Is Wix bad for your business? Here’s why you shouldn’t use it

UPDATE:
19th October 2016
After writing this article, Wix is now in the process of updating its URL structure which hopefully will solve some of these problems below. Good work Wix, only took 5+ years… 😉 https://www.wix.com/support/html5/article/your-new-site-urls 

After much digging for a client we’ve found some fascinating insights into why Wix can be very bad for business…

Background

It’s to do with SEO (search engine optimisation) and your ranking on Google. As you probably know, when you search for something on Google the results are ranked according to a huge number of factors. Two of these are “relevance” and URL structure. If a page on your website is relevant to a search term it will rank higher than another webpage that isn’t relevant. The URL of your webpage is a good indicator to Google of relevance too.

For example, https://webwisemedia.co.uk/responsive-website-design/ probably has something to do with the search term “responsive website design”. Are you with me so far?

search results

So what’s the problem?

Well, Wix has a very strange way of creating URL’s for its websites. For example, if we created our own website on Wix then our URL might look like this:

https://webwisemedia.co.uk/#!responsive-website-design

All Wix pages seem to include this hashtag (#) in their URLs. The problem is that usually across the Internet anything after !# is ignored. Most of the web wasn’t designed to have hashtags in URLs like this. In actual fact, most traditional servers, web robots and web systems would consider this URL to be pointing to the home page (webwisemedia.co.uk) rather than the responsive web design page we want. They simply don’t “see” the part after the hashtag. Technical note: this is an oversimplification, but we’re trying to make this as easy to understand as possible.

Behind the scenes, Wix is doing something complicated to tell browsers that the part after the #hashtag is a different page, when every other traditional web system would just see the home page. (Wix is probably doing this for speed… see their explanation here)

At one point in the not-so-distant past, Google did an algorithm update which totally wiped out rankings for websites that are built on Wix. This seems to have recovered somewhat but still, do you want to let someone else be in charge of something so critical to your business?

Moving away from Wix

wix-vs-wordpress

Should you decide to leave Wix and move to a different platform (like WordPress) the problems begin to hit home. Google will have ranked all of your URLs on Wix with a hashtag in, but your new site will not include hashtags. When someone clicks an old link in Google search results, then rather than getting the correct page they will be taken to your home page.

This is not very friendly to users and will also reduce the ranking for that search result because your home page is probably not relevant. In our example of “Responsive Website Design”, our home page is much less relevant than our /responsive-website-design page and so our rankings will drop.

This is exactly the issue we’ve been helping a client with. We’ve seen how this can have a significant negative effect for businesses that rely on search traffic to acquire customers.

The Solution?

There isn’t a foolproof solution – that is the crazy thing! We’ve written some workaround JavaScript code that will re-direct users from the old URL to the new URL’s without the hashtag, but it’s not yet clear how Google treats JavaScript code like this. Although it helps users clicking old links, will the rankings be affected?

We’ll keep investigating – but if you want my advice; steer clear of Wix for the time-being.



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About the author

Dan Wiseman

Founder & director of Web Wise. He writes about web design, marketing, entrepreneurship, investing and games. Dan regularly speaks on these subjects and is available for coaching and consultancy.


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