Wix.com Review

I’ve been hearing a number of people talking about the easy build system called wix.com over the last few years.

wix-com

With around 62 million users at present, they’re clearly making great progression in offering websites that are comparatively easy to build for the novice

What surprised me however, in some recent technical support for a client, was the cost of the various ‘optional add-ons’ available through their system, and also their comparative ineffectiveness.

What Wix currently offers:

  • For around $45, you get to display the ‘built by wix’ advertising on every one of your webpages (at the top right, and the base)
    • You can upgrade to their next package at around twice the price, to remove that advertising (but it still seems to appear on mobile phone and tablet browsers)
  • You can have your own domain name for around $15 a year, but to have email addresses hosted by Gmail at your domain (ie info@mydomain.com, sales@mydomain.com, etc.), are $5 per email address per month!  (this kind of email forwarding from your domain to Google should not incur such high prices, particularly when the set-up is a simple one-off automated digital process, and there’s no actual hosting of email bandwidth by Wix.com).
  • They offer a ‘Shout Out’ option to send newsletters to your subscribers.  This is limited to 5,000 emails per month (which is reasonable).  However, as part of the email tracking, the email appears in the recipients inbox as a remotely hosting image of your email text (effectively a screen grab of an html email).  Thus your email is not accessible to people with various visual impairments (the actual text cannot be easily extracted by character screen readers), the text itself is not scalable for different browsers (for your small mobile phone screen, your tablet, or your desktop, etc.).
  • You can of course ‘design your own website’ (although if you’re not a skilled designer, experienced with usability and accessibility, etc. this is fraught with likely errors).
  • Worst of all, is the way your website is displayed within your browser source code.  They claim Search Engine Optimisation using an AJAX method.  However, if you click on ‘view source’ of any page of a wix.com website, you’ll see a mass of code loading remote areas of content, but effectively no real text content within your browser.  This does make it more difficult for search engines to naturally ‘crawl’ your website pages.  In fact, the only ‘real’ content of your website kept in plain text (hidden deep in all the superfluous code) links purely to the hosting of wix.com.
    • In essence, if you have regular text on your website, for easier accessibility by all, you want to display this in as little superfluous code as possible.  The more code you hide your content behind, the longer the page will take to load (bad for limited bandwidth on mobile phones), the harder it will be for search engines to index (thus lower search rankings), and the harder it will be for people with some disabilities to use your website (which can be a breach of the Disability Discrimination Act amongst others).

So what can be done instead?

  • With very limited experience, you can build a free website in WordPress instead, using a free OpenSource ‘theme’ design which can also be modified easily to your preferred colours and layout.  Or you can buy more customised themes ‘off the shelf’ from various developers, or even have your own unique design commissioned.
  • You can have your own domain hosted with a reputable reseller, with as many email accounts as you want, for a fraction of the Wix.com prices (often free with many standard hosting packages)
  • You can send newsletters via MailChimp more effectively (which is also free for up to 12,000 emails with up to 2,000 subscribers)
  • And your website content will be more accessible, across multiple device options, with cleaner code, which should also appear higher on Google natural search results, with faster load times, and fewer errors.

Please do get in contact if you have any queries.

Interflora Vs Marks and Spencer – Adwords row

Some of you may haven heard in the news today about the Interflora Vs Marks and Spencer row, over the use of the search term ‘Interflora‘:

This screen clipping was taken a few moments ago, and as you can see, in the ‘sponsored adwords’ listing, both Interflora, M&S, and ASDA are all bidding on the search term ‘Interflora’, in the ‘Pay Per Click’ ‘sponsored links’.

Firstly, from the people I’ve already spoken to today, there is some misunderstanding between paid listings, and natural listings:

  • Natural listings are the search results that appear with a white background, on every search results page.  Whereas sponsored listings are paid for advertising links (which may or may not take you to the product or service you’ve searched for).
  • Natural Search listings can be improved through having a great website, and naturally working on your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).  This are the most valuable placements to have, as many users will prefer to click on the natural links, rather than the paid links.
  • The PayPerClick (PPC) advertised listings, as seen in the above example (with the faintly shaded background) are the search results which either appear above, or to the top right of every search page. 
  • With PayPerClick, Companies can thus pay Google (which is part of the reason the stock value of Google is so high) to appear high on this listing.. the more you offer to pay Google for each person who clicks on your link, the higher in the rankings you will appear.

The minimum bid is 1p (or in reality it’s more like 2p), but there is no upper limit I’m aware of (you just need to work out the value to yourself of someone clicking through..

  • If you have a product that sells for £10, and you make £1 profit on each item: if 10% of the visitors to your website purchased one item, then the value to you of each click would be 10p (so you’d need to set your bid to a lower value to ensure you can still cover your costs, unless of course this £10 product is a ‘loss leader’ to help get customers to buy other products too).
  • However, if your product sold for £10,000, with a £2,000 profit margin, and 10% of the visitors who visited your site from your chosen search term, then the average value of each click would be £200, so the amount you bid on each click could of course be much higher.

This is the reason why companies cold call many businesses, and guarantee you ‘first page on Google’.. this is easy, if you pay enough for the relevant search term, you can appear as high as you like for those search terms.

However, the interesting thing about this case is that Marks and Spencer are using a worldwide registered trade-mark as a means to promote their own competitive services (even though the trademark phrase itself doesn’t appear in the advert, nor on the associated page with it).

I know that Red Letter Days used to be very clear to their resellers, that as part of the agreement to resell Red Letter Day vouchers, the resellers were not allowed to bid on the search terms directly related to their brand (ie ‘Red Letter Days’).  However, in this case, M-and-S have not entered into such an agreement, as they are attempting to sell their own competitive product/service instead.

So it’s understandable for the case to now reach the high court.  Trademark and Copyright rows are rarely simple.
By my understanding, you are typically only allowed to quote someone else’s trademark; with their permission, if you are a licensed reseller of their product (ie Starbucks coffee), or for a news feature or similar.

But then, many trademarks/brand names have become a generic description of a product (ie ‘Tannoy’ rather than a ‘public address system’, ‘Hoover’ rather than ‘vacuum cleaner’, etc.) so in these cases, you could argue it would be ‘fair’ to associate your competitive product or service with such a name.

I look forward to seeing how the case continues.

Search Engine Optimisation

I’m often asked about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), and of course even more often hear of the huge numbers of people claiming to know lots about it, and will help you for a very significant price (without actually covering all that many aspects).

If you don’t already know, SEO, is the term given to designing your website in such a way (at the coding level), that it appeals to Search Engines like Google. Essentially, the more it appeals to the search engines, the higher up in the ‘natural listings’ your website will be, and therefore, typically, the more visitors and thus more business you’ll get.

For example, if you do a search for ‘Pole Dancing Reading‘ on Google, you’ll see it gives around 372,000 results. But right up there at the top, on number 1 of the listings, is one of my clients’ websites PurityPoleDancing for Pole Dancing in Reading. This is an example, of free, good natural search listings (and good SEO).

The Purity website for its first 18 months since the changeover, was getting an average increase in visitors, by 15-20%, every month, based on visitor numbers from the month before. This accumulates to an increase of over 450% in web traffic over the year!

There really are massive numbers of things you can do to improve the natural search listings of your website, some are good, and others will actually damage your listing and may get your website blacklisted and thus removed entirely for at least 3 months from Google.

Techniques are also constantly changing, and things that work today, may not work tomorrow. The ‘art’ to effective SEO is very much an art form in itself, and the Search Engines themselves generally don’t like to share too much on what they’re doing next to help improve their search results. The general gist is quite simple though:

  • Design your website for a human user, not a search engine. What you do then isn’t likely to upset your position on search engines over time, but actually improve it. (‘Tricks’ to help fool search engines to give you higher rankings, normally backfire in the near future).
  • Ideally, use simple html code for the content, and CSS for the design. That way, if you think of a character screen reader, on dial-up, trying to view your website: If they can find their way around easily, and read your content, it’s likely the Search Engines will too.
  • Keep the content relevant, and up-to-date, and add new relevant content regularly (‘blogs’ are great for this).
  • Try to encourage real people and well positioned websites (ideally reputable news sources) to link to your website because they want to, because of your great website content.
  • Don’t be drawn in to spending money with companies who phone you, offering to improve your Search Rankings by listing you on their website, etc. Bad links to your website, and bad links from your website, can actually damage your web reputation (and thus your visitor numbers).
  • Keep things simple, and write in clean English (or of course other relevant languages) with content that’s relevant to your website. (Don’t add lists of keywords, just for the sake of it to try and help with search rankings.)

If you’d like to learn some more detailed information about SEO, please feel free to get in contact directly.

I was also fortunate to find some nicely listed SEO tips on another website page recently, that’s worth checking out if you design websites yourself.