Is WordPress or SquareSpace Better for SEO?

Is WordPress or SquareSpace Better for SEO?

There’s a debate brewing. Which is better for SEO: Squarespace or WordPress? Will you gain any SEO positives from switching from WordPress to Squarespace? Squarespace has certainly been growing in popularity as more and more bloggers are turning to the platform for a beautiful way to get content out into the world. But is it better for SEO?

In the WordPress versus Squarespace SEO debate, there’s not a clear-cut winner. Rather, as many things about running a blog or online business, it all depends on how you plan on using the platform. For SEO, it depends on how great you are about taking care of SEO tasks properly and how willing you are to take extra steps.

While you might assume that means WordPress is out for you because you want to be lazy and let Squarespace do it’s beautiful thang, I’d beg to differ. Squarespace isn’t actually all that straightforward on some of the more technical aspects of blogging that can seriously make a huge difference in your online success.

Why WordPress is a Better Platform

For super-nerds like me who love to have 100% control over what my website does, WordPress is my go-to. I absolutely love having open source software to use and not being tied down to one particular provider. I can hate on my host and up and move my website whenever I want. Not so easily said with Squarespace and many other paid content management platforms—and I don’t like ever being in a relationship I can’t leave without a fight to get my stuff out.

No one likes having to catch stuff flying out of a window your ex is tossing onto the street!

Squarespace might be awesome about moving your content elsewhere but do you really want to put your hard work into that position of being at someone else’s mercy if you decide to leave? Not me.

WordPress isn’t the prettiest thing, especially when compared to Squarespace. But it’s the most flexible and buildable CMS out there because of its sheer popularity and open policy. Anyone can do anything to WordPress to improve it. There’s no gate keeper. Because it’s so popular, if you need something, someone probably made it for you already.

WordPress is designed in a way to handle websites both small and gargantuan with a wide range of needs—so as your blog and business changes, your WordPress website can too without major growing pains. I’m not sure the same can be said of Squarespace, which has some major limitations unless you’re willing to pony up and deal with not-ideal workarounds.

I’m a strong believer that WordPress is the better choice in most instances. There are some exceptions—and it comes to people who don’t want to or can’t learn how to use WordPress. Or they’re really just super lazy. WordPress isn’t an easy out of the box solution and requires a bit more of a learning curve and know how to use. However, it’s well worth it.

And that goes for whether WordPress or Squarespace is best for SEO too!

Why WordPress is the Best at SEO

WordPress doesn’t come out of the box with the best SEO tools easily available. But it does with just a few clicks of your mouse, literally. I’m a big lover of the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress because it gives you ultimate flexibility for your SEO. There are a few technical downsides to Yoast’s plugin but they’re few and far between. Instead, using WordPress allows you to quickly and easily edit essential SEO without having to delve into code. (And I won’t mention that Squarespace is super problematic for developers, so if you do decide to make code changes, they might just disappear.)

Squarespace, on the other hand, does come with decent SEO out of the box. Squarespace runs the basic functions of Yoast that you get if you just click to install it and does allow you to edit SEO for your website. But it’s extremely limited in what it can do. Same goes for Analytics—you’d think Squarespace would use the new standard Analytics code automatically, but that’s not the case.

I think Rand Fishkin, that SEO guru we love, put it best “Out of the box, SquareSpace is friendlier on many aspects of SEO than WordPress, but with customizations, the latter can exceed the former.”

If you’re serious about using SEO to help grow your blog, stick to WordPress rather than Squarespace. You’ll be able to edit more in depth and really dig into the specifics.

On a final note, if you’re thinking about using Squarespace because it’s easy now but plan on learning how to do more as time goes on, Squarespace probably isn’t ideal. Jake Jorgovan pointed out that “While [a developer option] is available it is not recommended as the support community for Developer mode is extremely limited and the framework is rapidly changing. This is creating huge problems for developers trying to keep their sites up to date.” In other words, if you make changes to your code, it might disappear when they make major changes to Squarespace’s functionality. And that goes for SEO work you might need to do in code.

When Squarespace is the better SEO option

On the other hand, in the Squarespace camp, are folks who just want it to work without having to finagle. I get it. You’d rather have something pretty that works instantly.

But let me remind you that if you let SEO do it’s thing automatically without taking care of it yourself, you’re not doing the best you could be. (If you’re wondering how Squarespace handles SEO, be sure to read their answer here.)

Even still, if you want the Ronco Rotisserie style SEO of “set it and forget it,” going with Squarespace might be best. Without having to install additional stuff, you get SEO out of the Squarespace box in a bare minimum form that will get your website by. No, it’s not ideal. But it works.

  1. Great article! I just wanted to add that while I love WordPress for every reason you noted above, SquareSpace is the better choice for me because less choice means more time. With WordPress, I was literally spending days at a time exploring, trying this or that, but with SquareSpace I can get down to business with less distraction.

    1. Totally understandable, Catherine. I’ve heard that more than once from other bloggers. It certainly takes discipline and focus not to be distracted by WordPress’ endless features. With any website platform, it’s really important to define goals and tasks that achieve those goals—and then stick to it no matter what. Always my number one piece of advice for new website owners!

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