look like once you push it live. In other words, you can create any layout you want by simply dragging and dropping content into any position on the page without the use of code. Squarespace is also known for having many elegant template designs to choose from, so all you’re responsible for is providing great content and images. All of this sounds great, but easy comes at a cost. In order to help users from becoming overwhelmed, Squarespace limits your flexibility to change the elements of your website within their website builder.
If your goal is to build a highly customizable website, then WordPress is the clear winner. WordPress is fairly intuitive and easy to use, but there is definitely more of a learning curve compared to Squarespace. The extra flexibility with WordPress comes at the cost of understanding basic HTML and CSS. When it comes to support, WordPress has a massive community and an endless amount of resources including workshops, tutorials, live chat and 1-hour email support to help you along the way. The real power of WordPress is in its abundance of plugins. There are thousands of free and paid WordPress plugins which you can use on your site to add new features. They range from simple social sharing plugins to things like visual composer, a Squarespace-esque drag-and-drop template builder.
Creating a Website with SEO in Mind
It’s never enough to focus just on the look and feel of your website. If you build it, they will not come. Once your website is out there, Google needs to be able to crawl and index your site before people will actually be able to find it. Because SEO is so important to the success of your website, many website builders have included some SEO functionality in their tools. Let’s compare Squarespace and WordPress in terms of their SEO capabilities.
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When Squarespace first launched, their websites were not SEO-friendly, but they made improvements and now have decent SEO features and functionality. SEO features include auto-generated sitemaps and customizable page titles and meta descriptions. However, not being able to change blog page titles is a huge disadvantage. Squarespace claims that their websites use clean HTML mark-up so pages are easily indexed by Google. I disagree with their claim because drag-and-drop features add in additional HTML code that is not needed. Their page template designs also score low on Google’s Page Speed Tool, which can lead to poor user experience and potentially harm your organic rankings. Another limitation for Squarespace is that you are required to host with them directly.
Many SEO consultants, including myself, will recommend that you build your site using WordPress because of its flexibility in implementing good SEO practices. WordPress has many built-in SEO features, but you will still need to add Plugins like Yoast to add functions like customizable titles and descriptions, more control over how Google indexes the site, auto-generated site-maps, robot.txt file optimization and more. Overall, WordPress is the clear winner over Squarespace in terms of SEO flexibility—though you will need to either devote time to learning SEO or hire an SEO consultant.
Squarespace is fairly new compared to WordPress, so there is still room for it to grow and improve. It might take some time before Squarespace catches up with all of the SEO features and functionalities that are generally available in a self-hosted WordPress site. Squarespace can be a good choice for small sites on a budget that need limited functionality and ease of use when writing posts. Apart from that, WordPress outperforms Squarespace when it comes to functionality and SEO.
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