Webflow SEO: How to Optimize a Webflow Website in 2023
Running a low-code website has many advantages. Adopting a low-code stack can help your marketing and design teams gain control of your platform with minimal developer reliance and turn it into a conversion-oriented asset.
Additionally, a low-code website may be faster and more cost-effective to deploy than a WordPress or JAMStack alternative.
But, what's it like to do SEO for a low-code platform?
In this post, we'll share everything you need to know to optimize your Webflow website for SEO.
- Low-code SEO's common principles and limitations
- Webflow SEO features & constraints
- Webflow SEO vs WordPress SEO
- How to do technical SEO for a Webflow website
- How to optimize your content for SEO on Webflow
- Frequently asked questions
Ready? Let's dive in!
What’s Low-Code SEO?
As we mentioned when discussing our low-code journey:
“Low-code/No-code is an approach to web development that uses third-party platforms to lower the intensity of the development process and shorten time-to-market.
We usually use the term "Low-code" because there’s no such thing as "No-code". When working with low-code, we directly interact with less code than in other stacks. The development process is streamlined, but it isn’t code-free. We just use interfaces to make writing code faster.”
There are pros and cons to low-code SEO. Whether a low-code stack will bring you SEO benefits will depend on several factors, including which specific tools you choose.
In this post, we'll focus on Webflow, which has an excellent SEO track record. But other options, such as Wix or Squarespace aren't known for being performant. In fact, Wix famously runs a contest that awards $25,000 to agencies that rank a Wix website on the first page of Google. And even winners say that they wouldn't do it again.
We know the answer, but this question is worth exploring anyways: Is Webflow really good for SEO?
Is Webflow Good for SEO?
You can create a high-ranking website on Webflow. In fact, this website runs on Webflow. And some of our most successful clients do as well. But, not all Webflow-powered websites perform well.
Webflow makes it easy to create a high-performing, SEO-optimized website, thanks to features like:
- CSS & JS minimization
- Out-of-the-box dynamic meta descriptions & meta titles
- Dynamic schema markup support
- Dynamic social cards
- .WebP image support
- Global canonical URL
- Easy robots.txt management
- Alt text and heading level checks
- Custom image loading
- Automatic sitemaps
- Out-of-the-box Google Search Console & Google Analytics support
- SSL certificates
- Serving your website statically, through a global CDN
Webflow includes a full toolkit you can use to make sure your website's optimized for search engines and users. But regardless of Webflow's amazing out-of-the-box SEO features, some Webflow websites may still underperform.
This is often due to:
- Heavy images
- Tons of JS-powered animations
- Poor page structures
Webflow's SEO features won’t get you anywhere if you don't use them. So, later in this article, we'll share a checklist and tutorial that will help you get it done. But, before we move forward, there's something we need to get out of the way.
Webflow SEO vs WordPress SEO
Over 40% of the internet runs on WordPress. So, at this point, you may be wondering why you should choose Webflow over the industry leader. While some of our partners run on Webflow, approximately 70% of our content clients run a WordPress site. So, with our average partnership lasting >12 months, we've been working on WordPress on a regular basis, for a long time.
In this section, we'll compare Webflow SEO vs. WordPress SEO.
- Out-of-the-box SEO features
- Technical SEO
- Ease of optimization
Let's dive in!
🏆 When it comes to speed, Webflow is a clear winner.
Webflow websites are generally faster than WordPress websites. The main reason behind that difference is that WordPress runs on PHP. So, every time you “request” a page from a WordPress website, you’re asking the website’s server to retrieve it from its database and build it for you. But Webflow’s different. Webflow websites are rendered server-side and “published as flat”.
That means that each time you publish changes on your Webflow website, Webflow creates a new build of your website in HTML, CSS & JS. So, when a user accesses it, they’re requesting “flat” files that have already been built.
This difference in itself already puts Webflow at an advantage speed-wise.
Additionally, Webflow has some great out-of-the-box SEO features. And, to get the same features on WordPress, you’ll need to install plugins. And too many plugins can make your website slower.
It's also worth mentioning that WordPress is less secure than Webflow. The fact that it runs on PHP and that the easiest way for users to expand functionality is by installing third-party plugins makes WordPress one of the most vulnerable stacks out there.
Out-of-the-box SEO Features
🏆 When it comes to out-of-the-box SEO features, Webflow wins.
There are amazing SEO WordPress plugins. But that’s what they are, plugins, add-ons that expand WordPress’ out-of-the-box functionality.
After installation, “plain” WordPress is quite limited SEO-wise.
Want to replicate Webflow’s SEO features on WordPress? We recommend these plugins:
- CSS & JS minimization 👉WP Rocket
- Dynamic meta descriptions & meta titles 👉Rank Math
- Dynamic schema markup support 👉Schema Pro
- Dynamic social cards 👉Rank Math
- .WebP image support 👉 Available by default
- Redirects 👉Rank Math (paid version)
- Canonical URLs 👉Canonical Link
- Easy robots.txt management 👉You’ll have to manage your robots.txt file from your server’s file explorer or
- Alt text and heading level checks 👉No plugin available, but you can check manually
- Custom image loading 👉 WP Rocket
- Automatic sitemaps 👉Rank Math
- Google Search Console & Google Analytics support 👉Rank Math
- SSL certificates 👉You’ll have to handle this from your hosting provider, and it’ll add to your hosting cost.
- Serving your website statically, through a global CDN 👉Jetpack
It’s possible to optimize a WordPress website for SEO. Don’t get us wrong. In fact, hundreds of thousands of high-ranking websites run on WordPress. But WordPress SEO requires a little more money and add-on management than Webflow SEO.
🏆 When it comes to technical SEO, it's a tie.
- Make it easy to “cover your bases” SEO-wise
- Are usually faster than WordPress websites
But, it’s possible to have a WordPress website that performs well.
Some web builders and content management systems offer a very constrained developer experience. And these constraints can prevent you from making essential SEO optimizations. But that’s not the case with WordPress. You can have a highly performant, technically correct SEO website that runs on WordPress.
Ease of Optimization
🏆 When it comes to easy optimization, Webflow is a clear leader.
Considering that Webflow has SEO optimization baked into the developer/designer/editor experience, optimizing a Webflow website is incredibly easy.
Webflow Technical SEO Checklist
In this section, we’ll cover some of your technical SEO bases without code, on Webflow.
- On-page structure
- Interlinks, URLs & crawlability
- Performance & speed
Let’s dive in!
On-page structure is one of the most important aspects of technical SEO. It’s essential for helping search engines understand the content on your website, so they can properly index and rank it in the SERPs. But, not only does on-page structure help search engines, it also helps your visitors. Especially, your disabled visitors.
Worried about accessibility? Check out our guide to accessible conversational marketing.
In this section, we’ll explain how to scan your Webflow website for:
- Poor heading hierarchy
- Semantic URL use
Webflow makes it easy to check for structural issues.
Hover on the Publish button on your designer’s top bar and check for a message reading “[Number] issues to improve on this page”.
Then, hover on the message and make sure there are no “skipped heading levels”.
Semantic HTML makes it easier for both search engine bots and disabled users to understand your pages’ structure.
To make sure you’re using semantic HTML:
- Open your page Navigator
- Select the HTML element you want to inspect
- Open your Element Settings tab
- Check if the element has a semantic tag
Links, URLs & Crawlability
Your links and URLs matter. Both interlinking and proper URL structuring are essential for technical SEO. They help search engine crawlers to understand a website's structure, navigate through it, and index content correctly.
But that’s not all. In this section, we’ll dive into how to make sure your links and URLs are working in your favor, on Webflow.
- Descriptive link content
- URLs & slugs
- Content duplication & canonical URLs
- Robots.txt files
Descriptive Link Content
Whether you’re adding a link to a bit of text or to an image, this piece of content should be as descriptive as possible.
For instance, if you’re linking to an SEO guide, your anchor text should be something along the lines of “SEO guide”, instead of something like “click here”. On the other hand, if you’re adding a link to an image, it should have an alt tag.
Luckily, Webflow will let you know if you’re about to publish a website with non-descriptive link content or missing alt tags.
Interlinking refers to how website pages are linked to one another. Internal links help both search engine crawlers and users to discover new content on your website. Additionally, interlinking also helps to strengthen the authority of certain URLs, as it allows crawlers to find and access your most important pages faster.
There is no special Webflow feature helping you with interlinking. But any technical SEO checklist would be incomplete without mentioning it.
Intuitive URL structures & Readable Slugs
URL structure is also important for technical SEO. A well-structured URL helps crawlers understand the content of a page, making it easier to index.
Additionally, an organized URL structure makes it easier for users to understand your website's hierarchy and navigate through it. URLs should be concise and include keywords that accurately describe the page's content.
On Webflow, you can set slugs:
- Manually, for pages
- Dynamically, for CMS collections
Furthermore, when you add a page to a subdirectory, its slug becomes “/[subdirectory]/[your-slug-of-choice]”. With that simple setting, Webflow helps you to keep your slugs useful, self-descriptive, and organized.
You can set up 301 redirects from the Publishing tab of your Site Settings. 301 redirects are permanent, and they help you to direct users to a relevant URL after the page they were trying to access has gone offline.
You can apply 301 redirects to:
- URL structures
You can learn more on Webflow’s documentation.
Content Duplication & Canonicalization
Content duplication happens when two URLs have the same content. In some cases, the development/staging version of a website could be indexed by Google, causing a domain-wide duplication issue.
You could have this type of issue with your site’s .webflow.io URL. These URLs are commonly used to test new website changes live, without affecting the version of the site that’s accessible on your domain. But luckily, Webflow offers the option of preventing crawlers from indexing your website.
Just go to your project’s Site Settings > SEO.
Moreover, below the Indexing section, you’ll find a field where you can set up a canonical URL for your entire website. This is great for preventing duplication across:
- WWW and non-WWW URLs
- HTTP and HTTPS URLs
XML sitemaps help crawlers to understand the structure of your website. On Webflow, you can set a custom sitemap or auto-generate it every time you publish new changes.
On the Indexing section of your Site Settings > SEO tab, you’ll find a small text area where you can add rules to your robots.txt file.
You can use your robots.txt file to fine-tune how your website will be crawled. Learn more about robots.txt on Google Search Central.
Performance & Speed
Search engines prioritize websites that offer a good user experience. And, according to Google and users alike, a fast-loading experience is a good experience. Especially on mobile.
Mobile users make up over 60.9% of all internet traffic (ExplodingTopics), which means that optimizing your platform for mobile is essential.
More often than not, mobile users have to browse the internet on poor or unstable connections. Thus, if you don't have a lightweight website, these users will have a very frustrating experience. In fact, they may be completely unable to access your platform.
In this section, we’ll share some simple practices that will help you boost your Webflow website’s performance and speed.
- How to implement next-gen image formats
- How to minimize your HTML, CSS & JS
Next-Gen Image Formats
Next-gen image formats are a new type of image file that's lighter and more performant than traditional image formats (such as JPEG and PNG). Next-gen image formats are ideal for the web. But they also look better than their more common counterparts.
Next-gen image formats support HDR (high dynamic range), and they render greater detail and more accurate colors than JPEGs and PNGs.
The most popular next-gen image formats are:
- JPEG XR
- JPEG 2000
By converting your images to these formats, you could make your website up to 80% lighter, without sacrificing image quality.
Webflow supports WebP images. But sadly, if you've been using traditional image formats, you'll have to convert your content into WebP and re-upload it manually. No automated conversion is available yet. Nor is Webflow converting images to next-gen formats automatically.
Additionally, we suggest converting any PNG icons or logos into SVGs. Your icons may not be adding dozens of megabytes to your website's weight, but every detail can make a difference.
HTML, CSS & JS Minimization
One of the greatest advantages of Webflow versus other no-code website builders is that you can seamlessly import custom code. This allows you to add third-party libraries, expand your website’s functionality, and create immersive web experiences.
So, we recommend:
- Prioritizing functionality over aesthetics
- Making the most out of Webflow’s native interactions and animations
- Adding “async” and “defer” when importing scripts
- Minimizing your HTML, CSS & JS
You can minimize your code on the Advanced Publishing section of your Site Settings > Publishing tab.
Optimizing SEO Content for Webflow
SEO optimization isn’t just about readable URLs and fast-loading images. We won’t be the first to say it: “content is king”.
In this section, we’ll share some insights that will help you to optimize your content for SEO on Webflow (and beyond), including:
- Keyword optimization
- Content structure
- Content strategy
- Meta tags
Webflow has no out-of-the-box features that help you measure keyword density. But anyways, keyword optimization is one of the most popular, essential, and exploited SEO practices. Thus, it’s always worth discussing when it comes to website optimization.
Here are some important considerations:
- Your keyword density matters - but it shouldn’t hurt your content’s readability or structure
- Your keyword research should be guided by user search intent, not just by competitor insights
- It’s best to focus on building niche expertise and cohesive content hubs, rather than trying to cover as much territory as possible while weakening your positioning
Want an introduction to modern keyword research best practices? Check out our 9 techniques to boost organic traffic.
Make sure your content is structured so it’s easy for users to understand what it’s about at first glance.
Combine short paragraphs with relevant images, and some light interactions. But most importantly, make sure that your subtopics are organized in a way that feels reasonable. Take users from point A to point B, using subheadings and different layouts to represent different moments in their journey.
Copywriting formulas can be extremely useful to get you started. And content-first design will be your best ally.
Your content strategy isn’t just something that happens on your blog. Have a conversion-oriented content strategy for your entire website. Not just your blog or landing pages. It’s important that your users find something of value anywhere they land. Whether it’s a case study, a landing page, a FAQs page, or a blog post.
Meta titles, meta descriptions & social cards can spark new users’ interest in your platform, or completely shut it down. On Webflow’s editor, you can add meta titles, descriptions, and open graph settings to your pages. And, more importantly, you can dynamically add these tags to your CMS collections. That way, you can guarantee that your entire site remains SEO-optimized, as you grow.
SEO Content Workflow on Webflow
Before we sign off, there’s something worth addressing:
Webflow is an amazing CMS for semi-automated, cross-platform content workflows. That’s why we highly recommend Webflow for programmatic SEO and at-scale publishing.
The ability to create custom content collections helps you to properly organize different types of content. This can help you keep your website’s structure hygienic and easy to navigate. Meanwhile, the ability to connect Webflow’s CMS to other platforms makes it possible to automate content workflows (especially, repurposing), without writing code.
Get a Low-Code Website that Converts
In this post, we shared everything you need to know about Webflow SEO, to begin optimizing your platform.
We’ve helped some of the world’s most promising startups to grow with low-code. Turn your website into a sales engine. Book a free consultation.