What's the Best CMS for Small Business SEO? - Credo

What's the Best CMS for Small Business SEO? - Credo

One question we get a lot is:

When it comes to the best CMS (content management system) for your small business, there are many variables to take into account for your website beyond SEO.

However, SEO is absolutely a consideration that you should take into account for your website.

SEO needs to be a cornerstone of your strategy, whether you are building a website for a side hustle or a website for a business that is already your main income – or your employer’s.

In order of my recommendations:

Not mentioned is building your own CMS and website.

This is the most customizable option – and also the most expensive option in most cases.

For cost reasons, a custom CMS is out of the realm of possibility (and beyond the needs) for 95% of people.

But not to worry. With the exponential advancement of no-code CMS in recent years, you can do just about everything under the sun with the following four CMS.

As of 2022, WordPress powers 42.9% of the web.

That’s a mind-boggling total of 835 million websites built on WordPress.

And these aren’t just small and medium-sized businesses.

Nearly 15% of the world’s top websites use WordPress as their preferred CMS, including NFL, Sony, NBC, and Disney, as a few of the many Fortune 500 companies included.

Users are split between WordPress.com (the fully hosted version) and WordPress.org (the self-hosted version). All in all, WordPress is the CMS market leader for small businesses and large publishing platforms alike.

If you’re a very large business (like TechCrunch), there is also a more robust option: WordPress VIP.

So why WordPress for SEO? There are a few reasons.

WordPress is fantastic for SEO for the large majority of websites.

This makes sense as websites and business needs are not very generally not complicated, though SEO gets more challenging by the year.

As a business owner, you need the ability to adjust title tags, and make SEO-friendly URLs (with hyphens instead of dashes or URL parameters like site.com?p=1234).

The beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO also makes setup a breeze:

Yoast SEO should come pre-installed with WordPress, and should be the first thing you do when installing fresh WordPress website.

The Yoast SEO plugin allows you to easily configure:

Not to mention, you can track the ‘readability’ of your pages and blog posts.

Why? Because Google wants you to publish content that is not only informative but easy to read.

You know that Einstein quote… “If you can’t explain it to a 6-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.”

Google takes that to heart – which means you need to do the same.

Those things, in and of themselves, get you started off on the right foot to succeed at SEO.

This means the company consistently pushes updates to the codebase to keep it modern and to fix bugs. This is no different than a software update on your phone or browser.

WordPress.org is also written in WordPress’s version of PHP, which is an internet-standard accepted language.

In many ways, it’s the easiest dynamic (allowing different pages to pull information from the database) code language to learn.

Now, you can install endless plugins to extend the functionality of your site. Here are some of the must-have WordPress plugins that I use here at Credo and for my other businesses.

But don’t go wild. Using too many of these can cause a few issues, namely:

Depending on the plugin and the way the functionality is loaded, they could cause you some SEO headaches.

But by and large, they’re just fine for SEO when used in moderation.

If you start with a clean slate, you can basically make it do whatever you want and display whatever content you want, wherever you want.

You have the options of using:

While the last one above may be outside your skillset, the others are all easily done via WordPress UI (backend).

Need to add your business’s name, address, and phone Number (NAP) to your site to improve local rankings? Use a widget or put it in the footer.

Have some high-volume keywords you want to rank for? Link here from your navigation.

Need to display real estate listings for your real estate business? There are many plugins available.

The one challenge with WordPress for many users is the backend view. However, in recent years WordPress updates have improved the UI dramatically, making it far more non-techie-friendly.

By and large, WordPress is very easy to build on once you acclimate yourself and learn where everything lives.

And if you really hate the interface, you can always restyle the admin area.

WordPress SEO score for small businesses: WordPress, if you know what you are doing, can be fantastic for SEO. It requires a bit of configuration, but there is a reason that ~43% of the internet uses WordPress.

Probably the best choice if you are even remotely technical (or have access to a specialized developer).

This platform is a fantastic option for local businesses and (especially) ecommerce stores to get their websites started and conduct basic SEO.

Small business owners, not marketers or developers, need a functional good-looking website with a contact form, add products and payment services, and the ability to write new pages and customize colors and themes.

This CMS does all of that and more.

It’s easy to use, the admin area offers a clean UI, makes it easy to create new pages, add new elements to a page, and adding images and other information is a breeze.

The platform is also SEO-friendly right off of the blocks, likely even more so than WordPress.

If you need to build a simple website for your business and never plan to change URLs, need to do redirects, or add a lot of custom functionality then consider this is a good option for you.

If you want to make the most of your Squarespace website, these teams specialize in just that.

On a fresh website, this CMS already does the following for you:

This CMS also outputs relatively clean code (often cleaner than WordPress because it’s not open source).

And because it’s fully hosted (as in you do not need to buy separate hosting to run your website), Squarespace sites tend to be much faster to load than most WordPress sites.

Remember, Google likes and gives preference to fast load times.

Their full list of what they do for SEO is here and it’s a great start for small business owners.

While Squarespace works well for the majority of small business owners and ecommerce brands, there are some very real SEO drawbacks.

This is a function of the platform is fully hosted, instead of open source.

These are all very real SEO considerations.

But as I said earlier, for many small businesses this user-friendly CMS is absolutely all they need.

Squarespace SEO score for small businesses: Much less extendable and optimizable than WordPress, but it’s easier to use and with less configuration than WordPress or Joomla.

Great to consider if your needs are simple.

Yes, the exclamation point is a part of the brand name. We’re excited, just not exclamation excited.

I actually began my website-building career in 2007 on Joomla.

I remember first hearing about “search engine friendly URLs”. In their terms, at the time, these were simply called “SEF URLs”. Setting them up was a total nightmare with installing packages and scripts and doing rewrites.

All in all, Joomla is cumbersome. If WordPress is a challenge for you to use, best to leave Joomla alone.

To be fair I haven’t used Joomla in a number of years. But I stay current on updates and the industry in general so I’ve poked around to figure out how it currently works for SEO.

Suffice to say, I’ve not been impressed with it out of the box.

There are however Joomla SEO websites that can help you or your web developer/administrator out if needed.

One big upgrade they have made over the years is around permalinks.

As I mentioned previously, these used to be an absolute nightmare to set up. Now they are pre-installed and work right out of the box.

Joomla also has numerous SEO extensions that provide various functionality, but much like WordPress, installing many extensions can slow down your site.

They can also potentially conflict with each other and cause larger problems.

Joomla is more extendable than other options, which means that you are more able to go in and edit your template files to improve your onpage SEO.

No H1 on your page? No problem, you can add it with ease.

Joomla SEO score for small businesses: can do more than Squarespace and about the same as WordPress. Cumbersome to use. You’ll need a professional.

Probably don’t use it if you have no technical background.

The technical requirements for small businesses are a non-starter for most business owners.

Drupal is mainly used for large businesses, publishing companies, and NGO-type organizations with thousand-plus page websites.

Drupal offers multiple functionalities and content types compared to simpler CMS options above.

If you are willing to dedicate time and effort to learning the clunky-ish UI, it is a powerful CMS. Just not one suited for small business websites with 10-20 pages and no need for any extreme level of scalability.

For reference, here is a list of websites built on Drupal:

Not too many small businesses on that list, right?

: Drupal is too powerful and cumbersome with too steep a learning curve for small businesses. You’ll also require a professional developer here

I should end this post by mentioning that no CMS is perfect for SEO out of the box.

The level of complexity required depends largely on your business needs (local address-based business vs internet-based, ecommerce business). Your site needs will change depending on these factors.

The best thing you can do for SEO?

Regardless of your platform, the best way to build a basic foundation of SEO is to learn the process yourself.

Learn why links to your site matter and which ones to avoid (and get!).

And ultimately, build the best site experience you can if you want to rank. Make it fast, give the information your customers need, and then tell them about it on other sites.

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