WooCommerce is the most widely used eCommerce solution in the world. They are powered by the WordPress platform and the base software is free. Woocommerce is made easier when you have a knowledgeable person setting it up for you and showing you how to maintain it.
Shopify is easier to use out of the box (so to speak) if you are doing it on your own and have monthly fees to run.
Both options are large and successful, meaning they both have a lot of support (add-ons) to extend the usefulness of the store.
Woocommerce comes with the ability to use Stripe or Paypal as a gateway to be paid by your customers. If you would like to use a more robust merchant solution, there will be costs involved to extend the WooCommerce software to be able to take advantage of that.
Shopify offers its gateway and charges you the merchant fees directly.
Though Shopify has more sales features, the support and control of WooCommerce make it a preferred choice for us. With Shopify, you have layout options and you can customize the site. It is a hosted solution, as their software has to be on their servers and you point your domain name to them. It will function as your website, but you don’t have full control. Their customizations are more time-consuming to perform, as opposed to WooCommerce integrating with WordPress and your theme. WooCommerce is easier for the developer to be able to offer anything you want with custom features and fully integrate into your site without having to leave an idea or two behind for the sake of Shopify’s control on using their paid service.
Many rather expensive services say they have specialized tools for a specific industry. They will do the work for the business owner and give them all the tools and content that would have a heavy price over time. We have seen this in many industries from real estate agents, dentists to funeral homes. Though having a complete obituary software solution saves time and money in development costs or having all the content and videos of every dental procedure gives you content that would take months to create, it isn’t your content. It also heavily hurts you with the search engines. By heavily, we mean devastating. Every one of these solutions has a higher monthly price because they “specialize” in the industry and furnished all the content for you. The issue with this is similar to sites that offer you an extension to their URL. The content is the same. The first rule with search engines, especially Google, is having your original content. we can take an entire paragraph of supplied content from these websites and not find the one we took it from on the first page of search results. We will come up with dozens of sites with almost identical content. This makes the site virtually useless as far as being found.
Business owners sit back, feeling impressed that they can offer their customers or potential customers so much on their site with details of their industry. Months go by with no new customers coming in as these business owners realize they are paying a premium for the content that no one is finding.
Anyone being offered one of these solutions will be better served with less original content than massively reproduced duplicate content. Also, some owners are under the falsehood that they may own any of it because they “leased” the content while they were on their servers. These companies do not give you any rights to take, display or broadcast this content when you make your site. You are always better off with a professional developer with your own autonomous digital identity.
These companies also word their sales pitch in ways making the business believe the content was made just for them. The only way that is true is their mass insertion of the company’s information amongst the content they give to everyone. Also, each of these sites that employ these companies has duplicate code (link to blog), which is also a drawback to the search engines seeing your site and having it stand out.
We are faced with answering this question all the time. Mostly after someone has invested money or a lot of time using a builder for it to not perform as they were expecting or being impossible to find in the search engines.
Like anything, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The larger build-it-yourself websites have good marketing to make someone feel they can easily build a site and also bring someone a sense of accomplishment. There are many issues with builders, but the most important is know-how with programming and even more importantly being found in the search engines.
Most of the top builders will have a section explaining how well they do with their SEO tools as professional developers scoff at how they are misleading their technology. Then after several months or years, those same builders will tout a new and improved SEO solution that fixes the broken version that they claimed was great at the time. This cycle continues and these builders have a lot of drawbacks when it comes to search engines. They have excessive code for anything YOU MAY use, offering all the opportunities for everything and the kitchen sink. With this mentality, the code gets in the way of translating non-professionals creating a site through tools to make it look somewhat professional. The other main issue is that search engines do not like duplicate content. Right after that, they do not like duplicate code. It comes across as something overly replicated and the spiders will fail to delineate your site from the others.
Because of how difficult it is for the search engines to properly scan your content in a builder, it is hit or miss of what they see and what they do not see. The first thing we do is take a sentence or two of original content from the site and use a search engine to find it. If they cannot locate the exact content, that is a major red flag. If they can, but it is spotty of them to categorize you correctly, missing main sections or phrases, that is a red flag as well. There is too much code in the way of your content and too similar code to other sites for the search engines to give you the best opportunity to be indexed correctly. These builders start a leg down as their code will never validate (blog link) to successfully communicate to the search engines from the jump.
The builders also cater to very simplified sites. If your business needs any kind of specialized function or anything over a brochure site or maybe a simple store, you will fall short with the builders with functionality as well. They are casting a large net on the most common of solutions and are doing a bad job of it. The question we usually ask when people are frustrated with a builder underperforming is since the business owner isn’t a professional developer, what software or aid could we use to replace their knowledge and know-how? This may be a frustrating question, but it illustrates the right idea. If they are relying on the search engines to bring leads, you want a developer that can create a site that promotes that, not a gimmick that makes you feel like you can cut corners and be as successful.
Search engines, browsers, developers, and web applications have rules they should follow. When they are not followed, things may not react in the ways expected. An important example is search engine spiders. They are expecting code that follows the rules. This is watched over and dictated by w3.org.
The need for standards is so everyone can program and function in conjunction with each other. Browsers interpret code based on the standards that are set. Search engines do the same thing. So when those standards are not followed, the unstandardized code is subjecting a site to being misinterpreted. All of the errors have differing degrees of impact on the search engines correctly seeing and indexing your content through your SEO efforts. Instead of studying what impact one particular error may have, it is better to know the correct format of the programming language to have no errors and place no barriers in the search engines’ way of displaying your most important digital asset.
The unfortunate truth is most drag-and-drop builders and those that claim to be developers are looking for their software to function. More than 99% of websites do not validate. There are many reasons for this.
One obvious one is multiple developers. When you use WordPress for example, which by itself with a clean install doesn’t validate, you use plugins to bring more capability to your site. Each of these plugins was programmed by different companies and developers. Each of these added contributors further threatens your site’s visibility to the search engines. The way we solve it with our full-service clients is we schedule and manually do all the software updates. We then recode and eliminate all the validation errors in WordPress’s core software and each of the plugins. This is part of the overall marketing/SEO plan for these clients that take their findability to be their chief concern and stay ahead of their competition.
Some validation errors when they are fixed break the website. This means the developer didn’t follow the standards when making that functionality. Some website owners enjoy specific bells and whistles to their sites. Those that had to break standards to achieve a certain function are faced with us reprogramming the function properly or suffer validation error strikes against the site. This is less frequent but does happen.
The theme being built or site programmed outside of a CSM needs to adhere to these standards. Every site/theme we build will validate. We optimize the site and images to address page speed issues as well. We challenge anyone to test their current site or even their competitor site with the validation tool. You will see errors and warnings a vast majority of the time. Many end with an error at the end that reads the validator cannot recover from the last error, which means there were more errors to follow, but the code is too broken to properly be assessed any further.
Too many people that want to shortcut their way into the digital marketing field will manage a team overseas and try to cloud the fact they are not programming the product themselves or they install a CMS like WordPress with a paid or free theme and use the management tools of the software to resemble the branding of the client. The amount of sites we have inherited from companies that ended up in this unfortunate circumstance is more than even we expected. Being a software installer doesn’t make someone a developer. Being able to find a plugin to add a specific capability to sort of emulate what the client wanted may solve a problem, but it certainly isn’t a programmer.
We build and program all of our code for a site or theme. We will extend the capabilities of a CMS with existing support, but if something needs to be changed or doesn’t exist, we do the programming to have the best, most direct solution for the need at hand. With what is mentioned above, any extension a plugin or add-on provides, we will recode any pockets of code to make sure the site and all the programming are streamlined for the site to function as directed and expected. We also follow all the standards to ensure it works across all devices and has no hindrances with communicating to the search engines.
If your site doesn’t validate, show your developer and instruct them to fix any errors and warnings. If they do not or cannot, always feel free to talk to our team of experts.
- S Toresi
- Jerry Z.
- Ava R.
- Steve T.
- Post P.
- Mary Ann W.
- Sign K.
- Patti M.