When I launched First Page two years ago, I decided to use SquareSpace to build my business website. I chose SquareSpace because I heard it was really easy to use if you wanted to build a beautiful website on a limited budget. I had also plenty of experience with WordPress but zero with SquareSpace, so I wanted to be able to compare the two. Now that I’m two years into my business, I wish I would have started out with WordPress and I’m stuck with an expensive, annoying conundrum on how I transfer everything over from SquareSpace to WordPress.
What I have right now is a really “beautiful” website that didn’t cost me anything more than SquareSpace’s website fee, plus my sweat equity to learn how to manipulate and build a site with their widgets. But, what I don’t have is a really great content management system (CMS) that can grow with my intermediate to advanced marketing agency. I miss WordPress’s features that allow a business to integrate, customize and produce content at scale. If you’re planning on producing a good amount of content for your business, I would recommend choosing WordPress vs. SquareSpace, and here’s why…
Because WordPress is one of the longest-running and most popular CMS, every major tool typically develops a WordPress plugin first. It’s sort of like how everyone develops for the iPhone before they develop for Android.
For example, GatherContent (an awesome content management platform we use at First Page) has a WordPress plugin that completely integrates with your content production system so completed content is pushed from GatherContent to WordPress without a clunky download or any upload time. GatherContent does not have a SquareSpace plugin. Plugins for SquareSpace are limited to ones that are only built in the actual program. There isn’t an easier way for you to expand the functionality of your website otherwise. SquareSpace offers limited integration with selected services, and even those services have additional limitations.
The content marketing industry has a lot of recommended WordPress plugins that most brands use as best practice. And once you get used to the wide world that WordPress plugins open you up to, it’s hard to use any other CMS. Some of these best WordPress plugins for content marketing are:
SEO by Yoast — to improve your website’s SEO rankings
MyCurator Content Curation — to help you curate content by weeding out 90% of more of spam articles and irrelevant content
CoSchedule — an editorial calendar plugin for content marketing and social media scheduling
OptinMonster — to help you grow your email list
SendGrid — a cloud-based email delivering platform to help you deliver transactional and marketing emails
W3 Total Cache — increases website performance, reduces download times via features like content delivery network (CDN) integration
WP Link Status — alerts you to broken links in your content
DisQus — the industry’s most widely used commenting system
Social WareFare — a social media sharing plugin that adds share buttons to your site
Google Analytics — integrates with your GA account, so your website is easily tagged for analytics
SumoMe — tools that layer onto your website to grow your business email lists, customer base and revenue
Posts Social Share Count — quickly count how many shares your content has received across all social sites
Yet Another Related Post — feature additional content at the bottom of every piece of content to keep your readers on your website
Simple Author Box — add an author box with social media links and a bio at the end of every blog (great if you’re featuring multiple writers on your blog)
WordPress Design & Templates
There are more than 11,000 WordPress templates out there. Some templates are free, while most are a small fee (average costs around $60). If you like the design aesthetic of SquareSpace’s modern templates, you can probably find WordPress templates similar to SquareSpace design style. The only difference is that the WordPress template likely has better functionality. Below are three examples of WordPress templates that are similar to SquareSpace regarding the clean, modern design.
SquareSpace has a reputation for being easier for small business owners and individuals to set up their website. I did find that their widget and drag and drop system had a few bugs, but in general, the user experience was good, especially if you buy a premade template. But there was still some uphill work with learning how to use the platform. If you’re not technology savvy, you might still find SquareSpace too advanced for you. Here are the reasons I think WordPress is the best platform to teach yourself, if you’re going to take the time to learn a CMS:
Premade templates are one of the are one of the main reasons why WordPress is so easy to use. These templates allow you to easily change your header and images or add and move widgets on your website. The design of your website is usually 100% customizable, down to your blog layout, if you want two or three columns, colors of your background and fonts, and more. If you learn basic CSS and HTML, you can do even more.
WordPress was originally created as a blogging platform, so the blogging capabilities are already built-in and easy-to-integrate.
There are extensive opportunities to extend the functionality of your website with plugins (see point above).
WordPress websites can scale as your business grows. You can add as many pages, and the performance of your website will not be compromised.
Because WordPress is a self-contained system, it doesn’t require HTML editing software. All editing can be done within WordPress.
Google loves WordPress. If you use WordPress as your CMS, there are many built-in features that make optimizing your content easier to enhance your SEO capabilities. The platform makes it easy to create, publish and update content. And Google loves optimized content. These default features and plugins help you monitor your analytics and drive traffic. Below are a few reasons why WordPress is easy-to-use, and such a strong platform for SEO:
WordPress allows you to optimize every aspect of your content such as setting a focus keyword, creating SEO-friendly title tags using the Yoast plugin, and more. Yoast is best in class for content optimization. You can also monitor at a quick glance all of the SEO ratings (green, yellow or red) for your content. Green means it’s optimized, yellow means you could do better, and red means you need to fix something now. With Yoast Pro, you can even do neat things like automatically set redirects for broken content. For all of First Page’s clients, we use WordPress with the Yoast plugin. In fact, it’s the first plugin we always upload.
Default WordPress settings allow you to optimize unique meta descriptions.
WordPress allows you to change the URL slug of your content to be a really simple, keyword focused URL
WordPress allows you to be creative and submit an XML sitemap. The sitemap can easily be submitted to search engine webmaster tools that allow you to tell Google and other SEO bots about what all exists on your site. And, you guessed it, WordPress has plugins to help you create those XML sitemaps.
WordPress code is simple. This helps search engine bots to index your site easier. You must note, however, that installing well-coded themes and plugins ensure your website is high-quality throughout.
Should You Use WordPress or SquareSpace?
Overall, it’s about what CMS you’re going to feel more comfortable with to keep your website fresh and your content consistent. If that’s SquareSpace for you, then that would be your best option as long as you consistently create new content and consistently refresh your website. But, if you want the options to integrate with other software, add functionality without hiring a developer and get mega-powered SEO benefits, then it’s worth teaching yourself how to use WordPress. You could also hire an inexpensive WordPress developer from a website like UpWork, who can help support your website development efforts. Need additional support with setting up your WordPress (including categories, plugins and more)? We’re here to help.