GoDaddy Website Builder and SEO? Don’t Even Bother!

As the title suggests, this blog post describes our experience with GoDaddy Website Builder (regardless of its version – “Personal”, “Business” or “Business Plus”) while we were trying to improve the onsite SEO of a client. Its purpose is not to hurt GoDaddy’s reputation but rather to help small business owners realize that GoDaddy’s Website Builder is not the content management system (CMS) that is appropriate for achieving the salient online presence that is so vital for small businesses’ survival in this highly competitive age.

As usual, during our preliminary analysis of our client’s situation, we made a list of issues that needed action. To name a few, the robots.txt file was not configured properly, there were two versions of the home page and one needed to be 301-redirected to the other, there was no Schema.org implemented to markup our client’s business data, reviews and products, no map pointing to the Google+ Local listing was embedded, etc.

We knew that the website was hosted on GoDaddy’s Website Builder, which we had no experience with, so our idea was to try to perform the optimizations on it and if unsuccessful – move the website to WordPress and regular hosting.

What we learned is that while being the cheapest way to host a website on GoDaddy (which makes it an extremely cheap option all together), the Website Builder didn’t allow you to perform almost any action that a regular hosting would allow you to. GoDaddy advertise their tool as the best option for their non-technical clients – an extremely simple instrument with 100% hassle-free setup and maintenance to provide your small business with a comfortable basic website.

This is true (the “comfortable basic website” part can be argued), however it is basically what a WordPress website hosted with regular hosting services gives you, too, except WordPress is nowhere near as limiting. Here is my advice to all small business owners – don’t get intimidated by how “technically demanding” it is to setup a WordPress website and “undersell” your online presence to a Website Builder website. Even if it is a tiny bit more complex to setup and maintain a WordPress site, even if you have to pay someone a few hundred dollars to do so (which is a completely reasonable price for the task), it is worth it in the long run. GoDaddy’s Website Builder is too limiting SEO-, design and development-wise even for the most modest clients.

The most shocking part about GoDaddy Website Builder is that you don’t actually have access to the FTP and the database. You can imagine the limited capabilities that derive from such a restriction. For example, even though there is a robots.txt file that is filled in with GoDaddy’s default settings (the images folder is disallowed by default – how cool is that!), they are unchangeable because the robots.txt is inaccessible. We even contacted GoDaddy’s support center and asked them to correct the Robots.txt rules for us but unfortunately they replied that this is not something they support. The customer rep said directly that the purpose of GoDaddy Website Builder is to help basic users create a basic website – something like a business card. So anything “too advanced” would be impossible to implement – same goes for our suggestions to 301 redirect one of the home pages to the other (the .htaccess file is inaccessible because we don’t have access to the FTP), custom HTML code can’t be inserted, etc. So basically the question that pops up is “what can one actually do with GoDaddy Website Builder to implement at least some basic SEO?”. Well, you can still:

  • write high quality content
  • optimize your page titles
  • optimize the heading tags
  • edit the meta descriptions (they don’t have any value SEO-wise but may increase click-through-rates)
  • choose which pages to be included in the XML sitemap
  • do minor HTML alterations in respect to text alignment, fonts and colors (please, note that if you try to implement Schema.org markup that would be impossible because every time you insert the code, the “itemscope” attribute simply gets stripped out, rendering the code invalid – the other attributes stay intact though)

Our Recommendation

What we suggested to our client was to migrate his GoDaddy Website Builder built website to WordPress so we can implement all our SEO recommendations. The main concern he had was that maintaining his website will become extremely difficult for him because he would have to learn how to deal with WordPress. We decided to offer him a free consultation to get his way around WordPress which is in no way much more difficult to manage than GoDaddy Website Builder.

If you are a small business owner and are looking for an easy way to create and maintain a website, we suggest you buy hosting from a well-reputed company and use WordPress as a CMS. That way you will be able to fully utilize SEO best practices without any limitations.

Do you have any experience with GoDaddy Website Builder? Please, comment below!

13 thoughts on “GoDaddy Website Builder and SEO? Don’t Even Bother!



  1. I can definitely relate to your situation. I had a client a few years back with a GoDaddy Website Builder website who needed higher search rankings.

    I was able to improve the rankings with basic SEO practices, but I was about ready to pull my hair out trying to accomplish anything ‘under the hood’.

    Hopefully your client will go with your suggestion. He will be much better off in the near future and the long run.

  2. Thanks for your comment Tom! We were able to improve our client’s rankings with just Page Titles, H1 tags and Google+ Local listing optimizations (including citation building) but I’m pretty sure if we were able to implement everything we had suggested in our preliminary analysis, his rankings would benefit much more.

  3. I wish I had seen this post a couple of weeks ago. I have encountered all the restrictions. I am most concerned about the duplicate home page where the domain and the http://domain.com/home.html are the same page but 2 URLs. Has anyone tried submitting a “remove URL” request via Google Webmaster account for the /home.html?

    1. What we found very surprising was that GoDaddy actually creates another Google Webmaster Tools account (you can log in to it only after logging into your Website Builder account and click the link to Google Webmaster Tools to the right).

      We haven’t tried the “remove URL” request in Google Webmaster Tools since it removes the URL only from the SERPs. We removed the page from the sitemap though.

  4. Disappointing… but enlightening!

    After failing to optimize our website’s SEO, I hired a pro who said the same thing. It is very disappointing to see GoDaddy failing its customers this way.

    I’ll start working on WordPress.com as you suggested once I meet today with our SEO pro today.

    1. Yes, moving your GoDaddy Website Builder website to WordPress is on of the best things you can do for your website. You will have much more control over your online presence and managing the site wouldn’t be difficult at all.

  5. How I wish I’d read this about a month ago! I work in IT, but not in anything related to website development or SEO. My wife just started a small business, and we needed something “cheap” and easy to implement. On the recommendation of a friend who also started a small business, who raved about Godaddy’s excellent customer support, and who is completely tech un-savvy”, I went with Godaddy. Now I am just beside myself. We have a pretty nice-looking website to start with (especially compared to our local competitors), but I am frustrated to no end with the limitations. And I’ve even discovered in the blogosphere that the latest version of Website Builder is more restrictive that the previous! Lack of ftp is mind-boggling. I understand they want to make it easy for the illiterate, but if someone is up for the challenge, why can’t they enable it? I have inserted custom HTML in places, so I don’t understand the comment above that you can’t do it. On the other hand, I’ve been shocked with how poorly designed the start-up templates are for SEO. I am a complete neophyte, but it didn’t take me long to learn that Having H1 and H5 without any H2, H3, or H4 is not a good idea – and yet that is how the template we used was defined. No option to change the CSS, so I am very limited as to how the headings will render. The images are not stored under my domain, even the ones I upload myself. I have a day job and fighting with website builder to get this site SEOed is draining the life out of me. So I’ve got a question – is there a good way to migrate to WordPress seamlessly, and not lose any of the ground I have gained in making our site visible to Google? (I’ve already got webmaster tools and analytics, linked to google+ page, etc.) Any advice, or resources for such a migration?

    1. Hi Todd, and thank you for the detailed comment!
      When I said that you can’t insert custom HTML, I was referring to a situation where I was trying to markup business data with Schema.org and for some reason the item scope attribute would get stripped out, rendering the code invalid.
      Regarding your question if there’s a good way to migrate to WordPress seamlessly – we’ve done this for a few clients. The steps involved are as follows:
      1. Scrape the HTML of the target site
      2. Build WordPress template from the scraped HTML
      3. Extract the content from the HTML and insert it into WordPress in the form of posts and pages.

  6. Hi there,

    For migration, you suggested the steps below – could you please further elaborate on the first point?

    1. Scrape the HTML of the target site (what does this exactly mean)

    Will I be able to use my domain name that I had previously? And will it affect my SEO Optimization which I have done already?

    Many thanks 🙂

    1. “1. Scrape the HTML of the target site (what does this exactly mean)” this basically means , that the html(and the resources – js, css, images, etc.) can be scraped(copied) from the old site and then implemented to the new site.

      “Will I be able to use my domain name that I had previously?” – Yes, all you need to do is point the domain to your new hosting, or transfer it there.

      “And will it affect my SEO Optimization which I have done already?” – Yes, all of the on-site optimizations will be kept, the off-site optimization will be kept aswell, the difference here is that if you choose to change the link structure of your site, the appropriate redirects should be created.

    2. “1. Scrape the HTML of the target site (what does this exactly mean)” this basically means , that the html(and the resources – js, css, images, etc.) can be scraped(copied) from the old site and then implemented to the new site.

      “Will I be able to use my domain name that I had previously?” – Yes, all you need to do is point the domain to your new hosting, or transfer it there.

      “And will it affect my SEO Optimization which I have done already?” – Yes, all of the on-site optimizations will be kept, the off-site optimization will be kept aswell, the difference here is that if you choose to change the link structure of your site, the appropriate redirects should be created.

    1. Hey Robert,
      Yes, if you use WordPress you can use shared/vps hosting(of godaddy or any other provider), without any limiting in regards of SEO.

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