Demystifying the Reputation of Wix SEO with Mordy Oberstein

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Mordy is the Search Liaison for Wix. He’s also the host of two podcasts: Behind the SEOs and The SEO Rant.

He knows his stuff and has had to. After all, he’s been working hard to help change the perception that SEOs tend to have about Wix, and he’s been doing it by having lots of conversations with some of the smartest minds in the industry. With and GatherUp in our toolbelt, we understand the importance of a reputation.

He also runs a regular #SEOChat on Twitter which is well worth checking out.

Check out this week’s podcast to watch him and Garrett geek the heck out over some serious SEO.

The highlights:

  • [2:09] Wix’s reputation with SEO professionals.
  • [4:57] How Wix is changing brand perception.
  • [12:05] Speculation and thoughts about Google.
  • [16:59] Pontification about Amazon.
  • [19:07] Taking advantage of Wix’s data capabilities.
  • [21:39] Morty’s cause.

The insights:

Wix's reputation with SEO professionals

“When I came in,” Mordy says, “I came in as part of the SEO community. I understood the way SEOs related to Wix or thought about Wix. I myself was offended by the Wix Superbowl ad, all that righteous outrage we SEOs love to do.”

So when he came to Wix, he sat down and talked to over 30 SEOs about the brand.

“One of the amazing things I found is that no one has touched Wix in a long time. There’s a lot of perception about Wix, but not a lot of experience with Wix.”

Mordy challenges the popular idea that you can’t rank if you have a Wix site.

“There’s open CMSes and closed CMSes. And that’s really what it is. The question is not: can Wix rank? It’s: can a closed CMS rank? Cause there’s really no difference between Wix and Shopify. Structurally speaking, what’s the difference?”

While you can’t do some of the things in Wix that you can do in WordPress, there are advantages, too.

“It also means your site doesn’t break automatically when WordPress updates itself.”

He calls it “different strokes for different folks.”

“You have different needs, different wants, different types of sites. If you want, if you’re working with a million pages, you want absolute total customization, okay. WordPress might make sense for you.

If you don’t wanna spend a lot on development, if you don’t want to spend a lot on graphic design, if you want a solid, strong, SEO-optimized CMS, then Wix is a great option for you.”

How Wix is changing brand perception

“Wix is an enormous beast of a company. I mean it in a good way. 200 million users. That’s a lot of people. When you get that big, you sort of get divided up so you can be flexible and malleable. How can we still meet the demands of our users while being this massive company?”

They once had a lot of work that was quite siloed.

They came to a realization.

“We need to standardize our SEO here. They really took ownership of it about a year ago. What they did was they really overhauled a lot of the SEO product. And normalized SEO for Wix. It’s an amazing upgrade.”

Shares some of the technical SEO capabilities that have been developed for Wix that aren’t commonly known by old school SEOs.

“Oh, you can’t edit Robots.txt with Wix? Yes, you can!”
editing robots.txt on WIX

“That was fixed a while ago! All the basics of SEO.

You wanna add structured data? Yes, go ahead and add it for your static pages. We do add it in a box for dynamic pages, and there was an override you could use if you want to override the out-of-the-box we created for you, or you wanna add it where you don’t add it for certain dynamic pages and so forth.

They’ve done a tremendous amount.”

Mordy notes that a lot of Wix’s users are not SEOs, they’re SMB owners or practitioners that don’t necessarily focus on SEO.

“So many WordPress users are not SEOs. We’re really a very small part of the overall population, though we have a very loud mouth. It’s seeing what SEO means to non-SEOs. There’s tremendous popularity with SEO. Our users love SEO. They want to know more about it.”

Mordy says SEO is the big conversation at Wix right now, from the C-Suite on down.

“”It’s about what the CMS can do to increase performance.”

Speculation about Google and tinkering with SERPs

Mordy notes that he really enjoys studying the SERPs.

“It tells a story. You can see where Google’s headed, what it’s trying to do.”

He speaks of something that happened very recently.

“Google unleashed part of their explorer panel on Maps so you can see what other people are talking about and get ideas on what’s going on for that particular local query or that area you’re looking at.”

He offers another example from the past.

“Images went up. Snippets went up. For what queries? That doesn’t really satisfy me. I know what query the featured snippet now shows for or doesn’t show for anymore. But what kind of featured snippet? What’s in the featured snippet? What format?”

Garrett asks if he thinks Google is consciously trying to keep people from visiting other people’s websites.

“In general I see Google going very long-term in terms of what they do. I don’t think they think: how do we get more ad clicks right now. It’s generally not their approach to things. Instead, their approach is: What’s a very holistic way we can position ourselves so we dominate the market?

What I think they’re trying to do is I think they’re trying to say: We wanna position ourselves as an authority. Very much the way they tell sites they should be an authority. They’re following their own advice. How do they do this? By providing an answer.

I don’t think it’s about: Let’s give people the answer to keep them off sites. That’s too nefarious for me.”

Garrett asked if Mordy foresaw anyone giving Google serious competition.

“Somebody can. I don’t see a clear path towards that. Apple has a search engine. I don’t see a clear path towards Apple doing that.

Google is brilliant about it.

When they give you those answers that creates an association in your mind. Google’s where I go to get answers. It’s a very deep psychological relationship. That’s not going to be easy to break.”

But, Mordy points out, anything is possible.

“John Rockefeller’s monopoly fell apart.”

Thoughts about Amazon in the context of Google

Garrett asks: “People make the argument Google almost missed the train on eCommerce as a search engine. Do you see them going in the direction of Amazon, or Amazon going the direction of Google?”

Mordy says he doesn’t think Google will crack the eCommerce market.

“I go to Amazon. I don’t even go to Google. I don’t even think about Google and shopping. I don’t remember that it was a test, or something they announced, or something they’re working on where they’re offering you trends about the product. Really the data on that product, pricing trends about it: that’s really smart. Amazon doesn’t do that.”

He does say that he saw them do this very successfully with travel sites.

“I know people crap on Google for taking away Expedia’s market share. It’s all Expedia’s fault! What do they do? When I go to their site, what do they do? Hey, you want a car rental with this flight? No! Do you want a hotel? No! I just want to book a flight?”

He contrasts this with what Google did.

“Would you like a ton of information about your hotel stay and the area where you’re staying? Yes. Yes, I would. Would you like pricing trends about your flight? Yes, I would.

So Travelocity could have done that instead of selling me a rental car I don’t want. If Google does that with products: here’s the pricing trend, here’s a ton of really helpful information about the product that Amazon’s doing that it also could have done, I don’t see why Google can’t take down Amazon.”

Taking advantage of Wix's data capabilities

Garrett asks what Wix users who are into eCommerce should do to stay relevant.

Mordy said it was important to stay on top of the data.

“Wix offers a ton of data. If you have a coupon…how did that perform? Really [lets you] dissect what performs, what doesn’t perform well, seeing the nuance. You can use your sales data.

You can use it for your SEO if you test things out with this coupon. I tried something with this SEO strategy. With that coupon, I tried a different SEO strategy. And see how that works.”

He says that it’s also all about content.

“It’s what a million percent of the sites I see doing a great job are creating an identity with their content and a product identity with their content.

Does your site have a product identity? Who are you? You sell brownies? Do you sell hash brownies? Do you sell specialty brownies? Birthday brownies? Whatever brownies you’re selling, what makes you stand out?

What gives you an identity so I understand if people are searching for whatever kind of brownie is relevant, you’re the person I wanna show.”

For more on this, see Garrett’s talk with Jason Barnard, “The Brand SERPs Guy.”

What's your right now cause?

Morty has an autistic son. He says,

“People who are autistic are very talented. They have a lot to offer. They have a deep perspective on whatever it is. But it’s hard for them to feel comfortable expressing this sometimes. That social element of it. I feel confident enough to present this to the public.”

He isn’t talking about donating to charities here, so much as offering opportunities.

“One of the worries with my own son is, what’s going to happen when he gets older? He’s extremely intelligent. There’s no intelligence issue. Will he be accepted? He has his quirks. Will he have the opportunity to present himself and what he has to offer in the public space? That worries me.

If you know somebody in the industry that you’re working in, go out of your way to try to offer [autistic people] a platform where they can publicly present themselves, and give them the opportunity. You may have to coax them a little bit to do that, but I would urge you to do something like that. Just really reach out, make it comfortable and safe for them to do this because they will and they can.

There’s just a resistance and a fear of doing that, so maybe help people overcome that.”

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