3 Ways Your CMS is Ruining Your SEO

Brandon Schmidt | December 19, 2018
Search and SEOWebsite Design & Development

Is the software behind your website having a negative impact on your search rankings? Find out.

seo impact of CMS in website development

What is a CMS?

CMS stands for Content Management System, and is the software used to generate, manage, and control the content on your website. Instead of having to hard code every page, a CMS turns your photos, content, and settings into menus, pages, and links.

The real benefits of a content management system is the ease of updating and adjusting content on your site. Most CMS platforms offer a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editing window, which means that anyone experienced at Microsoft Word can edit your site.

CMS can range in terms of usability, cost, customization, and flexibility. Some are designed for the the DIY audience (Squarespace), while others target a specific category (Shopify for eCommerce).

The most popular website CMS is WordPress, which runs 28.9% of the entire internet (source) and 60% of websites that use a CMS. Additional popular CMS platforms include DotNetNuke, Dupral, Joomla!, Magento, Squarespace, and Shopify.

How does my CMS affect SEO?

Since your content management system controls every word, page, and link on your site, it is a crucial part of your SEO’s work. Optimizing your site for the search engines and target keywords/inquiries means adjusting settings of your CMS. Some content platforms are easy to update and have all the settings an SEO agency needs, while other CMS platforms make it difficult or nearly impossible to fully optimize to SEO best practices.

What about using a Custom CMS?

Many website development companies use a proprietary CMS or develop a custom CMS for each website. While there can be great benefits in terms of functionality and saved development time, there is one big concern with relying on a custom or proprietary system: it forces you to stay with (and pay) the website developer so long as you have your website. Any design updates or security patches will need to be made by the developer; any outside developer may have a steep learning curve to learn this unique system in order to make updates.

We’ve seen companies and organizations experience this nightmare: when trying to leave their existing website provider, the company discovers they don’t actually own their website, only the content on it. In some cases, the web provider gives them a Word doc of their website. So if you want to move to another marketing agency, you will have to essentially rebuild the site.

By using WordPress, we build websites that you own from Day 1. If you choose to work with us on a monthly basis, have your internal team manage the site, or take your website to another agency, your website is yours.

3 Ways Your CMS is Ruining Your SEO

1. Difficult to Update

Some CMS platforms are more user-friendly and are easier to update than others. For others, you need years of experience working with it before you know all the ins and outs of it. While that might be great for your website developer, it makes it much harder for your internal marketing team or external vendors to make changes. Do you want to pay for the time it takes your team or your SEO agency to learn how to work within your CMS?

Do-it-yourself website builders – such as Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace – have limited or convoluted steps to make basic SEO updates like a title tag. We recently had a client who’s site was on a GoDaddy platform, and we counted it took 8 different screens and inputs before we could change the meta description.

Still other CMS platforms are proprietary, created by a website development agency for their customers or for you specifically. While this does provide a custom solution for your needs, it also locks you in to their services long-term. If you want to switch to another vendor for SEO or digital marketing services, you may need to rebuilt your site on a non-proprietary CMS.

2. Creates new SEO issues

Some content management platforms are downright dreadful when it comes to technical SEO. Whether it is creating duplicate pages, case sensitive URLs, or producing pages with unrecognizable URL structures, these can be a nightmare for the user as well as your SEO agency. Diagnosing and cleaning up these issues will take longer on these platforms, which will impact your search rankings.

3. Slow Performance

Content management systems can be slow for several reasons. First, the CMS can be an older, outdated version or rely on old plugins or extensions. Second, some CMS platforms depend on inefficient legacy internet technology. Finally, we’ve seen plenty of websites that have been built with a CMS that’s way bigger than their needs. If you have a 10 page website, you don’t need it built on a full-blown eCommerce platform.

When the CMS is Not the Problem

Of course, the problem with your website’s SEO might not be the CMS platform. Website templates with bloated code, slow hosting platforms, or poorly written content can all be reasons for why your website is not performing well in search.

When we build new websites, we build exclusively on WordPress, a platform that has strong built-in SEO capabilities. Our sites take advantage of WP Engine’s best-in-class speed and performance for our hosting platform. We also use plugins like Yoast SEO to further optimize a site for increased rankings.

If your website is stuck on an older, underperforming, or proprietary content management system, consider switching to WordPress. Our team would love to start a conversation about how updating your website can lead to higher rankings, increased traffic, and a better converting website.