Google’s John Mueller answered a question on Reddit about moving an SMB site from Wix to a self-hosted WordPress environment. He gave his opinion on this specific scenario and within that context discussed the relative advantages and shortcomings of managed and self-managed WordPress for SMEs.
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMB)
SMB stands for Small and Medium Business and what these sizes mean is not a static thing, there are multiple definitions.
Generally speaking, small businesses are those with fewer than 100 employees. Medium-sized companies are those with between 100 to 500 employees and some definitions classify them as medium to 1,000 employees.
Managed and self-hosted WordPress hosting
Managed WordPress hosting is a hosting environment where the web host handles all the details related to the technical maintenance of hosting a WordPress website.
The managed hosting company handles things like security, caching, content delivery networks (CDN), security, updates, and backups.
This allows small and medium businesses to focus on their core business without having to hire an in-house web developer to maintain security and updates for the site.
The trade-off (and also the benefit) to getting a web host to handle the technical details is that a managed WordPress host can impose restrictions About what plugins can do in their environment in order to maintain security and improve performance for all of their users. This is a good thing, a positive feature of managed WordPress hosting rather than a disadvantage.
A self-hosted environment is where the website publisher is responsible for fully backing up and updating their sites.
The trade-off here is that a self-hosted environment allows a business more freedom to use whatever solution is necessary, including the use of specially developed plug-ins, which means having to hire or train someone in-house to handle maintenance and security homework.
Managed WordPress hosting costs more than self-hosting but costs less than hiring or training someone to handle technical issues.
SMB moving from Wix to self-hosted WordPress
The person who asked the question on Reddit explained that a neighbor was moving away from Wix to a self-hosted WordPress environment.
They explained that Wix’s current site is doing excellent in terms of page speed and ranking.
Notice the person who initiated the discussion:
“…his current site has an SEO score of 98 on Lighthouse, and customers tell him all the time that he’s the first local company to appear in the results.”
It might not be unreasonable to assume that the SEO builders of a self-hosted WordPress site for small and medium businesses are fixing something that doesn’t need fixing.
It seems to work fine on Wix.
John Mueller says Wix is good for SEO
Google’s John Mueller answered the question by first addressing the issue of Wix and SEO and then discussing self-hosting a WordPress site, which is what the company was in the process of moving from Wix to WordPress.
“Wix is good for SEO. A few years ago it was really bad in terms of SEO, but they’ve made great progress, and now they’re a good platform for businesses. The reputation since then remains, but don’t be affected 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 can see in the Lighthouse results – admittedly, speed is only a small part of SEO).
If Wix works for them, and they don’t need more, there’s no need to switch. “
John Mueller discourages moving to self-hosting for small and medium businesses
Mueller then explained that a self-hosted WordPress environment might not be an idea for small and medium businesses that don’t have a dedicated web support team.
I think it’s important to realize that Mueller’s answer was provided in the context of a discussion about an SMB with limited web support, moving from a well-functioning Wix site to an unmanaged WordPress environment.
In particular, don’t move to something that’s self-hosted.
Do-it-yourself website hosting comes with a million little hassles, a business without a support team dedicated to doing the right things will suffer, end up getting hacked + having to invest a lot to improve the infrastructure over time (speed, security, functionality).
Some people like a challenge, but if your neighbor likes to run a non-IT business, they shouldn’t be running their own server (eg hosting WordPress themselves).
I know running WP yourself is still fairly popular, but for small and medium businesses that have other things on their minds, it’s just as bad.
There are hosted and managed WP settings out there, which cost money, but they do these things for you.
Wix also does all of this for you. Squarespace, etc – similarly.”
Google’s John Mueller shares 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 of making it easier for businesses to get online and run their business, with the technology part out of the way so that small businesses can focus on their business.
Managed WordPress hosting accomplishes much the same thing for businesses that choose a WordPress solution, but with some limitations.
Wix may have an advantage over managed WordPress hosting due to its highly optimized SEO and page speed capabilities, which benefits small businesses that don’t want to deal with the technical side of website maintenance and ranking.
Managed WordPress host optimize their hosting environment for speed and security. It’s a perfect fit for companies that ultimately want to scale out or take full control of technology and SEO.
One thing is clear, as John Mueller notes, that if Wix works for a small business, there’s no need to move to a different platform.
The original discussion is available here: