Your CMS enables your team to create and edit content, set up workflows and collaborate with one another, and publish content directly to your website. Choosing the right content management system (CMS) to support your marketing goals is a critical decision. Having to migrate your site to another CMS later if you’re unhappy with your choice is a major undertaking with serious SEO considerations, so you want to choose the best fit right out of the gate.
Of the top million sites on the web, 47% use WordPress. Another 43% use unnamed “other” CMS solutions including Joomla!, Squarespace, Blogger, Wix, and more. WordPress can be a good CMS choice for SEO, but it is not without its challenges. Enterprise brands, in particular, may need a more powerful, customizable CMS to suit their needs without introducing all of the vulnerabilities and integration foibles of a WP setup with third-party plugins.
What are we looking for in an SEO-friendly CMS?
On-page SEO is still a top organic ranking factor. The ability to optimize specific elements of the page—page title, URL, meta description, headings, and image alt text—is key. You also want to ensure that code is as clean as possible.
What else should you be looking for in a CMS to support your search optimization strategy?
1. WYSIWYG – “What You See Is What Get”
Make sure your CMS is manageable for all users. While many marketers know coding basics, you don’t want to present obstacles for creative team members in your CMS. You can read more about “What You See Is What Get” and more on the mechanics of CMS selection here.
2. Loading speed
Given Google’s emphasis on page speed and the fact that every single second of delay can cost you a seven percent reduction in conversions, you can’t afford to get this one wrong. A quick-loading CMS is a foundation on which your other page speed optimizations can be more successful.
3. Workflows and collaboration
How intuitive is your content workflow? If you’re having to track revisions and control permissions in other software, you’re wasting valuable time.
4. Mobile optimization
Today, over 40% of online transactions occur on mobile and 87% of internet users are on mobile phones. Google recognizes the importance of mobile to user experience, so much that the search engine implemented mobile-first indexing as of July 1, 2019.
5. Purpose-built features
These will vary on your type of business and unique needs. If you’re selling online, for example, you’ll want an ecommerce CMS with the ability to add hundreds or thousands of products, define the attributes shoppers use to search your inventory, and edit product groups en masse.
Your CMS should include standard features to support crawlability and indexing including canonical tags, meta robots control, automatic RSS generation, and security features.
7. Content optimization
Built-in content optimization capabilities enable your team to meet searcher demand in real-time with SEO recommendations based on search data.
How can you future proof your CMS with AI?
As I mentioned above, you really don’t want to have to migrate your site if your CMS can’t keep pace with your business growth and the evolving search landscape. There are other options if your CMS meets your needs today but doesn’t have the capabilities to serve you in the years to come.
Dynamic content is the future of SEO. Human marketers simply don’t have the bandwidth to collect and analyze the massive amount of consumer data being generated across hundreds of touchpoints. Artificial intelligence (AI) is a game-changer in so many facets of marketing, and content management is no exception.
1. Bridge the customer experience and optimization gaps
AI is transforming the CMS market by helping marketers to bridge the customer experience and optimization gaps where traditional CMS options come up short. For example, AI drives real-time SEO research and insights which can then be used to make smart content optimization recommendations or even implement optimizations that personalize the reader’s experience.
2. Expand image and voice search opportunities
Inside a CMS, AI can enable automatic image tagging and Natural Language Processing (NLP) or even Generation to accelerate the process of content creation. AI can analyze text for linking and CTA opportunities, and optimize for voice control and voice search platforms.
3. Free up more time for productive campaign management
All of this intelligent automation enables marketers and SEOs to hand off the manual, labor-intensive aspects of their strategy and free up time for more creative campaign management tasks.
In the future, we may even see intelligent CMS solutions able to interface with other AI systems and devices. AI may be able to personalize not only the content but efficiently deal with thousands of landing pages that need to be optimized quickly and frequently.
Building SEO into your content creation
Optimizing for search today means not only optimizing for the customer experience but for the myriad search result types a well-optimized piece of content can trigger. Local/MapPack results, zero-click search, answer boxes, video carousels, featured snippets, and more help searchers make better decisions and give brands opportunities to get in front of more relevant queries.
Choosing the right CMS, or if you need a CMS, is far from the only consideration in your SEO strategy, but it should be a well-thought decision based on your company’s unique needs and goals for your marketing program. A good CMS gives authors the power to optimize new content ‘out of the gate’ as it is produced.
With your CMS and all tools, choose solutions that are built to scale. Focus on search-friendly content types that enable you to target different search intents and types, and help you stand out in competitive SERPs—for example, video thumbnails are now appearing in 26% of search results.
The role of AI and automation
AI is now beginning to play an important role in the development of content and with integration in CMS systems. Sometimes there are areas where CMS systems can be large and not sufficiently flexible to deal with dynamic changes of markets, consumer demand, and competitive movement. This can make it hard for you to make changes quickly, and when things break the amount of time and resources needed to fix them is huge. AI-powered automation can now help relieve some of this burden and help marketers seize on immediate opportunities and act on them in as near to real-time as possible.
There is no one size fits all CMS. However, if you are challenged by slow and cumbersome changes then focusing on how AI is used may help when evaluating how, if, and what is the best CMS option for your brand.
Jim Yu is the founder and CEO of BrightEdge, the leading enterprise SEO and content performance platform.