5 Reasons Why I Think Webflow Is Godlike for SEO
I‘ve been in the business of search engine optimisation for most of my working career.
As you can imagine, working on other people’s websites all day means I get close and personal with A LOT of content management systems (CMS’s):
Magento, Wordpress, Craft, Episerver, Joomla, Drupal, Sitecore, Plone…
You name it, i’ve probably
been frustrated with it lovingly worked with it.
But, nothing has tickled my pickle 🥒 quite like Webflow.
Webflow is a phenomenally versatile platform that empowers designers, business owners and every day folk to build and launch custom websites without code.
But, I know what you’re thinking….
…When ANYONE says ‘nocode’ in the context of a ‘website builder’, the automatic assumption is that customisation is inevitably limited.
I thought the same.
But, Webflow takes the inflexibility stereotype, kicks it hard in the face, and instead, delivers a platform that provides genuine flexibility that an otherwise ‘custom’ coded website would have.
AND, you don’t need to learn to code or hire a web developer (if you have time to learn yourself).
There are a lot of reasons why I think Webflow is epic for SEO — i’ve squashed my thoughts into a top 5:
1. Custom CMS fields, on the fly, without code
I’ve put this right at the top because, in my opinion, this is HUGE.
Developing processes internally for teams to go forward and prosper with their optimisation is a big part of my job, especially for larger and more sluggish companies.
Having the opportunity to directly contribute to the development of a CMS with almost no effort is a monumental strength for Webflow in my book.
To explain what I mean, here’s a real world example of how custom fields can be used to better SEO on a Webflow site:
The recommendation: Users don’t have much info on who is writing blog posts. It would support the framework principles of E-A-T if users could immediately access details about the author of each post before they read said post.
**The solution:**Display a short author bio above the fold in a tooltip when users hover over the author’s name. This will provide readers with a better understanding of each author’s level of subject matter expertise.
- Add a plain text custom field for editors to populate each bio in the CMS
- Pull the populated text dynamically into a collection list on the front end
- Build a clean design around the collection list with the designer
- Make it visible on hover or tap.
An author tooltip built by Ariana Machado — source: imaware.health
You’ll notice that Ariana (who put this design together — she’s my favourite webflow designer EVER) also added an image, a title and social profile links using a few more custom fields.
This is a small application of custom fields but, my point here is that it’s pretty effortless to:
- Build unique fields into the CMS for others to interact with
- Implement the content dynamically on the front end, at scale
- Collaborate with others by fundamentally changing a content management process
- And, ultimately, deliver a positive content experience improvement for users
If, for example, you were to aim for the same outcome using Wordpress or Magento, it would probably require a PHP developer to edit the raw blog post template file OR, you’d have to compromise by using a plugin (that will probably cost a few💰) that might do something vaguely similar but may make your website look the same as everyone else’s. Ugh.
Custom CMS fields = fool proof empowerment for content perfection.
2. You can get sh!t done and move with pace
Often, the bane of an SEO’s life is playing diplomacy to convince clients to prioritise recommendations. Often important tech fixes or content improvement proposals get shoved around a development queue because they can be complex or awkward to deliver in certain CMS platforms.
Webflow enables SEO practitioners, business owners and developers to have a complete understanding of how long things take and how easy or not so easy things are going to be to implement.
Because Webflow documentation is extensive and can be understood (and enjoyed, it’s very funny) by anyone. This streamlines communication and clearly sets expectations for EVERYONE involved (including those that hold the budgets).
Think about it, if 99.9% of your on-page and technical SEO recommendations are simple to execute, well documented and require no code, it empowers everyone to prioritise and just get it DONE.
This ease of implementation also encourages SEO’s, designers, marketers & developers to be more experimental without the anxiety of a change not working well and taking up lots of resource in the process (particularly for things like content structure).
Webflow makes building and amending site layouts super easy so, if it doesn’t work out, you can just try again.
3. There’s a TON of optimisation right out the box
Webflow, like many other platforms, claims to be ‘good for SEO’ by covering the tech stuff.
In this case, the platform goes above and beyond with an enormous amount of carefully considered core optimisation. There’s a lot of things you absolutely would NOT expect to be available right out the box for example, the following is included as standard (spoiler alert🚨):
- Auto sitemap
- Redirect management
- Native analytics, tracking pixel & A/B testing integration
- One click hostname canonicalisation
- Page by page header & footer access
- Backups & versioning control (every time you publish)
- Hosting that concurrently scales
- One click SSL that auto renews
- Robots.txt access
- Built-in hreflang controls
- Password protection control
- One click code minification
- One click secure frame headers
- A free staging site with indexation control
- Global site canonical URL control
- Global header & footer access
I know right!?
Again, using Wordpress as an example here, you’d need some heavy plugins and a working knowledge of your web hosts (probably awful) UI to get a grip over a lot of these.
4. Free updates forever, led by community
Webflow updates their platform very regularly and without any annoying update procedure from you as a webmaster.
Gone are the days of updating Magento and scrambling to test if anything has broken after updating — Webflow updates while you sleep and nothing falls over.
The regular updates are largely led by the Webflow community which are fed to the developers and prioritised by community voting in a brilliant wish list system. The upvoting and discussion allows everyone to contribute to developing a CMS that WORKS for everyone.
💦 I know I know, i’m really gushing for Webflow. 💦
It’s not perfect, there are nuances that leave holes in the way things work but, i’m ok with that because most of the limitations are manageable and guess what, there’s probably an idea in the wish list for it to be addressed.
On that note, if ever anyone from Webflow reads this 🤞, here’s 5 wish list items that would move the platform closer to perfection for the SEO riff raff (me included):
- Control over pages contained in the auto sitemap — ‘noindex’ pages in your sitemap isn’t ideal, allow users to toggle page inclusion
- Build more schema types into the nocode ways — Structured data is increasingly an web standard, make it accessible
- Real time team collaboration — Currently an efficiency blocker (Update: You can now collaborate together)
- Bulk import redirects or conditional redirects — Crucial for large migrations to Webflow from another platform
- “nofollow” link attribute — Both in the designer & rich text editor, getting this wrong can get sites in trouble and it’s tricky to do at the moment
Update: After publishing this @bryantchou reached out on twitter to talk about this list — I’m looking forward to seeing more SEO focused updates in the future 🥳
5. It’s intrinsically clean, semantically coded & fast
Broad front-end CMS functionality combined with a website builder can often come at a price. Think of a heavy Wordpress theme bustling with interactions and prebuilt widgets wrapped up in a front-end visual editor.
They’re great but they’re almost always bulky and slow.
Webflow has all those bells and whistles, PLUS complete customisation and it’s still almost as light as custom written code (if you want it to be).
The visual builder is also rooted in semantic HTML & CSS so you don’t have to worry about poor rendering and wonky indexation.
Put it this way, I am yet to build something slow and unparsable in Webflow and i’ve had to make a lot of mistakes to learn to use it well.
My eyes are SO open to Webflow, not only for client websites but my personal projects too. It is fundamentally the future, and thankfully, the present of web development.
I strongly encourage my peers that love to build stuff to go dabble and prosper! — You can literally start for free.