Content management systems (CMS). A very popular approach many opt for when developing their website. There are many to be found on the market some more advanced than others, but in this series of articles we will focus on some of the more popular ones.
WordPress vs. Joomla & Drupal vs. Shopify vs. Wix & Squarespace. The pros and cons, and general SEO functionality.
A question that pops up occasionally is, which CMS better to get ranked for a new business?
The answer is – it depends on what your goals and budget are. Are you planning to rank high organically and dominate the SERP? Are you just aiming at a humble landing page with some company info, that will get most of its traffic by direct paid channels, such as ads, emails, and referrals? Are you an eCommerce business or an establishment that needs real physical traffic?
These are just some of the questions you must ask yourself. But hopefully after reading this series, you will come up with more relevant questions and be able to make educated decisions, on which has more benefits for your goals.
We will cover all of these topics in our 4-part CMS series of articles, starting with WordPress.
The basic needs of a CMS to handle SEO in 2019
Before we even get to the various CMS solutions and their strengths and weaknesses, we need to be on the same page.
SEO for Google and other search engines in 2019 is a highly specialized skill. It has some mandatory technical requirements that each webmaster needs to consider before examining any CMS or web development (not just the ones we will mention).
This is a must in 2019. Over 60% of all searches are done via mobile and it is well known by now having a mobile-friendly fast loading website is a ranking factor, as far as Google is concerned. Not to even mention the mobile SERP is entirely different than the desktop one!
If a CMS is limited in its potential to be mobile friendly, it is a huge disadvantage if you plan to be organically visible on mobile devices.
Also, all searches are geo-targeted and the SERP you see will depend on your physical location. A CMS needs to have all the needed possibilities to define location specific webpages if you want to win in local searches.
The next big thing in SEO to consider. Voice searches are rapidly growing and are projected to become a standard for most internet users eventually. If you read our voice search article, you should know that that there are some differences from regular text search. There are also specific requirements that need to be met in order for a website to rank on search. If voice search is something that is relevant for your business, then the next point is especially important:
This markup is needed if you want to use Google’s rich snippets potential, and are also needed for voice search, and local optimization. A CMS must have some options to inject schema markups to content, otherwise you will be at a disadvantage against websites that use schema wisely. Read our schema article for more details.
Loading speed is a direct ranking factor according to Google, and a major indirect influence as well since it will heavily impact bounce rates. To optimize loading speeds some server-side strategies might be required, and the option to implement more advanced coding techniques such as lazy loading, to lower bounce rates and give the impression of speed. Bounce rates directly affect your potential organic growth.
Ideally the CMS needs to have some option to implement additional custom code. But even better, make sure to build with speed in mind from scratch. If for example, you explore some user reviews online about the CMS and discover that the platform is problematic as far as speed is concerned, then that is a caveat to mind.
Hacked websites get kicked out of Google’s SERP as soon as they are discovered. Plus, it’s not a very pleasant experience to discover you content has been hijacked or compromised. Unless you fall for a phishing ploy, a CMS needs to have a solid track record of security, and not all of them do. Plus, new alternative CMS solutions might not have a track record at all, despite any impressive security claims. If the CMS you will use to make your website will be easily exploited, then all your best SEO efforts can go to waste or be temporarily halted at one critical moment. And down time means lost revenue.
Some CMSs will have free options to have a URL nested under their main one. For example – yourbuisness.wix.com
We recommend you use your own domain name and track that, and not a “burrowed” subdomain. And as far as SERP tracking goes, this isn’t a concern, since any URL can be tracked on our system. But you will ideally want to stick to one main domain for your business and promote it on search engines, instead of promoting a hosted domain and then ‘upgrading’ to your own domain, adding unneeded concerns to your SEO curriculum.
Cool WordPress stats n’ facts
The most popular choice for a CMS.
WP might’ve started as a simple blogging platform, but it has since grown beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. Its open source approach has made it very versatile after years of community development. It actually reached the point where it can compete with a website developed from scratch by a very talented team. The existence of custom ready-to-use themes (more than 31k of them that exist) and more then 55k plug-ins for virtually any need, has enhanced WP’s potential as a top-notch industry leading solution.
There is still an ongoing myth that WP is for amateur web devs or only for small businesses. This is far from the truth! Here are some big names you might recognize: CNN, New York PostFortune.com, TIME.com, Spotify, TechCrunch, , TED, USA Today, CBS Local, and NBC are just some of the major players that use WordPress!
WordPress by this point has become one of the available standards to use in web development and is generally well liked by SEO pros and eCommerce experts. The skepticism that was prevalent on using WordPress has long since gone.
In 2019, WP holds 61.2% market share among CMSs(w3techs). WP has been downloaded more than 200 million times (2016), and 60 million unique websites are using it, with more than 80 million new blog posts created monthly! (expandedramblings). And these posts combined get more than 120 million comments a month (Wpengine).
These 60 million websites are significant too, since according to WP themselves, they currently power a whopping 32% of the web (WP). Considering they started in 2003, it’s a remarkable achievement.
- SEO – It’s almost tailor-made for SEO – Started as a blogging platform, one of the core principles of WordPress is the ability to publish content fast and with ease. And as you probably know, Google requires relevant fresh content as one of the basic requirements to get ranked. WP has great SEO plug-ins and a ton of SEO guides specifically aimed at WP can be found online (you can find some of them in our SEO resource list).
- Mobile – Most themes are inherently mobile-friendly. The premium themes especially follow all the recent standards dictated by Google and the SEO community and get updated frequently.
- Schema – You can use schema markups, one of the most important features for search that drives CTR, localization and voice search.
- Flexibility – there are many possibilities to improving speed, implementing lazy loading, and injecting custom code for virtually any technical need.
- It’s open source – so if you have the expertise, you can mold it to anything you like basically, or hire an expert to do it for you. Most plug-ins and themes are customizable and can be tweaked even further to suit your needs if you speak their code.
- Price – you can use the basic or various free themes that exist, or you can use a premium theme for a relatively small fee (there are tens of thousands to choose from, and some of them are truly amazing). Also, developing a WP website will be much cheaper than developing an equivalent website (without a friendly CMS) from scratch. And once you have your website ready, you can manage it yourself in many cases, without requiring an active developer on staff.
- HUGE community and user base – The large number of users means there is a great deal of information and case studies to learn from, and many forums and communities to seek advice from. There are even the renowned WordCamp conferences dedicated solely for everything WP-related. And there’s a good chance you might find one near you since there are currently 1031 WordCamps happening in 75 cities, in 65 countries, across 6 continents!
- Update troubles – Known downsides are frequent updates that sometimes cause problems. You see, everything on WordPress is constantly updated, form WordPress itself to its plug-ins and themes. Some updates might not get along with certain themes and plug-ins, and other updates.
- Speed – speed isn’t necessarily an inherent feature of WP and to get the good juicy benchmarks, tweaking might be required.
Loading speed is a ranking factor and also impacts bounce rates, and so does the perception of speed.
- Security – if you are careless, security and spam can be an issue. Especially if you allow unmoderated user content, such as comments. Luckily the security issues of WP are well known, and there are many plug-ins and guides on tightening up security that can be found on the web. One of the benefits of having a huge open source community.And here’s a stat we saved specifically for this part: Akismet, a popular anti-spam filter for WP, has claimed they stopped more than 400 Billion spam messages so far and actively blocks more than 10 billion spam messages a month. Spammy messages are one of the culprits of a website being marked as spam (a Google penalty which kicks you off the SERP). Luckily spam filtering solutions exist, and you can always moderate comments to begin with.
- Learning curve – Technical difficulty is ranged from medium to highly advanced. There are many guides on how to install it yourself, but you can always pay an expert to do it. It’s considerably cheaper than developing a website from scratch, like we said. If you go at it yourself, expect some growing pains and difficulties, since it’s not that easy to learn.
Some useful starting points to go over
- Yoast would be a good starting point for all thing’s SEO for WordPress related. It’s the go-to SEO plug-in to start with.
- Jetpack – an essential plug-in to have. JP is aimed at a variety of tasks such as traffic insight, social media integration, backups, and security.
- WooCommerce – the most popular plug-in for eCommerce. Over 23% of the top 1 million eCommerce websites use it (although Shopify is slowly gaining up on it).
- ThemeForest – one of the biggest websites for paid and premium themes.
- Akismet – Anti-spam plug-in mentioned earlier.
- Wpengine (Just for fun) – live stats counter for the whole WP-sphere
How to track your WordPress website on search engines the CORRECT way
This part is for those new to Pro Rank Tracker.
Since you will most likely have your own domain name, tracking WordPress is no different than tracking any other website on our system. Simply insert the webpage URL in our tool and you’re good to go:
Now an important thing to note is that if you are designating a specific webpage in your website to target a certain area, then you need to specify that EXACT area in the location field:
And remember the mobile friendliness we discussed? Google builds 4 different SERPs depending on which OS and device types are used. This means 4 separate mobile ranks that can (and should) be tracked! More on that here, in case you’re not familiar.
So, you need to add the proper mobile ranking types to get the full picture (Android phone | Android tablet | iPhone | iPad):
If you optimized everything correctly, then you should see your mobile ranks rise along with your desktop ranks. Often these two ranks will act differently, and one will outperform the other and bounce around. This is natural and means Google is doing its thing. Here is how a desktop rank vs. mobile rank progress might look like:
Next, be sure to check the exact match switch, since you need to know how that webpage is doing in the targeted area:
And if you want to make sure everything is optimized correctly and loading speed is up to industry standards, check out our SEO Audit Tool.
WordPress is probably the most mainstream approach you can take to developing your website. It’s not limited SEO-wise and offers a great balance between ease of use and functionality. And if you cover your bases security-wise, then it shouldn’t be an issue either. And best of all, it’s a great solution as it is right now, but it’s only going to grow and improve. Even Facebook might fall rapidly from grace as happened to MySpace, but WP is here to stay since it’s the infrastructure of so many businesses. The future never seemed brighter and wordier for WordPress.
But even having said all that, you might actually require a humble website with traffic generated by paid ads only, so it’s possible one of the other CMS could actually suit you better. Be sure you are subscribed to our blog, so you won’t miss parts 2-5 of this series!
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