What Is a CMS?

Jake Sheridan
Oct 28, 2021

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A content management system (CMS) is used by more than half of all websites. They’re popular for a reason: they let you create, manage, and publish web content without knowing anything about coding or web development.

However, your CMS will be useless unless it assists you in creating content that is optimized for search engines so that people can find your website. This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play.

SEO is a set of strategies that aid in increasing the quantity and quality of traffic a site receives from organic search engine results. It is critical for today’s websites because organic search accounts for more than 50% of all website traffic.

This article will serve as a guide to help you understand what a CMS is, why it is important, whether WordPress is the best CMS for SEO, and whether a headless CMS is bad for SEO.

Let’s get this party started.

What Is a CMS?

A CMS, or content management system, is a software application that allows users to create and manage websites without having to code them from scratch or knowing anything about coding at all.

Some define it as a software platform that provides a collection of procedures for managing workflow in a collaborative environment. Its derivatives Digital Asset Management [DAM], WCMS [Web Content Management System],  Headless & Decoupled Headless CMS are variations on a theme that have emerged over the last three decades as this technology has transitioned.

A CMS allows you to create, manage, modify, and publish digital content through an easy-to-use user interface. Rather than coding, you may personalize your site’s look and functionality by downloading or purchasing templates and plugins. You can have multiple users working in the same tool’s backend — and much more.

A CMS is made up of two major parts: a content delivery application (CDA) and a content management application (CMA). These applications, when combined, essentially handle all of the code, database queries, and infrastructure in the back end, allowing you to focus on the front end of your site.

Instead of starting with a blank HTML page, for example, you’ll open the content editor and be able to bold text, put links and CTAs, and insert images and tables by dragging and dropping modules or clicking a few buttons rather than writing out HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Here’s an example of a WordPress dashboard with a user-friendly interface:

Let’s take a look at a few popular content management systems  — (CMS platform examples) to see which one might be the best fit for your website’s content creation requirements. Selecting the right CMS is key to your website’s SEO performance.

1. WordPress

WordPress is a self-hosted platform that serves as the foundation for millions of websites. Using the Gutenberg editor, you can quickly and easily create a WordPress site and customize it with any of the thousands of plugins and themes available in the official WordPress directory or other third-party sites.

2. Joomla

Site owners looking for more built-in functionality may want to consider a WordPress alternative such as Joomla. Joomla is the second most popular CMS after WordPress.
Joomla, like WordPress, is an open-source CMS.

Joomla distinguishes itself with built-in language support and powerful end-user and enterprise content management capabilities, making it suitable for document management, membership, community, and social media platforms. UIDAI, for example, is a multilingual Joomla-powered website.

3. Magento

Magento OpenSource, the self-hosted version of Magento, is the Drupal of the e-commerce world. It’s highly adaptable and secure, but it’s difficult to learn and use all of its built-in functionality and extensions.

Magento allows you to manage multiple stores, use multiple global shipping providers, and transact in multiple countries, languages, and currencies — all from the same dashboard.
So, if you have the time and resources to invest in setup and maintenance, you can create an online store with a large product inventory and global reach.

4. Ghost

Ghost is a great option if you’re looking for a more simple and lightweight CMS dedicated to blogging. Ghost is a headless CMS, which means that it has a separate body (the content repository) from its head (the presentation layer).

Ghost appeals to bloggers and beginners who want a simple way to create and manage content on a basic site, thanks to its intuitive editor and built-in SEO tools.

NOTE: Before you can use a CMS, you must first obtain web hosting – a service that allows you to store all of your website’s content, files, and databases.

Why Is a CMS Important?

1. There is no need for coding knowledge

Content management systems are a lifesaver for users who do not know how to code. You may not have advanced technical knowledge, but a CMS will allow you to easily publish and update content across your web pages  — ease of use. However, usability is not the only consideration. If you want your website to appear in Google’s top ten, it’s a good idea to use a CMS designed with SEO in mind.

According to the 2022 SEMrush Content Marketing Survey, 67 % of marketers believe that SEO is the best way to improve organic content performance

2. Simple Updates

A CMS allows you to make changes to your site more quickly and easily, from major changes, such as a website redesign, to minor changes, such as changing the image on your home page. Rather than hiring a freelance web developer or attempting to edit the code yourself, you can update and edit the content of your own website through the dashboard of your CMS. This enables you to keep your content fresh and relevant.

3. Simple Collaboration

A CMS’s back end can be accessed and worked on by multiple users at the same time. That means your marketers could be creating content, your IT professionals could be implementing security protocols, and your web developers could be adding custom code to your theme on any given day. They could, in fact, be working on the same landing page.
In short, a CMS incorporated with a CRM can help your team’s workflows and productivity.

4. Pre-designed Templates

Most CMS platforms, such as CMS Hub, include a collection of predesigned templates that you can use for quick customization of the look of your site. They can also have an impact on how your website behaves.

Using a responsive template, for example, ensures that your site looks good on any device without requiring you to write a lot of code. Templates not only save you design time before launching your site, but they can also make a website redesign much faster and easier in the future.

5. SEO Extensions and Features

CMS platforms include built-in features as well as add-ons that can assist you in optimizing your site for search engines.

You can do the following with built-in or third-party tools:

Implementing these recommended practices can help you rank higher on Google and other major search engines.


Is WordPress the best CMS for SEO?

When it comes to choosing the best content management system —CMS software for search — WordPress vs. Drupal vs. HubSpot vs. Salesforce Wix vs. Squarespace — marketers face both a challenge and an opportunity.

WordPress is an SEO-friendly CMS (or WCM—web content management system) with fast page load times and a pleasant user-friendly interface. Its features include free SEO-focused web design templates, and it’s simple to optimize images and add alt text for better rankings.

One minor disadvantage is that plugins such as Yoast SEO and the SEMrush SEO Writing Assistant must be installed. Before installing your SEO plugins, as with any plugin installation, make a backup copy of your site.

Is a headless CMS bad for SEO?

Using a headless CMS for a website will not harm your SEO. It does not guarantee good results, but when done correctly, it can be unbeatable.

Headless CMS and pure Content-as-a-Service providers keep your channel-agnostic content separate from the implementation of your website. But what does this mean for traditional CMS features, such as on-page Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), that were designed specifically to optimize how your website appears?

A traditional CMS will typically include SEO features out of the box, such as templates for SEO metadata, automatically implementing or assisting you in auditing minimum SEO practices or standards, or automatically producing an XML sitemap. Because it is not directly in control of your website’s output, which is a large part of what needs to be optimized for search engines, a headless CMS will not or cannot do some of these things.

However, this does not imply that a headless CMS will provide bad SEO; it simply means that the CMS will not perform this function for you. This places SEO in the same category as any number of other website features that, in a microservices architecture, simply require a good plan, such as search, forms, email marketing, or personalization.

Don’t forget: check out the other definitions (over 200) in our growing SEO glossary.

Create Your Website Using a CMS

Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of CMS.

Before a business decides to invest in a CMS, there are a plethora of considerations that must be examined. There are a few fundamental features to look for all the time, such as an easy-to-use editing interface and sophisticated search capabilities. However, the software used by certain businesses is determined by more precise needs.

Building and managing your site with a content management system can help you expand over time. A CMS will not only store all of your online material in one place, but it will also facilitate team collaboration, allow for quick and easy updates, and provide templates and extensions to modify your site.

As a result, when selecting a CMS, you should consider the SEO features to ensure that your content appears in search results.

If this sounds daunting, then you might benefit from our managed SEO services. Ready to get started?

Hand off the toughest tasks in SEO, PPC, and content without compromising quality

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Written by Jake Sheridan on October 28, 2021

Founder of Sheets for Marketers, I nerd out on automating parts of my work using Google Sheets. At Loganix I build products, and content marketing. There’s nothing like a well deserved drink after a busy day spreadsheeting.