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Webflow vs. WordPress SEO cage match

Webflow vs WordPress for SEO | Edgar Allan | Blog

It all started with a tweet. 

Could it be true? Is Webflow really inferior to WordPress on SEO? Are companies sacrificing searchability for development and design flexibility? 

Webflow has certainly continued to evolve SEO-related features, launching noindex control for individual pages in October of this year. Instead of using custom code to add a noindex tag, users can now turn off indexing directly from page settings.

Furthermore, Espinosa clearly knows how to InternetTM — the Webflow tag, the bold claim, the impending stakes, etc. But we also know that when it comes to professional services, client perception is the reality — until thoughtfully proven otherwise, at least. I also had deeper questions: Where is this idea coming from, and does it hold a kernel of truth?

To get answers, I consulted our resident SEO expert, Michael Ferguson. With nearly a decade of experience in web content across multiple platforms, including Webflow and WordPress, he’s seen and done it all on the optimization front, so there was no better person to turn to to get to the bottom of this. Check out the highlights from our conversation below.

So, Michael, now that you’ve had a chance to read Espinosa’s tweet, what’s your immediate reaction? 

My immediate reaction is: What?! I don’t think that’s true. But I also think that there’s still a lot of mystery surrounding SEO. And it doesn’t have to be that way — there are literal magazines and publications dedicated to explaining how SEO works. Or you can just Google it. But the lack of awareness definitely contributes to myths like this one.

Let’s dispel it!

Absolutely. So, first, to address the question about which platforms are better for SEO, let me state this clearly: They’re all the same.

Think of it this way: if you buy an air fryer, you know you can cook fries. They make great fries. You can impress people. But you can also bake in an air fryer. Not a lot of people know that. 

The same goes for your content management system or development platform. They all offer the same things. They’re all going to give you a place to put your metadata and templates for your content. It’s how you manage that content and the metadata that matters. It has nothing to do with whether it’s Webflow, WordPress, or any other platform. 

Right. My understanding of organic SEO specifically is that it’s not about the platform, it’s about what you’re putting into it. 

It’s also a matter of how you’re putting it in there. Starting out with a website, for example, I often say this to clients: You can’t do paid SEO if you’re not already doing organic SEO. Get the foundation of your organic SEO set up correctly, and then you can do your paid-for SEO, which is going to cost a lot of money. Paid is flashy, of course, but organic is important too.

Really, no matter which platform you’re using, the most important thing you can do is go read through Google’s helpful content guidelines. As a primer, these are some of the top dos and don’ts to keep in mind as you develop web content: 

DO be helpful

Is the content you are hosting on your site interesting and useful to your clients? Do you know what your readers want? Find out what they want and give it to them.

DO build trust

Act in a way that cultivates user trust. Give them advice; let them know you’ve taken your own advice and say how it turned out — the good, bad, and the ugly. 

DO showcase your expertise

Make yourself the experts on the subject; be authoritative and clear when you write on the subject.

DON’T go overboard or skimp

Provide an appropriate amount of content for your subject.

DON’T make it an infomercial 

Inform your clients. Avoid distracting adverts and use links wisely.

Think of it this way: the algorithm is trying to judge your content like a human would, because Google wants to give users the most helpful content possible. And the machine knows! It’s incredibly advanced. The keyword stuffing that worked 15 years ago just won’t fly anymore. 

In my experience, the keyword density shouldn't be higher than 2%. What matters more is how you structure the content and where you place the keywords. Here are all the places you would need to place the keyword you are targeting:

  • Page URL
  • Meta title
  • Meta description
  • H1
  • A few H2s
  • Sprinkled organically throughout the copy

Try to make your content as organic as possible (which means it should definitely be written by a human). The same goes for other aspects of your website — you wouldn’t want to scroll endlessly through a telephone book where all the information is useless.

Overall, you should be focusing on high-quality content for your website. That’s the most important step you can take to ensure strong SEO value. Once you’ve established this foundation, if you know how to use the CMS to create the metadata and format the content, you’ll be fine!

So, returning to your original point, what is so mysterious about SEO to people? Why is this such a black box for people?

I think it’s because people are caught up in marketing, and they want immediate results. And as we’ve discussed, true SEO value comes from carefully crafting useful, clear content across your site. And, to be fair, we SEO people are not always the best communicators. Plenty of folks come from a development background where managing client relationships is not a core responsibility.

The good news is that there are resources you can check out. There are great media outlets that demystify SEO. And Google has a bunch of guidelines on how to run and present your website.

Also keep in mind that Google won’t always tell you exactly what’s happening, and you will have to figure it out via trial and error. Some media outlet writers have worked for Google, and they can offer practical insight, but things change. If your SEO person has a community of other experts, they can get on-the-ground insight into what’s happening before any official announcement of changes will arrive.

What are some trustworthy SEO resources you would recommend?

My go-tos are Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Land. They get to the point quickly because they understand how to do this stuff. They also provide a lot of learning opportunities, from documents you can buy to PDFs, conferences, and meetups.

If you’re interested in learning more, Google University is another great option. It’s free, and they can teach you all about SEO from the ground up.

I would also say that once you’ve got a footing with SEO, experiment! Play with your keyword and content strategy. Add to the metadata, see what happens, and track your rankings. Play around with your metadata. People think the metadata has to stay the same forever for some reason. Sure, you don’t want to change it every month, but every six to 12 months you need to look at your metadata and determine if it needs to be rewritten because Google has changed their requirements.

That’s another reason it’s good to follow these publications: they have their ears to the ground. If Google is rolling out a content guideline update, or any number of other updates, they will let you know (to the degree that it’s possible) so you can prepare. 

Returning to the tweet that launched 1,000 words, is there anything that WordPress could conceivably be doing that helps their customers with their SEO more than Webflow does?

Well, they could be helping customers if those customers aren’t aware of how SEO operates, by, for example, providing a plugin that measures the length of their metadata (although Webflow does this also). But if you weren’t aware that metadata was a thing — which happens — why would you look for the plugin in the first place? 

Again, you have to do the basic stuff first before you can download whatever special widget may or may not be there. Start with the ground level, grassroots knowledge before you look to your service provider for help.

Interested in partnering with Edgar Allan on a web design, brand, or content design project? Get in contact with us today.

Did you enjoy this article? Read more like it on the Edgar Allan blog.

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