If you’re looking for a DYI friendly small-business website platform, the usual suspects are likely to include WordPress, Squarespace, Shopify, GoDaddy, Weebly, and hopefully Wix.
One of the main reasons these platforms are attractive is their ease in setup and updating. Even if you hire a designer to create your site, a user will find updating it as easy as using Microsoft Word or Google Docs. The similarity with document/content creation and using these tools is no coincidence. Indeed, they are called CMS platforms for this very reason (CMS = Content Management System).
Speaking of CMS, I recently shifted my company website to the Wix CMS from Squarespace. The decision for the move was partially due to the lack of integrations for some of the functionality I was after. I initially considered WordPress, but with instability being well-documented – it was out of the question. We don’t sell anything tangible, so Shopify isn’t a good fit, and the other options just do not offer enough opportunity for deep-SEO (important for an SEO company like mine).
Enter Mike – from Wix (hi Mike!). As if listening through my Alexa device, Mike’s outreach could not have been timed more perfectly. So, we booked a chat. On this call, I told Mike of my experience with Wix back in 2009 (or was it 2010?) when Wix was heavily investing in flash-based and infinite-scroll (parallax) websites – which as sexy as that was, were horrible for SEO. I know this firsthand, Wix was technically my first website platform for my business before shifting to Squarespace where I remained for 11-years. There were lots written about the SEO problems with Wix websites during these times, so no need to rehash, but suffice it to say – they earned few accolades from the SEO community, and as a website platform – you want the SEO community to love your product!
I grilled Mike on what I wanted in a website and felt confident that Wix would be a solid move for my business – which it has been, but it is not without some major faults. I have enough skills to overcome most of them, but small businesses and DIYers will not be so lucky.
This brings me to the question I’ve begun asking myself since my site was launched…
Is Wix Really A Good Website For Small Businesses?
For many businesses, it certainly is – it does a lot of things well…
- It is straightforward to use and I suspect anyone who can construct a Word document and slide in a picture or two can make or edit their website (not to disrespect the value of a web-designer – the focus here is DIY users)
- The built-in image files are extensive, and selections are plentiful
- Both the META Title & Descriptions are easily changed. These are the blue links and sentence-structured narrative below the blue links on a search engine result page (SERP). Also called Page Title and Page Description on other platforms.
- If you use some of the available Apps, like the Blog App, to structure your content, basic Schema (above) is automatically applied! That is a big bonus
- The URL for any page can be whatever you want – changing is easy – and the URLs no longer end in “#” as they have in the past
- Images have decent optimization for indexation and visibility for search results
- Moving page and navigation order is drag & drop simple
- A blog is integrated right within your website making it easy to convert a reader into a lead
- Analytic reporting is available right within the program giving you a decent glance at the performance of your website and marketing activities
- The sitemap is within the robots.txt folder by default
- For those more adventurous users, the robots.txt file is also editable (use with caution)
- You can get business emails and phone numbers right through the Wix platform
- Hiding a page from search engines automatically applies a NOINDEX and you also have the choice to hide a page from the sitemap but keep it visible to search engines
I’ll be honest, while all that sounds great – it is standard fare for most website platforms. These are the things we expect from a website CMS in 2021, but it all does work seamlessly on the Wix, and generally speaking – will work out-of-the-box for many users looking for an entry-level website.
But if you step outside the confines of the standard offering, or expect more than just an entry-level website – this is when Wix limitations start to become pain-points.
To that end, below are some things that Wix isn’t doing well. In full disclosure, I am in touch with the Wix team in both the US and Israel (their HQ) on this list (the full list is nearly 50 articles deep) and will post updates on my blog when the status of these change.
With that said, here’s my take on the Top-13 pain-points that make Wix a challenge for small-business owners… [in no order]
- DOMAINS: If your website domain is a non-www format – it will not work with Wix. Wix will override it and force it to render www, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Sure, the fix is as easy as a 301 redirect – but the decision is forced – not a choice, and for me, represented an unwelcome brand change. For us, the choice of a non-www domain was made 11-years ago and finding out Wix changed it was the first of many WTF moments. Is this a big deal for most? Well, if having www in your URL could make your website (and business) look dated to anyone younger than 30-YO (who likely doesn’t type www for websites), it just might be important. As is your choice – which for me is a greater issue.
- SITEMAPS: While Wix renders .xml sitemaps properly (the ones search engines like), only Page and (blog)Post sitemaps are offered. So, if you have podcasts, files, and image resources that are important to your marketing – they aren’t going to be in the sitemap. So, unless linked to at-page-level, these will be orphaned and not likely to show up for a search query. I’m not sure about product sitemaps, I haven’t a need for that, but if you do, definitely ask questions. The lack of an image sitemap is most concerning though, and should be for most businesses.
- CDN: If you’re thinking that a CDN (content delivery network) like Cloudflare or StackPath (formally MaxCDN) could cure the speed issues on a Wix website, good for you – that’s great thinking – but these technologies do not work with any Wix site as the nameservers cannot be changed. BTW, Wix websites already run through Wix own CDN, but even that doesn’t seem to be helping. I conversations, they recognize there is room for improvement and have begun to make changes for desktop users, but not mobile users (see #3).
- iFrames: Having engaging or independently functioning tools on your website typically exist within something called an iFrame. Like Picture-In-Picture television screens. Without iFrames, engaging elements like weather apps, some social media content display tools, embedded documents, some video and interactive media, Google Maps, and other things will not work. Wix does have some integrated “Apps” to handle some of this, but not all, and if the look/feel isn’t what you had hoped for – you’re SOL – it is what it is. Wix is recommending you use their Corvid (that’s with an “r”) application to add some of this functionality to your website. Wix titles this tool as “Accelerated Development of Web Applications” and refers to it as “A Comprehensive Web Development Platform.” An interesting and conflicting option considering they promote the Wix platform as: “Wix is user-friendly and makes it possible to build a professional website without knowing how to code.”
- META: META/Page Title and Descriptions, two key elements for both ranking and conversions; both have character hard-stops. This means you cannot write more than the built-in limit permits. So, if you want to optimize your Title and Description narrative beyond 65 & 165 character limits (and you do), you just can’t do that on Wix. It doesn’t stop there, many other META elements (blog Excerpt is another) also have hard-stops which do not match real-world use and function.
- SCHEMA: If microformat schema is your thing – and it should be – there are hard character limits here too. So, if like me, you have wicked FAQ Schema sections, you will likely have to shorten them. This will not affect most, but it’s an unnecessary limitation.
- REDIRECTS: When creating redirects, you cannot see the entire URL once configured in the URL Redirect Manager tool. This is a bad thing, and I find myself entering the same redirect more than once (until I created a spreadsheet, which is nice, but I shouldn’t have to do this). This isn’t as much an SEO thing as it is a functionality thing – but redirects have SEO impacts, so… On a positive note – Wix will notify you if a redirect already exists for the page in question, which prevents the dreaded redirect-loop – which is very easy to make. They earn a gold for this one!
- NOTIFICATIONS: Staying on the redirect theme, if you change the slug or URL of a page – you will not receive a notification with the option of automatically applying a redirect from the old URL to the new one just created. In all fairness, it is not a standard feature on the other platforms, but it is available on WordPress through multiple plugins.
- TEXT EDITOR- BLOG: Back to bloggers, you’re going to be disappointed in the text editor, it is quite basic and cumbersome. From all website and blog platforms noted in the opening, Wix just might offer the fewest text options. For instance, text indentation is missing, so are strikethroughs, and font type selections. While a text-quotation element is there, you have no control of it’s visual presentation. You only have H1 and H2 header elements, with no way to manage any feature attributes like font, sizing, and indent. All font sizing options are missing – that’s for everything from title to headings, and body. Lastly, and my current pain point – you can’t have a paragraph break in a number list without screwing the entire list sequence. To quote Charlie Brown “AAUGH!” Could all this rant subjective? All of it actually – the whole article – sure, I’ll give you that, but it’s also irrefutable.
- FORM SPAM: Another non-SEO thing, and perhaps this just impacts me, but since my website went live – I’m getting significantly more form submission spam (bots perhaps). There seems to be little to no filtering for this, and it’s driving me crazy. Better filtering or, better yet, a honeypot feature (like you can do on WordPress) would be welcome.
- REPORTS: The native Reports feature (think Google Analytics for Wix) is nice, but reports take so long to render you could log into your Analytics account, get all the intel you need, pour another cup of java, and still see the hurry-up-and-wait wave thing – doing its thing. Who has time for that?
So, is Wix a good small business website? No – not yet.
But I wouldn’t rule them out as a contender down the road when the Wix team (Mordy, Kobi, Dana, Nadi, & Tal – thanks for your help!) tackles these things. At that point – Wix will seem less like Weebly and could be an immediate contender to Squarespace while nipping at the heels of WordPress as a serious contender for businesses of all sizes.
But until these changes happen, you would be wise to ask lots of questions before creating a new #Wix website for your business or migrating an existing website or blog their way.