As the digital marketplace becomes more and more search-engine centric in 2020, having an SEO-friendly CMS (content management system) is a massively important asset. If you’re a professional marketer responsible for your company’s website, you know the pitfalls that come from trying to improve a hardcoded site or a site with a terrible CMS.
We’ve particularly seen major issues with the best CMS selection during redesigns and website overhauls. Marketers are caught between picking a seamless and simple CMS and a robust and customizable CMS. Often times, marketers will have to live with this decision for the next 3-5 years – so it better be the right one!
Here at Victorious, we are very, very picky with content management systems because we know some are much more friendly than others.
As an enterprise SEO agency, Victorious works with A TON of different top CMS platforms, and in our experience, there are five we consider to be the best and most reliable options to go with.
But before we jump in, I want to quickly break down the difference between a hosted and self-hosted content management system as you’ll see me reference this in each CMS breakdown.
Hosted vs. Self-Hosted
Hosted Platform: A hosted CMS is all-in-one.
With this platform, you can purchase a proprietary software that builds and stores your website. It’s great in the sense that you don’t ever have to make updates or maintain the site, but it does limit your freedom to customization and functionality.
Self-Hosted Platform: A self-hosted platform is the best CMS for SEO because of its flexibility and functionality.
A developer is usually needed for creating a website. It might take longer to get a self-hosted site up and running, however, you have full freedom to design, layout and customize your site as you wish. With fewer restrictions, from an SEO standpoint, self-hosted platforms are the best content management systems.
Now that we’ve gone over hosted and self-hosted content management systems put on your thinking cap, we are about to explore the Pros & Cons of the best content management systems. We will also give our thoughts on what the best CMS for SEO is.
Top Five, No Debate
Coming in hot at #5 is Squarespace. This CMS is arguably the most user-friendly platform. This content management system is great for small business SEO, eCommerce SEO services, and those with a creative mind as it is usually visually appealing and easy to use.
Great for: A marketer wearing ALL.THE.HATS who doesn’t want to sacrifice design quality… but doesn’t have the time to do design.
- Easy to Use. Squarespace uses an intuitive drag-and-drop system for building pages, which makes it an excellent option for someone who’s looking for the best CMS for complete beginners.
- Quick to Build. Squarespace is a web builder that can get a site up and running as quickly as 10 minutes.
- Low Maintenance. Since Squarespace is a hosted CMS, users won’t have to worry about maintaining your site. The beautiful thing about Squarespace is maintenance is included in your package, leaving you to concentrate on other parts of your site.
- Customizing is Hard. If you are looking to spice up your website with custom structure or code, you’ll want to go with another CMS platform. Squarespace has a limited number of resources that make it harder for marketers to customize their website as they want.
- Many Restrictions. Since Squarespace is hosted, there isn’t much you can do from a backend standpoint. With Squarespace, you are in a sense renting a website template that you can design with their 70 layouts and decorate it as you please, however, there are many limitations that won’t allow you to customize layouts or designs.
SEO: Overall, Squarespace is easy to use and visually appealing. However, it’s not our top choice when it comes to leveraging SEO benefits.
There are a lot of technical SEO issues that cannot be resolved because of the way that Squarespace is built. For example….. This doesn’t mean you your website won’t rank well, but there are on-page SEO edits you just can’t make on this CMS that will limit your potential.
At number 4… we have Shopify! Shopify is one of the best eCommerce CMS platforms. They pride themselves as being a one-stop-shop for you to start, grow, and manage your business. The Shopify software provides data tracking, inventory management, product management, and process orders which makes it easier to maintain your website.
Great for: The eCommerce marketer who jams out on automation and plugins – and doesn’t care about a fully custom website.
- Sell Everywhere. Many marketers consider Shopify the best content management system for eCommerce. This is because Shopify can enable your company to sell its products in multiple places:
- Desktop web browsers
- On Social media
- Mobile devices/ App (if you want to convert your site)
- Online marketplaces (such as Amazon, eBay, and Etsy)
- Brick-and-mortar locations
- Pop-up shops
- Easy to Use. It’s very intuitive and easy to use, and is designed so that even someone without coding experience can create and set up a professional eCommerce store relatively easily.
- No Maintenance Necessary. Shopify is another CMS that is hosted, so you won’t have to worry about maintaining software or web servers since it’s cloud-based.
- Fulfillment Service. This is a third-party service that prepares and ships out orders so that you don’t have to. Thus, creating a smoother process and taking one task off your hands.
- Abandoned Cart Recovery. As an avid online shopper, I find myself leaving in the middle of shopping to do something else. When that happens, sometimes, everything in my car disappears, but with Shopify, there’s an option for users to implement a tool called abandoned cart recovery. This is where a cart will be recovered if a user leaves the site then goes back and the items are still in your basket.
- Limitations. Similar to Squarespace, there aren’t many customization options to your site which limits your creative freedom.
- Transaction and Processing Fees. This is something you should consider when looking to begin using Shopify or make a switch from another eCommerce CMS. Shopify has its own payment system with a fee associated with it, depending on what country you’re in and which plan you’re on the processing fees can vary.
SEO: Shopify SEO makes it quite easy to optimize pages, they have a number of built-in SEO features. Some technical SEO is automatically taken care of like:
- Auto-generated canonical tags that will avoid duplicate content from showing up in search results.
- Auto-generated XML and Robots.txt files
- Themes that link to social media and give users the ability to share products to market.
SEO wise, Shopify is considered to be an SEO-friendly CMS that needs to be strategically tackled specifically when it comes to content. Content optimization is important for your product pages. Shopify has an informational help center that breaks down specific SEO tactics to use for eCommerce SEO services.
#3 goes to BigCommerce! BigCommerce is a top CMS for the eCommerce industry, they are known for “supercharging” a store’s growth. Similar to Shopify and Magento, this platform allows you to set up your store and begin making money through your site.
Great for: A marketing leader of a larger e-commerce company with a team that can support development, design, and customization who wants the full freakin’ package.
- Multi-Selling Platform. BigCommerce provides you with the ability to sell through multiple platforms, not just your website. You can sell products through Amazon, eBay, and even Facebook.
- Use with Ease. BigCommerce is relatively intuitive and straightforward, key features are accessible by labels and you’re able to make edits as needed. It is also a plus that all tools come built into the CMS.
- Abandoned Cart Saver. Yes, other top CMS platforms offer this feature, but the cool thing about BigCommerce is that it not only saves customers carts, it also allows you to create up to three automated emails to send visitors. This can definitely increase sales with very little effort, in fact, these emails can win back 12-15% of visitors.
- Additional Costs. Although BigCommerce looks to be a cheaper option than other top CMS platforms, you’ll get the bare bones of a package. Such as only being able to select from 12 free themes they offer that all look identical. In order to get access to one of the other 130 paid themes, you’ll have to fork up $145-$235.
- Unsuitable for Beginners.This CMS is not for beginners, there is complex terminology that creates a steep learning curve for anyone new to building a website.
SEO: So, is BigCommerce good for SEO?
The simple answer is yes, BigCommerce was created with best practices in mind. A big pro to consider with BigCommerce SEO is that there’s a range of tools available at your fingertips that will help with basic optimization.
SEO can get complicated, to ensure that you’re using best practices on your product pages and website, you should consider leaning on a BigCommerce SEO agency.
Coming in as the 2nd best CMS of 2020, we have Magento. Created by Adobe, Magento is an open-source eCommerce platform that provides merchants the ability to manage their website in one place. Magento is considered to be the best content management system for enterprise eCommerce.
Before we jump into the pros and cons of Magento, it’s important that you note there are two versions of Magento:
- Magento Open Source: This is a free self-hosted version of Magento that can be downloaded and customized as you please.
- Magento Commerce: This is essentially Magento Open Source on steroids, it’s a premium platform that gives you more functionality and flexibility.
Great for: A marketing leader at a tech-fluent, large organization looking to maximize website content, user experience, and customization to dominate in a competitive industry.
- Flexible.Since Magento is open-source, you can create and customize your site as you please. Whatever tickles your fancy, you can do because Magento gives you the ability to have full control over your site’s layout, design, and functionality.
- Mobile-Friendly. If you want to make money in the eCommerce space, you’ll always want to use a CMS that’s mobile-friendly. So many people own a phone and mobile sales are something the eCommerce industry can’t and shouldn’t ignore. In fact, in the last 6 months, 79% of smartphone users have purchased something online with a mobile device. That’s why Magento is one of the best content management systems for SEO, it’s mobile-friendly and provides customers with the best mobile shopping experience out there.
- Magento Extensions. If you don’t use extensions already, you’re missing out! They are one of the most helpful resources that make life 100 times easier. For example, the Grammarly extension is my best friend, it’s constantly catching grammatical errors when I write content. The great thing about Magento is that there are various extensions to take advantage of to set up and optimize your site successfully.
- Expensive. Although Magento Open Source is free, the other versions can put a dent in your bank account. If you’re going with an enterprise version, you’ll end up spending more than $10,000 on top of any third-party extensions you can’t install on your own.
- Slow Loading Time. THIS IS NEVER A GOOD THING! If you use the Magento community (open source), expect your site speed to be slow, because Magento is so flexible with the architecture, it’ll directly affect your page speed. Remember, slow loading time = loss of business.
- Can’t Do Much on Your Own. For large-scale customization, you’ll likely need the help of a specialist who knows the platform and can ensure that the changes don’t have a negative impact, like crashing your site.
SEO: Magento is similar to WordPress in the sense that the platform is the most SEO-friendly CMS for eCommerce. With the help of extensions, you can detect SEO issues built into the platform, to optimize your website on your own.
In some cases, you may need help from a Magento SEO agency, who understands how to approach setting up your site for organic traffic.
And coming in #1… DRUMROLL PLEASE
And finally, at number one, we have WordPress!?
When looking for the best CMS platform, many companies end up going with WordPress as their CMS. It’s the world’s most used CMS with over 60 million users!
There’s a number of reasons why WordPress is the go-to website CMS for bloggers, eCommerce, small to large businesses, and even portfolios for the creative folks.
WordPress offers both hosted and self-hosted platforms.
Great for: …pretty much anyone!
- Easy to Manage.Coming from no background in web development, I am able to use WordPress in my everyday life with ease. It is a simple CMS where you can write and edit blog content on, throw images up, manage users, and even install plugins and themes.
- Highly Customizable. The options are endless when it comes to customizing your site on WordPress. You can freely create your own custom design that fits with your company personality and niche.
- Plugins at Your Fingertips. WordPress is not a content management system that leaves you out to dry once you create a site. There are SO many plugins available to users to take advantage of on WordPress, from setting up basic editing of content to looking at how to optimize your site, these resources should definitely be taken advantage of. Here are a couple of their most popular plugins:
- Yoast SEO: Is the #1 WordPress SEO Plugin. The purpose of this plugin is to best optimize your website for both user experience and search engine spiders.
- WooCommerce: Is an easy to use eCommerce solution built on WordPress. Whether you’re a brick and mortar store looking to create an online presence or you’re entering into the eCommerce space, in an instant, you can launch a store exactly how you’d like.
- Endless Resources. Since WordPress is open-source, there are tons of resources that you refer to. Since WordPress is considered one of the best CMS platforms that many companies utilize, there is a lot of helpful information on their forum and in the community. You should never feel lost when it comes to WordPress.
- Large Variety of Resources. When there is a large library of themes and plugins accessible, it more often than not means there can be a steep learning curve too. If you don’t know what you’re doing when you’re customizing your website, it can hurt you more than helping you.
SEO: We LOVE WordPress. From an SEO standpoint, WordPress is an excellent CMS choice. The reason why we are big advocates of WordPress is that it’s an SEO-friendly CMS. Meaning, it’s easy to manage and optimize even as a beginner. You’re able to focus on user experience, optimize meta-information for your pages and for a mobile device (this is huge as mobile traffic has been up 222% in the last 5 years).
As far as WordPress.com, from an SEO perspective, we aren’t as big of a fan. Because this is a hosted platform and different from WordPress.org, there is less flexibility around optimizing the backend.
So, whether you’re a marketing professional frustrated with your current CMS or just browsing for future needs, keep in mind that it’s crucial to use the best CMS that provides you with the best customization options, as well as SEO potential.