Top 3 Free Website Builders for Small Businesses
Comparing the 3 Best SEO-Friendly Website Builders
By Chris Scalise
The process of designing your own website is not a simple one.
You have to think about your product, understand your target audience, create the right kind of engaging content, and then find the ideal design to neatly incorporate all these aspects together. On top of all that, you need to consider how to best market your site. How will people hear about it?
This is where SEO comes into play.
The Fundamentals of SEO
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.
It’s the process of ensuring that your website ranks as highly as possible for relevant search terms.
For instance, if you sell tennis rackets online, you want your website to appear near the top of the list whenever someone Googles the term “tennis rackets.” An SEO-friendly website builder will help you to assemble and organize your site in a way that’s attractive to search engines.
Think about it this way.
A website that appears on the front page of Google search results potentially receives a lot of traffic while a website on the second page receives almost none.
Search engine algorithms are made up of many factors, and your site landing on the first page is a function of your site’s relevance in accordance with the search engine’s algorithm. Some aspects of SEO are easy to control on your end. For instance, by writing engaging content with the right keywords, you can draw in traffic and appeal to the search engine spiders that crawl your website in search of relevance.
However, many other aspects of SEO are buried within the meta content and hidden within the site’s code.
Your XML sitemap
Your HTML sitemap
Your robots.txt file
Your meta tags for pages and images
Your URL structure
Your breadcrumb navigation
Your site’s mobile friendliness
When you use an SEO-friendly website builder, you can ensure that every aspect of your site is properly optimized.
After comparing more than a dozen of the highest-rated website builders, we’ve determined the following to be best for SEO:
1. Web.com – A Simple SEO Solution
Web.com is a great website builder for those looking to create a business-oriented website. With many robust tools and services to help generate traffic, the do-it-yourself website builder is very easy to use.
A simple point-and-click interface makes it easy to select a template that appeals to you and customize the different elements to suit the kind of website you’re designing.
With Web.com, you’ll have the SEO advantage thanks to:
Easy meta tag creation. Adding meta titles and meta descriptions is a breeze with Web.com. These tags are essential for search engine rankings because your title and description are what users see in the search results.
99.99% uptime and unlimited bandwidth. A reliable user experience is critical for search engine rankings. Not only can errors can hurt your rankings directly, but an unreliable user experience will also cause visitors to hit the Back button. This causes your bounce rate to increase, thereby signaling to Google that visitors aren’t finding what they’re looking for on your site. As a result, your rankings drop. Thankfully, Web.com is one of the most reliable hosting providers available.
Mobile-friendly themes. Web.com offers a number of responsive themes, which means that your website adapts to all screen sizes and dimensions. Google has stated that responsive design is their preferred mobile configuration, and this type of user-friendly layout can also reduce your bounce rate.
Dedicated SEO experts. For an additional fee, Web.com will even connect you with your own dedicated SEO professional. Your search guru will optimize your back end from top to bottom and even build high-value links to your website.
Web.com is an excellent budget solution for users who want a lot of capabilities but not a lot of legwork. Best of all, the company offers unlimited storage and bandwidth, so it really is a tremendous value.
2. BigCommerce – The Best SEO Solution for Online Stores
In addition to their world-class online store capabilities and easy-to-use site builder, BigCommerce offers Best in Class SEO for all business sizes. Their Enterprise plan handles all of your SEO for you, letting you focus on the content and the products.
Built-in search engine ranking signals include:
Rapid load times. Research indicates that 57% of users will abandon a page that doesn’t load within three seconds. With that in mind, BigCommerce has invested millions of dollars to improve their load speeds by over 30 percent. The average BigCommerce site now loads in under a second. Remember, a positive user experience means a lower bounce rate. A lower bounce rate means higher rankings.
Site-wide HTTPS. Since 2014, Google has favored HTTPS webpages over the traditional HTTP pages. That’s because HTTPS pages are encrypted for greater security. With BigCommerce Pro and Enterprise, all of your pages have the HTTPS protocol. Even if you choose a lower-tier membership, you’ll still benefit from the BigCommerce dedicated SSL encryption for your shopping cart.
Automatic sitemaps. A sitemap makes it easier for search engine spiders to crawl and identify all of the appropriate pages and content on your website. When you build your website using BigCommerce, your XML sitemap is automatically created.
Google Trusted Stores. If you sign up with a Pro or Enterprise membership, BigCommerce will help to establish your site as a Google Trusted Store. Google Trusted Stores receive priority in Google search results.
Like Web.com, BigCommerce offers 99.99% uptime, easy meta tag creation, and responsive websites. You’ll truly have everything you need to achieve the best rankings possible.
If you run an online store and are looking for a powerhouse SEO solution, BigCommerce is an excellent way to go.
3. Squarespace – A Wealth of SEO Features
The self-described “mobile website creator,” Squarespace helps you design beautiful, responsive webpages that come pre-equipped to work on mobile devices like tablets and smartphones.
As previously noted, this is essential for SEO. Squarespace also offers a fully equipped content management system that gives you full control over the SEO options of many aspects of the site.
This leaves you free to focus on keyword optimization and high-quality content creation. SEO features include:
Responsive sites. Not only are all of their themes built using responsive design, but they really are some of the most stunning free themes you’ll find.
User-friendly SEO commands. If you’re not a programmer or search engine guru, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of the tech jargon like “meta title” and “alt image attribute.” Squarespace is a great SEO solution for the non-tech-oriented because it spells everything out in plain English. For example, rather than a “Meta Description” field, you’re presented with a “Search Engine Description” field along with a detailed explanation of how to write an effective description.
Free site-wide SSL certificates for all customers. We know that website encryption is an important ranking factor, but very few platforms offer free site-wide encryption for lower-tier customers. This feature alone makes Squarespace worth the cost.
XML sitemaps that update in real time. Your XML sitemap is automatically created when you publish your website on Squarespace. Any time you add or remove a page, the sitemap automatically updates in real time. You don’t have to do anything on your end.
Advanced analytics tools. Most website builders provided you with built-in tracking and analytics tools, but Squarespace has some of the best tools in the business. You’ll be able to compare your mobile vs. desktop traffic, determine which pages are generating the most activity, and even determine which keywords are proving the most successful for you. Using this information, you can easily make any necessary adjustments to improve your rankings.
Squarespace is as user-friendly as it gets, both for SEO and website building. If you’re looking for a simple, headache-free solution, Squarespace is a worthy choice.
Take a look at our in-depth software comparison chart to see which SEO-friendly website builder will drive the most traffic through your virtual door.