Many web hosts have set up their own form of website builder, in an attempt to get everyone in the world to have their own website. That’s the plan, right? The barrier to entry is so low that there’s practically no excuse not to do it, so everyone takes them up on their services and they make money hand over fist. At least, right up until those people realize that website builders are generally garbage and that it’s almost as easy to set up a basic, high-functioning WordPress site in a few hours.
Enter the GoDaddy Website Builder. It, and many other website builders like it, is not very good for SEO. It has a few benefits, though, so let’s look at it in an overview.
The GoDaddy Website Builder
Found here, the GoDaddy website builder is aimed at letting anyone set up a website of their very own in just a few minutes.
It comes with four options for plans.
- Personal: Comes with responsive design in all of its templates, includes hosting as part of the package, and has around-the-clock support. Free for one month, then $6 per month.
- Business: All of the features of Personal, but with PayPal integration, SSL security for that juicy HTTPS, and SEO features. Costs $10 per month.
- Business Plus: The business plan, but with email marketing, social media integration, and “globally optimized speed.” It’s $15 per month.
- Online Store: Everything the Plus plan has, but with a shopping cart, the ability to accept credit cards, Apple Pay, and other payment methods, shipping and tax support, cart abandonment recovery, and text notifications on order placement. The whole thing is $30 per month.
It should be noted that, while all but the personal plan includes “SEO features,” what they consider SEO and what you consider SEO are probably very different. The GoDaddy page for SEO says it “automatically reviews your site and optimizes it for search engines.”
I don’t know about you, but any sort of optimization done by an automatic tool is probably not something I want to rely on.
The #1 Solution
The first and best thing you can do to get a well-optimized page when using the GoDaddy website builder is to stop using the GoDaddy website builder. It’s about the same price to buy some cheap web hosting on a real web host, buy a domain name, and set up WordPress. A few free plugins get you rolling with real SEO benefits, and you don’t have a restricted architecture holding you back.
Unfortunately, I know this isn’t the kind of information you want to hear when you’re invested in GoDaddy. It’s a pain to migrate a site and start from scratch, even if you’re getting long-term benefit out of it. And, of course, GoDaddy doesn’t make it easy to cancel and migrate. Given how locked down their platform is, it’s a wonder they don’t make you sign away rights to your data.
What GoDaddy Does
When building a site using GoCentral – the actual name of the website builder – you can click their drop-down and go to the SEO Wizard. This will take you through steps to add some basic information to your site.
- Business Name. I assume this is added into the Meta Title of all of your pages.
- Business Category. This is used for wizard-based creation and some meta information.
- 1-2 Products or Services. This is where you plug in a few keywords, which I assume are just added to the deprecated meta keywords tag.
- Customer Location. This is used to add some geo-tracking information to your site, which is admittedly a decent idea for a local business, but valueless if you’re an online business serving a global audience.
As you progress through the wizard, it will have you start generating pages. You specify a few keyword phrases people might use to find your site, and then you pick one of those to use in your page meta title. You write your own meta description, and they require that you use the phrase you chose earlier. You make a page headline in H1, and if you skip it, the wizard makes it for you.
The fact is, the new GoCentral website builder is very restrictive. If you want to use different keyword phrases between your description and your title, or between your meta data and your content, you’re going to draw the ire of the wizard. In fact, it sounds like you can’t even save your changes without meeting their requirements.
I can see where GoDaddy is coming from here. They want to provide basic SEO tips to people who have absolutely no idea what SEO even is. If you’re a business owner and have never heard of internet marketing before, following their tips is better than nothing at all. However, if you’re even remotely knowledgeable about SEO, you know how limited and restrictive it is to use their service wizard.
What GoDaddy Does Right
Despite all of the above, there are a few things GoDaddy does right when it comes to SEO. Right? I didn’t believe it either.
First of all, the new website builder does support – in fact requires – a responsive design. You cannot make a site that is not mobile-friendly, unless you explicitly tried, like plastering all of your content onto an image and using images for your pages. The site design will adapt to mobile devices, which is a huge bonus these days.
GoDaddy also automatically creates a site map for you and submits it to Google. They don’t give you access to the site map, nor can you submit it on your own, but you CAN choose which pages are going to be on it through their system. Changes will be resubmitted to Google.
They control your Robots.txt file, which is both good and bad. It’s good in that it blocks a few specific folders and system files from indexation, which is good practice that far too few people do. It’s bad, however, in that you can’t edit it at all. If something is blocked that you want to have available, you’re out of luck. Even GoDaddy support won’t touch it; it’s not part of the scope of their services.
GoDaddy also allows you to add Google Analytics, though the process is a little counterintuitive. You have to set up a Google Analytics account, go to your site settings, and add the code to the “site-wide code” tab. Make sure it’s in the Head section, not the Body section. You can read more about it here.
Unfortunately, that’s just about it.
What You Should Do
I’ve already said that you should migrate away from GoCentral as soon as possible, but I acknowledge that this isn’t always an option. If you’re determined to stick with it and make the most out of it, you need to focus primarily on the elements you can fully affect.
This narrows you down to a small handful of SEO techniques.
- Making the best out of their keyword wizard.
- Optimizing your content for maximum value.
- Implementing social media integration.
You can also work on your site meta data, but there’s not a lot you can do. The meta descriptions GoDaddy lets you create aren’t really used the same way you would normally use meta data. Google doesn’t pull from them for your snippets, and as far as I know, there’s no way to actually customize those snippets. You’ll just have to make sure your opening paragraph is always top notch.
So, as for making the best out of the keyword wizard, you mostly just need to do some actual keyword research. The wizard makes it sound like you can just come up with a few spare phrases and let it work, but the way you think about your business and the way your customers think about you are going to be different. You’ll want to do some basic research to figure out what the best keywords for your industry are, which ones apply to your brand, and use those.
Real keyword research is a long and tedious process, but once you’ve done it, most of the work is out of the way and you can just do maintenance updates to your list as time goes on. The link above is to the Moz guide, which is one of the best resources available. It’s daunting to start, but again, keyword research will go with your brand for years to come. It doesn’t matter if you’re on GoDaddy or WordPress, the keywords you use for your brand will only change if your products, brand, or focus changes.
As for implementing optimized content, there are a lot of elements that go into it. Creating good content is a somewhat subjective measure. In general, you need to come up with topics that are unique enough to get you some exposure, relevant to your industry, and useful for the user to read.
For example, if I was an exterminator, I wouldn’t want to write a post about getting rid of termites, because every other exterminator in the country has written that same post and there’s nothing much I can add to the subject. However, I might write a story about a time I did remove termites, what I did, and how I can repeat that success. Turning it into an anecdote helps make it more unique.
The trouble comes from the fact that the internet is saturated with content in pretty much every industry. It’s difficult to come up with something that can be unique when there are hundreds of other people competing for the same slice of traffic. Brands used to be able to work around this by including their location, but these days basic “pest removal in New York” keywords are pretty bad.
Social media integration is going to be pretty tough. GoDaddy allows you to embed content like the Twitter embed code or the Facebook like box, but they don’t allow you to run social sharing buttons unless you have a high enough tier plan.
If you have the high tier plan, adding a social media account is easy enough. All you need to do is find the option for social media in their site builder and add in the URLs for your social media accounts. You do, of course, need to make sure that your social media accounts are active, otherwise there’s no reason to add the integration.
You also lack the ability to really customize your social sharing buttons. You can’t choose to use a plugin of your own, like Social Warfare; you’re stuck with the integration they have by default, skinned to go with the theme you’ve chosen. If you wanted anything more specific, you’re out of luck.
If you don’t have the higher tier plan and can’t use social media through their buttons, you have to do a workaround. My idea would be to manually include a list of social links and buttons in the bottom of your posts. The trouble here is that it increases load times, it’s a non-standard social sharing option, and it won’t be as effective as optimized buttons. However, if the choice is between that or no social integration at all, I’d go with the janky solution.
At the end of the day, you really just want to switch away from GoDaddy. Even Wix would be better, SquareSpace is well-designed, and it’s honestly really easy to set up a basic site in WordPress.