Complete Guide to Wix SEO (Fall 2020)
Is Wix Good or Bad for SEO?
Everyone wants to know: "Is Wix good for SEO or does it suck?"
To really answer this, we need to break it down into two more specific questions:
1) Can a Wix site rank well in search engines?
2) Does Wix have good SEO tools?
We can answer that first question directly:
Yes, Wix sites can get top rankings in search results.
Wix sites rank at the top of search result all the time.
There's nothing weird about Wix sites that would prevent them from ranking well, assuming whoever built the sites understands at least some basic web design and SEO principles.
Despite whatever rumors you may have heard, Google has no preference for one content management system (CMS) over another, whether that’s Wix, WordPress, Squarespace, Weebly, or any other.
But Google has since gotten better at indexing sites built on all kinds of platforms and these SEO advantages between CMS are less significant these days.
John Mueller, a high-ranking Google employee, stated that "WIX websites work fine in search" on Google's official product feedback discussion board.
(Some third-party SEO tools still have trouble reading and analyzing Wix sites, but Google does not. )
Answering that second question about how good Wix's SEO tools are will take longer to explain, but that’s what the rest of this guide is about.
But if you must have a quick answer right away:
Wix SEO is more than enough for most websites.
Every system has its quirks and Wix is no exception, but we’d argue that for most businesses out there Wix can handle their SEO needs.
The long answer is that you need to read the rest of this guide to understand the pros and cons of doing SEO in Wix and decide if Wix is the right platform for you.
3 Things to Know About This Wix SEO Guide:
1) We assume you already know a little about SEO, but you don't need to be an expert.
A basic knowledge of SEO will help since we're not going to teach that.
Instead, we're going to explain how to implement SEO in Wix and the pros and cons of its SEO features.
2) We are not talking about Wix ADI or Corvid sites.
This guide is for the "standard" Wix editor, which is more advanced than Wix's ADI but not quite as complex as Corvid.
ADI is a new way Wix is generating sites by having customers go through a process guided by its "Advanced Design Intelligence". It's basically a fancy setup wizard that collects data bout your site and puts it into a new template system.
Corvid is Wix's offering to professional web application developers. With Corvid, Wix SEO can get into very advanced web dev, but it has to be custom-coded, so we're not going to get into that much.
3) We are not getting into addons Wix Blog and Store.
Since the SEO for Wix addons like the Blog, Store, Bookings, Events, etc. are somewhat different than in the core Wix editor, we will be covering those separately. (Stay tuned!)
A Complete Review of Wix's SEO Features
To tackle the big question about Wix SEO, we have listed practically every aspect of technical SEO below and how Wix handles them.
While our Wix SEO analysis is very thorough, if you don't see a SEO topic addresses below, feel free to comment below and we'll find you an answer.
You can edit a page’s title in its SEO settings.
Wix will initially generate page titles using a combination of the page's name, your company’s name, and your location (as entered when you were creating your Wix site).
Titles are capped at 70 characters, which is sometimes troublesome you want to include more text than the page title.
The title Wix generates can be longer than 70 characters, but you'll be unable to maintain that extra length once you manually edit it.
When you edit existing titles, Wix will try to automate some changes across all page titles, such as changing your geographical location, but this is sometimes buggy.
We cannot find documentation on it, but Wix seems to check for changes to text between or after “pipe” symbols, i.e. “Page Title | Company Name | Location”, and runs a find-and-replace across other page titles to mixed results.
Meta description is easily edited in a page’s SEO settings just like you’d expect.
The description is limited to 300 characters, but that's more than enough.
As with titles and meta descriptions, you can customize each page’s URL in the page’s SEO settings.
Note that you are limited to 35 characters, which sometimes feels cramped.
By default, all pages appear as if in the root directory, e.g. domain.com/page-url.
To create more complex URL structures, such as domain.com/category/page-url, you need to get into advanced Wix development with Corvid Dev Mode.
Wix SEO History Lesson: At one point, Wix used funky URLs with hashbangs #! and Wix sites were generated entirely in Flash, which was terrible for SEO. Thankfully, those days are long gone and Wix SEO has improved a lot since then.
Heading Structure (H1-H6)
Wix’s text editor lets you set text as H1-H6, which makes heading structure easy enough to do.
You can customize each heading’s “theme” by changing its font, size, color, etc. and applying the theme across the whole site (to sometimes mixed success--it doesn’t always update everywhere).
This is how Wix handles themes or styles without allowing custom CSS. You can do the same thing with three saved themes for paragraph text.
You can also change text to any heading type without altering its appearance, which is useful when you don’t want to change the design but need to optimize an existing site. (We use this when we go into optimize a client's site.)
Image Alt Tags and Filenames
You can add and edit alt tags of images in Wix, whether they are standalone or in a gallery.
But realize not everything that looks like an image is technically an “image” in Wix, such as backgrounds to columns and stripes, which are applied using CSS.
You do not have control over image filenames.
While whatever name the image had when it was uploaded will appear in the media gallery, once its embedded in the site, Wix's CDN will generate a new filename.
You can create 301 redirects in the SEO settings for your site.
You give the relative URL you want redirected and select a page from a dropdown (or type in a destination URL by hand). Wix recently updated this feature to allow for easier batching of redirects.
404 Error Page
Wix lets you create and customize a custom 404 page, but otherwise you get a default Wix one.
When your dealing with a lot of dead URLs and 404 errors (perhaps if a site underwent a total redesign), it's useful to set up a custom 404 page to catch those lost visitors:
Wix allows you to set a canonical URL tag in the Advanced SEO tab.
Wix lacked this feature for a while, but they listened to feature requests and implemented it.
SSL encryption (HTTPS)
Secure encryption is built into Wix. Simple and straightforward.
Wix generates a XML sitemap that can be linked to Google Search Console.
You cannot edit the sitemap directly, but you can set individual pages to not show up in search engines.
Wix generates a robots.txt, which tells web crawlers like Googlebot what to index and what to ignore.
You can now edit your robots.txt, a feature that was rolled out in Wix's 2020 updates to SEO features.
Mobile Friendly (Responsive) Design
The Wix editor has a mobile mode for customizing your site's responsive design and layout.
The mobile editor usually does a pretty good job of generating a responsive layout.
You can easily drag and resize page elements or hide them on mobile to further customize it.
When you first start editing the mobile version, Wix will prompt you to go through a mobile design wizard to help you customize your header, navigation menu, quick action toolbars, and a "back to top" button.
Wix does not currently offer tablet mode for those screen sizes in between desktop and mobile.
Site Speed and Up-time
Wix sites have a reputation for being slow and clunky, which is a common complaint about most DIY drag-and-drop website builders.
To combat this, Wix has upgraded and expanded its server farms and reworked its image/media infrastructure in a project dubbed Wix Turbo.
In our experience, the Wix Turbo Speed Test will give a passing rating to a Wix site that Google’s PageSpeed Insights flags as slow. That may be due to each calculating scores for time-to-interact and time-to-load differently, but we're not sure.
Wix offers good advice on improving your site’s loading time, such as enabling page caching and streamlining your design.
Wix enjoys a 99.8% up-time and has servers across the US and Europe, as you would expect from a big internet-based company.
Unfortunately, you cannot set links to nofollow in Wix.
This is a pretty big SEO feature to be missing, so we hope Wix will fast track this feature request:
You can easily add Google Analytics tracking to a site in the Tracking & Analytics settings.
You can also add Google Tag Manager, Facebook Pixel, and any other third-party code the same way.
Google Search Console
You can connect your Wix site to Google Search Console several ways.
Wix's SEO Wizard will connect your site to Google Search Console by having you log in to your Google account.
If you are setting up Google Search Console for someone else and cannot log in to their Google account, you can also add the code in SEO settings, as per this how-to guide:
If for some reason that option is not available, you can also add the code to the Custom Meta Tags field in the Advanced SEO tab of your homepage.
And if it really comes down to it, you can use a custom code in Tracking & Analytics setting, which you can set to only load on the homepage.
Social Media Integration (e.g. feeds, OpenGraph, social sharing)
While social media is not strictly SEO related since it won't directly affect your rankings, the job of integrating social media often falls to the web designer who is also tasked with SEO, so it's worth reviewing.
You can control how social media sites like Facebook will preview your pages when shared using a page's Social Share setting.
If you want to embed your Facebook or Instagram feeds, Wix can easily do that.
If you just want icons that link to your social media accounts, that’s super easy, too.
Here are Wix’s guides social site elements such as Facebook Like buttons, Facebook comments, Twitter tweet buttons, “Pin to Pinterest” buttons, and so on:
JSON-LD (Structured Data)
While Wix does not generate JSON-LD code itself, the Advanced SEO tab has a field specifically for it, and Wix recommends a third-party JSON-LD generation tool.
We have found the JSON-LD field in Wix only accepts schema for LocalBusiness and rejects other types like FAQ and Q&A. Thankfully, the Wix FAQ app generates its own structured data.
A workaround is to add those JSON-LD types using Wix’s custom code option in the Tracking & Analytics settings on the desired pages.
Wix does not offer control over .htaccess.
Our guess is if you’re the type of web developer who needs control over .htaccess, you’re not using Wix in the first place.
You can use the 301 redirect settings if that’s what you’re trying to do, but you cannot create more dynamic URLs rules with complex regex expressions or alter server settings.
Is Wix Good for Advanced SEO?
We hear this a lot from other SEO experts:
"Wix is OK for basic SEO, but it's not good at advanced."
If you had asked us that a few years ago, we would have agreed.
But is it still true?
Wix was created to be a "no experience needed" website builder for everyday people and small business owners with shoestring budgets. Advanced SEO is not a top priority to people who need to use a wizard to create their first site.
But we also think the SEO community has, for the most part, failed to see the big improvements Wix has made to its SEO offerings.
We are in communication with the Wix SEO dev team and they are always rolling out new features.
Since the time we originally wrote this guide, we are already seeing the release of the SEO Patterns settings screen, which addresses some of our older criticisms about needing better control over how page titles and meta descriptions are generated.
We also need to consider what we mean by “advanced SEO”.
Every SEO professional seems to have their own definition, but “advanced SEO” tends to include:
Advanced keyword research strategies such as competitor analysis
Content planning strategies like long form content and writing for RankBrain
Site architecture and internal linking strategies
Planning your content with search intent in mind
Latent semantic indexing (LSI)
Site speed optimization and security
Mobile SEO and responsive design
Going for “Rank zero” with featured snippets and rich results
Structured data like JSON-LD schema
Targeting voice search
Backlink building strategies like guest posting and podcasting
Advanced Analytics and reports
Going by that list, and knowing what we know about Wix SEO, we honestly say Wix can handle pretty much all of that (ignoring off-site SEO that no CMS handles out of the box).
In fact, we talked about some of those earlier, like JSON-LD, mobile optimization, and site security. Those are baked into Wix.
The rest of these SEO techniques or strategies are “advanced” in that you need a deeper understanding of SEO to do them, but they are not technically difficult to implement in any decent CMS, including Wix. They have more to do with planning your SEO strategy and developing optimized content.
Where Does Wix SEO Still Need to Improve?
As a full-time Wix SEO company, our bias should be obvious--we think Wix SEO is good for most clients.
And even if we have problems with Wix, we have found a way to implement almost every kind of SEO technique and strategy anyway.
But that's not to say we love everything about Wix SEO.
Actually, since we're neck deep in Wix SEO all day, everyday, any bugs or bottlenecks in Wix's SEO workflow drive us nuts since we're dealing with them 1000 times more often than any normal Wix user.
Based on our countless hours of SEO work in Wix, here's our wishlist for new or improved SEO features in Wix:
REQUEST: In-editor SEO Analysis Tools
Coming from WordPress, what you may miss most is a real-time SEO analyzer for every page like Yoast.
Wix does have a SEO Wizard which does an OK job for simple sites, but often gives useless recommendations because its logic is very simple.
Currently, we use third-party SEO analyzers and site scanners to review and debug our Wix sites.
REQUEST: Site-wide Bulk SEO Editor
Speaking as full-time Wix SEO specialists, we want a single screen where we can edit the technical SEO settings (title, description, URL, redirects, etc.) for all pages without clicking between each page and opening and re-opening the SEO tabs.
This feature would be a time saver for us, but we get that most Wix users are not editing dozens of pages at a time.
UPDATE: Wix has added a SEO Patterns page to the backend settings which allows you to set patterns for page titles, meta descriptions, and social share using shortcodes. This will override those on pages where those have not been manually edited.
REQUEST: Better Built-in Analytics
We would like Wix to offer better analytics within its dashboard.
As SEO pros, we can go into Google Analytics and Search Console to generate our own reports, but we would like clients to be able to log in to Wix to see simple yet informative reports.
The good news is that this appears to be in the works:
REQUEST: Multiple Different Navigation Menus
Wix sites only have one menu structure that you use across your design.
You control it through the Site Menu dropdown in the Wix editor.
You can duplicate this menu and change its superficial styling, but the menu manager is limited to a single menu, i.e. a specific list of links in a set order.
In WordPress, you can create different menus and assign them to different spots in your theme, such as in the header or footer, and save unused menus and swap between them.
To make multiple different menus in Wix, you have to do something funny like create it by hand using lined up button elements, as Wix describes here:
REQUEST: Automatic 301 Redirects When URLs Change
If you change a page's URL, you have to go into the site's SEO settings and manually set up a 301 redirect.
Where this becomes a headache is when you take over SEO for an existing site and find whoever made it duplicated a bunch of pages and left the URLs as things like /copy-of-about and /blank.
It would also be nice if Wix would automatically generate a new URL using the page's name in the menu if you deleted the existing URL and left it blank (which would be like how WordPress handles blank URLs -- a new one is generated from the page/post title.)
REQUEST: More variety and flexibility of site layouts
Every Wix site is 980 pixels wide and consists of a header, body, and footer (you can hide the header and/or footer).
That’s just how Wix is.
Wix sites have no designs with sidebars unless you DIY one together with less-than-graceful workaround like manually creating one and setting it to show on every page.
Conclusion: Wix SEO Pros and Cons
To sum it up, here is how the positives and negatives of Wix stack up:
Wix sites are easy and cheap to build and maintain, even for those without web design or SEO training.
Wix's SEO features and settings can handle everything you need for most sites (if you know where to look).
Wix's offers extensive documentation and resources for helping site owners improve their site, especially for small business.
No need to maintain server, monitor security status, or update software or plugins (and hope nothing breaks afterthe update).
Good (if simple) core Wix addons for Blog, Store, Events, Bookings, FAQ, etc.
With the ease of drag-and-drop design comes the potential for "sloppiness" that more strictly controlled template-based CMS like WordPress won't allow.
Power users may find SEO tools to be clunky when optimizing a large number of pages.
Fewer layout styles (e.g. two column, three column, full width, etc.) and simpler designs compared to what's possible in CMS like WordPress.
Limited selection of addons compared to an open CMS like WordPress with its massive market of free, freemium, and premium plugins.
Smaller pool of SEO professionals with deep knowledge of Wix if you're looking for expert help. Wix is trying to change this with its "Arena" that matches users up to Wix-based web design companies.
That should do it! We hope this helped you better understand Wix SEO and see if it is right for you.
Like we said at the top, if you feel we missed anything, please comment below or contact us and we'll find you an answer!