I recently spent some time advising local businesses on SEO and how to solve SEO problems and one of the biggest issues to crop up time and again was the website itself.
In most cases the problem could be traced back to the limitations of content management systems (CMS).
This got me thinking – what is the best CMS for SEO and is there any real data out there to help you decide if a clear leader exists?
Working as an SEO consultant means you often get to inherit someone else’s handy work when you are tasked with helping a business owner achieve better rankings. This can be a good or bad thing depending on what you have to work with.
Do you have the right setup under the bonnet?
I like to think of SEO as being a bit like a race car mechanic. You can fine tune a race car to get the best out of it but if the parts used to put the race car together are in some way flawed – forget it. It is often better and involves less money and hassle to start again with the right motor if you want to compete.
Website design has changed a lot in recent years with the arrival of large numbers of content management systems introduced to help people who aren’t web developers put a website together with little to no knowledge of code.
Beware of the too-good-to-be-true ‘easy website builders’
Simply dragging and dropping your content into a website builder that resizes and arranges everything neatly can seem like a crafty short cut. These free website builder services often advertise how surprisingly easy it is to build websites using their platforms and then neglect to tell you how much time this will cost you in the long term when your keywords remain un-ranked.
So if you don’t know your WordPress from your Weebly, I have put together this guide to the best CMS for SEO based on statistics from 2016.
Should you go for the World’s Most Popular CMS?
One way to look at the best CMS for SEO is to look at popularity. If you are using a CMS that the majority of website owners in the world are using, then there has to be something about that CMS that makes it good for SEO right?
When it comes to popularity, there isn’t much competition for WordPress.
Nearly 60% of all the world’s content managed websites run on the WordPress platform according to this survey. In my experience most web design agencies also use it, so if you like, WordPress is the transit van or the General Motors of websites and you can be confident that you’ll be in the company of most other website owners in the world using it.
Using the world’s most popular CMS means you also have access to far more support in the form of developers who specialise in the platform, advice on the best ways to optimise and SEO tools to help your website.
The top ranked content management system for SEO
Using the same platform most other people use is one thing but how effective is WordPress when it comes to rankings? Here things get a bit more complicated when it is compared with other popular content management systems.
Looking at the overall picture, WordPress again wins with by far the most websites ranked among the top 10,000 in search results; representing 71.1% when compared with the three other most used content management systems.
And so it should, if it also happens to have the lion’s share in the popularity stakes.
So what you get with WordPress is a platform with the most websites ranked in Alexa’s top 10,000. Job done right? Well not exactly.
Looking a little more closely at those statistics reveals some surprising insights that might convince you to think again about the accepted view that WordPress is the most effective CMS for SEO.
Delve deeper and you will find that some of the competition actually performs better than WordPress as a ratio of market share and punch above their weight when it comes to SEO.
As you will see from the tables below, of those websites ranking in the top 10,000, Drupal has a much higher proportion (78%) against its comparatively small market share.
WordPress comes in second (45%) followed by Magento (28%), Square Space (18%), Joomla (13%) with Wix having zero websites in the top 10,000 according to W3 Tech’s Web Technology Surveys. The latter is not surprising given the way pay monthly website builder services are technically set up for SEO.
Number of websites in Alexa’s Top 10,000 as a proportion of market share
Source: Web Technology Surveys
Winner Drupal but is this the end of the story?
These results of course ignore a lot of possible variables and some platforms may be better to use than other depending on the job you want the website to do.
Magento, for example, may be better than WordPress for larger ecommerce stores, although its ability to allow website owners to produce marketing type content is compromised by the clunky add-ons required to include a blog. The latter is something WordPress excels in by comparison and this can be beneficial given that content marketing is now a vital part of SEO.
These results may be distorted by the large proportion of WordPress websites out there put together by smaller businesses and bloggers that tend not to figure among the top ranked websites.
This may also be the case with other platforms but the data does at least provide us with the best idea of which platforms are more likely to perform well on search engines.
What we haven’t looked at is how easy each of these platforms is to work with and how simple it is for the average website owner to make the changes needed to optimise for search engines. We’ll look at those factors in more detail in the next instalment.