Which Web Platform is Best for SEO?

I’m often asked which websites lend themselves best to Search Engine Optimization. Let’s start off with what’s the worst: any website template or design that utilizes Flash. I’m going to guess you already know this. Besides being pretty much rendered unnecessary since the release of HTML5, the search engines never could “crawl” the contents of a flash file. This meant your site, without complicated workarounds, was pretty much invisible to Google, Yahoo!, and Bing.

So what works? What’s best? In order:

HTML5 Language Site

Sure, it’s best, but probably impractical for the majority of those looking for a site unless they want to pay big (and I mean big, think $6,000 minimum) dollars to a web developer. There are other, more affordable options…

WordPress-Based Site

Think of WordPress as the foundation of a website, and a template (sometimes called a theme) sits atop it. The template is responsible for the look and feel (design) of the site. There are many, many templates available and you might wish to customize the template slightly to give it your style.

Most current WordPress templates are attractive, responsive (a must have, here’s why), and fast loading (another must have, here’s why).

Many people think that template-type sites can get you into trouble with the search engines due to their duplicate content penalties. Generally speaking this is true, content that appears similar over two different URL’s can hurt both site’s rankings. Also, you don’t want your site to look identical to that of your competitor’s. This is a common fear that is no longer true with sites utilizing modern WordPress templates. So think of a template as a starting-off point that you’ll fully customize to make it unique.

Have a look at two websites that use the same template, but were customized by go-seo. The first is Los Angeles Headshot Photographer Vanie Poyey’s site, the second is Online Running Coach Mike McKnight’s Running Workx site. Both use the same template, but look vastly different.

Other Template-Based Sites

These are not based on the WordPress platform at all, but instead are sites coded in HTML5. Quite a few are lousy for SEO, here’s why. One provider, Squarespace, has a few templates that work very well for SEO; but be careful, most of their offering don’t provide the flexibility needed for maximum SEO success.

So that’s it in a nutshell. A longing answer to a pretty basic question. But knowing where to put your time, effort, and dollars into a website is important, especially if search is an important part of your marketing mix.

(Blake Discher is the founder of go-seo, a search engine optimization company serving small businesses.)

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