My full-time job is covering the world of website builders and this is my definitive guide to choosing the best one. My work is supported by affiliate commissions. More Info
There isn't one.
Don't believe anyone who tells you otherwise.
Choosing between Weebly, Squarespace or Wix will have no material impact on your SEO. It's true that there are technical SEO features that you do need in a website builder but it's just that most website builders cover these.
Why should you believe me? Site Builder Report routinely outranks companies like GoDaddy and Wix in Google for competitive search terms like website builder.
Below I list the four most important SEO features you need in a website builder. Think of them as the minimum you need to get Google to notice you. From there you will need links and quality content to outperform your competitors. I explain this more in my Guide to Making a Great Website.
For many years Google had two indexes: desktop and mobile. The desktop index was served to desktop users and the mobile index was served to mobile users. But that's all changed.
In March 2018, Google announced that a mobile-first index was being rolled out. This means that the mobile index is now Google's primary index— so how you're site works on mobile will effect how your desktop site ranks.
That's why it's critical that your website builder offer mobile-friendly themes. Fortunately most website builders do— but a few still do not. (My website builder reviews always cover this.)
Every page has a meta title and description. They are what make up the core of your Google result:
Almost all website builders offer let you customize your meta title and description— but because it's so critical, it's worth making sure that it's easy to do.
Having an SSL certificate is what gives websites the secure icon in a browser and adds an 's' to the http (making it https).
This site is secured by SSL.
In 2014 Google announced SSL as a ranking signal. And when Google explicitly suggests something is a ranking signal, it's usually good to implement it. Even aside from SEO, SSL is just a good practice for new websites— and a critical element for ecommerce websites.
Most website builders include SSL in paid plans— though some do not, so it's a good idea to check before you buy.
Google has announced that site speed is a signal they use to rank pages. Because website builders handle millions of websites, they tend to have the architecture necessary to have your website optimized for performance— especially the major website builders such as Weebly, Squarespace and Wix which host millions of websites.
I'd make two suggestions if you want a simple website that you can build quickly:
One page websites have become extremely popular. If you’re not familiar with one page websites, they are long websites where clicking the navigation scrolls you up and down the page— one single page holds all the content of the website:
Designing for one-page can seem counter-intuitive. Rather than stuffing your website full of content, you actually have to limit your content. But the truth is, visitors don't want to read a book when they come to your website anyways. Instead visitors want quick access to clear information.
Strikingly is the best one-page website builder that I've tried. Seriously— it's excellent.
I've also heard really good things about Carrd— though I have not had a chance to review it yet.
Landing pages are pages designed to generate leads— newsletter signups, app downloads, sales, signups and more. People often use landing page builders as a marketing tool or as a way to generate interest before launching a full site.
There are about 10-15 popular landing page builders. I talked to 467 real-life users of each of these landing page builders to write an in-depth guide to landing page builders.
I think there are three things to think about when comparing free website builders:
In the end, I recommend Ucraft's free plan because it allows custom domain names.
I recommend Weebly for those looking for an easy to use website builder. Weebly manages to keep everything simple without ever watering down features. It's what I'd recommend to anyone who doesn't feel tech-savvy.
Strikingly is a good runner up. It's really easy to use and best suited for making one-page websites.
Most website builders require you to choose a theme— but a few let you build your own theme from scratch.
In my feature comparison table I show which website builders you let design a website from scratch— and there are a handful. Of those I would recommend Wix. Wix is an excellent, highly customizable website builder. It can be a bit overwhelming with the amount of options it provides— but that's exactly what you want if you're designing a theme from scratch.
You might also want consider front-end design tools such as Webflow, Pagecloud and Froont. These are most sophisticated than website builders but are really powerful tools that let you design a website from scratch without coding experience.
I built a tool that helps you answer this question quickly. The price comparison calculator compares 131 plans from every website builder I review. It helps you calculate the real price of each website builder. No BS. Just clear pricing over time. It also takes into account the price of domain names.
The reason I built the price comparison calculator is that some website builders aren't transparent with their pricing. If a price seems too good to be true it's probably an introductory rate that increases after the first year or first month.
For example, 1&1 advertises a $0.99 per month price— but that price increases to $9.99 per month after the first year.
Now most website builders have transparent pricing— and I make it very clear in each of my website builder reviews if they have shady billing practices. So you don't need to worry if you check the review first.
Squarespace is the only website builder that let's you syndicate a podcast— which is required for submitting to iTunes.
There are third-party podcast companies such as Podomatic that integrate with website builders such as Weebly but I have not tried them before.
Voog has the best support for a website with multiple languages— but strangely they don't advertise their multilingual features very clearly.
Basically Voog websites with multiple languages have a flag icon. Users click the flag to change the language.
Each language represents a completely different version of the website. There are no automatic computer translations (people who've actually had to build multi-lingual websites know that you can't just automate translation!). You manually write each translation for your website.
Voog's multi-lingual support will be super helpful for a small percentage of people. For example, in Canada, multi-lingual websites are a requirement for some organizations (French and English).
If you're building a pure ecommerce website, you'll probably want to consider a store builder such as Shopify rather than a website builder. Store builders are focussed on ecommerce— so they typically have more advanced, fully-featured ecommerce systems.
As you see in my guide to store builder, Shopify is far and away the best store builder.
Now, this is not to say that you shouldn't choose a website builder for an ecommerce website— in the last few years website builders such as Wix, Weebly and Squarespace have aggressively built out strong ecommerce features. Instead, I'd suggest choosing a website builder for your ecommerce website if you're website needs to do things other than ecommerce. For example, if you also want to have a blog or other content heavy pages.
I maintain a feature comparison table of around 40 different website builders— on it I've listed the website builders that offer iOS or Android apps:
Unfortunately, you can't.
This is a common question I get and admittedly, one of the downsides of a website builder.
You might think that website builders don't let customers export or move their website because it's a good way to lock them in, but there are actually some very good technical reasons why website builder websites can't be moved.
Plus, features that require server-side processing (such as forms, ecommerce) would not work.
If this is a problem for you, I'd suggest going to the next level in complexity and checking out a CMS like Wordpress or a front-end design tool such as Webflow. Both are more complex but will let you export and move your website.
You can register a domain name through most website builders and web hosts but you may want to consider registering the domain name yourself at a third party domain name provider— that way you are in control of your domain name no matter what.
It's a question of trade-offs. Registering the domain name provider at a 3rd party is a bit of a technical hurdle but it means that you always have control of the domain name. If the domain name is bought through a website builder, you'll have to work through them to move the domain name if you ever decide to change your website provider.
I typically buy my domain names at a 3rd party provider: Namecheap. That way I'm always in control.
I hear great things about Webflow. The reason it’s not on Site Builder Report is because I only review website builders and Webflow feels more like a tool for designers. While Webflow doesn’t require you to learn how to code, it has a code-like environment— similar in complexity to Photoshop.
Most people know Wordpress as Wordpress.org, the self-hosted, content management system (CMS). I don't review it because it's not a website builder.
I do review Wordpress.com because it is significantly different from Wordpress.org and is very much like a website builder.
Wordpress is a good option for building a website— the key is to know when to use it instead of a website builder. I wrote a blog post about this here.
My name is Steve Benjamins and I’ve designed and coded websites for the last 20 years (since I was 10 years old). My websites have been featured in Wired, The Next Web, Smashing Magazine, The Huffington Post and Forbes. I am the sole developer, designer and reviewer at Site Builder Report— you can read more about my story in my interview with IndieHackers.
Over the the last 4 years I’ve written over 100 in-depth reviews of website builders— which, at over 100,000 words, is the size of a big book. In that time Site Builder Report has grown quickly. Today over 60,000 people every month use it to choose a website builder.
My work is supported by earning an affiliate commission when readers choose a website builder based on my reviews.
Read more about me here.
Do I use a website builder for this website? I do not use a website builder for Site Builder Report. Instead I designed it myself and coded it in Ruby on Rails— a popular programming framework. I do use Squarespace for my band's website though!
30 website builders in 8 minutes.
The principles that lead to great websites.