Wix SEO Contest Wrap Up
Updated: Dec 18, 2019
To begin, thank you to everyone who has followed along with us the past few months. This contest has definitely not come without its challenges. Ranking at the top of the SERPs is something all site owners want to do, but the reality is that there are so many factors that come into play.
The Wix SEO Haters, despite being our competition, recently shared some good perspective on SEO and this contest in general and it is something we agree with. Outside the context of this contest, nobody sets out to build a brand new website in order to target a very specific short-tail keyword. In reality, we do so much more to rank: start with a great idea for a site, do amazing things, establish topical authority over time, generate longer-tail traffic to start, optimize for related queries, build fast, user-friendly pages with sound on-page and technical SEO, spend endless amounts of time tweaking and chipping away at the rankings we want, etc.
At the beginning of the competition we were confident in our ability to win based on our reputable SEO knowledge, and having Marie in our corner. However, the factors that are involved, specifically us being limited to using a platform that we were unfamiliar with, brought forth its share of challenges.
For starters, the SERPs are so volatile when you are not on page one. Marie discussed in a recent podcast episode a study that was conducted indicating that when you are on pages five or six (like us) that the rankings can change every hour.
For a competition that solely relies on the luck of timing when our judge opens his computer, goes incognito, searches “Wix SEO” from New York at 12pm that day, who knows where we will be. We have seen us go from page three to six in the same day, be winning by a mile to losing drastically, and the fluctuations like this continue daily.
At the time of this writing, we are seeing ourselves on page five with the haters eight positions behind on page six.
*At the time of posting this (Monday December 16th) we see ourselves on page five, with the haters having dropped to page seven.
This has made the contest an interesting one to follow. It also led us to discover some of the things we like and those we were limited by using Wix. Initially when building the site, we wrote a post about the process and how enjoyable it was. In terms of SEO, this perspective changed. While Wix has made immense changes in recent years, there is still a lot of work to be done.
During our initial analysis of Wix’s SEO capabilities, we discovered the following:
There is no denying the ease-of-use factor with Wix.
As WordPress fans, there are all kinds of features and options we have missed about WP as we built up the Wix site. However, we had a staff member who had never built a website before work through the initial stages of the set up and design process. She’s a tech savvy and smart person, granted, but she encountered no serious obstacles and enjoyed a relatively painless experience.
There is a lot to be said for that. For years, small business owners used to fork over thousands and thousands to web design companies in order to get mediocre looking websites built by people that may or may not (more likely the latter) know a title tag from a meta description in terms of their SEO knowledge. It’s quite easy to build an appealing website with easy-to-use tools and guides that will have your site indexed, set up on GA and GSC, and cover off the basic optimization tasks for your pages. We don’t take that for granted.
On page and other basic SEO functionality:
Are title tags changeable? Yes
Can you choose what to use for your url? Partially
Can images be optimized? Yes
Can h tags be changed? Yes
Can meta descriptions be changed? Yes
Can schema be added and changed? Yes, with some limitations
Can pages easily be no-indexed? Yes
Can canonical tags be added/changed? Yes
Is it easy to verify with GSC/GA, submit a sitemap, and get pages indexed? Yes, reasonably easy
You can no-index at the page level, but you can’t at the post level for blog posts. Once the site editor sends you to the posts manager, the SEO options are more limited compared to the pages manager.
For pages, you can change the URL slug but you cannot change the URL structure beyond that -- it’s all flat off the root domain, and there are no options here. Blog posts are automatically stored in a /posts/ subdirectory with no flexibility. This makes it really difficult to perform an even remotely sophisticated content migration or restructuring.
There is no internal linking auto linker tool or add-on. We did all of this manually.
For the average user, there is no way to edit .htaccess or robots.txt.
Bad page speed scores - this is in keeping with other findings. Even with a minimalistic theme, this was very difficult to improve aside from minor optimizations to images, font types, etc.
We could not seem to get rid of this /wix-seo blog index page that is the exact same as the homepage after we added a blog widget to the homepage. https://www.wixseolovers.com/wix-seo/ was indexed, self-canonicalized, and very similar to homepage initially. We couldn’t easily fix this without being able to block it from crawling/indexing. We ended up redirecting this URL to the homepage within the redirects manager.
There was initially no way to nofollow comment links. (Wix fixed this for us)
If you leave a Wix site, there is no easy way to download your data or replicate your site.
You can only add a favicon for your site if you have a premium version of Wix.
With server-side rendering, Wix is serving the content to social media and search bots, but in some cases where a URL is getting scraped or stripped out of tweets, such as on SparkToro, we are seeing the default Posts title tag. This is far from ideal.
We should also mention that for us, this was a fun task as we are a team of SEOs who love a challenge such as digging into the minutiae of Wix’s current SEO product and assessing its strengths/limitations. We can’t place ourselves in the shoes of the average user or business owner with limited SEO knowledge. As we mentioned before, Wix does make basic website building and SEO quite simple; however, with confinements like those we experienced in the competition, it clearly lacks sophistication in some areas compared to other platforms.
We reached out to several Wix social media communities to see if our site could be beneficial to them in terms of improving their SEO, but from reading their posts, several other challenges were still arising. Ultimately, while we do think Wix has a long way to go, they have made significant strides to provide a solid out-of-the-box SEO product that will ensure the basics are taken care of.
Overall, this has been a great learning opportunity for our team. We appreciate all of those who have watched the contest unfold, and want to say thank you to Wix for hosting the contest. While we don’t know whether we will be celebrating or conceding victory to our worthy opponent on the 19th, we can say that we have really enjoyed the experience and hope the Wix SEO Haters have, too.