The uncontested best, low-cost strategy for generating organic traffic to your website is through search engine optimization (SEO).
It’s the perfect marketing strategy, bringing people who are already searching for your products and services to your site! Since a huge number of people start their decision-making process through major search engines, good SEO brings high-quality leads at a high volume. That’s a winning combination.
BLOGGING PLATFORM BASICS
Keeping your site at the top of search results requires continually updating your site with fresh original content. The best way to do that while building the value of your site is through publishing a blog.
Setting up a blog for your business is easy, and there are a number of free blogging/site-building platforms that can suit your needs.
If you’re interested in a more robust product, there are some subscription-based blogging platforms as well that offer more advanced features and customer support.
For SEO, it’s important that your website platform allows you to define these blog post features:
Meta description tags
Image alt tags
These tools allow you to optimize each blog post for generating site traffic through search engines. Though almost every site-building platform allows you to edit these features, some are better than others in terms of ease of use.
THE 5 MAJOR PLATFORMS: FEATURES, PROS, AND CONS
We’ll take a look at five major blogging platforms and break down their features so you can make an informed decision about which platform is right for your site.
WordPress is An extremely popular blogging and site-building platform that is relatively flexible and free to use (under an open-source software license.)
Features: WordPress is highly customizable and allows users to specify all of the important SEO features: URL text, image alt tags, title tags, meta description tags, and header tags for content. Additionally, WordPress supports plugins and enjoys a strong community of developers who create and support very useful WordPress plugins, many of which are free to use. Some of these plugins are designed specifically to improve SEO.
Pros: WordPress is free to use and open-sourced, meaning you can use it to build a site without worrying about software licensing. With so many users and a strong community, there is plenty of information on how to use the platform.
If you can successfully leverage the flexibility of the WordPress platform and its many plugins, it’s easily the best and most affordable option. Take a few minutes to look at this great article from Moz about how to turn your WordPress site into an SEO machine.
Cons: Though WordPress is somewhat user-friendly for building a basic site, getting into the more specific SEO features for each page and blog post can be challenging for some users, especially those with little software expertise or site-building experience. However, a more user-friendly WordPress experience that features customer support services is available through a paid monthly subscription.
HubSpot is more than just a site-building platform; it’s a fully integrated marketing solution that enables SEO and automates the process of converting site traffic to leads, creating an efficient SEO-to-sales funnel system.
With innovative technology, HubSpot is a rising star in the SEO space.
Features: HubSpot was built with SEO in mind. It enables users to create original content and easily optimize it for search engines by specifying title tags, description tags, image alt tags, and headers. The service will automate optimized URL names based on title descriptions, but URLs are fully customizable as well.
Though HubSpot offers a site-building platform, its services are much more extensive. For some users, it may make sense to combine HubSpot with another site platform.
Pros: HubSpot was built to make SEO a user-friendly experience. With that philosophy, the service is able to automate much of SEO, making for a very smooth blog-building workflow. Additionally, the lead tracking software is a great way to turn SEO directly into actionable leads, prompting growth for your business.
HubSpot is creating new approaches to SEO by applying state-of-the-art software to the problem. Search engines are integrating artificial intelligence into their services and changing their algorithms, so this approach offers huge advantages. Search engines may look very different in just a few years, and HubSpot will be well-equipped to react with new solutions. That makes this service worth considering if SEO is a part of your long-term business strategy.
Cons: Though HubSpot is available to start for free, their services get expensive pretty quickly. They’re offering a highly personalized user experience with advanced software, so this makes sense. A savvy user can build most of the same functionality out of a WordPress build enabled by CRM-compatible plugins.
Squarespace is a site-building platform similar to WordPress that focuses on creating beautiful, professional web pages.
Features: SquareSpace is less customizable than WordPress and HubSpot, focusing instead on working with their preset webpage templates. This is an excellent strategy for creating the specific look that the company strives for but makes SEO a little bit more tricky. However, all of the important SEO features are customizable for your blogs.
Pros: SquareSpace is arguably the user-friendliest way to create a site with the aesthetic caliber of the best sites on the web. With this platform, creating an optimized site that impresses your visitors is easy to do.
The company’s famed prowess in site aesthetics is so strong that it earned them a shoutout in competitor HubSpot’s advice column.
Cons: With a platform that’s built with aesthetics in mind, SEO comes second to the “look” of your pages. Combine that with the fact that Squarespace is not the cheapest platform out there, and you can see that it’s not the best option for SEO from a strict ROI standpoint.
Shopify is an e-commerce platform that provides a framework for online businesses. Site building and blogging are just a part of their overall web-presence-building service.
Features: The Shopify platform was not designed with SEO specifically in mind, but title tags, image alt text tags, meta description tags, and custom URLs are all supported by their platform, according to their SEO page. This stands to reason, as SEO is a critical part of building a strong web presence. There’s also a great resource for Shopify SEO over at Bubblegum Search.
Pros: For e-commerce businesses or brick-and-mortar merchants looking to expand into web sales, Shopify is an ideal option, offering an extensive set of services catered specifically to these needs. It also has all of the features needed for general-purpose SEO.
Cons: Shopify is a highly specialized site-building platform that only makes sense for merchant-type businesses. Therefore, using the platform for a services business or a low-volume sales business for the explicit purpose of blogging for SEO doesn’t justify the cost of the service.
Wix is a paid subscription-based site-building platform that tries to make site building a user-friendly experience while allowing the user flexibility and freedom to customize their site. A free, limited version of the service is also available.
Features: Wix is designed to be flexible, and it allows users to specify title tags, image alt text tags, content headers, URLs, and meta description tags.
Pros: Compared to WordPress, Wix provides a smoother blog-creation experience while retaining much of the customizability that WordPress offers. They offer the platform for free with some limitations, making it a much more approachable free option for getting started without paying. Their free plan even includes free site hosting, which is huge.
Cons: Wix is a tempting option to put together a nice SEO blog for free, but the limitations of the free plan mean you’ll probably need to sign up for a premium plan eventually. As far as paid plans go, Wix is far from the best. Compared to WordPress as a free service, Wix lacks the plugin compatibility and community of plugin developers that WordPress enjoys.
The platform has a pretty lousy reputation in the SEO community. Its ease-of-use design can get in the way of SEO, preventing users from specifying meta description tags for some pages.
While SEO is a huge consideration for building your site, there are a number of other factors you need to take into account before making a decision. Each platform offers its own pieces of functionality, and their value to your business is important.
The right platform should fit your business, workflow, and be approachable for the people who are responsible for maintaining your site.
Take some time to list the specific roles that your site will serve and consider how well each platform addresses those needs. SEO should be high on that list.
Once you’ve found the right platform for your site, you can start taking advantage of the organic, high-volume site traffic that your SEO will bring!