To make the most of your SEO efforts, you need to choose the right content management system. A CMS is not only the place where you write and publish content. It should also allow you to make changes to your website that will influence its rankings, like creating SEO-friendly URLs or a clean site structure.
In this article, we'll walk you through the key SEO functionalities in content management systems and tell you which CMS you should choose to support your SEO strategy.
What you will learn
- How content management systems can be important for SEO
- 10 things to look for when you're choosing a CMS
- The best content management systems for SEO
Are CMS good for SEO?
CMS platforms are beneficial to SEO in numerous ways. First, you can easily manage and edit the blog post, so you can add relevant keywords to the content or edit the article's structure. You can also easily edit the information about the article, such as meta description, tags, and image alt texts. Moreover, CMS allows you to easily change your URL structure to be more SEO-friendly and add relevant keywords.
CMS makes optimizing your website for SEO easier because they facilitate making technical tweaks to your site. For example, content management platforms make setting up a friendly website structure much easier. It's important for SEO because search engine crawlers can scan your page faster and link relevant pieces of content to each other.
Without a CMS, you would need extensive knowledge of HTML and CSS to make your website well-optimized for SEO. Adversely, you would need a professional website developer to implement all the changes you want.
How to pick the best CMS for SEO
If you want your site to rank high in search engines, you need to choose the right CMS to easily update your content, edit URLs and metadata, build a friendly site structure, and more.
While there are many options available on the market, not all were created equal. With CMS, you need to be able to perform on-page optimization, such as the titles, tags, and metadata, as well as ensure great page speed, security, and performance.
Here are ten features to consider when picking the right CMS platform for SEO.
On-page SEO includes all the things you can do to your website to make it rank higher.
Page optimization includes creating relevant content and adding proper keywords so that search engines can better understand what your pages are about.
Selecting the right keywords for your content makes it easier for the target audience and search engines to find your pages. The most important places you should be able to add keywords include:
- Page title
- Header tags
- Meta title
- Meta description
- Meta tags
The right CMS software must allow you to include keywords in these areas to help google determine the context and intent of your article, to display in the search results. You should be able to quickly edit page titles and headers and access metadata.
While most CMS platforms don't have the problem with the first two, editing meta descriptions often needs to be done in code. Experienced SEOs with technical skills might not mind it, but beginners should pay close attention to these CMS features.
Editing URLs is another way you can add keywords describing your page. URLs are one of the most important areas Google looks for keywords, but they are also relevant to users. Both search engines, like readers, don't like reading lengthy strings of words with complex structures.
To keep your URLs short and descriptive, include only your target keywords.
So instead of opting for a default link address the CMS proposes, you should include only the most descriptive keyword.
Sometimes, CMS platforms leave the category subfolder in the URL, which is less desirable for SEO, so it's another thing to look out for. The best possible solution is to edit an entire URL so you can fully control what it includes.
Keywords allow you to take the most advantage of SEO, so it's important to write long-form content. After conducting keyword research, you want to implement the phrases easily in your blog posts.
A CMS for SEO should have all the basic blogging functionalities, such as writing, formatting, and editing. You should be able to edit title tags and header tags.
Moreover, the editor should allow you to easily add images, videos, buttons, and other media. For images, you should be able to change the image alt text and the file name and add descriptions or links.
The right CMS should also give you the option to easily update the posts, as the rankings often change over time.
CMS platforms often offer some basic SEO features, but their full potential lies in the added functionalities in the form of plugins and extensions.
Most CMS platforms have libraries or stores with extensions where you can buy or download them for free. However, some platforms require more of your input. For example, Webflow or Drupal needs a lot of coding expertise and SEO knowledge.
If you don't need a high level of customization, look for the CMS that offers a marketplace with add-ons you can download and use right away.
It's also important to note that the SEO extensions aren't the same. Some offer a single feature, for example, automating internal linking or creating XML maps. Other add-ons are entire apps you can integrate into your CMS, including optimization and analytics tools.
Menus, categories, and taxonomy
The clearer your website architecture is, the easier for search engines to crawl and index your content. So, it's important to name and categorize every page in order, and your CMS should help you do it.
Most CMS tools offer tags and categories; some even have topic clusters. But the most important thing is to be able to customize them so you can assign topically connected posts to the right categories. It will help Google understand that the pages are related to each other and increase the chance that they crawl them.
Website navigation is also a crucial aspect that matters not only to search engines but to users too. The menu should be easy to find, intuitive, and clean. Your CMS should allow you to choose the categories in the menu and set hierarchy and breadcrumbs easily.
Responsive web design makes pages look great on all devices, so no matter the template you choose, the page elements adjust to the screen size.
The CMS you choose should offer responsive layouts to eliminate the worry of optimizing your pages for different devices. Search engines favor mobile-friendly websites, so it's important to use reliable templates you don't need to test on every device.
Most CMS platforms have libraries with layouts and templates, so look for the ones that offer responsive design. Some CMS tools will have paid responsive layouts, but some platforms offer them for free.
Page speed is an SEO ranking factor that many people struggle with. It also affects the average time on the page. The right CMS should help you keep your website fast, no matter how much content and traffic you have.
To monitor and improve page speed, you can use various plugins that cache your site, clear your database, and compress your images. When choosing a CMS for SEO, ensure it offers such a plugin.
User Experience can drastically affect user retention and as a result, your traffic and rankings. CMS software should offer aesthetically pleasing templates, clear navigation, easy browsing, and fast loading times.
All these aspects translate into longer session duration, meaning more time spent on your website. While it's not a direct ranking factor, the amount of traffic you have can boost your rankings. If your website is pleasant to browse people will want to see more than just one page, so don't overlook the UX's impact.
Security and performance
Security is important to running a website, whether you use SEO practices or not. A secure CMS will ensure your site isn't hacked or slowed down. The most standard feature every CMS should have is an SSL certificate.
Some platforms have this feature built-in, and every website you build is equipped with it, but they are mostly paid platforms. Tools like WordPress or Joomla allow you to choose the hosting service that should provide you with an SSL certificate.
Moreover, some extensions can help you take care of the security of your website. However, you should choose all the plugins wisely and ensure they are popular, updated solutions.
The CMS you choose should be actively developed, allow a look into the code, have a two-factor authentication option, and allow levels of access. With these features, you can be sure that your website is secure and ready to use.
Support and Community
If you're a website owner and want to get into SEO, you'll definitely need to get into online resources, articles, videos, and forums to help you get started. That's why it's important to choose a CMS that there's plenty of information about online.
For example, WordPress has been around for years, and every problem you could possibly have with it has already been solved. It's extremely helpful, considering SEO has various aspects that translate to overall success. You need a strong community to reach out to when having problems with your website's performance.
Major CMS platforms also have customer support that you can contact when experiencing technical problems.
Best content management system platform for SEO
CMS for SEO should be fast, user-friendly, and customizable. Not all CMS platforms can offer all these features at once, but some certainly stand out from the rest regarding SEO features. Here are 7 CMS platforms that offer search engine optimization features and why you should choose them.
WordPress [top pick]
What is the best content management system for SEO? WordPress is the best content maneuvering system for search engine optimization. It's by far the most popular CMS among SEO experts. And there are certainly very good reasons for WordPress to be a top pick for SEO.
First, it's probably the most universal CMS – you can set up a simple static website or a huge enterprise site with many customizations. Some of the most popular sites are powered by WordPress, such as Time Magazine, Wire, and The White House.
Secondly, WordPress is quite easy to configure considering how much room for customization it allows. It offers a multitude of plugins and templates, and for the more tech savvy site owners, it enables making changes in the code.
When it comes to SEO, WordPress has a lot of helpful built-in features, for example, it allows you to create SEO-friendly URLs, proper headings, and image alt text. There is also a possibility to generate an XML map, but most people prefer to use plugins for that purpose.
But the real power of WordPress for SEO lies in plugins. The most popular add-ons for SEO include All in One SEO, Yoast SEO, and Rank Math. There are also more focused plugins, such as WP Rocket, that help improve site speed or Schema Pro, which generates Schema markups for your pages.
And for content optimization, we recommend Surfer's WordPress plugin that allows you to export your articles from Content Editor and publish them straight on your WordPress website.
There are, however, downsides that come with the array of plugins that WordPress offers and its page speed and security. It's crucial to install only the most useful plugins because having too many of them installed can cause your website issues with loading.
You should also pay attention to plugins being up-to-date and constantly developed. If you see an extension that hasn't been updated in a long time, it's best to remove it for security's sake.
On the other hand, WordPress does UX very well, thanks to its vast library of themes and templates and supporting responsive design. You can also choose from an even larger selection of responsive themes in third-party marketplaces to design your site.
CMS also allows you to create clear navigation menus, and use categories and tags to organize your content. Editing meta descriptions and creating permalinks is also very simple in WordPress. You can also easily optimize images for SEO by adding descriptions and changing the file names, which increases the chances of ranking in Google images.
Overall, WordPress is the best CMS for SEO, whether you're a beginner or a seasoned marketer. WordPress has numerous built-in features and extensions that make your site readable for search engine crawlers by allowing custom URLs, editing robot.txt files, and adding metadata and other relevant information. It also offers a variety of beautiful templates and supports a great user experience.
Joomla is the second most popular CMS after WordPress. They are similar in offering a huge library of extensions and templates.
What's different is that Joomla is harder to configure, and the wrong setup can cause duplicate content issues or the creation of unreadable URLs. The platform is however more versatile and can handle more content, pages, and traffic.
Joomla's biggest advantage over WordPress is that you can create multiple menus, sections, and categories and not miss out on site speed. You can also clearly organize website content without using extensions.
So, it's safe to say that the platform caters to already established brands and businesses that have a lot of visitors or want to scale their online presence.
With Joomla, you can create proper page titles and headings and add a meta description. Joomla is also very mobile-friendly and supports responsive templates. The scalability and performance of Joomla already benefit SEO significantly, but let's take a look at other features.
You can find other SEO functionalities in the form of extensions. As we mentioned, Joomla doesn't produce SEO-friendly URLs by itself, so you need to install an add-on. Other features that you can find among extensions include 301 redirects, the creation of canonical URLs, image alt text, or XML maps.
Overall, Joomla is a powerful CMS platform that can do wonders for SEO if configured correctly. If you want to scale your blog or business or you're looking for a CMS for SEO other than WordPress, Joomla is a safe bet.
Drupal is a powerful CMS used by enterprises and organizations around the world. It's most known for its security and performance while still handling large quantities of data.
First, it's important to note that Drupal isn't easy to set up and requires technical knowledge or hiring a skilled developer. Once it's set up, there are additional modules, which are basically plugins, that unlock advanced SEO features. Drupal has a module for every SEO feature separately, and you'll need someone tech-savvy to make all those modules work together.
Using just basic SEO features, you can format text as headings and add alt text to images. In fact, in the latest edition, you won't be able to publish an article if you didn't add the image alt text. Lastly, Drupal automatically generates robots.txt files that tell search engine crawlers which pages they should scan.
In sum, Drupal is a very secure, fast, and performative CMS that can significantly benefit your website's SEO. It's mostly recommended for businesses and organizations as it needs an outside hire of a professional website developer. If you're willing to do so, or maybe you're a developer, then Drupal can do wonders for your website.
Wix is a platform for building websites that is incredibly easy to use. Most people choose it because it's free and beginner-friendly.
Wix is one of the oldest website builders on the web, but for many years it didn't have much to offer regarding SEO features. Wix's SEO functionalities have improved, so they will work for several types of websites.
For example, the platform offers an SEO checklist where you answer questions regarding your website and you can see recommendations for optimization. On top of that, you should probably use external tools such as Google Search Console to keep an eye on your rankings.
In terms of SEO, Wix isn't the best possible choice. However, if you want to build a personal website and take advantage of SEO, you can still use Wix combined with SEO best practices, such as link building and creating optimized content.
Squarespace is a website builder many people use to set up their first website because it's easy to set up and offers aesthetic templates.
Similarly to other content management systems, Squarespace has some SEO features built in to help your website rank with search engines. Like Wix, it offers an SEO checklist that provides optimization recommendations for your website.
Also, Squarespace creates an XML sitemap automatically, which makes your website easier to crawl. Another advantage of Squarespace is that it has built-in mobile optimization; mobile load speed is an important aspect of your page rank.
Probably the biggest downside of Squarespace is the lack of available plugins. You can work around it and make your website SEO friendly, but it would require coding.
Generally, Squarespace can be used for basic SEO, for example, if you use your website as a digital business card. But in the case of more complex websites or larger quantities of content, it's better to choose another CMS platform.
Webflow is a powerful platform for designers and developers with vast customization possibilities. However, you need a lot of expertise to get the full potential of Webflow, including SEO capabilities.
Benefits of using Webflow for SEO include fast loading time and enabling great UX. While user experience isn't a direct ranking factor, it can improve dwell time, making a website rank higher.
Webflow is most known for its design capabilities, though, so it wasn't primarily made to support SEO. The platform doesn't provide plugins, so it's vital you can write integrations with external tools if you want to take full advantage of SEO. But, if you have extensive coding knowledge, Webflow might be a good choice.
Best content management system platform for e-commerce SEO
While all the above CMS tools allow you to build an online store, we'll now focus on the CMS platforms for e-commerce that can boost your SEO performance.
Magento is a CMS that has basic built-in SEO tools but, like most platforms, allows you to download additional plugins. Built-in functionalities include responsive themes, adding meta descriptions to all your product pages, and editing URLs.
You can also easily create an XML sitemap for your site and add navigation menus to make your website easier to crawl. Moreover, you can remove duplicate content by setting up canonical URLs and setting your checkout, account, cart, and admin pages to "nofollow."
Overall, Magento is a powerful e-commerce platform that offers some SEO solutions, however, it works best if you purchase additional SEO plugins.
Shopify is another great CMS for e-commerce that is known for its simplicity. The platform takes care of everything from hosting to design and templates. It's integrated with Cloudflare CDN provider for improved load time.
Shopify also offers essential SEO functionalities, such as adding image alt texts, customizing site structure, or creating canonical URLs, redirects, and XML sitemaps. On top of that, Shopify has an extensive marketplace with additional plugins if you need something more sophisticated.
It's worth noting, however, that you can't customize URLs to remove the category subdirectory like in the case of Magento. Another major drawback is that you need a paid plan to get indexed by search engine crawlers. But if you need an easy-to-use tool with great speed and performance, you should consider Shopify.
When choosing a CMS, ensure that you check how much it helps your website with SEO
Even though most CMS platforms offer SEO features, pick one that has a good track record and offers both basic and advanced control
Wordpress is the best CMS for SEO due to it's long standing history of easy to setup websites that have in built SEO features
An SEO-friendly CMS is necessary to drive organic traffic to your website and get on top of the SERP. The best CMS should have built-in blog functionality and allow embed of media and content updates. It should also have the option to add more advanced SEO functions, for example, in the form of plugins. Additionally, a CMS should support fast page loading, impeccable security, and great user experience.