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)
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!