Another SEO consultant reached out to me on LinkedIn. She asked me:
“My client is struggling during the pandemic. She is trying to decide if and determine how having the website developer she already engaged launch and build her WordPress WooCommerce site using the drag ‘n drop capabilities of Beaver Builder will impact her from an SEO standpoint.
“My experience as an SEO expert has been to-date that drag ‘n drop sites don't perform as well due to ‘bloated' or less-easily-indexed-by-Google code, but I get this would be kind of a hybrid site — one built in a strong CMS like WordPress, but employing Beaver Builder capabilities.
“I've read online that Beaver Builder impacts SEO negatively, but hoping you might provide some objective thoughts since you appear to build sites in many platforms. Thanks for any thoughts you are willing and able to provide.”
Beaver Builder is a drag-and-drop page builder for WordPress, the world's most popular CMS. There are many others, like Elementor, Visual Composer, and Divi.
Page builders are becoming quite popular because they allow non-developers the ability to create websites with ease and minimal technical intervention.
I use Beaver Builder on my own website and several of my clients' websites. I chose it because it is one of the oldest (meaning, it has a lot of maturity and stability), has a stronger support community, and is the most flexible among all page builders.
It's a contentious issue, but In my personal experience, Beaver Builder is perfectly fine for SEO.
Is there bloat? Yes, which is why it's contentious. But most modern page builders have clean code that's easily parsable. The “bloat” issue stems from the earlier iterations of page builders that gave all page builders a bad reputation.
Beaver Builder as well as Elementor are the least bloated of all page builders, and they are known for their cleaner, leaner code. Google can easily parse the information, so hindrance is not a factor.
There are a lot of other things that add to a website's bloated code, including poorly structured themes and too many plugins loading competing scripts and redundant resources on every page.
Add structured data to make your content easier to parse. SEO plugins and schema plugins do this. Adding schema helps Google understand your content better. I recommend this with all websites, with or without a page builder.
Now, the only reason a “bloated” website would affect SEO is that it slows it down. Page speed is a major ranking factor. But while code bloat does add to the loading time, page builders only slow it down a little. It depends on a number of other factors.
Having too many plugins (as mentioned previously), large images, database queries, etc affect page load. But your host's processing power and its server response time are more important.
Ecommerce, and WooCommerce specifically, are also key factors. Adding ecommerce capability to a website can add bloat and reduce speed.
While speed does affect SEO, in this case it can also affect sales. Slow speeds create friction at checkout, reducing conversion rates considerably.
One client of mine had a very large site with Beaver Builder, Beaver Builder add-ons, WooCommerce, and several WooCommerce add-ons, too. So we hired a “speed” expert, a developer with specific expertise in finding bottlenecks to improve page speed, particularly with ecommerce sites.
He conducted a thorough audit of the site and ran a battery of performance tests. He revealed three key bottlenecks that, combined, affected speed: my client's hosting platform, WooCommerce, and Beaver Builder.
So we switched hosts, added a tool that allowed us to load select resources on a per-page basis (such as loading WooCommerce only in the store section of the website), and used a speed tool that improved caching and compression.
The result was a ~690% improvement in page speed.
One final note.
Page builders are increasingly popular, and some of the highest-ranked websites use them. Not only that, but even WordPress themselves recognize the growing need for page builders, which is why they are adding their own version in an upcoming release.
So to a certain degree, it's irrelevant.
I recommend to choose a good host that performs well and offers a quick response time, and to use tools to improve SEO and speed.
Here's the bottom-line: if page builders help make it easier for your client to post more quality content, my vote is to keep the page builder.