Does Your Site Need a CMS?

CMSCropOne of the many questions you face in beginning a new website (or expanding an existing one) is whether or not to use a Content Management System (CMS). There are many different factors to take into consideration when making the decision, but don’t forget to consider potential SEO ramifications as well.

What Is a CMS?

CMS stands for content management system. Basically it’s a computer program that allows users to publish and modify online content from a central interface. A CMS can make it easier to manage the work of multiple people, especially if they don’t all have extensive programming knowledge.

Without a CMS you have to update files manually and upload them to your server. This involves hand-coding HTML pages and CSS, skills not every member of an organization is necessarily going to possess, especially as it grows.

While it can be helpful, a CMS won’t necessarily provide a ton of benefit to every site, and if not implemented correctly could actually prove a detriment. So how do you know if your site needs one?

Reasons to Get a CMS

One of the biggest reasons to use a CMS is if you plan to update your site frequently – anything more than once a month. Going hand in hand with this is hosting a blog, which will probably be updated multiple times a week, at least. Both are great reasons to consider a CMS. In addition to being updated regularly, if your site is going to be updated by lots of different people and if you intend to manage content from remote locations, a CMS is also probably a good idea.

In other words, the only sites that will function optimally without a proper CMS system  are those that intend to remain static or those with a relatively small staff who all know at least basic HTML.

Cons to Using a CMS

There are a few potential downsides to using a CMS. They often come with a significant financial cost. Also, those with an extensive knowledge of HTML may prefer to build their site themselves, as a CMS produces less elegant code and is naturally constrained in what it can do.

How Does SEO Fit into the Decision?

In addition to the above considerations, it makes sense to tackle the question from an SEO perspective. There’s little sense in doing anything that will have a negative impact on people’s ability to find your site.

The seismic changes that have occurred in SEO over the last few years make it more likely that your site will require a CMS. One of the things Google (post-Panda) loves best is lots of fresh quality content, and one of the best ways to do this is with a blog.

From an SEO perspective, it would be pretty insane not to update the content of your site on a regular basis. As the static, brochure-like sites that were a staple of the ’90s and early 2000s go more and more out of style it becomes increasingly necessary to have a CMS.

The new SEO focus on content also means that sites have to be updated, altered, and added to by lots of writers – people not exactly known for their technical prowess. A CMS can help keep work ordered and efficient when there are lots of cooks in the kitchen.

Also keep in mind that while a CMS might help the content creation aspects of SEO, it could also damage some technical aspects, such as title tags, meta tags, and URLs. Before you embark on choosing and using a CMS, make sure you are well versed in SEO, or have consulted with an expert.

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