Motivation for this Post
I’m writing this blog post as a public response to the almost daily questions we receive about Wix at our agency. I’ve had 2 civilian friends ask me about Wix in the past week, so I felt it was time for me to respond on our blog, and for me to get a refresher course on all things Wix.
For the better part of the last 15 years, I’ve run a digital marketing agency that has built and optimized 100’s of websites in many different stacks and languages and have clients that really love us and stick with us for years. With that said, I think I’ve earned the right to give my opinion on the current state of Wix and SEO in 2023.
Wix started off as a janky little website builder and has grown tremendously, particularly over the past 5 years. They’ve hired some big minds and made a lot of changes. That said, for the majority of small business owners and sole proprietors, I still can’t recommend them. Over the past 15 years, I’ve worked with Wix websites in many different capacities. Most of the time it is a business owner that approaches our agency wanting to switch out to a “better” CMS for various different reasons. On the same page, there are some people that will do just fine with Wix, but in my experience most of them end up switching. This post is not meant to be a bash towards them nor do I feel like they are a competitor with our services. On the contrary, we actually end up getting a lot of business from former Wix users.
In the past few years, I’ve seen a ton of positive sentiment about Wix. Could this be a positive ORM campaign that Wix initiated to get rid of all the negativity surrounding Wix? Or is Wix genuinely making some sound improvements. I really would like to find out.
In the past if a company came to us with a Wix site, we would do our absolute best to get them off the platform. Now, we will do our best to work with them and their SEO needs. There are still many limitations especially when it comes to integrations and design, but it is much better than it used to be.
The Design Options are Still Somewhat Limited
(and broken at times)
Wix offers a range of templates that users can choose from, but these templates are not easily customizable. Users are limited to the layout and design of the templates, which can be a problem if you are looking for a unique and personalized website. With Wix, you cannot fully customize the HTML and CSS codes, which restricts your ability to modify your website to suit your needs.
You can design a site from scratch in Wix, which is about as easy as any other WYSIWYG editor out there.
The front-end builder is very slow to load. The last time I went to create a new page it took almost a full minute to load. Other times it varies, but most of the time it is very slow.
The default editor was all over the place, really confusing for a first time user and difficult to use even for a seasoned developer with a lot of experience with page builders.
The first time I went into dev mode, which does look impressive on the back-end in terms of capabilities, was extremely confusing and just looked broken. I made sure to disable all browser extensions just to be sure but really have no clue what is going on here. It really just felt broken.
When I went to preview the page, it was also broken. Keep in mind this was an out of the box theme that they suggested, I didn’t touch anything. Really just all over the place, I wouldn’t even know where to start to fix something like this. This is not my experience with other CMS’s where I have full control over everything. I am open to the fact that I may be doing something wrong. I asked a few colleagues and they agreed something definitely seems off about this.
I thought maybe I did something wrong, made a mistake or didn’t read directions when I setup the site initially, so I gave it a 2nd chance and made a 2nd website. This time I went much slower. The 2nd site came out looking great! (on desktop) Did a quick mobile friendly check and everything was all messed up.
On the very top of this demo site, the menu was completely cut off and almost all of the content was sticking out of the viewport.
I looked a bit more and found out the viewport was set a bit lower than Chrome’s smallest window size. When I viewed the site in Wix’s own mobile-friendly test, it did indeed appear to be mobile friendly, but in my tests it did not “respond” to smaller window sizes esp. those closer to tablet sized. This is definitely not good!
Maybe if I designed a website from scratch it would come out looking better? I’ve come to the realization the amount of time it would take to “learn” Wix’s WYSIYYG editor and backend is probably equal to what it would take to learn WordPress alongside a mature theme with page builder.
At this time, I can’t recommend Wix for page or site design, it just didn’t do it for me.
SEO Capabilities Show (Some) Signs of Improvement
SEO is obviously a big topic with us, as it is one of our biggest offerings. We’ve encountered so many marketing directors and CMO’s frustrated with the SEO limitations of Wix. As of the last few years, it does appear as though Wix is showing signs of improvement on the SEO front.
Wix does have a “get found on Google” feature that walks you through 3 basic questions then makes recommendations based on your answers. It is pretty basic stuff.
If you go into page settings, you’ll see even more SEO settings you can fiddle with. Title’s, metas, permalinks and many other attributes. It looks like you can easily setup “social share” which I am assuming is Facebook Open Graph / Twitter Card.
Advanced SEO allowed me to add structured data and or no (follow/index/snippet/archive/imageindex) to the page I’m looking at, which is nice to see.
If you do manage to get past the site design phase and start the SEO process, you can perform basic SEO on Wix and even dip your toes into some advanced SEO elements.
It does look like you can edit permalinks, but I don’t see how you can develop an advanced site architecture the way you can in a more mature CMS.
If you are a technical SEO you will be let down. You obviously can’t customize or even analyze the server, and don’t have control over your own logs. It just isn’t as fun, with a modern CMS or custom CMS there are so many options to improve the speed and availability of your website and Wix barely scratches the surface.
Some other nice SEO features include the ability to add alt text to images, and the ability to quickly change text from a “P” tag to an “h” tag within the settings menu. It is great that you can add alt text, but I did not see a way to mass-edit image alt tags, which makes doing SEO on a large site very difficult and time consuming. The same can be said for titles and metas, I did not see a way to bulk edit these.
The blog post editor is different than the main editor. It feels somewhat like Gutenberg and was easy to learn and navigate.
There was a custom HTML insert button which was nice to see.
Of course, there is no .htaccess editing because you have no control over the server. This means if you want to do redirects you have to use their system.
Redirects are as basic as they get. 301’s only, nothing else.
I don’t see any option for a 302/304 redirect. On that note, I did not see an option to 405 a page which is personally a tool that I love to have in my SEO arsenal.
Overall I have to say the SEO settings improved by a large amount. If I were handed a functioning Wix site today from a business looking to SEO, I would give it a chance depending on the size of the website, the complexity of it, and the type of business.
Sadly, there is still a big fat do-follow link to wix.com at the bottom of every demo site. Sure this can be easily deleted but this was a calculated maneuver. The could have easily no-followed this link (they noreferred and noopenered it)
And trust me I am not judging. I’m sure Google ignores this anyway.
Like literally everyone, Wix jumped on the AI bandwagon and you can now generate AI text with a few clicks. I gave this a test by filling in a few quick prompts, and it generated a few title ideas for my “clothing store” example title.
I could definitely see this being useful for anyone faced with having to create tons of generic creative text. Everyone wants to use, or at least play with AI especially for content creation so I understand why Wix added this.
I read recently that Wix enabled GSC reports inside of Wix analytics, which is a nice feature if you are all-in on Wix’s ecosystem.
Wix definitely has some smart SEO’s on their team, and they are doing the best with the hand they are dealt. Mordy Oberstein and Crystal Carter in particular are always putting out great content and I’m always learning new things from them.
Lack of Scalability
As your website and business grows, you will probably need to add more features and functionality to your site. Wix is not an ideal platform for scaling up as it lacks the capability to add advanced features to your website quickly. For example, if you want to add an e-commerce store, you are boxed into their system.
The biggest challenge with scalability is their locked ecosystem. If your web designer quits, you need to find a new designer / developer which knows and understands Wix. While there are many very capable Wix designers out there, wouldn’t it be better to use a CMS that is more familiar to a greater number of people?
While Wix has added a lot of new eCommerce features recently, if you have the type of store that requires advanced eCommerce customization it is very difficult to implement with Wix.
For instance, recently we completed a full eCommerce overhaul for a client. They had some very specific needs to required us to use conditional logic within the online shop. It didn’t require more than a few dozen hours of web development, but it was complex nonetheless. You can read more about this custom eCommerce case study on our site.
Just for fun, I polled a few web developers and asked them to take a look at Velo. All of them were impressed, but almost all of them responded the same way when asked if given the opportunity to use it or start from scratch (almost all opted to start from scratch in a new CMS.) Most developers just don’t want to learn a new environment or even meddle with a WYSIWYG editor due to the risks and limitations of working with them.
Difficult to Integrate
Integrating third-party applications is vital for a website’s functionality and performance. Unfortunately, Wix has limited integration capabilities, which can be frustrating for website owners. While Wix has a range of apps, they are not always reliable, and they do not integrate well with other applications.
Quite often, we have clients come to us that need to integrate an API with their website. Examples of this would be the website integrated with a POS system, gift card integration, warehouse software, CRM and more.
Wix does continue to add integrations to their roster of apps, but they are somewhat of a closed system and difficult to customize. Other CMS’s such as WordPress, eCommerce platforms or even custom made websites have limitless potential when it comes to app and API integrations.
Just for fun I added a PayPal button to the site. Normally if you want to add a Paypal button to the site, you’d copy code from Paypal and paste it into your code editor. I am sure this is possible with Wix but the backend editor is just so incredibly slow I couldn’t manage it.
Again, the front end builder is just so clunky I don’t see how anyone can use this.
Wix partnered with Velo which states they are a “full-stack development platform that empowers you to rapidly build, manage and deploy professional web apps.”
One video I watched showed how to hide / show the welcome message “onReady” which I felt was an easy example to illustrate.
This integration is a long way from Wix’s early days and I really have to commend them for this. By enabling a full stack development environment, the possibilities are limitless of what you can build.
Again, I really don’t see any seasoned web developer or agency using this, but it is good to see nonetheless. With Velo, if you do have a Wix site on your hands and need to whip up something custom, it makes it possible.
Having tech support is very important and Wix does its best to provide it. Wix does have a phone support option now, where you can request a callback (for higher tier paid plans.) In the past few years I’ve seen a lot of angry people on the internet complain about phone support. I have heard recently that Twitter support is a bit easier to access.
Wix also funnels people to their chatbot. I’m not knocking chatbots but chatbots in general are not very helpful when you are facing a difficult problem and you want to ask someone for their opinion. Chatbots do not give opinions, they are a pre-programmed database of information, or a searchable knowledgebase with some AI.
As not only a website builder but host as well, Wix should provide dedicated phone support to their customers and make that support easy to access. I understand why they funnel people to the chatbot, most of their users are novice level that need help carrying out basic tasks.
Slow Speed & Poor Performance
During my tests, I was really frustrated with the overall user experience of Wix’s back-end and front end. Parts of the back-end loaded very fast, but most of it was very slow. Some sections even took a full minute to load. If you search reddit or other online communities you will see a lot of frustrated Wix users complaining about the front-end and back-end of Wix.
I ran a quick Lighthouse speed test of a demo site on the front end and it failed miserably.
Of course, you can reduce image sizes and make some changes to improve the loading speed of Wix, but overall it is a closed system.
Other CMS’s and custom options allow you to integrate your own caching system, compression algorithms, offer CDN integrations and more, while Wix does not. While this may not be a huge deal for a few page website with some basic info, the vast majority of websites will literally outgrow Wix within a short period of time.
To illustrate this in the most simple way, I found a 3 year old default WordPress theme out in the wild and ran a speed test on it.
It absolutely destroyed Wix on both mobile and desktop.
The front-end and back-end of Wix is slow, and I just don’t see that ever changing. I am sure a very savvy developer using a thin site could get the numbers up, but for most users using Wix it just isn’t possible.
No External Backups / Lack of Portability
Many times when a business approaches us wanting to restore a website from a backup, it isn’t due to a catastrophic server failure or data loss. A lot of times it is an old web designer who lost a password, someone disappeared and got locked out of their hosting account, or someone forgot their 2fa code.
With a website backup in-hand, we can easily point and re-propagate the domain to a new host, quickly spin up a new stack and get the website live quickly. Many times their are even contingencies in place to make this happen without having to do anything.
Wix does a great job of backing up your website with their “Site History” feature. But what happens when you lose your password to Wix, or the web designer that made your Wix site decides to disappear (which we’ve seen dozens of times) ? If you get locked out of Wix, you are screwed. You could potentially re-assemble the site in HTML using a scraper, but without a backup that will be difficult and costly.
The reason for this is simple. Wix is a closed source system. You can’t back it up externally, because your Wix site only works in Wix. You can’t take it anywhere else. The same can be said for Squarespace or Shopify as well. This lack of portability is definitely a check in the negative column for me. While many CMS’s can’t be converted to another CMS, most of them can be moved to another host.
Almost every modern day CMS or custom solution allows you backup your site externally. We personally backup every website externally to multiple destinations, and for larger sites will do this daily, sometimes backing up the database multiple times per day.
During the initial phase of my research into Wix in the 2023 world, I was almost excited to see all of the new innovations and improvements they made. I even chatted with our SEO director about this, and asked him what he thought about taking more Wix sites. Within 2 days of my research my mind was made up, I can’t endorse Wix to our customers and would have to very carefully think about on-boarding a new client with a Wix site.
We are not the type of agency that forces our clients to switch to whatever CMS we use, or like some agencies lock our customers into a proprietary CMS that only we support.
If you are from the Wix team and reading this please don’t take this as anything but constructive criticism. I have the utmost respect for the SEO and web dev team at Wix.
Lastly, I will say this: if a company approaches us that already has a functioning Wix site, I have high confidence that we can do as good or better of a job at SEO with the hand we are dealt than anyone else. That said, if the Wix site is not responsive / mobile friendly and is riddled with issues, rather than sinking hours into fixing it we may recommend switching to another CMS or static site.
Thank you all for reading!