Did you hear that sound last night during the Super Bowl?
It was the collective SEO community hitting their heads against a proverbial desk.
Wix’s foray into the world of Super Bowl advertising this year caught the attention of SEO professionals.
If you didn’t see the advertisement, you can watch it here.
The ad is mostly about how “easy it is” to use Wix. Pretty standard Wix promotion – until about 25 seconds, where you can hear these words:
“Wix “SEO Wiz” let’s you grab those top search results!”
What followed was a large collective sigh from the SEO community and thousands of status updates from SEO professionals simultaneously asking the same thing:
“Really, Wix? Really?”
Wix & SEO
Wix has historically had a poor relationship with SEO. And by poor, I mean, nonexistent.
In the early days Wix was run on Flash, so it was almost unindexable (Google couldn’t read sites created in Flash well, if at all).
To be fair, Wix has made a lot of improvements from the days when their sites ran on Flash. They now:
- Allow for you to have your own domain, instead of being hosted on theirs.
- Have https functionality, which is essential if you don’t want browsers blocking users from your site.
In a Google Forum even Google’s John Mueller said that these sites could be indexed and ranked:
Mueller is telling the truth here. Technically, these sites can rank well. But technically I could be a super model – if I grew 6 inches and had a time machine.
The issue is “technically” doesn’t mean good or well. It also doesn’t mean likely. And it definitely doesn’t mean competitively.
Technically just means it is possible. Yes, it is possible you might rank your site in a competitive vertical with Wix.
If you can rank them, technically speaking, then what is the reason for the collective head banging?
While Wix can technically rank, Wix is also giving site owners the idea that SEO is plug and play.
Wix is promoting the idea that users will be getting customized SEO that is good enough to get them to the top of Page 1, when it is actually just offering a few SEO basics that any site that wants to appear in Google’s search results above the top 100 must do.
Sure, you might get in the top 10, but only as long as you are not trying to rank in a vertical with any competition.
The restrictions that come along with a Wix’s site mean that it’s difficult to get a site to rank well. The site is generally incapable of meeting enough of the ranking factors necessary for a site to rank in the top results, if competitors exist in that same query term.
What they are promoting isn’t personalized SEO. It is just SEO 101 – and barely even that!
Wix Gives Bad Advice on Important SEO Topics
There is nothing wrong with offering SEO 101 assistance. That is actually a good thing. But the devil is in the details.
While Wix does not offer a lot in the SEO Wiz tool that would affect site ranking outside basic core factors, they do provide a lot of SEO information that appears to be geared towards bridging the gap between what the tool lacks and and what needs to be done.
When you are reading through the guides that Wix provides to educate users on SEO they get a lot right, but they also get a lot wrong.
For example, here’s a Wix SEO tip about how your website SEO is boosted by how long people spend on it:
One of the things that boosts your website’s #SEO is how much time people spend on it. Your #webdesign should be focused on making your visitors stick around for as long as possible.#WixRead #seotips https://t.co/lW97Di5kwO
— Wix.com (@Wix) December 28, 2018
OK, this doesn’t even make sense. I’m guessing what they’re trying to say is that your value to Google will increase and your rankings will improve? Either way, this is incorrect.
From the actual article they shared:
No, just no.
There are things in SEO called “dwell time” and “pogo sticking”, which Google uses to help determine relevance for a query term. However, these are not related to how many pages you browse or even if you leave a site quickly and they do not devalue your site.
Think of sites that offer time or weather.
You might just want to see if it is going to rain today. You come in and leave quickly. Google does not then devalue the site organically because of this user behavior. This wouldn’t be beneficial to Google or the user to react this way to an expected user intent.
They are similarly incorrect about other SEO topics such as content freshness, keyword usage, and alt text.
If anyone from Wix is reading this, please go to WEBAIM and read how alt text should be written. I feel real pain at anyone who is forced to listen to the alt text they have been instructed to write in your guides.
Now, as I said there is a lot they get right. I am not saying there is no value in these articles, but a person who has no SEO knowledge reading these guides would not know what is correct versus incorrect. So, there is a danger in that for the site owner that they will do something that is either ineffective or could actually hurt the site.
But what about the tool?
Wix’s SEO Wiz: It’s Just Basic SEO
I went through the process of SEO for a site to see how it works. It should be noted I could set up the SEO before I even created a site, but that is a process issue. I am assuming they do not publish default templates live that have not been edited.
The Wizard has a lot in it – too much to review here. But a lot of it is irrelevant to ranking well in Google – and what is relevant is fairly basic.
Title tags, meta descriptions, heading tags, alt text, and content are primarily what they focus on.
It is not wrong to have these in a tool called SEO Wiz, but their marketing copy is really misleading users into thinking that doing these few things means they will rank high in Google.
While you might find you rank for terms that are specific to you, these few items will not rank you on Page 1 for competitive queries. There is much more to SEO than just doing title tags and writing content with keywords in them.
In simple terms, SEO is about who does the most the best or who does the best at the factors most heavily weighted. What is in the wizard is literally the least you could do, which is better than nothing, but not what is going to help you beat a site that is doing full-on SEO.
For brevity’s sake, I won’t go through every step in the Wizard.
We’ll look at how you set up keyword (query) terms.
I tried to choose terms from the perspective of someone who might be creating their first online presence with no understanding of how SEO works.
After it had me enter the site’s purpose, they had me pick 4-5 keywords. After I entered these terms, it took me through a process to refine the terms I selected. This was part of my “personalized” SEO plan.
Here were my suggested terms for “chef”:
The suggested related terms are all but irrelevant.
Now, to be fair, the next set of terms were better, desserts being the most relevant.
However, we can see there is nothing really “personalized” here either.
What about the rest of the tool?
I walked through all the given steps and can say this theme carried through the entire process. None of it was truly “personalized.” Most of it was just basic SEO you could do with any site and any tool.
So Why Does This Matter?
If you are old enough you might remember when you changed your own spark plugs, I know I do. The process was pretty simple. The plugs pretty easy to access. Once you got good at it, 30 minutes could save you the money you would have paid a mechanic.
Steak dinner anyone?
But then cars got complicated, access to those spark plugs got more complex, often requiring special tools to reach them. So now it costs me a few hundred dollars to do what was once a $10 job.
Well SEO is no different, except as the actual job of SEO gets much more complex more and more companies are coming out with “plug and play” SEO tools that in the end don’t do all that much.
SEO is Complex
Ten years ago, you could have used a tool that did titles, metas, alt text, and along with good content you might really get some placements, but those days are long gone.
Google not only has on-page factors to consider, but technical SEO has just gained in importance and that is something you cannot touch on a site like Wix.
Not to mention they make almost no real mention of the need for links to the site. Even when they do, it is often listed as an afterthought.
If a site can’t rank well, companies that need organic traffic can’t thrive. And when companies can’t thrive, people don’t stay employed.
And that makes this dead serious.
The Real Cost
As I always tell anyone I train in this industry, I see my job as being the one that stands between people getting hired and people getting fired. This is literally the case more often than it is not.
So, for a company that just bought a Super Bowl ad, to publish “guides” and “advice” so rife with errors promoting a tool that just barely covers the basics of an SEO plan, it is more than a little bit concerning.
Wix Over-Promises & Under-Delivers
My message to Wix: Don’t over-promise.
This would not be an issue if Wix was not trying to make a play into a space where their tool is unable to really compete.
To use a football analogy, do you want to go 10 yards or do you want to score a touchdown?
For anyone building a business, Wix can’t get you into the end zone. It is just not built to do so.
Is Wix Useless?
No, not at all.
There are many uses for a site creation platform that does not have real ranking capabilities. However, if you are going to use a Wix site and plan on scaling or expanding your online presence you have to know at some point you will have to move a more robust platform like WordPress or if you are in ecommerce one of the many cart systems like Shopify or Magento, possibly even a customized solution.
So, the question you need to ask yourself before you start is how big do you want to build your house? If all you need is say a “business card” site or it is for an event like a wedding, then by all means save your money and use Wix! Not everyone needs to be worried about rankings in the search engines or about scaling their online presence.
However, if you’re going to build your future on it, be aware at some point when you have to move you won’t be able to simply move your site to a new platform. You will need to rebuild from scratch – and you won’t have an easy way to port that data over.
This will not just be due to SEO issues, but because of general development needs. Wix sites are NOT meant for businesses that need to grow an online presence.
And just one final thing you should remember about Wix when it comes to SEO:
Wix held an SEO competition last year. And they actually lost.
— Bill Hartzer (@bhartzer) February 4, 2019
Featured Image: Wix
All screenshots taken by author, February 2019