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Google’s Mueller On Self-Hosted WordPress Versus Wix

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Google's Mueller On Self-Hosted WordPress Versus Wix


Google’s John Mueller answered a question on Reddit about moving an SMB site from Wix to a self-hosted WordPress environment. He offered his opinion on this specific scenario and within this context discussed the relative merits and shortcomings of managed and self-managed WordPress for SMBs.

Small and Medium Businesses (SMB)

SMB means small and medium businesses and what those sizes mean is not anything set in stone, there are multiple definitions.

In general small businesses are those with under 100 employees. Medium size businesses are those with between 100 to 500 employees and some definitions rank medium as high as 1,000 employees.

Managed and Self-hosted WordPress Hosting

Managed WordPress hosting is a hosting environment where the web host takes care of all the technical maintenance related details of hosting a WordPress site.

Things like security, caching, Content Delivery Networks (CDN), security, updates and backups are all handled by the managed hosting company.

That allows an SMB to focus on their core business without having to hire and in-house web developer to maintain security and updates for the site.

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The trade-off (and also a benefit) for having the web host handle the technical details is that the managed WordPress host can impose limitations on what plugins can run on their environment in order to preserve security and improve performance for all of their users. This is a good thing, a positive feature of managed WordPress hosting and not a shortcoming.

Self-hosted environment is where a website publisher is responsible for backing up their sites and keeping it all up to date.

The trade-off here is that the self-hosted environment allows a business more freedom to use whatever solution is necessary, including using their own custom-developed plugins, which means having to hire or train someone inside the company to handle the maintenance and security chores.

Managed WordPress hosting costs more than self-hosted but it costs less than hiring or training someone to handle the technical issues.

An SMB Is Moving From Wix To Self-hosted WordPress

The person asking the question on Reddit explained that a neighbor was moving away from Wix to a self-hosted WordPress environment.

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They explained that the current Wix website performed excellently in terms of page speed and rankings.

The person starting the discussion noted:

“…his current website scores a 98 in SEO on lighthouse, and clients tell him all the time that he is the first local company that pops up in results.”

It may not be unreasonable to assume that the SEO building out the self-hosted WordPress website for the SMB is fixing something that does not need fixing.

It sounds like the business is doing just fine on Wix.

John Mueller Says Wix is Fine For SEO

Google’s John Mueller answered the question by first addressing the issue of Wix and SEO and then to discuss self-hosting a WordPress site, which is what the business moving from Wix to WordPress was in the process of doing.

Mueller said:

“Wix is fine for SEO. A few years back it was pretty bad in terms of SEO, but they’ve made fantastic progress, and are now a fine platform for businesses. The reputation from back then lingers on, but don’t be swayed by it.

What they’ve done in recent years is really good stuff, including making it trivial to have a really fast site (as you see in the Lighthouse scores — admittedly, speed is only a tiny part of SEO).

If Wix works for them, and they don’t need more, there’s no reason to switch.”

John Mueller Discourages Moving to Self-hosted for SMBs

Mueller next explained that a self-hosted WordPress environment may not be idea for an SMB that does not have a dedicated web support team.

I think it’s important recognize that Mueller’s answer was given within the context of a discussion of a specific SMB with limited web support moving from a well-performing Wix site to an unmanaged WordPress environment.

Mueller responded:

“In particular, do not move to something self-hosted.

Hosting a site yourself comes with a million tiny hassles, and a business without a dedicated support team will struggle doing the right things, and end up getting hacked + have to invest a ton to improve infrastructure over time (speed, security, functionality).

Some people like the challenge, but if your neighbor likes running a non-IT business, then they should not run their own server (eg, host WordPress themselves).

I know running WP yourself is still somewhat popular, but for a SMB that has other things on their mind, it’s absolutely a bad thing to do.

There are hosted & managed WP setups, they cost money, but they do these things for you.

Wix also does all of this for you. Squarespace, etc – similarly.”

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Google’s John Mueller Participating On Reddit

Managed Hosting or Software As A Service?

Companies like Wix and Squarespace offer a Software As A Service (SaaS) approach, where the platform is completely optimized for businesses, with the goal being to make it easy for businesses to get online and run their business, with the technology part getting out of the way so that the small business can focus on their business.

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Managed WordPress hosting accomplishes pretty much the same thing for businesses opting for a WordPress solution, but with some restrictions.

Wix may have an advantage over managed WordPress hosting because of their highly optimized improved SEO and page speed capabilities, which benefits small businesses who do not want to deal with the technical side of maintaining and ranking a website.

A managed WordPress host optimizes their hosting environment for speed and security. It’s perfectly suitable for businesses that eventually want to scale up or have total control over the technology and SEO.

One thing is clear, as John Mueller observed, that if Wix is working for the small business then there is no reason to move away to a different platform.

Citations

The original discussion is available here:

My older neighbor is having a company build a new website for his business…

John Mueller’s response can be accessed through his Reddit profile:

https://www.reddit.com/user/johnmu/

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10 Key Steps To Ranking Higher In Google Maps

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10 Key Steps To Ranking Higher In Google Maps


You’re searching for a lunch spot in an unfamiliar neighborhood, or you need a mechanic to assist with an unexpected flat tire.

Where do you look?

If you answered Google Maps, you’re not alone.

These days, many of us are turning to Google Maps to discover local businesses and make more informed buying decisions.

So how can local businesses rank higher in the place consumers are increasingly looking to purchase local products and services?

Here are ten steps to take in order to rank well, drive more traffic and secure more customers via Google Maps.

1. Claim And Complete A Google Business Profile

The first, crucial step in establishing visibility in Google Maps is claiming and optimizing your Google Business Profile (GBP – formerly known as Google My Business or GMB).

You can do this by simply searching for your business name on Google or Google Maps and verifying your listing if you have not already done so.

Once you have a listing and are logged into your Google account, you can now edit it, even from directly within the search results.

Screenshot from Google Business Profile, June 2022

Being a Google property, GBP provides a primary signal to Google of your business’ existence – and the information here is assumed to be accurate and up to date.

Google will cross-reference these details with those it finds on your website and in other local directories and resources; more on the importance of these in a moment.

2. Post Linked Content (Including Photos)

After you’ve claimed your GBP listing, your work is only partway done.

Google rewards active businesses with higher visibility in Google Maps, so it’s important to post regular updates to your GBP profile.

These updates may and should include special offers, hosted events, links to relevant blog posts, or general business updates.

Posting photos to Google Business ProfileScreenshot from Google Business Profile, June 2022

Where possible, incorporating photos into your updates is also encouraged, as visuals are more likely to boost viewer engagement in terms of shares or clicks.

You should also be including links in your posts, ideally to primary product or service pages on your website.

3. Optimize Your Web Presence For Local Organic Search

If you want to rank well on Google Maps, you should ensure your web presence, including your website and external content, is optimized for your local audience.

You can start by performing a local SEO audit to identify where you need to focus your attention from a keyword, content, and linking perspective – as these are the three primary components upon which a presence is built.

Your website needs to be properly structured to enable Google to easily crawl and index your content, and the content within your site needs to be rich with relevant, locally-oriented, intent-driven keywords and logical internal and external links to the answers your audience is searching for.

Google rewards websites that lead searchers to answers in as few clicks as possible.

Websites must also load quickly and provide seamless navigation, regardless of device.

This is particularly important at a local level, as searchers increasingly begin their quests on their phones.

4. Use Local Business Schema

When it comes to structuring content, and especially business details, Google and other search engines prefer standardization – which has led to the development of schema.

Local Schema enables businesses to wrap code around their content to make it easier for Google to crawl and index.

Local business schema covers many of the same business details captured in a Google Business Profile, which Google will naturally cross-reference.

The easier it is for Google to validate your location, the more likely your business is to show up prominently in Google Maps.

5. Embed The Google Map On Your Contact Us Page

While it’s not explicitly stated that embedding a Google Map in your website will make a difference in terms of where you rank in Google Maps, it’s not far-fetched to assume this is Google’s preferred format.

Here again, Google is able to ensure a consistent user experience for its searchers, which should likewise be the aim of any business looking to please its customers.

6. Mine And Mind Your Reviews

Any business can create a GBP listing, ensure its basic business information is up to date, and post plenty of relevant, local content.

However, another critically important factor in determining if, and where, a local business shows up in Google Maps is customer reviews.

Reviews on Google Business ProfileScreenshot from Google Business Profile, June 2022

Google pays close attention to both how many reviews your business obtains, and how active it is in responding to those reviews, regardless of whether they’re positive or negative.

Any business naturally wants to limit the number of negative reviews it receives and all negative reviews should be dealt with swiftly.

This can actually become a valuable way of displaying your business’ commitment to customer service.

While there are many places customers can leave reviews online, including Facebook, Yelp, and other industry-specific review sites, reviews on GBP profiles will carry more weight when it comes to Google Map rankings.

Consider proactively asking your customers for reviews soon after you’ve successfully delivered a product or service when a presumably positive experience is top of mind for their customers.

There are services available to help automate review requests (via email or text) once certain on or offline customer actions have been completed (e.g. appointment completed, invoice paid, etc.) and review management across multiple sources through a central dashboard.

Automation can save busy local businesses a lot of time, and ensure positive reviews flow in on a regular basis.

7. Update Your Local Listings/Citations With Your NAP

The three most important pieces of directional information on your GBP, website, and across the web are your Name, Address and Phone Number or NAP.

It’s critical for both Google and your audience to have your NAP consistent and accurate across all of these sources.

These references to your business from third-party sites are also called citations.

To find and ensure your NAP is up to date, you can start by simply searching your business name and noting all of the places your business details can be found.

Check each instance and reach out to each directory or website owner to update this important contact information, as needed.

There are also free and paid automated local listings services, which will enable you to identify and update your NAP, along with other important business information like your website URL, services, or even relevant images, from one central location.

8. Build Local Backlinks

Backlinks or inbound links are effectively an extension of our NAP strategy, whereby you look to have relevant, local third-party websites link to your primary website pages.

Backlinks can validate your business from both local and product/service perspectives.

If you maintain listings with links in local directories, you will want to ensure those listings are in the proper categories, if category options are offered.

Ideally, these links to your website are “follow” links, which means Google will follow and recognize the source of the link to your content.

Most directories realize the value of “follow” links and therefore charge for inclusion, but you should also look for opportunities to secure links from other non-paid sources such as relevant partner, industry or service organization sites.

9. Engage With Your Community

Just as Google rewards GBP activity, it also pays attention to how active a business is within its community as a means to establish its local presence and authority.

Businesses noted to be engaging with local service organizations (e.g. Chambers of Commerce, charities, or sports groups), sponsoring local events, or partnering with other prominent local businesses are naturally deemed to be a thriving part of the community.

Engagement can include publishing and/or promoting linked content e.g. event announcements, partner pages tied to these partner organizations, and, of course, physically engaging and perhaps getting mentioned/linked in local news stories or other publications.

10. Pay Attention To The SERPs And The Long Tail

If you are going to optimize any aspect of your local web presence, you will want to monitor your progress in terms of whether or not and where you rank within Google Maps and the regular search engine results pages (SERPs) based on the keywords you are hoping to be found for.

You can perform your own manual Google searches (preferably in Incognito Mode and while not logged into a Google account), or you can choose from a number of rank monitoring tools, many of which enable you to specifically filter out Map rankings.

When considering which keywords to follow, be sure to consider and include local identifiers and qualifying keywords such as “near me,” “best,” and “affordable” – e.g “auto body shops near me,” “best auto body shop in Barrie,” or “affordable auto body work.”

Three, four, and five-keyword phrases like these are considered long tail, which means they may not have significant local search volume – but these volumes can add up, and any local business is well advised to focus on topical groups of related keywords rather than chasing more competitive phrases.

In time, if you’ve truly established your business’ local authority, the short tail top rankings will follow.

Put Your Business On The Google Map

So now, with your laundry list in hand, be like Mike and put your local business on the map.

Establishing your authority and expertise online is not really all that different from how it’s always been in the real world, but it can take time, as any real relationship should.

Google rewards those businesses that provide the best answers to their customers’ questions, deliver solid products and services, take an active role in their local community, have their customers say nice things about them, and provide a high level of customer service at all times.

If this describes your business, get out there and do it.

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Featured Image: BestForBest/Shutterstock





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Google Outdoor Play Area & Outdoor Games

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GooglePlex Outdoor Play & Games


Here is a photo from a spot at the GooglePlex where Google has set up a nice and comfortable outdoor play area with outdoor games.

This was shared on Instagram who posted “fun times at work.”

This post is part of our daily Search Photo of the Day column, where we find fun and interesting photos related to the search industry and share them with our readers.





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Turn Dry Data Into Rich, Relatable Stories With These Tips

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Turn Dry Data Into Rich, Relatable Stories With These Tips


One of the best things about being a content writer is that no matter the topic, we have a lot of insights at our fingertips. You can use it to provide perspective, validate ideas, give more context, etc.

Of course, all that data also is one of the worst things for a content writer. How do you dig out the story behind the numbers without getting buried under the mountains of facts and stats?

At Stacker, we shape our newswire stories around data and use it to drive all our storytelling. We’ve found the best-performing articles – regardless of topic – share similar strategic data-centered approaches. Here’s some of what we learned by creating data-driven content that engages audiences and earns links from other sites.

Go local and meet readers where they are

A story tailored to a region, state, or city feels instantly relatable and captures the attention of readers’ living in that geographic area. In fact, 71% of our publishing partners say their most-prioritized stories have local news angles.

Narrowing data-driven stories to a state or metro level may seem limiting. Content writers think the more hyper-focused a story, the smaller the reach. But presenting localized data doesn’t have to be an either-or choice.

#Content writers can use data to give stories both a hyper-local and national appeal, says @Stacker’s Elisa Huang via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

CNBC didn’t make a choice in their story about how much the top 1% of U.S. households earn each year. It mentioned the broadest geographic figure – the national number ($597,815 a year on average). Then it detailed the average for each state, from West Virginia’s $350,000 to Connecticut’s $896,490.

CNBC gives its data-driven story national and hyper-local appeal.

One of our top-performing stories for a brand partner looked at the rural hospitals most at risk of closing. It broke down the status of rural hospitals over 43 states, then distilled local versions that would feel most meaningful for targeted audiences from California to New York.

Takeaway: Data at a state- or city-level can have local appeal while still connecting to a newsy national trend. It also opens up your content’s promotion potential to national and local news sites.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:

Host a hometown showdown by comparing data

People love comparing their corner of the world with others. A recent Redfin report found an unprecedented 8% of U.S. homes are now worth at least $1 million. The story didn’t just reveal the top five or 10 cities but ranked 99 so readers can see how million-dollar neighborhoods compare to other million-dollar neighborhoods.

In this snippet of the comparison content, six of the cities are in California – half of which have a 50% or greater share of homes worth at least $1 million in 2022. Other cities at the top of the list include Honolulu, Seattle, and New York City.

A snippet from Redfin’s story that ranks home price data by state.

When people can see their cities’ results juxtaposed with others, it puts the information into a more powerful context. Ranking stories, such as states with the lowest income taxes or the cities with the highest rent, often perform well.

Ranking stories – where readers can see how their locale compares to others – perform well, says @Stacker’s Elisa Huang via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Writing headlines with phrases like “highest-to-lowest,” “biggest increase,” and “lowest-priced” also signals to readers the underlying numbers-driven methodology used in the content. They not only reinforce the data-first approach, but they build confidence in the prospective reader that the content is powered by data, not opinion.

Takeaway: Use data-driven rankings to tap into readers’ curiosity by showing how their region compares with others in timely trends.

Let time tell the story by thinking past the latest data

Many content creators understandably focus on building a story around the latest numbers or study results to be relevant and trendy.

But pulling in a bit of history through older data sets can add a richer dimension to the storytelling. Not only does historic information add more context to the latest data or breaking news, but it helps the piece become more evergreen. Long after a news headline fades, readers may be still interested in the richly layered content.

Historical data can lead to a more relevant story today, says @Stacker’s Elisa Huang via @CMIContent. #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

We did this with a story about how commuting in America changed over the past 50 years.

Stacker used historical data to highlight how the American commute has changed over time.

Without adding historical data, it would have been impossible to highlight that the average length of work commutes has increased 10% since 2006. This contextualization offers a perspective that wouldn’t be possible by only detailing the current average commute time.

Self, a credit-building app, mapped poverty levels state by state using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Instead of just mapping the country with the latest poverty rates for each state, the story also charted the rates over time. With this valuable context, readers could see how states’ poverty rates rose and sank after natural disasters, financial booms and busts, and ultimately COVID-19, giving a more thoughtful story that identified contributors to those poverty rate changes.

Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce tackled the value of higher education with another data-centered approach: It looked at the salaries of college graduates in 10-year increments since their enrollment. The findings, picked up by Yahoo! Finance and others, assessed how many decades it took for a student to earn a return on investment on the cost of their college.

Takeaway: Using data over time can add richer context to what numbers mean today – and make the content feel more evergreen.

Liven up humdrum stories with different data filters

Data-driven stories emphasize relatability – they can connect better with your audience and often present a new angle that stands out from your same old story approaches. You can find local angles, make a comparison, and use historical data to provide unique context.

Unsure what data to start with? Poke around government sites like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Department of Education. They can be great places to dig into and see how national-level data looks when filtered across industries, career fields, household incomes, metropolitan areas, and more. By adding focused data to your content, you can tell stories that feel more personalized – and meaningful – to your readers.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute





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