To follow on from my previous blog; Why you should use WordPress for your website, there’s many a small business owner that doesn’t have the budget to invest in hiring a web designer or the technical skills in maintaining a website themselves. For these business owners there are other options that can reap good digital marketing rewards for your business.
SHOPIFY (2.7% of websites)
For businesses whose primary source of revenue is online sales, the simplest choice is Shopify. Shopify is not just a means of conducting ecommerce, it’s strength is supporting business owners in all aspects of eCommerce, including integrating with other marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon, Facebook etc.
The shopify platform is attractive to eCommerce store owners, as it’s secure, fully managed and even handles payment processing (at an additional cost). The Content Management System (CMS) is easy to use for small businesses, with an intuitive interface and hundreds of pre-designed themes available that can be customised.
The cons of the Shopify platform are around the lack of blogging functionality. It’s really suited to eCommerce, so this is understandable. Shopify SEO can be effective, but the SEO apps are limited compared to WordPress, which makes SEO is limited in some respects and is more time consuming than WordPress for example.
Shopify Cost: USD 29+
Squarespace (1.5% of websites)
Squarespace is a drag and drop website builder that’s easy and convenient for small business websites. The platform has hundreds of beautifully designed themes that can be switched easily. Squarespace has great blogging functionality and has the useful “code injection” functionality that makes it easy to add code for tracking (from Google Ads, Facebook Pixel etc). Also, Squarespace SEO can be effective, as pages have a relatively clean HTML code and the CMS will also create a sitemap for you.
There are some limitations to Squarespace, such as difficulty in adding a separate
SEO title to the page title and the ability to add schema code. Performance can
also be slower, especially the server response time in Australia.
Overall, Squarespace is a solid platform that’s suitable for smaller sites that don’t
require too many pages.
Squarespace Cost: AUD 16+
Wix (1.1% of websites)
Wix is a common website platform designed for small business owners to build websites themselves. Wix has been very active in the last few years, running several TV ad campaigns featuring Hollywood A-list stars.
The popularity of Wix is easy to understand. It’s primary a drag and drop interface
that makes creating a website a breeze. Wix has some great templates that make
it easy to add videos and animations. There are hundreds of apps also to
perform routine functionality and integrations.
Like the preceding platforms, on Wix, your site is hosted and backed up automatically daily, making maintenance almost non existent.
The cons of Wix are also evident. It’s difficult to change templates once you’ve selected one. This can be a serious concern, especially when it comes time to a site refresh or redesign.
Wix SEO can be effective, but like the other platforms, it’s somewhat difficult to fully optimise a site on Wix. It just doesn’t contain the feature rich SEO tools to fully optimise a site for SEO. Functionality like flagging duplicate content (canonical flag) and the lack of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) can be limiting.
Wix Cost: USD 13+
There are literally thousands of other CMS’ that are catered towards specific industries or business types, including Weebly, Magnolia, Bynder. They all face similar constraints to the “managed” website solutions listed above.
What CMS do I recommend?
If WordPress is out of the equation for your small business, and after having experience supporting and performing SEO on all of these platforms:
For eCommerce only stores– Shopify.
SEO can still be acceptable on Shopify, with a few tweaks and work-arounds. The SEO apps are improving rapidly and it’s possible to achieve good results for eCommerce SEO.
For lead generation sites– Squarespace.
Squarespace has fewer limitations to Wix from my experience and this is the platform I’d pick if you have limited budget to hire a web developer and are unable to perform (or afford) website support. Squarespace’s ability to switch templates and insert codes make it my favourite “managed” platform for small businesses.
In truth, Digital Marketing and SEO can work successfully on any platform, but it may require more effort (and cost).
There are many acceptable CMS options out there for small business owners who find WordPress overwhelming and don’t want to support their websites via core and plugin updates.
SEO can still achieve impressive results on these “managed” platforms, but will often cost more, as the work is more time consuming to achieve similar results as open platforms such as WordPress.