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Well, we’re in the middle of a pandemic with nowhere to go but online. When has there ever been a better time to start a blog? And since I’ve also got nothing but time, I’m excited to share my expertise on the matter. Which platform to choose in the WordPress vs Squarespace debate?
What platform should I choose for my blog?
This is the most commonly asked question I see from bloggers starting out. Whether you just got the idea for a blog or have been building your Instagram following for a while, starting a blog is a great choice. But where to start?! There are so many options out there and it’s constantly changing. Having been in the blogging game for over eight years, plus six years of web design experience, I’ve learned a lot. There are advantages to both WordPress and Squarespace, but one thing’s for sure: stay as far away from Wix as possible!
If you have a static website for services or for a portfolio, then Squarespace is a fine choice. It’s easy and straight forward. But since we’re here to talk about platforms for blogging, I’ll cut to the chase: self-hosted WordPress is by far, without a doubt, the best choice for a blogger. And here are the top reasons why:
When you purchase a site with Squarespace, you’re basically renting your blog from them. Squarespace owns your content and has complete control of it. You upload your images to Squarespace, your content lives on Squarespace, and none of it is truly yours. With self-hosted WordPress, you purchase space on a server through your host and install the WordPress software in that space. In this case, your site is entirely your own. You’re uploading your content to this space on a server and no one else can ever access it unless you give them the key (your login).
Unlike Squarespace, WordPress is completely free. You purchase hosting, which is around $3-4/mo. and install the WordPress software with the click of a button. Meanwhile, Squarespace’s lowest-priced plan is $12/mo. – but only if you pay the whole thing up front. And if you want to actually have (very limited) access to the code of the site, it jumps up to a grand total of $216 for the year. To rent your blog. Doesn’t make much sense, does it?
SEO stands for Seach Engine Optimization and should be at the top of your list of priorities if you want potential readers to be able to actually find your site. It’s what gets you on Google. Of course, each post needs to be optimized individually, but it’s vital to have the core of your site be optimized for search. WordPress is king when it comes to SEO simply because it was built for blogging. This is why I said Squarespace is fine if you’re looking for a static site or portfolio. Google ranks the relevance of websites in a few ways; one of the biggest factors in rankings is update frequency. Since WordPress’s specialty is blogs, the update frequency of a WordPress site is very clear to Google. Google knows a website using WordPress is most likely a blog, so when it appears in search, it is favored over a Squarespace site, which may or may not be a blog with relevant, recently updated content.
Since WordPress is software, developers have access to the code so they can, in turn, build extensions that are compatible with WordPress, but have their own functionality. These extensions are called plugins and there are millions. Plugins enhance and customize a site immensely. WordPress has to approve plugins before they’re added to the official plugin directory, so you know they’re safe and compatible with WordPress. There are even plugins to improve the SEO of each blog post! It is important to limit the number of plugins, though. You don’t want to bog down your site with extras, especially since site speed is an important factor in SEO and a heavier site = a slower site!
5. Design Freedom
As a web designer myself, design is my favorite feature of WordPress, though admittedly it is more important to have strong SEO and functionality than a pretty design. Having a unique design that reflects your style is key in establishing a brand and showing readers who you are and what they can expect. Unfortunately, options are extremely limited on Squarespace, which I have already touched on. Since you don’t own your site, you don’t have access to the core code. There are things you simply cannot access or change. With WordPress, you (or your designer) can essentially make it look however you want. The options are endless!
Which blogging platform do you prefer and why?
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Photos by Ryan Carpenter.