61% of marketers say improving SEO and growing their organic presence is their top inbound marketing priority.

If you share this priority, then you can build a great foundation for your SEO efforts by choosing the right content management system.

We know that there are two major ways you can optimize your own website. There is technical SEO, which refers to elements that you don’t see, like site structure, load time, and XML sitemaps. And there is on-page SEO, which refers to elements you do see, like keywords, meta descriptions, links, and images.

Please note there’s also off-page SEO, which refers to the number of high-quality links pointing to your website. While these can be earned through outreach, guest posting, and other backlink strategies, it’s ultimately up to the quality of your content. That’s why we’ll be focusing on the other types of SEO in this post.

To help maximize your efforts, you want to look for a platform with built-in functionality for optimizing your on-page and technical SEO.

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If a platform lacks some built-in functionality, then it should at least offer extensions that can help simplify the optimization process — these can be particularly beneficial if you’re not familiar with SEO best practices.

Let’s take a look at some must-have features you should be looking for when evaluating different CMS systems.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these elements below. Then we’ll explore some of the best CMS systems for SEO.

Customizable Page Elements

Your CMS should let you customize the title, meta description, and image alt text of your posts and pages. These are all essential to your on-page SEO. By including your target keywords in these different spots, you’ll help visitors and search engines better understand what the page is about, which, in turn, improves your ability to rank.

You should also stick to a word limit for titles and meta descriptions (60 characters for titles and 160 for meta descriptions). Ideally, your CMS will count these characters for you so you don’t have to.

URL Settings

Your URL structure is another important part of your site. Search engines, like readers, don’t like reading lengthy strings of words with complex structure. To keep your URLs short and descriptive, you’ll want to include only your target keywords. To fully optimize your on-page SEO, you’ll need your CMS to let you customize your URLs.

Blogging Tools

Marketers who prioritize blogging efforts are 13x more likely to see positive ROI. That’s why you should pick a platform with blogging tools and templates to help you get started. A drag-and-drop editor with modules for images, videos, call-to-action buttons, and more can help you easily and quickly create engaging blog posts.

Internal Linking

Internal links are another essential on-page SEO element. Linking to your related content will accomplish two things. First, it’ll help search engines find all of the content you own on a particular topic, which improves your chances of ranking for the keywords associated with that topic. Second, linking to other helpful posts and pages can improve the visitor experience and convince them to stay on your site longer.

You can link your pages manually every time you create a new post, but a CMS platform with a built-in internal linking tool or add-on can help automate this process.

Taxonomy

Taxonomy is another way to help both site engines and readers understand the structure of your site and quickly find content they’re looking for. Most CMS systems will offer categories and tags for organizing your content. With categories, you can separate your pages and posts into broad categories. You can then get more specific with tags.

Some CMS systems will offer more advanced taxonomy options, like topic clusters.

Navigation Menus

Navigation menus are also an essential element of your site structure. With a navigation menu, you can organize the multiple pages on your site in a way that allows search engines to easily crawl them and readers to find them.

Take a look at Vertical Measures’s navigation menu before its site redesign in 2018. It was linking to so many similar category pages that it was difficult for visitors to find the exact posts they were looking for. So the company renamed, reorganized, and consolidated 14 categories into eight for a much cleaner look.

navigation menu vs redesigned menu for SEO

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301 Redirects

Ideally, your CMS will make it easy to create 301 redirects. Redirects are an essential part of any content audit strategy. When you find pages that are outdated, redundant, or irrelevant to your business and bringing in virtually zero qualified traffic, you can redirect them rather than just deleting them.

Redirects not only allow you to avoid broken links and 404 error pages — they also ensure that any visitors or search engine crawlers that end up on those pages are sent to existing content on your site. That’s why setting up 301 redirects is an important step in retaining traffic and rankings.

Responsive Themes

In 2019, mobile devices accounted for nearly 60 percent of organic search engine visits. And for this valuable majority of search queries, Google displays the mobile-friendly results first.

To capture this mobile traffic, you need to create a responsive site. You can make that easy by choosing a CMS with mobile-optimized themes and templates. This will ensure every post and page published on your site is optimized for all devices.

SSL Certification

An SSL certificate is a standard security technology for securing information between a visitor’s browser and your website. Search engines prioritize secure sites — in fact, Google announced as early as 2014 that SSL would be a ranking factor — and visitors prefer it because it ensures their sensitive information, like passwords and payment information, remains private.

The best hosted platforms include an SSL certificate in their plans, as do third-party hosting providers for open-source CMS platforms. That way, you don’t have to worry about installing, purchase, or renewing an SSL certificate separately.

XML Sitemaps

XML sitemaps are exactly what they sound like: maps for websites. These files list every single page on your website so that search engines can easily find, crawl, and index your content.

You can create a sitemap manually, but the process requires a bit of coding. Ideally, your CMS will create one for you. Or at least have a sitemap plugin you can install to do the work for you.

Analytics Tools

You have to invest a lot of time and effort into optimizing your site’s SEO. To make sure you’re investing in the right strategies, you want to track certain metrics on a daily, weekly, and/or monthly basis. Metrics like your overall organic traffic, indexed pages, leads, keywords, and inbound links will help you measure your success and keep your SEO plan on track.

Using a CMS that allows you to create a dashboard with these and more metrics will ensure you understand what parts of your SEO strategy are working and what could be improved.

Now that we understand the top CMS features that matter for SEO, let’s evaluate the functionality of the platforms below.

Best CMS Platforms for SEO

To help you select the CMS platform that will help meet your SEO needs and goals, we’ll take an in-depth look at some of the most popular solutions below.

1. CMS Hub

CMS Hub is one of the most powerful platforms for creating and optimizing small, medium, and enterprise websites. In addition to offering blogging tools, responsive themes, built-in SSL certification, an auto-generated sitemap, multiple tools for creating and managing navigation menus, a pillar page link module, and a URL redirects tool, HubSpot’s CMS Hub offers auto-generated suggestions for optimizing your content, robust analytics, and a number of features to speed up your site.

Not only can you customize the on-page SEO elements of a specific page or post— HubSpot will help by offering SEO recommendations as you write. Below you can see recommendations to include the long-tail keyword in the title, add a meta description, and include two subtopics. This Optimize tab will also show what SEO best practices you’ve successfully followed — like adding image alt text, staying within an optimal word count, and hitting a solid link count.

SEO recommendations in content editor of CMS Hub

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Before you publish, you can change the URL slug, add a tag, meta description, and featured image, and preview how the post or page will appear on mobile, tablet, and desktop.

CMS Hub preview options are ideal for SEO

Once published, you can view the performance details of individual posts and pages. In the Performance tab, you can select the date range to analyze data — like views, submissions, new contacts, average bounce rate, exit rate, and more — over a specific period of time. You can also customize this dashboard by removing, reordering, or adding different metrics.

Customizing reporting dashboard for SEO analyticsin CMS Hub

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If the post or page isn’t performing as well as expected, then you can view the Optimize tab to see additional SEO recommendations you can implement.

Optimization panel in CMS Hub

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CMS Hub’s Recommendations tool can also scan your entire domain and associated subdomains, whether they’re hosted on HubSpot or another CMS, for a broader look at your SEO opportunities.

SEO site recommendations in CMS Hub

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Finally, CMS Hub provides a number of built-in features to ensure your website loads fast. This includes a global CDN, automatic image compression and optimization, minified JavaScript, combined CSS files, and page caching.

2. WordPress

You can also create an SEO-friendly site on WordPress. Like CMS Hub, WordPress enables you to add titles, image alt-text, meta descriptions, headings, and custom URLs in your posts and pages.

You can also choose from an even larger selection of responsive themes in the official WordPress directory and other third-party marketplaces to design your site. If you’re looking for even more control over the appearance of your site on different devices, you can use a solution like the free Elementor Page Builder, which offers mobile editing.

Mobile editing is advanced SEO Feature for WordPress CMS elementor page builder

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Using WordPress, you can also add a complex blog to your site, change your permalink settings, create and manage navigation menus, and use categories and tags to organize your content right in your dashboard.

Built-in tags module in wordpress cms

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The similarities between the experience of optimizing your site on WordPress and CMS Hub end here, however.

WordPress is lacking in functionality beyond the standard SEO features mentioned above — however, that doesn’t mean you’re simply left with what WordPress provides out-of-the-box. To get tips on SEO best practices as you write, set up redirects, generate an XML sitemap, drill down into analytics, andn speed up your site, you can download and install the appropriate WordPress plugins.

For example, you can install the Yoast SEO plugin to help you with on-page SEO. Offering a free and premium version, this plugin will provide suggestions for creating readable text, using your keywords, optimizing your meta descriptions and image alt text, and adding internal links. Here’s a look at the results of a readability check in Yoast SEO.

Readability feature in Yoast SEO on WordPress CMS

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Other plugins like Smush, WP Rocket, Google XML Sitemaps, and Redirection will simplify or automate the process of optimizing your images, page speed, XML sitemaps, and redirects.

Google XML sitemaps plugin is important SEO tool in WordPress cms

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Downloading, purchasing, and updating these tools will require time and money, but they can vastly improve your site’s on-page and technical SEO.

3. Magento

If you’re looking to build and optimize an online store for search, consider Magento.

Magento will provide a similar experience to WordPress. There are some standard SEO features built directly into the platform, but for more advanced functionality you’ll have to download an extension.

For example, with this open-source ecommerce platform, you can select a responsive theme, add meta descriptions to all your product pages, and optimize the alt text of product images. You can also create an XML sitemap for your site, add navigation menus, remove any duplicate content, and set your checkout, my account, cart, and admin pages to “nofollow.”

No follow is important out of the box feature for Magento CMS

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You can carry out these tasks manually if you have SEO experience or the time to learn best practices. Or you can download extensions like SEO Content Optimization by ReloadSEO, Magento SEO Suite Pro extension, Advanced SEO Suite by Mirasvit, Manadev Layered Navigation SEO, and Creare’s Free Magento SEO Extension to help automate or simplify these tasks.

Take a look at Reload’s dashboard, for example. You’ll see sections for keyword research, content optimization, backlinks, and store monitoring — all of which are crucial to your store’s SEO.

ReloadSEO dashboard is important SEO extension for Magento CMS

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Choosing the Best CMS for SEO

A content management system with the right features and extensions can help you build and optimize your website or online store for both visitors and search engines. This is an essential step in bringing your business online. Investing in a platform that aligns with your SEO strategy can help you get more organic traffic and boost your visibility in SERPs.

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Originally published May 8, 2020 1:44:40 PM, updated May 20 2020

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