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Wix SEO vs. WordPress: 6.4M Domains Studied

Joshua Hardwick
Head of Content @ Ahrefs (or, in plain English, I'm the guy responsible for ensuring that every blog post we publish is EPIC). Founder @ The SEO Project.

Article stats

  • Referring domains 52
  • Organic traffic 153
Data from Content Explorer tool.
    Let’s face it: Wix’s reputation amongst SEO professionals isn’t great. Most believe that WordPress is not only superior but also that Wix is inferior to, well, pretty much any other CMS out there.

    Wix is doing everything in their power to change the negative perception amongst SEOs.

    That’s why, in 2017, they launched a contest challenging the world to outrank them for “SEO hero.” The prize? A cool $50,000.

    wix seo competition

    But the question is, is Wix really that bad? Is all of this hate justified, or is it more just gossip? And is WordPress any better?

    To answer this question, we studied 3.2 million Wix websites and 3.2 million Wordpress websites.

    In this post, I’ll run through our findings, and then you can decide for yourself which CMS is best for you.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VR9CUVXy_Eo

    The Data

    Before I get to the findings, I want to talk a bit about the source of our data and the metrics we studied.

    The sample

    For our sample of 6.4 million websites, we used BuiltWith—a service that shows you the different technologies behind websites.

    If you’re curious as to how this works, head over to their site, enter any domain in the search box, then check the “Content management system” section. It’ll tell you whether the site runs on Wix, WordPress, or something else.

    BuiltWith shows NewYorker.com running on WordPress.

    Because doing this manually for 6.4 million domains would have taken forever, we pulled our sample using BuiltWith’s API.  

    Sidenote.
    We excluded subdomains from our sample because other technologies or custom setups could have been done there.

    The SEO metrics

    For each of the 6.4 million domains in our dataset, we pulled four key Ahrefs SEO metrics:

    • Domain Rating (DR): A measure of the overall strength of a website’s backlink profile on a scale from 0–100. Higher = stronger.  
    • # of referring domains: The number of unique linking websites.
    • # of “dofollow” referring domains: The number of unique linking websites with value-passing links.
    • Estimated organic traffic: The estimated number of monthly organic visits from Google.

    From here, we sliced and diced the data to try to understand more about the SEO implications of these two platforms.

    The study

    To kick things off, we segmented the dataset into two “buckets” relating to organic traffic:

    • Bucket #1: Sites with some organic traffic
    • Bucket #2: Sites with 100+ monthly organic visits

    Here’s what we found:

    46.1% of WordPress websites got at least some monthly search traffic, compared with only 1.4% of Wix sites.

    wordpress vs wix traffic

    Now for our second bucket, 8.26% of the WordPress sample gets more than 100 monthly search visits, whereas our Wix sample is down to 0.06%.

    wordpress vs wix 100 traffic

    So according to our data, it’s pretty clear that on average, WordPress sites get significantly more organic traffic than Wix sites.

    But this data alone doesn’t prove that one platform is superior to the other.

    Reason being, numerous factors influence organic traffic… and many are unrelated to the CMS of the site itself.

    Case in point: backlinks.

    Previously, we studied almost one billion web pages and found a clear correlation between the number of backlinks from unique websites and organic search traffic:

    referring domains vs organic search traffic ahrefs content explorer 1

    So, for our sample of Wix and WordPress websites, we decided to check the average Domain Rating, the number of dofollow referring domains, and monthly search traffic for each platform.

    domains averages

    Some key observations:

    • The average DR for WordPress sites is nearly 3x higher than for Wix sites.
    • The average number of “dofollow” referring domains is more than 22x higher for WordPress sites.
    • The average monthly organic traffic is around 49x higher for WordPress sites.

    But here’s the thing: looking at the average in isolation can sometimes lead to misleading interpretations of a dataset.

    So we also decided to grab the median for each of these metrics.

    domains medians

    You can see that the difference here is way less noticeable. But what does that mean?

    Here’s what our data scientist had to say:

    When measuring the central tendency of data, it’s best to calculate both mean and median and compare the two values.

    Generally speaking, if both values are not too different from each other, we use the mean. But a considerable difference between them indicates that the data is skewed.

    When the data is skewed, large values have an ENORMOUS impact, making the mean larger than the actual distribution that the data suggests.

    In this case, the median is a more appropriate idea of the data distribution.

    Loveme Felicilda
    Loveme Felicilda, Data Science Ahrefs

    To better understand this concept, imagine that we only had a sample of 10 websites. Nine of them had 0 monthly organic visits, and the one outlier had 1,000 monthly search visits.

    The mean, or average, would be 100 search visits per month.

    The median, on the other hand, would be 0 organic visits per month.

    Or, in plain English:

    Most sites get little or no search traffic and have weak backlink profiles regardless of whether they run on Wix or WordPress. But there are clearly a few high-traffic and high-authority WordPress websites in our sample that are skewing the average.

    Going deeper

    Next, we wanted to run a deeper analysis of both Wix and WordPress websites with search traffic.

    But before doing that, we felt that we needed to level the playing field by eliminating as much bias as possible from our samples and pulling some extra data.

    So we added three extra layers to our analysis.

    #1. We leveled the sample sizes across the board

    There are only 44,600 Wix websites with traffic in our sample, compared to 1,475,147 WordPress websites.

    That’s a big difference, so we randomly selected the same number (44,600) of WordPress domains as Wix domains to ensure an apples to apples comparison. After all, there’s no point comparing a whole army to just a few soldiers.

    #2. We found the number of top 10 keyword rankings

    For each site in our sample, we pulled the number of keywords that they rank for in Google’s top 10 search results.

    We also summed up the amount of organic traffic each site gets from those keywords.

    #3. We excluded exact-match keywords

    If the domain was xyz.com, then we removed the keyword xyz for that particular website. This was to exclude traffic from branded queries.

    ….

    Here are the results for all domains with >0 organic visits:

    wordpress vs wix domains with traffic

    You can see that WordPress beats Wix when it comes to the average number of top 10 keyword rankings and the traffic these keywords account for.

    But, once again, the mean (average) is drastically different from the median, which indicates that outliers heavily skew both samples. So, unfortunately, we can’t read too much into these results.

    Having said that, things start to get a little more interesting when we look only at websites with over 100 monthly visits.

    wordpress vs wix domains with 100 traffic

    You can see that the mean and median closely align when it comes to the number of top 10 keywords for both WordPress and Wix.

    So, our data seems to indicate with some certainty that WordPress websites typically have a marginally higher number of top 10 rankings than Wix sites.

    But, when it comes to the organic traffic from those keywords, Wix comes out on top.

    Basically, WordPress websites rank for more keywords in the top 10 than Wix sites, but Wix sites get more traffic from their top 10 rankings than WordPress sites.

    Looking at the data for this “bucket” a little deeper, you’ll see that Wix Websites have a higher Domain Rating, but a lower number of dofollow referring domains.        

    wordpress vs wix domains with 100 traffic median

    Sidenote.
    This graph only includes median values because the dataset included a lot of outliers.

    This tells us that the Wix sites in our sample might get more search traffic due to non-link-related factors, such as ranking for and getting traffic from branded searches.

    For example, Long John Silvers, a popular restaurant chain, is a website that uses Wix.

    And according to Ahrefs’ Site Explorer, they get around 133,000 organic visits per month.

    Overview ljsilvers com on Ahrefs

    But if you take a look at their organic keywords report, you’ll immediately see that the majority of their traffic comes from branded queries as opposed to generic keywords like “seafood restaurant.”

    Organic keywords for ljsilvers com

    The conclusion

    Unfortunately, the data is somewhat inconclusive.

    There’s just no way to say whether one platform is better than the other based solely on the results of our study.

    Having said that, we did learn a few things in this study:

    1. It seems that more SEO might have been done on WordPress sites than Wix. We’re able to see this based on the huge differences in organic search traffic as a whole, as well as the number of referring domains pointing at the websites.
    2. There’s seemingly no relationship between the platform used (WordPress vs. Wix) and a site’s ability to rank in Google’s top 10 search results.
    3. WordPress sites got more search traffic than Wix as a whole. But Wix had more search traffic on domains that get more than 100 monthly search visits.

    To reiterate, it’s impossible to say if either of these platforms is “better” from an organic traffic perspective than the other.

    So why does Wix get a bad rap?

    Let me start by saying that when it comes to the absolute basics of on-page SEO like adjusting title tags, meta descriptions, URLs, etc., Wix is okay for the most part.

    It’s pretty easy to edit these things in the backend, much like it is in WordPress.

    Still, one small annoyance is that the blog URL structure tends to utilize the /post/ prefix.

    That isn’t so much of an SEO issue per se; it’s just annoying.

    So it seems that Wix gets a bad rap due to the limitations that arise when trying to customize anything advanced or technical.

    Let me give you a few examples.

    Multilingual SEO

    Wix doesn’t support the hreflang tag at the time of writing this post.

    Contrast that with WordPress, where there are quite a few free plugins available for doing this. Here’s the one we use on the Ahrefs blog:

    hreflang wordpress

    Robots.txt

    Another technical limitation related to SEO is the inability to modify your robots.txt file, which is quite important for larger sites.

    Same goes for .htaccess.

    Javascript & code bloat

    Finally, a big one in the technical SEO space relates to Javascript.

    Here’s what Barry Adams said in a Twitter thread about this:

    Furthermore, if you take a look at the source code for some Wix websites, there’s a lot of code bloat—much of which is Javascript. Code bloat is bad because it slows down your site and Pagespeed is a ranking factor.

    Here’s the Google Pagespeed Insights score for one Wix site I found:

    pagespeed slow

    Sidenote.
    This screenshot doesn’t prove that all Wix websites are this slow. It’s doubtful that they are. However, this was literally the first random site I checked.

    Final thoughts

    If you care about SEO, should you use Wix, WordPress, or something else?

    The truth is, there’s no definitive answer to that question.

    It all comes down to what you value.

    If your SEO requirements are quite basic and minimal, and you care about an easy-to-use CMS, then Wix is probably fine. After all, our data shows that Wix sites don’t have a hard time ranking on Google.

    Wix is great for launching and maintaining a basic website, even if you don’t have a technical bone in your body. I know a few people who use Wix for this very reason.

    But if you plan on using SEO as a long-term strategy, or you’re hiring an agency to do SEO for you, it may be advantageous to look into other platforms (not necessarily WordPress) for scalability and customization.

    Shows how many different websites are linking to this piece of content. As a general rule, the more websites link to you, the higher you rank in Google.

    Shows estimated monthly search traffic to this article according to Ahrefs data. The actual search traffic (as reported in Google Analytics) is usually 3-5 times bigger.



    Article stats

    • Referring domains 52
    • Organic traffic 153
    Data from Content Explorer tool.