Episode 7 – Photographer Website Platforms Reviewed (Cons only!)

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We talk about the major website platforms used by photographers. Our theory is that the most beneficial information isn’t what is possible on each platform, but what isn’t.

If you know the cons for each platform, you’ll know if you can live without those features.. or what workarounds you’ll need to find.

We review:

  • Squarespace
  • Showit
  • WordPress
  • Wix
  • Photobiz
  • Good Gallery
  • Pixieset

If we missed a platform, let us know in the comments!

Corey: Hello and welcome to episode seven of the SEO for photographers podcast by fuel your photos. It's Corey and Dylan here. And today we have a really fun topic. It's one that both of us loved to talk about and sometimes rant about a little bit. Dylan, what's her topic for today? 

Dylan: So today we're going to compare website platforms for photographers, but we're only going to talk about the negatives for each platform.

so we're, we're going to. Kind of rant a little bit or try not to rant, but just tell you why. Each platform has some cons for its use. all of these platforms have their own use cases and obviously people make each one of these work. There's thousands of photographers using every platform we're going to talk about today.

We're just going to talk about why we choose certain platforms or what we, what to look out for. 

Corey: Yeah. I guess the reason that we want to give the negatives is because if you know the problems before you start using it or the problems with the platform that you're currently using, at least you're aware and you can find a workaround, or you can decide whether it's something that you'll be able to fix in the future or if it's a big enough problem that you need to migrate to a different platform.

Dylan: Yeah. Because the, the worst thing to have happened is for you to migrate to a platform or start out on a and build your site on a platform just to realize. There's an issue that you can't find a work around tooth and your only solution is to then migrate again or something. 

Corey: Yeah, exactly. So at least hopefully with this episode, you'll be aware of some of the things that are problems, complaints that people have, problems that we've had when we're trying to optimize these platforms.

and if you're aware, then you can make your own decisions a little bit. You'll be more informed. Let's say that. Yeah. So cool. Let's start with WordPress. 

Dylan: Cool. Yes. So WordPress is obviously our favorite platform, but it. Has its own issues. 

Corey: the, they should say our favorite platform that like makes sense for most photographers to use right now.

Exactly. 

Dylan: Yeah. The future and like what we'd both be on if, if. We had our own way and develop our resources and time would not be WordPress, but, but WordPress makes sense for most people in our opinion. but its main drawback is that there is no set stack. And what that means is you have to figure out your own hosting solution.

You have to decide on a theme and possibly a page builder and a set of plugins that are all going to have IX. They're going to dictate the experience you have, to an extreme 

Corey: level. Yeah, for sure. I mean, again, when people say, I hate WordPress, what they really probably mean is that they hate the current experience that they're having with WordPress, which could be, they hate their hosting company.

It could be they hate their theme. Most themes, well, I shouldn't say most in the photography space right now. Multiple themes like. Flo themes, pro photo, you know, several others even, they basically have built their own like framework. It's a whole different flavor of WordPress. So if generic WordPress, it's kind of hard to hate, but it's really easy to hate all kinds of different things about WordPress.

Yup. 

Dylan: Totally agree. what would you say is the, the next issue? Is it the maintenance or the hosting or. 

Corey: Yeah. I mean, I think that so many people are afraid of WordPress because of the maintenance and like having to do so many things yourself and being, you know, people are worried about security and being hacked and things like that, and I guess all of those are possible with WordPress.

I feel like I take it for granted sometimes that I kind of know how to set up WordPress from the beginning so that it's pretty secure. pick the right kind of hosting from the beginning set of a few things so that it's like very unlikely that I'm going to get hacked. I'm not really going to have any compatibility issues cause I'm only using very specific plugins that I've had long time experience with.

But I think, I think it's so easy. When you start with WordPress to be like, I don't know how to solve this problem, so I'm going to install another plugin, and you find this like obscure plugin that does one specific thing and it doesn't get updated. And then like two years later you've got 54 plugins and they're all just doing like one tiny little thing that now your theme also does, and it's like this conflict between the, it can get to be a mess really quickly.

And I think I take that for granted. Yeah. Because I don't do that. And so for me, WordPress is great. It's clean, it's easy, it's lightweight, but for a lot of people, that's not the case. So true. 

Dylan: I think another part is just staying on top of updates. I've seen a lot of people kind of complain about that, and that's a reason why they switch.

I'm pretty sure. Much just not scared of updates in general. I think I kind of yellow most WordPress updates and just do a core update and do plugin and theme updates without really checking. I just kind of like, if it breaks, I'll, I'll fix it when I get to that, but I think that's just me being kind of cavalier and

Knowing that I can fix it within a few minutes if there's an issue. 

Corey: Exactly. Again, I think we take that for granted because we know how to fix it. We also know that our backups are working properly. We could just restore to a backup if we need to. Okay. You know, easily kill a plugin or a Virta plug in, like all of these things.

That would be extremely difficult for someone who hasn't worked. With WordPress a lot to do. We can do them easily. And so for us, those aren't really issues. Yeah. But I could see them being issues for some people for sure. 

Dylan: And, but if you pick the right hosting company and they have a competent technical support, if you do have an issue with your site, you can generally get them to fix it for you within minutes.

Yeah. 

Corey: I think that's. Fair statement for most things. I mean, and if you're using any kind of premium themes and plugins, they'll usually have some element of support. So like going back to flow themes as an example, if flow themes has a problem with the theme itself, you're going to get someone to be able to help you fix that.

Now, it may not be immediate. I mean, I have to put in support tickets. It may take a couple of days or something like that. so like if you need immediate support. You're, you're kind of on your own. But there are, I guess like the flip side to this, even though we're not supposed to be doing pros, because WordPress is so widespread, it's easy to find WordPress developers, WordPress help.

You can go on Facebook groups and ask for help. You can go to, you know, WP, fix it or whatever, like $39 for a fix or whatever. So there's all kinds of options like that, but it's kind of. Put together your own support, not, you can't go to wordpress.com and call them and expecting them to help you with your website.

Dylan: For sure. That on the flip side, if, if Squarespace or Wix is down, you're just kind of waiting around and hoping they figure it out. 

Corey: Right? You can call their support, but you have no power yourself. Whereas with WordPress, you do have the power. You can change your host or completely migrate your site if you need to.

It theoretically could be done in 30 minutes or something like that. So. You have power if you want it. Totally. 

Dylan: And then I think that the last point, and we've probably touched on this already, is just you really have to do research before you pick your hosting and your themes and your plugins. And the reason this is kind of difficult is that there are so many, either outdated, or false tutorials on this or reviews, and they're the kind of like overwhelmed with affiliate marketing.

So people will. Tell you that Bluehost is the best host in the world when it's one of the absolute worst, because they're 

Corey: paying them $100 per sale. 

Dylan: Exactly. And they're making thousands of dollars a month. And to say that Bluehost is great, so you really have to be careful with that. Yeah, 

Corey: for sure.

So, yeah, WordPress, they have their own own cons. overall though, we still love the flexibility of WordPress because it's open source because there are so many plugins, so many themes. It's nice that. You have the power, and that's why it's still at the top of our list. Even though that seemed like a long list of things to dislike about WordPress.

I will say, you know, we just talked about like do the research before picking your hosting. if you're going to pay about the same amount for hosting that you would, if you were going to use one of these other platforms. So let's just say Squarespace or show it other really popular options, they're going to be like for their.

No business tier anywhere from what? I don't know what Squarespace is, but it's like between 25 and $40 a month for show it or Squarespace. Yeah. If you're going to pay that price range for hosting, you can get really good hosting. Something like flywheels something like we like WPX. Yeah. I mean, when I first set up my site on WPX, I came from psych ground, which is still fine, but.

When I moved to WPX after a few weeks, there was this issue with one of my plugins that was causing the entire site to crash. I wake up one morning, I look at my email and they sent me an email from support that said, we noticed your site was crashing. So we went ahead and disabled that plugin, and not only that, we installed another comparable plugin that should do the same functionality for you, and here are the steps if you would like to reinstall your old plugin or reactivate it.

Here's why. It was. Causing problems and how you would need to fix that. My mind was blown. 

Dylan: That is amazing. 

Corey: So, but I mean, be starts it, I think to $25 a month. Some people are used to Bluehost and SiteGround, which they're like intro offers are like three 95 a month or something like 

Dylan: that. Exactly. So that's a really good point.

Yup. All right. On onto the next platform. Do you want to talk about Squarespace? 

Corey: I don't want to, but I guess we were saying negative stuff, so yes, I do. 

Dylan: This podcast is brought to you by Squarespace. 

Corey: Oh, that would be interesting. 

Dylan: Yeah. So yeah, jump into that. 

Corey: I would say no, this is it. This is the opposite of WordPress for us.

Probably our least favorite platform at the moment, and that's not fair because like you still have wigs, but yeah. It. It's, there's so many limitations that are just a major pain to fix. So first of all, we'll start with like kind of the obvious thing and it's so fun for us to make fun of Squarespace.

There was a little run we had going for a few months last year, or I think it was last year where Squarespace was down like. Four times over the span of a couple of weeks and we're talking about one or two of those times. It was six hours or something like that. Yeah, almost all sites were down. Now they have a lot of like random small outages.

You'll have things like their domain service is down for 30 minutes, which affects, you know, all the people who let Squarespace be the registrar for their domain. Or you have like. There some other piece of their services down. Look at the, what's the site? Was it like status dot Squarespace? Exactly. Yup. I mean, you can see, even if you look at it right now, we looked at it before the show.

There was like, what, seven or eight blips on their different radars of times when they've had some outage. 

Dylan: Yeah. It's pretty bad. 

Corey: Not great. 

Dylan: I mean, honestly, it's like Bluehost or worse level. Yeah. 

Corey: Worse, worse. I think we calculated it that one time whenever we were making fun of them so much, it was like 99.1% back, which like sounds like maybe that's a lot, but you should like almost every hosting companies is to two decimals, 99.99% uptime.

That's the standard. Well, really the standards nine 9.9 yeah, but most are offering 99.999 or better. If they're really reputable, for sure. 

Dylan: There's just no like, yeah, they have no excuses. It's terrible. the next thing we have on our list is that there is no migration between their current 7.0 platform that most Squarespace sites are built on, and their new platform, which is called 7.1 and it's in beta and all new people registering to Squarespace right now.

Signing up for 7.1 so if you have a website built on 7.0 there is no way for you to migrate to the new platform, you have to close your account, open a new account at 7.1 and rebuild your site completely. 

Corey: It's insane. And this is not a new problem. This is not like, Oh one time they upgraded and you had to switch things.

This was exactly the same from six to seven 

Dylan: exactly. 

Corey: And it was 67 pretty sure. But either way, I remember a time in the past with Squarespace where everyone wanted to upgrade to the newest thing and they had to completely rebuild their sites. 

Dylan: Yeah, not cool. A 7.1 is better. In some regards, the performance is much improved, but I've been seeing a lot of chatter from designers on 7.1 and it's, it's severely limited.

So, a lot of the. Customize ability on 7.0 that you're probably used to is going away. they're trying to make a more simple process to, quickly design the website and it's going to be much more, I guess just, I don't know, all the same. 

Corey: That kind of comes with the territory, right? If you're going to improve performance, you've got to get rid of some of the ability to customize.

And I think that that's kind of the direction they need to go, but a lot of people are going to hate that for sure. But anyway, I mean, I think performance in and of itself is a major problem with Squarespace. And mostly it's not that like Squarespace sites are terrible, some are kind of pretty bad, but like you, you're a loading experience is probably not like awful, you know, for three to five seconds is probably typical for a lot of Squarespace sites to load.

Yeah. Maybe even faster on like some lighter weight, like not. Photo heavy sites or whatever, which, so it's not terrible as far as user experience goes. But like when you look at page speed insights and you look at the amount of Java script that's being loaded and how much extra work that's taking, it's, they haven't done the right kinds of performance optimization on the backend of 7.0 and if you wanted to fix it.

You're kind of screwed. Like there's really no way you can, you can't defer the Java script. You can't re rewrite the Java script. Obviously it's going to completely crash the platform. So, you know what I mean? Like, exactly. Do a stuck. 

Dylan: Yeah. I think, and that w we see like poor web performance, like it's just not great, but we've.

We see absolutely atrocious performance on mobile phones. And this is when most of the web is going to mobile. Like, yeah. and we've, we've even seen that negatively affect rankings of our past clients websites where they, they might rank in position eight on desktop, but their position 19 on mobile, which is just purely based on mobile page speed.

 

Corey: And in that same vein, like I have a pro that also flips to be a con. Just kind of an interesting one. The nice thing is they do make it easy to enable amp for blog posts, but the con to that is you have a, a switch, you flipped, it says enable amp. And that's about it. Like, yeah, if you want it to be pretty or okay, it's something you'd be pretty, but if you want it to be anything other than terribly ugly, you don't have much option.

As far as amp goes. It's just on or off and on is not great 

Dylan: for sure. But you're ranking, 

Corey: so, yeah, exactly. At least it's not a speeds anymore. 

Dylan: Yeah. On 7.0 I've also noticed, and this is probably very theme or template dependent, but really poor handling of images. If you do a speed testing, you realize that you're using a photo that's only showing on the page at like 500 pixels wide.

And so you go in and you, you resize that photo in Photoshop and you compress it really well. Squarespace is going to stretch it back out to 2,500 pixels. And then depending on how your theme or your template is coded, it might not be actually grabbing the right size thumbnail for that, that image. And they're also, when they, when they stretch your photos, they recompress everything at.

Worse. So like, a higher quality and a much bigger file size. So you're not able to use, yeah. So you're not, yeah. You're not able to use like modern web compression tools, like a short pixel. Yeah. Yeah. 

Corey: That's a. Unfortunate because I mean, it's not a major problem for some people. They are uploading it. I think there's a 500,000 1500 2020 500 something along those lines, like their different thumbnail sizes and probably a lot of people aren't having issues with that because it's just like they're using the basic setup and they're picking the right image.

But I mean we have had people even recently where like, can you test this for us? Cause we want to know they ran things like they ran it through page speed. Insights had a bad score or they said compressed these images, ran it through short pixel, uploaded them back to Squarespace. And it actually, it was significantly worse than the size that they.

Had when they ran it through short pixel, it was making the size increase when they uploaded it back to Squarespace. It's just, yeah, that's a mess. 

Dylan: Totally. So, yeah, not great. Not great for photography sites. I think this is hopefully maybe been fixed in 7.1. I need to test it more. now we're going 

Corey: to get you to say it.

A lot of negative stuff about Squarespace, but now our primary, our least favorite 

Dylan: thing. Exactly. This is like the, this is the killer. the performance and all that stuff's not fun, but. Blog functionality to a website platform is pretty key for modern SEO. and what we mean by that is the ability to create and publish content, to take care of that content over time, to keep it up to date and to, to possibly transfer that content to a different platform at some point.

all you should be able to handle all of those things without major difficulty. Squarespace throws some wrenches into that mix. You're pretty much unable to do book editing. it's not portable. It's, it's very hard to migrate from Squarespace. you're unable to, no index individual posts, so you can't, maintain.

You can't, do like a, audit of your contents quality. and your collection name is always in the URL slug. There's a lot of issues. Do you want to, it just sucks 

Corey: so bad. 

Dylan: I know it's done. It's just bad. 

Corey: I think people are going to argue with us on this and they're going to like come, they're going to counter a bunch of these things and they're gonna.

You can't export your blog posts, and I love blogging and Squarespace. It's easy. Things like this, I don't, I don't know. There's not much we can really, I don't know, are you like, if you love it, fine, 

Dylan: but if you love it, fine, but also talk to us in six months or a year, like, because we've, we've seen so many people.

Really think that this platform is awesome, and then they, they get into it a few years and they're in there realizing that it's really not hitting the goals they want and they're starting to, those issues are starting to kind of wear on them and then they try to migrate in there. They see how stuck they are.

Corey: Yeah, I will, I'll, let me kind of reframe this just a little bit because I don't want to be like completely negative to Squarespace. I kind of do, but anyway. One of like our perspective, we're coming from, we're the guys who people call when they need to fix problems, right? So we see lots of problems, major problems.

and with Squarespace it kind of is emphasized whenever someone has. Been blogging for let's say, 10 years on Squarespace, and they have 500 or 700 blog posts and they needed to go in and clean all of that up, but cleaning it up is almost impossible. If you're just starting right now, like you're just going to start blogging and you're only going to blog once per month, and it's always going to be like, just.

High quality content you could do fine. Sure. Squarespace, like if you're talking about 12 posts a year, over three years, you've only got 36 posts. It's not, that's not impossible to manage when you get into the hundreds of posts. It is a disaster. And I've worked with people who have had to migrate over a thousand posts from Squarespace.

And ironically, that person went from Squarespace to WordPress and then hated it even more. It came back to 

Dylan: Squarespace. Oh, it was a disaster. Dang. Yeah, 

Corey: yeah. And our thing, kind of on the same note, like even if that's your thing, and I'm saying this and maybe I'm sounding okay, that's more positive, but, but if you're going to like follow our blogging course and you're going to try to win featured snippets and you're going to try to do kind of modern SEO, remember Google is changing and not so much in like the way that a lot of people think.

I mean their, their core goal is going to stay the same, right? It's going to be promote the best quality content, but the actual way that the SERPs appear is changing rapidly. What we see in the results, the way that they do featured snippets or other of features is changing rapidly. Squarespace is not keeping up with that.

You can't install a plugin and have a table of contents on every blog posts like you could with WordPress, you know, can't add schema. Very easily. There's like, not that that's always a case, but if you have a site where it needs recipe schema, I mean, like, good luck on Squarespace. So 

Dylan: I mean, I think that's the biggest macro case for Squarespace is that there can, they've consistently been a few years behind in web development trends, and that is becoming more of an issue with modern SEO where you need to kind of be at the bleeding edge.

Yeah, I think the next thing we have in our little list, index pages like, 

Corey: and how many times 

Dylan: for sure, I mean, yeah, try to answer a question about index pages and indexing and index page. Like, yeah, good luck. so Squarespace created these pages. First off, their menu structures, trash, like the, how you cannot have a clickable page as the top of a dropdown menu.

and then properly I've pages nested below it. I think it's pretty trash. but anyways, index pages are one single page built up of sub sections that are each their own individual pages. Well, they're a pain in the ass on the back end to keep track of. And from an SEO standpoint, most people don't handle these properly.

They think that they should index and optimize each individual section. That leads to. Huge index bloat and people clicking through to these pages and having just a really broken functionality, a suit, you need to know index all of those. And that's just additional steps that people on Squarespace have to take care of.

Corey: Specifically, in case you're listening to this, don't know index your index page. No index the pieces of your index page besides the top level piece. 

Dylan: Exactly. another pre-fund problem is every Squarespace site has a built in domain, so it's like your name. Dot. squarespace.com and they as a platform do not have the ability to properly handle this simple situation of keeping these from being indexed.

this is like one Oh one type of stuff where if somebody has a site live@domain.com they don't need to have domain.scoresby.com indexed with a complete duplicate of that. And I see it for every Squarespace site. 

Corey: I wouldn't say every, almost, maybe. I don't know. We've seen it quite a few times recently.

Dylan: Yeah. I think everyone I've ever looked at it. 

Corey: Interesting. I haven't noticed it every time, but maybe, maybe you have a better way of covering that. Sometimes I see it where it's like you search for the brand and you get the builtin domain as like one of the top three results. For sure. 

Dylan: I even see it showing up in SEO tools all the time where that means that even those SEO tools are able to crawl it and see it, but.

Yeah. and then their sitemap is shit. We just had that as a bullet point. It's, it's not styled properly. It includes every image on every page. It's not formatted in a way that is easy for people to read, and it's not organized in a way that gives you useful information to see what or what types of pages on your site or what areas of your site are indexed.

generally it's just not a great site map. 

Corey: All right. Well, are we done? It sounds bad to say about Squarespace. 

Dylan: I don't like it. That's good. 

Corey: Well, let me ask you this. Sure. If you had to, like, you know, you're forced to give an answer, what would you say is the actual use case for Squarespace? Where it would make sense to have a Squarespace site?

Dylan: I think for three to five, three to five page websites for low competition, local businesses. A totally great because you can have a good looking site that. Is more or less ready to launch within 30 minutes. as long as you're not really blogging and you don't have any ambitions to take over the world, it's fine.

yeah. I, yeah, it's fine. 

Corey: I seen a couple of interesting cases. I, I think if like all of your searches branded, in other words, you don't care about ranking for general terms. People aren't searching for the thing that you do. They're searching for you. Let's say you're a musician or something and like everyone who searches for you is searching for your band name.

Not like musicians in Columbia, like no one's really searching that and you don't care about ranking for that. You just want to rank for your brand. Whenever people search for it. They also have some like cool features for certain types of industries, like a musician, like if you want to just like easily embed your Spotify or whatever.

I mean you could do it on WordPress too, but it's easy and like I could say it, it could be fine for those people. I 

Dylan: think on those I'd want something that's like a more. Art forward design, like I feel like Squarespace is good, but something like format or web blower. I'm trying to think of the other, 

Corey: I dunno.

Yeah. In other words, it's still not the best option necessarily, but if that's you, then I could see like, I understand why you would do that. I've even seen some photographers where it's like, . They have zero competition. They're doing something really obscure that people are mostly searching for their brand.

It would still be okay for them to, yes 

Dylan: squares. And there, there are some outliers. There's some people that rank really well with Squarespace sites. I think they just have Epic link profiles and it, that kind of solves a lot of their problems. But 

Corey: yeah. Let's go 

Dylan: into Wix. Luckily, I think Wix has finally gotten a, 

Corey: sorry, 

Dylan: my cat just knocked over my beer.

Oh no. Wix is finally sort of had an enough of a negative, reputation for long enough that less people are using it. Which I think is good in general. I think Wix is another situation where great website for somebody doing their first website, they aren't technical at all and they just want something easy, drag and drop, get something live, have some sort of web presence.

But yeah, let's talk about 

Corey: negatives. I feel like it, it is almost all of the things that we said about Squarespace are also going to be true of Wix. Yup. but then there's other weird little things that we've run across with wakes. I mean, I will say Wix today is. It is better than it was 10 years ago.

Like whenever it got this terrible, terrible reputation, like it's the worst for SEO. I have fixed a lot of that stuff. Like for sure they have like a little SEO wizard and SEO tools and they do let you manage things like titles and meta descriptions and things like that. But as an example of some WIC site we worked on last year, they had the, the person had a gallery.

And the gallery was made up of let's say, 30 images, and it was on the home page, and every image in that gallery had a URL. It's kind of like image attachment pages and WordPress, which I can go in Yoast and flip a switch and all of a sudden all of those are redirected to the image itself and not indexed anymore.

Well, with Wix, you don't have that option. You can't turn off these like image pages. And so. They can be indexed and they typically are indexed on the examples I've seen. So we're talking about potentially hundreds of URLs getting indexed that are just an image. You have no control over the titles of these.

You have no control over the indexation. It's just a mess when you can't manage indexation. That's a major problem, in my opinion. 

Dylan: Yeah. Especially in 2020 that's 

Corey: what I mean. Like, you know, the workaround for something like that is. You don't use galleries, you can, there are other types of ways that you can insert images.

and then, you know, if you only use the types of pages that you want indexed, that you don't need to manage your indexation. So it's a small site. You're not using that kind of particular gallery that, that does, that, that problem might not apply to you, but it can. 

Dylan: Yeah. And then the next issue with Wix that we've found in some recent testing is that it's still has just massive performance issues.

And this is primarily just due to how JavaScript intensive it is. And. There's no real work around it. If your site is built with bloated too, like heavy JavaScript files, those are going to take too long for even a desktop to render. But mobile phones are just out the window. and 

Corey: that's something, remember how big that JavaScript file was when that one we tested before when we were making our notes, I need to, 

Dylan: I'd have to look that it was 

Corey: very large.

I know it was 250 individual requests. Yeah. And the thing, it was like, it was between four and eight megabytes of 

Dylan: JavaScript, which is just unreal. 

Corey: Like what we want to see is like 25 kilobytes. Yeah. 

Dylan: So that's just too much. And it's with these JavaScript frameworks, the JavaScript has to be rendered completely for the page to start building, with WordPress and other platforms.

If you have. If you need some JavaScript, but it's not necessary to actual actually build out the the page, you can defer that and have it load after people or act like seeing content loading on the screen, which is so much better for a user. 

Corey: Yeah. I don't think we really need to say too much more about Wix.

I think most photographers aren't considering Wix. I think we threw it into the list in this order, because it was basically like everything we just said about Squarespace, also for Wix, but also there's some other words. 

Dylan: Totally. 

Corey: so let's go onto the next one, which is, show it. And that is a platform that is very popular with photographers.

They have thousands of users, and it's a growing platform, growing community. And, we've both pretty publicly expressed that we don't. Love show it a lot of times, but I think, you know, I'm looking at our list here and the cons for it are not nearly what they are for Squarespace. And that's because.

At least in theory, and this is, this is really confusing. Yeah. Because the way they market it is not necessarily accurate. It's a little bit misleading, but they do have a, an integration with WordPress. I guess that's the right way of putting it. Sure. so it, and WordPress can work together. As a single entity, whereas, you know, if you're talking about, we have another one on the list, man, this is going to be a long episode, but you know, something like a good gallery where you can have WordPress, but it's a completely separate thing.

show it. It's weird because they have that where it's like, show it pages and WordPress. Your WordPress blog are technically very different. However, you can. Let them together as one entity. So anyway, let's just kind of dig into, show it. Yeah. 

Dylan: So I think there are, first issue is that it's expensive. we only really recommend using their top package if you're on our, on show it, and that's $39 a month.

And so, for example, you can easily have 10, $11 hosting on WordPress and at like a onetime couple hundred dollar theme that will give you. Pretty much the same usability. 

Corey: Yeah. Even with like really good hosting that's fairly managed. Exactly. Less than that, potentially. 

Dylan: Yeah. So that's, that's a lot of money.

our next issue is probably what we care about most, and that's how Google actually renders pages built in their page builder, because what did they call their layers? the canvases. Canvases. Yeah. That they have, a specific term or a specific. Kind of way that they use their page builder that 

Corey: actually have as views.

Dylan: It's unique and it's, it's a cool way to think about designing a webpage, but it leads to issues when Google actually tries to figure out what's going on and we just, yeah. 

Corey: Specifically like the order of things. Exactly. Like anytime you have drag and drop, it's a recipe for disaster. Yes. Sorry to any of the other platforms that are going that direction, but drag and drop is really not how we believe website design should be done.

It's just when you have that kind of freedom and flexibility, it's easy to make a mess out of it. And what you see visually is not necessarily what the code looks like. So if you inspect. A show at page, or if you look at the cash, the Google cash text only version of a short page, it is very common that the texts that you'll see there is in a completely different order than what you see visually on the screen.

And so in Google's crawling that site, yes, they can render the entire page, like you see it in Chrome, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they're able to, Fully understand the relationship between objects on the page. So like texts, let's say headings and text. if you're, if you're heading says one thing and the text rate beneath it in the code says something completely different, not related to that heading, that's a problem.

And we see this all the time with show it. So it's important that you understand how the layers in, show it in the short builder. Are ordered in the code and it's actually kind of weird. It's in reverse order. So, things on the bottom come at the top of the code. Again, super confusing. And I had to dig through this and bang my head against the wall to try to figure it out.

On some sites it can theoretically be mostly fixed if you're very careful. 

Dylan: Yeah. And this isn't just theory that we're kind of like trying to imagine causing issues. We actually see this affecting rankings and it's significant and we've been able to. Like multiple times, transfer this exact content from the show at builder to the WordPress site of their site, or they migrated their site to WordPress and instantly see improvements in ranking.

Corey: Yeah. Again, it's theoretically fixable in even the builder, and I have done that for some people and seen improvements, but just realize that ID fault if you're using drag and drop and you're not being careful, and honestly, even if you're picking themes from. Either they're free theme selection or template section, whatever they are calling designs, I think is what they call them.

Yeah. Or if you pick something that you pay $1,000 from, from a designer, it can still be really, really wrong. Like they don't, just because they're expensive or even if they're prominent designer doesn't necessarily mean that they are thinking about coding best practices or how Google is going to crawl the site.

Totally. 

Dylan: our next issue that we have is that it's managed, but their tech support isn't perfect. yeah, 

Corey: he put that so nicely. It's hard. 

Dylan: I think one common theme between a couple of these platforms, I would also say Squarespace's, known for this is that they. Get kind of defensive when you say, I'm having this problem and I think it's your fault.

Yeah. They're quick to say, Nope, that's you now. 

Corey: Okay. So I do, I do want to like put a positive note in here. Sure. Because I like a lot of the people at show it, like the people on the actual team and I think that their community is. they have a good heart, like they do community well, they don't necessarily do tech as well.

so all of this to say like, we don't, we're not saying bad things about any specific technical support and they have a small team. So totally, someone's listening to this and they hear it. I don't want them to be like offended that we're talking to them, but I know from my own personal experience dealing with their support.

That I've come into a situation where I said, Hey, I'm an SEO and I really, I'm seeing this problem on the site and I need to know, can you fix it for me because I don't have access to fix it, because that stuff's closed off to me. And they're like, Oh, that's not a problem. And I'm like, excuse me, it is a problem and I need you to fix it in like I had to go through multiple levels of support and finally, like I have.

The close enough relationship with some people there that I can reach out to people who are higher up and I can say, Hey, this is a problem. Can you help me? But not everyone has that access. And not everyone knows that it's a problem. Successfully work tells them that's not a problem. You know, they're going to say, okay, fine.

And their site could be having major issues. So that's, that's what we're talking about here is that their tech support, I'm doing air quotes here, is. They have good customer support, but they don't, in my opinion, have great tech support. Yup. And some people there know what they're doing, but for sure, I think that it's not necessarily communicated to the team, to their support staff, always.

And so you kind of have to go a few levels in to get to someone who knows how to help you. Something sometimes. 

Dylan: Yeah. And then this, this last bullet point you've talked about, you alluded to it earlier. but I think that we should repeat it just that. One of their, one of the pros for show it is they have a great design community and they have a lot of designs available from really talented designers.

The downside is that the tool gives so much flexibility to those designers that it really can encourage bad web practices or just general sloppiness that, people just don't see. Or unless you're really careful with looking at the source code of all of these sites, you don't, you're not going to notice.

or they've also like. Things like font sizes that are far too small and accessibility practices that don't make sense, like are just thrown out the window. So. 

Corey: Yeah. And then there's little things too that I don't like. For example, you mentioned something about the Squarespace, menu system being bad.

Well, yeah, with joy, you can't have hover States on your menu, so you can't have dropdowns that are like on hover. You have to click them negative dropdown. And there's this weird stuff like that that, I mean, technically there's kind of workarounds, but. I don't know. I don't love the drag and drop solution.

And I think that I come across probably at least one or two a week sites where I'm looking at it. I'm like, this isn't even aligned properly, but it's because they're doing it visually freehand. Totally on a grid. Yeah. Interestingly, 

Dylan: so 

Corey: we've got, we've got three more platforms. We need to kind of go through them a little bit faster for sure.

Luckily, 

Dylan: luckily these are a little bit more of a skier. I think most of the websites that we generally work with are either show at Squarespace or WordPress. 

Corey: Right. 

Dylan: So next we're going to talk about PhotoBiz. and this is one that's kind of geared more towards portrait photographers, kind of the PPA scene and, and photographers that have standalone studios.

You want to talk about that a little bit? 

Corey: Yeah, I mean, I think that. It's a very specific use case in my opinion, where if you are someone who has like a brand name and a city, like you have a studio close to your, your downtown area where you're trying to target, you're already getting all of the search anyway.

Like who cares at that point? They have really cool. Features. If you're looking for an all in one solution, right? You basically had to get your CRM, your proofing, your website, everything all in one place, and it's much better than something like. Trying to use in folio for your website, or what's the other big one?

Smoker. Yeah. SmugMug. Exactly like you're trying to use one of those. Good luck. Just don't worry about SEO. Sorry. But with PhotoBiz, you could at least control some of the SEO settings. They do at least kind of think about SEO, although it's not always great. but just like what I'm saying is if you want an only one solution and really search.

Isn't the priority for you because you're going to rank anyway. It could be a legitimate option 

Dylan: outside of that, probably look elsewhere. 

Corey: Yeah. I mean, it's, it's the same issues that we've, we were mentioned already. some of these other things, their blog is even less portable. At last time I checked, at least there was no export whatsoever, so yeah, that's what I want.

Yeah. Like to take your blog somewhere else. You have to copy and paste manually. Actually worked with someone a couple of years ago who had to go through that and it was a pain. Here's the one thing I will say, again, trying to throw positives in there because I know some people are loyal to these platforms and they, there are good things about them.

PhotoBiz. Probably has the best customer support I have ever experienced with any website platform, period. That's awesome. And I actually experienced it a couple of times. One of them was that situation. We were, we were exporting or trying to move someone from PhotoBiz to WordPress. I got, I looked at their phone number on their website and called them.

It rang two times and a person answered. 

Dylan: That's amazing. 

Corey: What that does it happen with a tech company you're going to get, yeah. Voicemail, a, a recording and then like press numbers and eventually wait until you get someone that didn't happen for me at least. 

Dylan: And they were still helpful even though you're migrating away.

Corey: Yeah. That was surprised. I was like, I think they had to pay like a small fee. It's like $25 to like move something, a domain or something. but other than that, they weren't trying to argue. They weren't trying to tell me, you can't, you don't need to migrate or making it hard. It was all easy. They were very helpful.

I like them from my experience with communicating with them. I just think from an SEO perspective, it's very limited and kind of a closed system that you have the options that you have and you're going to have issues with indexation and performance and all of the things we've mentioned for the other platforms.

You're probably gonna run into the same things with PhotoPass. 

Dylan: Yep. All right. Should we jump onto pixie set. 

Corey: Yeah. 

Dylan: Cool. They're pretty recent. they've been known as a proofing option for the last few years. They're fairly popular, and I think it was about a year ago or so. They had a beta release of their website builder.

Corey: first time I got into, it was in July of last year, and I hadn't had an invite at that point. 

Dylan: Totally. So it's really new. so that's one of our things that we noted is that it's just too early to know where this is going to end up. Yeah. 

Corey: yeah. My personal, like I'm positive about it. Okay. I'm optimistic that they could turn this into a really cool solution.

I would love to see a situation where eventually they merge the proofing and website platform even more. Yep. So like the point and yeah, like your media gallery becomes just all of your client galleries that you've uploaded and you could like dynamically pull in. You could even like say I want all images with dogs and it could like search through and like insert them automatically.

Things like that are possible total. Whenever you have an engine like this, like a proofing system that's also going to be a website builder. Like theoretically, I'm thinking 

Dylan: to myself like. I do a lot of my rating in light room and it would give that rating in the exit out of the photo. So then I could do a blog post that just grabs all four-star photos or whatever.

Like 

Corey: that'd be really cool. Yeah, there's, so there's possibilities there right now though. They're still features missing. I know whenever I got access in July of last year, so it right now March, so you know, what is that nine months or so? I send them an email and I said, Hey, I noticed you can't do this, this, this, this, and this.

And they're like, well, it's on a roadmap, but we're still trying to get this rolled out. So some of those things are going to be done soon and some of them might take awhile. and then I think I looked today just to see if they had done any of those things. Maybe like out of the six things I mentioned, three of them had already been updated.

So like they are working on for sure, proving and making it better. You can blog with it. They added that since July, I think there wasn't even a blog. Now you can have a blog. 

Dylan: It looks like kind of a clone of Squarespace. 

Corey: It's looks so much like Xenical 

Dylan: and that was the first thing I noticed when I first got the beta was just, I thought I was in Squarespace.

I was like, this must've been a partnership or something. 

Corey: Yeah, it's a good thing. That's one of the things that I'm positive about is like if, if people love Squarespace. Yeah, I see me. This is a better. Solution for, essentially, it could be, don't do that yet. Yeah. 

Dylan: It's still like no custom code in the head.

We don't think, I don't think they have immediate gallery figured out. No custom CSS. So it's really going to be for the user that wants a basic website and it, they look fine. but they're not going to be doing anything really advanced. 

Corey: Yeah, well, look at the demos. What you see is basically what you get.

So if you want your site to look exactly like that demo, don't plan on being able to customize it at all, at least from what we can tell right now. Again, maybe they've updated that and there's some advanced functionality somewhere, but we couldn't find it. so yeah, it's, it's very plain, but could totally get the job done.

Again, you can blog with it. And from what we can tell, at least the blog posts seem to be fairly. well optimized with the basics. Like you can edit the title, the meta description, it has O G tags and like it's just, it looks pretty decent. Yeah. But 

Dylan: basic framework is in place. It looks fine. 

Corey: Yeah. Yup.

So pixie set. Maybe if you're looking for something basic, if you haven't started your site yet and you were thinking about going with Squarespace, but you're already using pixie set for your proofing and you want to try their website builder instead, I would say it's probably fine. A good decision to try it instead of Squarespace if you're just starting.

Yup. At least that's my stance right now. 

Dylan: Yeah, that's fair. All right, last one. It's called a good gallery. Do you want to talk to us a little bit about good gallery, what it is. 

Corey: Yeah. Good gallery a was started by a guy who is an SEO professional or a claims to be, I guess, has done work in the tech industry and done SEO for some bigger companies.

I've heard him give SEO talks and they're actually pretty good guy knows what he's talking about. Yeah. I'm not not a dumb guy whatsoever. Yeah. But in my opinion, the platform is not. What the standard for SEO should look like in 2020 

Dylan: for sure. That's the vibe I get as well. I feel like these are techniques that I'm sure he used maybe five plus years ago.

and it just doesn't really vibe with what works in Google these days and really what works for the user at all. Yeah. 

Corey: And so like one of the big things is that if you want to have. I'll blog again. I'm kind of doing air quotes here. It's not going to be integrated. There's no way to block. Now, Rob does have a blog post.

It's like why you should stop blogging. And the whole idea is he's still promoting content creation and that you could create content on pages just as well as you could on blog posts. And theoretically that's true. I mean, I don't have any problem with that. Again, managing it over time. Is where WordPress as a CRM comes in and shines, I think for sure.

So, yeah, that's a big problem. 

Dylan: Yeah. And I think just looking at a few example websites that are built on good gallery, they really seem to concentrate on these over optimized single images in . Side of slideshows where they, they stuff keywords in everything. Like it's stuffed in the page title at pens it to the URL slug.

they create these like masses, mass walls of text down below the photo that users could S scroll down to see, but probably won't. and so these pages can rank in like some queries and people will click on them and just be like, why am I on this photo? What's going on here? 

Corey: Yeah. I mean, I think it's very photo centric to the point where like instead of, your site being centered around pages and post, it's centered around photos period.

Or you can't have pages. But the idea is like when you upload a photo, the editing screen for that photo is going to be, basically creating a page. And you're basically making it like a blog post. Like every photo is a mini blog post to show, which he just seems so weird to me. Like I wouldn't, I don't like it as a system.

I don't think it's going to rank against a more dynamic piece of content that's better formatted totally in, in today's SEO world. I could 

Dylan: see it. I mean, I dunno if this is right, but I could see it maybe for people that do like. Architecture, photography or some more commercial, where they've, they've tried to do other portfolio sites and those portfolio sites had no ability to add any context to their portfolios.

This at least allows for that, but even then, I just don't, I don't think it's going to work in any type of competitive market. 

Corey: Yeah. I will say like the big positive to good gallery is that, like. The name has such a good name. It's literally a good gallery. If you want a gallery site, the images load ridiculously fast.

You can upload at full quality and it will automatically do the compression and optimization, and it's gonna serve web P. It's just incredibly fast. I've gone through some  gallery sites and just like flipped through the galleries at full side, like open them up full screens. They're like 1500 2000 pixels wide and just like flip through as fast as you can.

It's impressive. I have, I've never seen sites that load as fast as go gallery sites for looking at images specifically. I just think. It's feels so antiquated to me as far as design, layout, structure, site structure. again, going back to what I was saying about Squarespace earlier when I was talking about the positive, like if you're only gonna blog 12 times a year, if you're only going to have 12 pieces of content on good gallery, it's manageable.

But can you win featured snippets? Can you, you know, are you gonna be able to do this kind of modern content marketing? If that's part of your plan? I would say avoid. Good gallery, at least in the state that it's in. Now, if all you want is a gallery of your images to show off, it could be a good option for you.

Yeah. 

Dylan: So I guess that wraps up our list. you've heard us all, both rant for about 50 minutes. I, but I, I do hope it was helpful and I think that we, we just want to make sure that we're kind of fair when we talk about these platforms and we wanted you to know that we have things about every platform that we dislike.

and that there are issues with all platforms. So if you've heard us rant about one, don't worry, we hate them all. 

Corey: And I think this is a, you know, a great point or a great time for us to ask you for your opinion, like as listener, what, what do you think about your platform? I know that there are a lot of platforms that almost kind of develop like a.

No, I don't want to, I don't want to call you a cult follower, but like, people get so like defensive about their platform and how much they love it. if we've said something that's negative about your platform and you disagree, we want to see, so leave us a comment. If it's not, attacking us personally, then we will approve it and respond to it.

You can go to  dot com slash podcasts. And find this episode, episode seven. we have a comment there on that page if you have more questions or thoughts about a specific platform or if we didn't cover a platform that you want to ask questions about. I mean, I feel like there's a bunch of other kind of, like really obscure or specific, Portfolio building sites and things like that that we could have covered, but we tried to keep it do like biggest players in the photography industry. 

Dylan: We can review those in like one bullet point. It's just they're typically just Java script frameworks that aren't going to be useful for modern SEO.

Yeah, usually. yeah, so I think that's a great wrap up. I think we want to do a future episode, possibly YouTube video about. Like future platforms and where we see platforms going in the next year or two. We also want to talk about how to properly set up some of these platforms, so those might be future episodes.

Let us know if you're interested in those. Sounds 

Corey: awesome. All right. We'll see you in the next episode. 

Dylan: See you later.

 

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5 thoughts on “Episode 7 – Photographer Website Platforms Reviewed (Cons only!)”

  1. Hey guys! Haven’t listened to everything yet but I just notice don’t you didn’t have show-it on your list curious what you think about that one! 🙂

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