How to Quickly Set Up Google Search Console on WordPress

By | Search Engine Optimization, Web Development, Wordpress | No Comments

How to Set Up Google Search Console on Your WordPress Website | Liza Wilde Co. - Monitor and grow your website and blog traffic using Google Search ConsoleWhenever I launch a new website, I have a very specific launch checklist I work through to make sure the website is optimized for search engines and social media. The biggest item on that list: making sure Google has the site indexed.

What is “indexing”?

The term “indexing” refers to when Google’s search bots scan every single page and blog post on your site (everything that’s public anyway) and grab the meta data to make sure it shows up properly in search results.

This process eventually happens on its own, but you can put your site on Google’s radar a bit faster by connecting your sitemap to Google Search Console.

What is Google Search Console?

Google Search Console is a free service provided through Google’s Webmaster Tools that allows you to monitor how people are finding your site, track performance, see clicks and terms people are using to find your site.

On its own, Google Search Console is an extremely powerful tool. If you connect Google Analytics to your website and pair it with Search Console, you’re setting yourself up for some serious insight into how visitors are finding you and how to better optimize your site to keep them there.

Connecting Your Site to Google Search Console

Head over to Google Search Console and Webmaster Tools to sign in. You’ll need a @gmail.com email address or Google Business Apps to get started.

Once signed in, find the red “Add a Property” button.

Adding a property to Google Search ConsoleEnter your website address in the field provided.

You’ll have to verify that you own the website. You can do this using a few different methods. Google recommends uploading an HTML file to your web hosting account, but I recommend using the Yoast SEO plugin.

Click on the “Alternative Methods” tab and copy the HTML tag in the first option.

Verifying your website in Google Search ConsoleJump over to your WordPress website and go down to SEO > Dashboard on your sidebar, and then head to the Webmaster Tools section.

Paste the meta tag you copied into the Google Search Console box and click “Save Changes”.

Verify your website for Google Search Console in the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin.

Now hop back to Google Search Engine and click the red “Verify” button.

If you pasted the meta tag properly, you should see a success message. You can click “continue” and jump down to submitting your sitemap below.

If you don’t see the successful message, double check the meta tag, or try one of the other methods of verification. If you’re still having trouble, hop over to my Virtual Office Hours and let’s sort it out together!

Submit Your Sitemap for Indexing

Now we’re going to tell Google to start indexing your site. We want to make sure it catches all of the pages and not just the ones it happens to find.

In Search Console, click on “Crawl” and then “Sitemaps”.

Click the red “Add/Test Sitemap” button in the upper right-handcorner.

Add a new sitemap to your website in Google Search Console

Jump back to your website and down to the Yoast SEO plugin settings again. Go to SEO > XML Sitemaps. If you don’t see this, you may need to turn on the Advanced Features setting within SEO > Dashboard > Features tab.

Copy your XML Sitemap link in Yoast SEO plugin.

Copy the link to your XML sitemap and paste it into the field that popped up on Google Search Console. You’ll probably need to take out the beginning of your domain name, since Search Console already has that. It only needs whatever comes after the .com/ in your domain.

Submitting your sitemap to Google Search Console

Save and click “Refresh the page”.

You should now see your sitemap pending for Google’s crawlers. This can take a few days, so come back later and you’ll see it has started to collect data about your website!

Now bring the pieces together by connecting your Google Search Console with your Google Analytics Account.

If you haven’t set up Google Analytics, you can see how to do that in this video tutorial: How to Install Google Analytics on Your WordPress Website.

Connecting Google Search Console to Google Analytics

Sign into Google Analytics.

Go to the “Acquisition” tab then click on Search Console > Landing Pages.

You’ll be prompted to connect to Search Console. Click the grey button near the top.

Connect Google Search Console with your Google Analytics Account

It will redirect you to your property setting. Scroll down to Search Console and click “Adjust Search Console”.

Add Google Search Console to your Google Analytics account

Within this new view, click “Add”.

Add your site's Google Search Console to Google Analytics

This will redirect you back to Search Console where you can select your website’s connection. Select your site and click “Save”.

It’ll prompt you that you’re saving a new association, so click “Ok”.

You’re all set! Now you’ll be able to see detailed reports of your search information within Google Analytics and Google Search Console.

I recommend coming back weekly or monthly to check on the information. You can see three of the Google Analytics reports I run most frequently for myself and my clients. These reports and insights can help you better plan content and improve your search engine optimization in the future.

Having trouble connecting to Search Console or Google Analytics? Let’s chat about it during my Virtual Office Hours.

The Ultimate Website Planning Guide from Liza Wilde Co.

It’s time to look legit online

Download my Ultimate Website Planning Guide and get started revamping your website so you can build a consistent and memorable brand.

5 Crazy Easy Things You Can Tweak Now for Better SEO

By | Search Engine Optimization, Web Development, Wordpress | No Comments

There’s a lot of components to search engine optimization, frequently referred to as SEO. It’s understandable why SEO consultants get paid the big bucks because they have to be aware of so many variables. And it’s easy for us, as creative entrepreneurs, to get overwhelmed by all of the tedious tasks that go along with correct SEO.

However, there are a few things you can do as a blogger or business owner, that will set yourself up for success with search engines that require little to no maintenance in the future if you make sure they’re done correctly from the beginning.

So here it is, my list of five things you can tweak right now for better SEO.

1. Proper usage of heading levels

When writing content for a page or a blog post, most people use the Heading 1 and Heading 2 options to break their content up into chunks. This is good practice! It improves readability and guides search engines and visitors on what information is on the page. However, there is a right way to do this and a wrong way.

There should only ever be one Heading 1 per page or post. Using multiple h1 tags confuses the robots (aka search engines) about what your site is actually about.

The best way to use heading tags is to think of them as a book with a table of contents.

An h1 is your book title, h2’s are the chapter titles, and then h3’s, h4’s, and h5’s are further subheadings you can use to break content up further.

Yoast SEO has a great post on the importance of headings for your blog SEO; they also give some excellent examples of to how your blog posts and pages could look.

Don’t use headings for aesthetic reasons

If you’re using an h1 for aesthetic reasons, such as size or color, then you need to take a look at your design and adjust the way your headings look. For example, create a CSS class selector and apply that to the heading so that regardless of the level, it can look however the class rules are applied. (More on CSS classes in another post.)

For the most part, your WordPress page/post template includes h1’s, which means you should only really be using h2’s and smaller throughout your content. There are exceptions, but this is a good rule of thumb.

2. Meta tags

What the hell are meta tags? Glad you asked. They are the behind-the-scenes magic that feeds search engines and social media networks information about your website.

Out-of-the-box WordPress and Squarespace sites try to do a good job of this, by using the title of the page/post and the excerpt of the page for the search result. However, these are not optimized, and it’s a damn shame because it’s so easy to do!

My favorite is the free Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress. Just install this bad boy, and you’ll have a new meta box at the bottom of each post/page where you can adjust the meta information. You should always modify the page title and meta description in my opinion, because you don’t just want your search result to say “Home” you want it to say something like “Unique websites for creative entrepreneurs” or something that draws visitors into your site.

3. ALT text

Again, what?!

ALT text or alternative text is another piece of hidden magic that is important for SEO. It’s the hidden caption behind your photo that search engines index as more content. Kind of amazing right?

ALT text is primarily used by visitors with screen-readers or who have image loading turned off. It’s descriptive text that displays in place of the photo if it doesn’t load, or in the case of a screen-reader, it will read it to the listener.

You can edit the ALT text of each photo in WordPress from within the media library, and while this might seem tedious, I promise this will help tremendously by basically doubling the amount of content on your site that search engines see.

Since this is something that might be read aloud to a visitor, it’s super important that you write these as if they were a typical sentence. ALT text should be brief but informative. And bonus, the more you write for humans with your ALT text, the more search engines approve of it. Robots just want to be human after all.

4. Page Load Time

Have you ever been on a website that took more than a few seconds to load and you were already bored and clicked the back button? Well, search engines do the same thing. The longer your site takes to load, the more they will penalize you in search results.

For this reason, it’s super important to keep an eye on how quickly your page loads. You can use tools like Pingdom’s Website Speed Test to see how fast various pages load. The goal is to keep things at 2-3 seconds and definitely below 7 seconds. Anything higher than that and marketers can tell you about the exponential drop off in people visiting your site.

How do you fix a site that loads slowly?

The easiest way is to start with images. You can use an image editing program like Photoshop to export and compress them down, or an online tool like Compressor.io, to make sure that your images are already in a good place when you upload them.

I also recommend installing WP Smush or another image compression plugin on WordPress to help further save on space and load times.

Another aspect of page speed is going to be the number of plugins you have running on your site.

I’ve already mentioned two or three that I think you should have, but if you have a plugin for share tools and a slider and an Instagram feed and Leadpages and MailChimp, and all of this other stuff, you’re slowing your site down really badly.

The better way to handle this is to use only the plugins you need and then find other means of achieving the other stuff, like embedding an HTML Mailchimp form instead of using a plugin.

Finally, use a caching tool like W3 Cache and a CDN like Cloudflare to speed things up further. These resources keep a copy of the site loaded at all times so that visitors don’t have to reload items every time they come to your site.

5. All the links!

Inbound, outbound, internal… these are all different kinds of links that you need to utilize throughout your site.

Outbound links are when you link to external sites, like Amazon or someone else’s blog post. These links help Google legitimize your content, like citing sources in a term paper. If you’re linking to correct, credible sources, Google and visitors on your site are going to think you know what you’re talking about, so you move up in search results.

The same goes for internal links, which is linking to your content, like an old blog post that talks about something similar. Internal links draw the search robots deeper into your site and make searches more relevant.

Inbound links are the hardest to cultivate, but also the most important. These are when other people link to you. Inbound links are a huge indicator to Google that you’re a good result to show people and not a spam site that they want to push down.

You can force inbound links by commenting on other people’s blog posts and including your website URL (called back-linking) or doing this in a service directory. But this treads a dangerous line of lousy SEO habits that search engines frown upon.

My suggestion for cultivating inbound links is two-fold:

1. Use Pinterest to share your blog posts and content. Pinterest might advertise as a social media network, but it’s really a search engine, a visual one. Although their links are technically “no follow,” meaning it shouldn’t influence search rankings, Google and other search engines do index pins which can show up in search results. Ergo, Pinterest pins to your site can show up and lead traffic to your site.

2. Pitch yourself as a guest author on other blogs. Ask your business besties to collaborate on a blog post series with you and take turns writing for each other’s sites. Or pitch yourself to people who resonate with you. You don’t have to have anything special to do this; a few well-written articles are usually enough to do the trick. Or cross-post your content to sites like Medium, and link back to the original article on your website.

If video/audio is your thing, pitch yourself as a guest on a podcast. Usually, they’ll include a link to your site and social networks in the description or show notes, and that counts as an inbound link!

SEO can be overwhelming, and it’s a constantly evolving beast, so we’ve just scraped the surface here. But if there’s anything I’ve learned from being an entrepreneur, it’s that you have to start somewhere. And with these tips, you don’t even have to hire a marketing team or copywriter to do it!

And if you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry, I’ve got your back. You can download my free website planning guide, which can walk you through each of these steps to optimize your new or existing website for improved search engine optimization.

Have a question about business goals or tarot?

Grab one of my weekly Virtual Office Hours spots and we can talk about!

Grab Your Spot!
5 Useful Plugins I Use on Every Wordpress Website | Liza Wilde Co.

5 Useful Plugins I Use On Absolutely Every WordPress Site

By | Web Development, Wordpress | 2 Comments

5 Useful Plugins I Use on Every WordPress Website | Liza Wilde Co.

When I’m setting up a new website for a client, there are a handful of plugins I use every time. They do a variety of things, but all of them make it easier for the client to maintain their site.

Here’s the short list of the plugins I use on every single site I make.

1. Duplicate Post

This plugin is one of the first I install after setting up WordPress. It allows you to easily clone a page, post, or another content type with the click of a button.

But why would you want to clone an existing piece of content? I’m glad you asked.

When I build out websites, I use a page builder plugin (see #4 for the ones I use). Rather than recreating the layout every time, it’s easier to clone an existing page/post and edit the content.

Duplicate Post is also super useful if you like doing A/B testing of content. Using this plugin, you can quickly copy a page, make a small change, and publish it to a new permalink and test it out!

2. Yoast SEO

I’m not an SEO expert, but I do know some of the basics about getting your WordPress website optimized for search engines. And there isn’t a better plugin than Yoast SEO.

This plugin creates a meta box that will allow you to edit the page title and blurb that shows up on Google. It also lets you set a convention so that it automatically pulls from certain fields, which is great to help automate your content.

Yoast SEO also has settings for creating a sitemap, which is important to submit to Google Search Console, and features that make sure your site is optimized for sharing on social media networks.

3. Gravity Forms

This is a premium plugin that I adore for setting up contact forms, content submissions, etc. It’s a bit steep in price, but 100% worth the investment if you create forms that need price fields, file uploads, etc. It also has great integrations with other tools like reCAPTCHA, Salesforce, Google Sheets, and more.

I’m using Gravity Forms for all of the contact forms on my site!

4. Visual Composer or Divi Builder

No matter which theme you’re using on your website, I recommend you invest in a page builder. As a DIY entrepreneur, you’re looking for ways to optimize your budget, and I think this is one of the best investments that can be made.

If you’re using the Divi theme, it already comes prepackaged with Divi Builder, which is great! But if you’re using a different theme, I recommend looking into the premium plugin Visual Composer.

Using a page-building plugin will let you start building landing pages in a matter of minutes. If you’ve ever watched someone else’s webinar and noticed their fancy landing page, but you can’t afford the monthly fee that Leadpages charges, then a page building plugin is what you want. You can find examples of good converting landing pages, and then build something on your website that easily looks on brand with your business. And bonus, it’s much more affordable!

If you’re still questioning whether Visual Composer is worth the investment, there are other free page builders you can give a go first (Elementor and Page Builder). I’m not as familiar with either of them, but I’m sure they’re great alternatives.

5. Sucuri Security Plugin

This is one that is often overlooked by people when they set up their WordPress website. But, in my experience, it’s one of the most important.

Setting up a security plugin will let you tighten up your login pages, your editable theme and plugin files (where your site is most vulnerable), and can even alert you to attempts of hackers and bots trying to get into your website.

Since WordPress is the most popular content management system in the world (59.4% of CMS market share, and 26.4% of the whole web, according to ManageWP’s post from April 2016) it’s also the target of a large number of hackers around the world. Usually, they’re harmless, but still not the kind of thing you want to worry about. Best to just start off with a good defense.

Bonus Plugin (Because it’s too good not to share!)

6. Google Analytics

This isn’t a plugin per se, but a script that needs to be installed in order to connect your website to your Google Analytics account.

Now, I’m not going to go into all the reasons why you should set up Google Analytics here, but it’s is immeasurably useful down the line, and gives you all sorts of data on how users are using your website.

To add the script to your website, you can use a plugin like Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights. Just add in your Google UA ID and the plugin will take care of the rest.

Want more WordPress tricks or web development tutorials?

Sign-up for my bi-weekly newsletter, and I’ll send them straight to your inbox.

Pinterest graphic for How to Vet Plugins for Your Wordpress Website on Liza Wilde Co.

How to Vet Plugins for Your WordPress Website

By | Web Development, Wordpress | No Comments

Pinterest graphic for How to Vet Plugins for Your WordPress Website on Liza Wilde Co.The beauty of WordPress websites is that they’re easy to extend but, the double-edge to that sword is they require more maintenance. Since WordPress is an open-sourced software, meaning the WordPress community is responsible for updating and maintaining the code base, there are a lot of plugins or extensions. But many go unmonitored or even forgotten by their original creators.

This can be stressful and annoying to developers like myself and people who maintain websites, like you.

How do we know if a plugin will be updated and maintained? How do we know if it’s actually going to do what we want it to do?

Well, there’s no way to ever be 100% certain, but there’s certainly steps we can take to try and be as sure as possible before adding it to our websites.

First, let’s dive into what a plugin is and where to find them.

A plugin is a small package of code that extends the original functionality of WordPress. Plugins are usually written in PHP, Javascript, with some HTML/CSS for styling. Often times, they’re created in order to integrate some other service with your WordPress website. For example, there are plugins for displaying your social feeds in a sidebar, for connecting your Mailchimp subscription form, for creating contact forms, and so much more.

Plugins are great, and there’s a huge repository of free plugins, on the official WordPress site. There are also third-party websites that offer premium plugins which can provided added functionality or a little more pizazz than the free plugins. I suggest starting in the WordPress plugin directory first, and following the steps below to find what you’re looking for, before you worry about paying for anything. Like I said, often times you’ll find something for free that does exactly what a paid option might.

Now, let’s try and find a new plugin.

For this blog post, I’m going to be finding a plugin to display an Instagram feed on my website.

When you pull up the WordPress Plugin Directory, the first thing you’ll see is a search bar. The key to this repository, like any search engine, is to be as specific as possible. If you just search “social media feed”, you’re going to get anything that could possibly have to do with social media. So try something specific and then get more general if you need to.

A screenshot of the WordPress Plugin Directory

Type in “Instagram Feed”.

Once you hit enter, it’s going to give you a grid view of the results, generally 2×2 unless you’re on a bigger/smaller screen than I’m using (that’s called a responsive layouts, by the way! More on that in another post.)

Screenshot of the WordPress Plugin Directory search results

Take a look at the first example. For me it’s a plugin called “Instagram Feed”. You’ll see its got a series of stars, 1-5, as well as the number of ratings/reviews it’s collected; a short description; the user/group that developed it; the number of active installations of the plugin, or how many people are using it on their site right now; and then the version of WordPress that it’s been tested with.

Screenshot of a WordPress plugin details

This is where we’re going to be starting our vetting process.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • How many stars does the plugin have?
  • What version has it been tested with?
  • What are its advanced details?

How many stars does the plugin have?

First, take a look at how many stars the plugin has. Like movie ratings or Yelp reviews, this is going to be a key indicator as to how successful this plugin is at preforming as advertised. I generally aim to us plugins that only have 4+ stars. There’s so many out there that if you do come across one with 3 or less, you can probably find a better alternative (or look for a premium one.)

Along with the number of stars, take a look at how many ratings/reviews have been left. The more the better. This means that a large number of people are using it and have had success. Compare this number with the number next to “active installations”. This is a good indicator of how popular the plugin is. The more popular the plugin, the more likely it is to be updated and maintained for future use.

What version has it been tested with?

It’s important to make sure that plugins are compatible with the version of WordPress that you’re using. Which is hopefully the most recent one, but more on the security reasons behind that in another post. If you don’t know which version you’re using, jump into your WordPress Dashboard and take a look at the “At A Glance” meta box that greets you. It should say the version you’re using. If they’re the same, or very close, you should be ok to move forward with this plugin.

Screenshot of a WordPress Dashboard At A Glance Widget

But wait, we’re not done! Click on “Instagram Feed” and you’ll be directed to the plugin’s individual information page. This is where we can really make sure it’s going to do what you want it to do.

Advanced Plugin Details

This individual page view will give you an even deeper overview of the plugin. You’ll be able to read the full description (often in an easy to read list) about the plugin and what it does, you’ll see screenshots of the interface and options you’ll have once installed. Read through that and make sure you understand what the plugin does, or at the very least make sure that it’s going to do what you need it to do.

Screenshot of an individual WordPress plugin page

Next, glance at the sidebar and take a look at the advanced details. For most plugins, you’ll be able to see the following information:

  • Plugin version – not to be confused with the WordPress version
  • Last update – this is when the plugin was last updated
  • Active installations – this is the same number that we saw on the results page
  • Require WordPress version – this is the absolute minimum version of WordPress you need in order to make this work. 99% of the time, you should already be at this point, so don’t worry.(If you’re not, best to look into upgrading your site for security reasons at the very least.)
  • Tested up to – this is the version of WordPress that the plugin as been tested with. If you have a newer version of WordPress, you can still use the plugin. Just be aware there might be some bugs they’re still working out
  • Languages – some plugins offer translations
  • Tags – these are just keywords that the developer has tagged it with to make it easy to find and compare later
  • Ratings – you can deep dive into the specific reviews and breakdown of the stars here
  • Support status – you can see how many support questions have been asked, and the rate at which they’ve been resolved. The more green this bar is, the better!

Screenshot of advanced details of a WordPress plugin

So what now?

For the most part, the portion of the directory I’ve covered will give you all the insights you need to decide if a plugin will be successful and as bug-free as possible.

If you’re still not satisfied, there are some more tabs for you to dive into, including installation instructions, FAQs, the development changelog (where developers keep a list of all the bugs/features of each version), and a support forum where you can ask the developer a specific question.

It’s important to remember that code, like a living thing, is always evolving. With every new version of WordPress, developers need to reevaluate their plugins and get them up to snuff. There are also new jQuery and javascript libraries and standards being adjusted every day. It’s a lot for them to keep up with, but most of them do a damn good job at it.

At this point, you’re as equipped as I am to know if a plugin is worth downloading or not. If I’m still not 100% certain, I’ll give it a chance, and install it onto my site, spend a few minutes playing with it, and see if I’m happy with it. 9 times out of 10, I am, and on the off chance that I’m not, it’s usually the next plugin in the results that does what I need it to.

Still having trouble?

If you have any questions about plugins or your WordPress site, don’t hesitate to email me.

Did you find this helpful?

Let me know! I’d love to hear what sort of plugins you’re installing on your site, and if you have any you swear by.

Want more WordPress tricks or web development tutorials?

Sign-up for my bi-weekly newsletter, and I’ll send them straight to your inbox.

Wordpress vs. Squarespace: How to choose the best platform for your business to grow on | post on Liza Wilde Co.

WordPress vs. Squarespace: How to choose the best platform for your business to grow on.

By | Business, Web Development | No Comments

Wordpress vs. Squarespace: How to choose the best platform for your business to grow on | Liza Wilde Co. - web design and development for creative entrepreneursIf I had to pick one question that I get asked more than any other, it would be: Which is better, Squarespace or WordPress?

Now, it’s no secret that I’m a WordPress babe through and through. But even I can admit that Squarespace has its merits.

So when a client comes to me and asks this question, I give them my best answer: It all depends on what you’re going to do with your website. But I understand that not everyone is ready to sign up for a website consultation (if you are, click here!) so I thought I’d put together my thoughts on both platforms so you can assess for yourself which platform might be best for you individual needs.

Before we start, here’s a few terms I’ll be using frequently that I wanted to define ahead of time:

  • Out-of-the-box – this means initial setup, no extra money spent other than the hosting price
  • Responsive – this means that your website looks good on any size screen or monitor, and scales down appropriately for tablet and mobile devices
  • CMS or content management system – this is just a fancy term for the software, or platform, behind your website

Let’s get to it, shall we?

1. Ease of use

Squarespace: Perhaps their biggest selling point, is the ease of use with a new Squarespace site. The platform comes programmed with dozens of helpful modules such as newsletter blocks, embedded images and videos, buttons, and so much more. It requires very little user programming or code, which is what makes it so appealing to people who aren’t tech savvy. It’s what we like to call “plug and play”. You can literally sign-up, pick one of their templates, and start building.

There’s some finesse to getting the modules and spacing setup, but if you’re willing to take the time to learn about spacers, and get your cursor positioned in just the right hover spot, pages come together pretty quickly.

WordPress: As someone who has been using WordPress for 13 years, I’m 100% biased in saying that WordPress is also easy to use. In fact, I think out-of-the-box, WordPress is easier! However, what WordPress lacks, is a beautiful designed template out-of-the-box that is also easy to use. Instead, it requires some navigation of theme catalogs to find what you’re looking for, and often times, you’re limited on what that theme provides you without some coding knowledge to go in and tweak.

Regardless of which platform you choose, there’s always going to be a bit of a learning curve when getting something setup. And if you’ve been on one platform, and are switching, you’re probably going to hate it for the first few weeks. That’s our human reaction to change.

2. Design

Squarespace: This is one area, where I think Squarespace totally wins over WordPress out-of-the-box. Squarespace has designers that build beautiful, minimalist templates, that are responsive and work on all devices. They look great without much help, and you’d allowed to change fonts and colors and images if you’d like.

I also think this is where Squarespace starts to fall short. While they do allow for some code injection and custom CSS, the customization capabilities of Squarespace are far smaller than that of WordPress. You have to use one of their templates, you can’t hire a developer to design something 100% unique to you.

WordPress: As much as I love WordPress, I think it lacks in beauty when it comes to the free themes that it offers. Granted, there are literally thousands of options as opposed to Squarespace’s 30 or so, but they’re still not nearly as elegant as one would hope. And they’re definitely not all responsive.

However, unlike Squarespace, if you’re unhappy with what you get in their basic templates, you’re free to use resources like Elegant Themes, Themeforest, Creative Market, or any of the other theme resources out there that you’d like to purchase a premium theme (usually around $25-$50) and use that instead. Often times these themes are packed full of great things like page builders, custom post types, and other great items you’ll use down the road.

And if you can’t find a premium theme you like, you can hire a developer like myself to build you something from scratch to fit your exact needs and vision.

3. Maintenance/Security

Squarespace: Another perk to being a proprietary piece of software, the Squarespace team is in charge of all of the security updates and code maintenance that happens on their platform. You’ll never have to worry about running monthly updates or anything like that, because they do it for you.

They also offer a free SSL certificate to all Squarespace domains, which is an important level of added security that Google loves (yay free “Google points”!) and e-commerce shops are required to have.

The downside to Squarespace being a private company with their own software – if that company ever goes out of business, your site goes with them. You can technically export your content, but it won’t always transfer over one-to-one to another provider.

WordPress: The best thing about WordPress is that it’s an open source software, which means it’s free. The downside to that, is that it means you’ll have to self-host it somewhere and you’re responsible for running any updates to the CMS, themes or plugins, as they pop up. Fortunately, this process isn’t super difficult, and as long as you stay on top of theme, there shouldn’t ever be serious complications.

Occasionally, you’ll get plugins or themes that have issues with an update, but if you’re using properly supported and vetted items (more on that in another post) it shouldn’t be long before there’s a fix pushed out.

And the best thing about your site being on WordPress is that it 100% yours. You own the content, the theme, and whatever else you’ve added to it. So as long as you pay your hosting bill, you’ll never have to worry about it going under.

4. E-commerce

Squarespace: They make it easy to set up a store and start selling your product pretty painlessly. Because they offer free SSL certificates with domains, you’re pretty much ready to go as soon as you go live. The downside, is that you’re limited to the templates they provide you.

WordPress: Since WordPress is self-hosted, getting an SSL is on you. Some hosting providers include this in their hosting package, but most have it as an add-on. Usually, this will run you anywhere from $20-$80 a year. However, sites like Let’s Encrypt and Cloudflare provide free options which work just as well. And the up side, is that using Woocommerce on WordPress allows you (or your developer) to edit the templates to your heart’s desire. You’re not limited to any one appearance. It does require some coding skills.

5. SEO

This is a topic that gets super tricky no matter how you slice it. I don’t think either site can really claim to be SEO friendly out of the box. The one item that Squarespace has on WordPress, is that you have more immediate control over your page titles and descriptions without installing a plugin like Yoast SEO. However, this aspect of SEO only gets you so far. The biggest portion of it is going to rely on your content and inbound links, which is all on you no matter what platform you choose.

I suggest checking out a site like Moz if you’re looking for more resources on SEO. Or check out my friend, Claire Paniccia, who help with content strategy and SEO research.

6. Evolving Your Website

When starting out, a lot of us don’t need a big complicated site. We want a nice looking homepage, an about page, maybe a contact form, and sometimes a blog. And for a while, that’s enough. But what about a few years down the road, when your business is thriving and maybe you’ve grown your services or hired a team. Is one platform going to make growing your site easier?

Squarespace: In my experience, the best thing about Squarespace is how quick and easy it is to setup a site. You can basically go from zero to hero in only a few hours, especially if you’re not customizing much. But as you start to grow, the limited dashboard can be just that – limiting. What if you want to start a podcast, or create a membership site? There are definitely some people who have managed to make this work on their Squarespace site, but it gets clunky and disorganized fast.

WordPress: Since it’s an open-source CMS, WordPress has a solution to just about everything under the sun. Membership site? No problem. Podcast and syndication? No sweat. Do you want to have a network of sites (2+) that are all controlled from the same dashboard with the same login? Done.

Seriously, when it comes to customizability and the unforeseeable expansion of your kickass business, WordPress is going to be your friend. There’s almost nothing it can’t do. (Sorry, I still can’t get it to order and deliver a latte to my door… but that’s an app idea!) And if you can get it in the hands of a developer, it really can be the best platform for your business to grow upon.

9. Cost

The biggest hang up with starting any site is going to be the cost. I get it. We’re not made of money. I started off learning how to code on strung together Neopet’s pages! But as business owners, we need to invest in ourselves and our business, so be ready to shell out some money regardless of the platform you’re on.

Squarespace: At only $16 per month ($14 if you pay by the year) and $20 domain names, Squarespace is a bargain. It’s hard to beat it when it comes with an SSL and ready to go ecommerce system if you need it.

WordPress: Again, it’s free but it’s self-hosted, so that means you’ll need to find a hosting company you trust to work with. I personally love A2 Hosting. They’re local to me, so I love that I can support ‘em. I also love Pantheon, because it gives me a great staging platform if I have large changes that I don’t want to make on a live site.  But Host Monster and Blue Hosting are both companies I’ve had good experiences with. No hosting provider is perfect, it’s unrealistic for us to think they are.

Anyway, costs for a domain outside of Squarespace can be anywhere from $3-$50. Hosting also varies, but can usually range from $5 per month to $100 per month – with those ranges having various benefits and services with them.

WordPress is going to be the more expensive option in the long run, there’s no doubt about it. But it’s also going to give you the most room to grow, to evolve, to change and to own it 100%.

Summary

As I was writing this, I realize I sound more like a Squarespace advocate, but I swear I’m a WordPress girl.

What it comes down to, is that Squarespace is great from bloggers and entrepreneurs who are just starting out. It let’s you get something legit and beautiful up quickly, and it comes with a lot of perks.

But when you’re growing your business, there comes a time when you need to bring in the big guns and hire a professional. If that’s the case, and I sure hope it is, it makes total sense to set yourself up for long term success, by starting off on a platform that will allow you to grow no matter what that means. And that means WordPress, because it’s customizability and adaptability cannot be rivaled.

If you’re still unsure of what platform might be right for your business, I’d love to jump on a quick Skype call with you and talk it out. Seriously, zero cost, 100% pitch-free. I just want to make sure you’re making the best decision for your business and yourself.

Want more WordPress tricks or web development tutorials?

Sign-up for my bi-weekly newsletter, and I’ll send them straight to your inbox.