WordPress vs Wix SEO: a real-life case study of transfer (with 30 months of analytics data)

wordpress vs wix seo transfer your website from Wix to Wordpress

WordPress vs Wix seo: a real life case study of transfer from Wix to WordPress with 30 months of real data and analytics. Results show WordPress wins! I gained consent from the business owner this case study is based on and who hire me for my SEO services services.

Is Wix good for SEO

The existing Wix website – My client is a wedding photographer and regularly posted blogs of weddings she had photographed. She had done a lot of research and understands what is SEO, Search Engine Optimisation and had implemented as many things as she could using the Wix platform.

She was happy with the conversion rate of her website – if she could get people to visit her site, she was generally converting them to booking. To get traffic she was using a combination of google ads, Facebook ads, paid for directory listings, and free directory listings, as well as organic search results.

She planned to improve her organic search appearance so she could pay less on advertising and get more traffic.

This Google analytics screenshot shows her traffic from the 15 months before transferring to WordPress (15 months because then we can compare with a similar time after the transfer).

Is Wix OK for SEO - Google Analytics screenshot
Is Wix OK for SEO – Google Analytics screenshot 15 months before transfer to WordPress 

Displayed again with users by month, you can see in the best months she was getting close to 300 users in a month (through all traffic sources, including PPC (paid google ads)).

Wix SEO - google analytics showing Wix website
Wix SEO – google analytics showing Wix website got 300 users in a month 

Why is Wix bad for SEO?

Wix SEO capabilities – Although she was able to add H1 and H2 tags, and change meta descriptions, add alt text to images etc, on her Wix web pages, this was not possible with the blog. Unfortunately, the Wix blog at the time didn’t allow for unique meta descriptions – this meant her blogging efforts were not being optimised as well as they should have been.

The main issue with the Wix website was the site speed. She had stripped her pages down as much as she could (all images were compressed, she used only 1 font, etc etc) the page load time was still terribly slow. The problem here is Wix doesn’t allow you to change and choose your server.

Wix is a WYSIWYG editor (what you see is what you get), this makes it easy to design a beautiful looking site… but you don’t get control over the back end. The workings of the website are all controlled by Wix. Also, to change the design to a faster loading one would mean a complete rebuild. With WordPress, you have total control over the plugins you use, and you can change to another theme with a little work.

Is WordPress better for SEO?

My recommendation to improve Organic reach – She contacted me and told me about her struggle. I could see she had a lot of potentials to get some really good results because she was putting effort into writing SEO friendly, unique content.

My potential customer asked Which website builder is best for SEO? I advised her to move her website from Wix to WordPress and choose my SEO boost option. As she had already done her research and knew this was the best option, she was happy to go ahead with this plan.

How do you transfer from Wix to WordPress without losing SEO

Transferring a website from Wix to WordPress – Unfortunately, there is no way to simply transfer from Wix to WordPress. It all has to be done manually. The only benefit is that the content is already written, so I didn’t have to wait for the client to write the copy before I could make the site.

I had to manually copy the text from the Wix site and paste it into the WordPress content management system. There was a way to download all the media at once, however, the client provided me with the image files so that was not necessary.

301 redirect Wix to WordPress

Site structure and 404s – I advised the client to stick with the same site structure and the same custom domain so she would benefit from her previous SEO gains, however as she was moving areas and wanted to change her service area, she went against me on this one. 

Although I can make recommendations and make sure my clients fully understand the reasons behind them, I am working for the client – so they ultimately have the final say. 

This decision resulted in a lot of broken internal links. One of her most popular blog posts was getting a couple of organic clicks a day – but she didn’t want this page anymore.

Is WordPress better for SEO than Wix?

Local SEO 

I was hoping to include a section on Local SEO by plotting her Google My Business onto a map and tracking her business positions over several months. Here we would be able to see which platform allows you to rank for local keywords better. However, as her main keywords changed she went on to target a new area with a new local search engine optimisation landscape. 

Technical SEO

Both website builders allow for SEO crawlers such as Screaming Frog to check all broken links, see what meta titles are missing and other technical SEO issues. Once you know what is wrong you can make the required changes to the website. Both integrate with the crawlers other technical SEO features such as checking spelling mistakes and, page speed.

I find WordPress to be easier to make all the required changes. If you have selected ‘show toolbar when viewing the site’ you can find the real issues in your crawler, click to open in browser and from the top of your webpage click ‘edit page’.

I also you for the toolbar open as it allows for more customisation and greater control around custom URLs and permalinks. 

On-Page SEO

I would say this a tie. Using either website creator you can plan and execute effective content marketing. Both allow you to use external tools for keyword research and to monitor your keyword rankings. There are no limitations to how many blogs you can write and neither make it hard to implement good link structures. 

Off-Page SEO

Wix vs WordPress for off-page SEO, I would say this is a tie. Either platform supports social media sharing options that allow users to share your post, gaining more visibility increases the chances of gaining backlinks. 

The new Website – WordPress vs Wix SEO

The first 3 months

Wix site 20 days before transfer – organic traffic only

 Wix or WordPress better for SEO. Google analytics screenshot
Google analytics screenshot of search traffic 20 days before. Answering Wix or WordPress better for SEO?

This is the existing site in the 20 days before transfer. This is organic traffic to the Wix site. On average there were about 2 users per day, ranging from 0 to a max of 7 in a day.

WordPress site 20 days from the transfer – organic traffic only

Is WordPress or Wix better for SEO - first 20 days.
Google analytics screenshot shows when answering Is WordPress or Wix better for SEO it’s best not to focus on the first 20 days.

To be unbiased when answering Is WordPress better for SEO you need to note two things. 1. The date the website is launched, in this case, stuff the site is launched on 17th March 2020. 2. You need to look at organic traffic only (excluding direct or other sources because there is always a boost in traffic to a new site when the owner shares it with people).

The new site is only getting about 1 user per day in the first 20 days after launch. So in the competition of Wix SEO vs WordPress SEO does this mean we have a winner? Not quite! Why? There was a clear improvement (though not substantial) from 3rd Jul – about 108 days. This reinforces the message that it usually takes 3 months for google to respond to changes.

This shows the 3 months before transfer (Wix site)(by week).

SEO Wix vs WordPress - 3 months before transfer
SEO Wix vs WordPress – 3 months before transfer

This shows the first 3 months after the new website launch (by week).

Is SEO better on Wix or WordPress? The google analytics screenshot shows yes
Is SEO better on Wix or WordPress? The google analytics screenshot shows yes

Beyond the 3 months readjustment period

We always expect turbulence when there are significant changes to a website, and this transfer from Wix to WordPress was no example. Usually, I would have tried to reduce the number of deleted pages, but as explained previously this wasn’t an option.

You can see by the graphs that even with so many missing pages, the website’s organic traffic has recovered to pre-transfer rates in about 3 months.

Is WordPress best for SEO?

SEO boost – Obviously the aim was not to simply match the results of the Wix website – the client wanted improvements.

I am always open and honest with clients – SEO takes time. 3 months to recover from the transfer is normal, but I usually expect an SEO strategy to start seeing results about 6 months after implementation.

Between April and early July of 2020, the client published 3 well written and researched blog posts. I implemented the SEO boost and optimised the posts. Each post contained unique content and was well structured with relevant headings and images. 

I used Rank Math, an SEO plugin that provides a set of guidelines and SEO features that makes life easier such as sitemap creation. 

It’s not the silver bullet to SEO (and to be honest with you no software is) but it helps. I find the plugin has more SEO options than the ‘Wix SEO Wiz‘ especially the premium plan which unlocks advanced features.

SEO tools to one side, I also used a premium theme, Astra, which had no code bloat. IO was able to add custom code where needed. 

I know what you’re thinking. Does this answer Is WordPress or Wix a better option when it comes to SEO? Or has it demonstrated to increase monthly search visits one needs to take blogging, and writing original content more seriously? Possibly the case, that and a good SEO strategy helps but as with anything in SEO and trying to increase your rankings in the Google search engine there are many factors and it all depends. So why not stick with Wix, because it has limitations as a blogging platform. 

Initial results of new content – the labels show when the posts were published.

6 month Google analytics screenshot showing Wix SEO vs WordPress SEO
6 month Google analytics screenshot showing Wix SEO vs WordPress SEO

By early October there was a real impact on traffic – this is approximately 6 months from the launch of the new WordPress website.

Long term organic results of new WordPress Website

Is Wix or WordPress better for SEO? Google analytics screenshot
Is Wix or WordPress better for SEO? Google analytics screenshot answering WordPress is better for SEO

Key for teh screenshot above:

  1. New website launched
  2. 3 months after website launch (the number had recovered to Wix traffic levels)
  3. 6 months after launch (traffic was improved as a result of the SEO benefits of WordPress)

The client was over the moon at the results. In the past, she had written good content and it brought in a few clicks per week at most, but now she can write similar content, (I have given her training to her content is more SEO friendly, so this content is now better but takes similar effort) and some days she gets 30-40 organic clicks in a day.

Google Search Console Data

Unfortunately, Google Search Console doesn’t hold data for further back than 16 months, so there is little data left from the Wix website. However, this graph below is pretty conclusive!

The new website was launched at the X. 

The client has reported that although she does not blog regularly when she posts a well researched, well-formatted blog post, she is seeing positive results within 3 months of posting.

The text may be too small to see, but around website launch time she was getting about 1-5 clicks and 200-500 impressions a day. Now she is getting 20-40 clicks and 1600-2400 impressions a day.

Google Search Console Data showing when the new WordPress website was launched
Google Search Console Data – the new WordPress website was launched at the X.

First page terms

Before the new website was launched my client had 34 first page search terms (including 10 top 5) as reported by google search console. This shows she was actively putting out good content.

Now, she has 120 first page search terms, (including 33 top 5 results). 

WordPress or Wix for SEO: Conclusion

It is human nature to find patterns and make conclusions based on limited results – we must remember that this case study is only one specific example. So bear this in mind (though I have seen similar results for other sites I have transferred from Wix to WordPress).

In a situation where the client is willing to put in the effort and create well written and useful content, I do not doubt that the organic results achieved on a WordPress website far outperform the results gained with a Wix website.

I know it is possible to rank highly using a Wix website (the client in this example was position 1 for an OK search term), however, it is so much easier using a WordPress website. The difference is like running up a hill (Wix) or running on the flat (WordPress).

In addition to the SEO benefits of WordPress vs Wix, this user reported that she much preferred the control she could have in WordPress. Although Wix seemed easier to get started with, she felt restricted very quickly with the basic functionality and the higher monthly cost.

In this case study, I can confidently say WordPress far outperformed Wix in terms of website speed, client satisfaction, and SEO performance.

Here’s a summary of the total number of users on the Wix vs WordPress website in this case study (Wix 15 months prior vs WordPress 15 months after):

Total number of users on the Wix vs WordPress website
Total number of users on the Wix vs WordPress website

This final chart below shows traffic across both sites from 15 months before the transfer from Wix to WordPress, until 15 months after the transfer. It shows organic traffic only.

15 months before the transfer from Wix to WordPress
15 months before the transfer from Wix to WordPress

Do you want to transfer your website from Wix to WordPress?

After seeing these results, why wouldn’t you! 

Wix is a good option for people setting up their first website on a very limited budget, as it provides a good user experience for the business owner and the drag-and-drop feature speeds up the process of going live. However, as your business grows you’ll soon find that Wix is not able to grow with it.

WordPress websites have the capacity to serve you so much better – with WordPress you can have a serious website that will help you grow your business, not hinder it.

As an SEO expert, I offer the service of transferring your existing Wix website to WordPress, and I also offer SEO services. You can read more about them here, or send me a message/ call me with any specific questions.

I also offer free mini-website audits, so if you are on the fence, sign up and I’ll let you know what I think can be done to improve.