Google’s Mueller On Self-Hosted WordPress Versus Wix

Google’s John Mueller answered a question on Reddit about moving an SMB site from Wix to a self-hosted WordPress environment. He offered his opinion on this specific scenario and within this context discussed the relative merits and shortcomings of managed and self-managed WordPress for SMBs.

Small and Medium Businesses (SMB)

SMB means small and medium businesses and what those sizes mean is not anything set in stone, there are multiple definitions.

In general small businesses are those with under 100 employees. Medium size businesses are those with between 100 to 500 employees and some definitions rank medium as high as 1,000 employees.

Managed and Self-hosted WordPress Hosting

Managed WordPress hosting is a hosting environment where the web host takes care of all the technical maintenance related details of hosting a WordPress site.

Things like security, caching, Content Delivery Networks (CDN), security, updates and backups are all handled by the managed hosting company.

That allows an SMB to focus on their core business without having to hire and in-house web developer to maintain security and updates for the site.

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The trade-off for having the web host handle the technical details is that the host limits what plugins can run on their environment in order to preserve security on the host.

Self-hosted environment is where a web host is responsible for backing up their sites and keeping it all up to date.

The trade-off here is that the self-hosted environment allows a business more freedom to use whatever solution is necessary, including using their own custom-developed plugins, which means having to hire or train someone inside the company to handle the maintenance and security chores.

Managed WordPress hosting costs more than self-hosted but it costs less than hiring or training someone to handle the technical issues.

An SMB Is Moving From Wix To Self-hosted WordPress

The person asking the question on Reddit explained that a neighbor was moving away from Wix to a self-hosted WordPress environment.

They explained that the current Wix website performed excellently in terms of page speed and rankings.

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The person starting the discussion noted:

“…his current website scores a 98 in SEO on lighthouse, and clients tell him all the time that he is the first local company that pops up in results.”

It may not be unreasonable to assume that the SEO building out the self-hosted WordPress website for the SMB is fixing something that does not need fixing.

It sounds like the business is doing just fine on Wix.

John Mueller Says Wix is Fine For SEO

Google’s John Mueller answered the question by first addressing the issue of Wix and SEO and then to discuss self-hosting a WordPress site, which is what the business moving from Wix to WordPress was in the process of doing.

Mueller said:

“Wix is fine for SEO. A few years back it was pretty bad in terms of SEO, but they’ve made fantastic progress, and are now a fine platform for businesses. The reputation from back then lingers on, but don’t be swayed by it.

What they’ve done in recent years is really good stuff, including making it trivial to have a really fast site (as you see in the Lighthouse scores — admittedly, speed is only a tiny part of SEO).

If Wix works for them, and they don’t need more, there’s no reason to switch.”

John Mueller Discourages Moving to Self-hosted for SMBs

Mueller next explained that a self-hosted WordPress environment may not be idea for an SMB that does not have a dedicated web support team.

I think it’s important recognize that Mueller’s answer was given within the context of a discussion of a specific SMB with limited web support moving from a well-performing Wix site to an unmanaged WordPress environment.

Mueller responded:

“In particular, do not move to something self-hosted.

Hosting a site yourself comes with a million tiny hassles, and a business without a dedicated support team will struggle doing the right things, and end up getting hacked + have to invest a ton to improve infrastructure over time (speed, security, functionality).

Some people like the challenge, but if your neighbor likes running a non-IT business, then they should not run their own server (eg, host WordPress themselves).

I know running WP yourself is still somewhat popular, but for a SMB that has other things on their mind, it’s absolutely a bad thing to do.

There are hosted & managed WP setups, they cost money, but they do these things for you.

Wix also does all of this for you. Squarespace, etc – similarly.”

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Google’s John Mueller Participating On Reddit

Managed Hosting or Software As A Service?

Companies like Wix and Squarespace offer a Software As A Service (SaaS) approach, where the platform is completely optimized for businesses, with the goal being to make it easy for businesses to get online and run their business, with the technology part getting out of the way so that the small business can focus on their business.

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Managed WordPress hosting accomplishes pretty much the same thing for businesses opting for a WordPress solution, but with some restrictions.

Wix may have an advantage over managed WordPress hosting because of their highly optimized improved SEO and page speed capabilities.

A managed WordPress host has limited influence over SEO and Page Speed since page speed and to a limited extent SEO can be dependent on the WordPress template and plugins used.

One thing is clear, as John Mueller observed, that if Wix is working for the small business then there is no reason to move away to a different platform.

Citations

The original discussion is available here:

My older neighbor is having a company build a new website for his business…

John Mueller’s response can be accessed through his Reddit profile:

https://www.reddit.com/user/johnmu/

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Roger Montti