What Should You Look For in a Content Management System?

Wondering what the most important features of a content management system are? Here is what we think makes one CMS better than another.

Video Transcript

Dave: Given how Google has advanced, and with their helpful content update and all of that kind of stuff and how good they are, what would you say would be the top five things off the top of your head that you would want to look at in a website builder other than WordPress? So, like Duda, or Square, or Wix, those kinds of things. What are the things you’d want to make sure that they would have these days?

David: So, one of the things with a lot of these website builders is that as they’re moving to a JavaScript-based framework, sometimes, the content on the page is harder for Google to index. So, one of the things I like about WordPress is fundamentally out the door, the content is rendered server-wide, and so we don’t have these indexability problems that a JavaScript framework might have. That’s number one. Number Two is the unique ability to add unique title tags and meta descriptions. It surprises me to this day that sometimes CMSs don’t have that. And maybe number .5, reordering to put it at the top, is the ability to add at least Google Analytics, if not Google Tag Manager, to every page of the site. And then, you said off the top of my head, so that’s where I’m kind of swimming. But back to the JavaScript framework-built sites. With the JavaScript framework, Google has a harder time crawling with internal links. So, even if the content is rendered, make sure there are links in the content that can be rendered, and it’s not relying on… Because with the JavaScript framework site, Google has to come by the website twice. First, to see this JavaScript framework and then later to send the JavaScript crawler by to index it. So, every time you make a change to that page, it’s slower to get to the index. Now, these pages tend to run faster, which is why developers sell it. But it takes longer for Google to index it. And then when you make a change, let’s say you see a typo, and you’re like, oh, I misspelled something. It could literally take days for Google to go back to fix that. God forbid you’ve optimized it and want Google to see that you’ve optimized and changed your page. Now, it’s still going to take days for Google. So, that’s, I think, probably number one, if not number two. So, what we’ve got is Google Analytics, title tags, and meta descriptions. And then it’s stuff like…

Dave: I would say the ability to make sure that your images have the appropriate alt tags and that kind of stuff in it as well.

David: Alt tags are so overrated. I think what I would want is, considering the web core vitals, not speed but the web core vitals. So, things like the images you put on the page are limited so that they only show in the proper dimensions. So you don’t have a content layout shift problem. Or you don’t accidentally upload a ten-megabyte pixel image, and now that’s your largest container. It’s like you say, oh, you only need an 800-pixel image. I’m going to shrink that on the server and only serve that up rather than just show whatever image you upload. That’s a common problem.

Tricia: Yeah, that’s what I was going to say – the image size.

David: I think it should resize for you for the container. That would be wonderful.

Tricia: I had that issue with the client years ago. The first one I looked at was Squarespace. And I had a client, and they were an architect. So, they had beautiful, ginormous images. And that was my first light bulb. I’m like, oh, yeah, this is a problem, especially because of them and the type of images they had.

David: And then I’d add, maybe this is number five. I’ve lost count. Properly encoded schema.

Tricia: That was going to be the next thing I was going to ask you.

David: Especially article schema, but all the schemas that are relevant to a page. So, this is one of the things that I really like about the Yoast SEO plugin. It renders the article schema correctly. And it says, okay, what’s all the schema on this page? And it’s going to organize the schema in a way that makes it really easy for Google to understand what the page is about. You can throw all kinds of different schema scripts on the page and let Google figure it out, but Yoast combines them all into one nice, neat schema. It just works out of the box. I think schema is going to be even more important as we move to learn language models.

Tricia: That’s interesting that you add that because I had somebody ask me to look at a platform they were considering because it was kind of an industry thing. A lot of people in this industry were using this platform. And one of the questions I asked, because they let me talk to the dev team, was what about schema? I said we’d want to update their schema. They said, oh, no, their schema is fixed. You can’t make any updates to it. So, that was kind of a flag for me.

David: Well, I don’t necessarily want or need the ability to modify the schema as long as the schema is correct.

Tricia: Well, I don’t think it was going to be correct. I think it was like they were going to get what they were going to get, and it was going to be basic. And I don’t think it was going to be correct.

David: And I will add asking for properly done schema from a website building service like Duda or Squarespace, which requires the dev team managing that to keep up with schema changes. So, for instance, literally this morning, Google announced a change in article schema in which you have to designate the time zone in which the article was published, or Google will assume it was published in Pacific Time, U.S. The implications probably aren’t huge for that, but that just tells us that your schema is an actively maintained and updated product, and it’s a great community. I’m on their list serve, I get their messages all the time, and they’re doing a great job. But if you were to hard code that into a content management system, you would have to have someone whose job it is to make sure that it’s up to date. So, I’m curious. For instance, I use Yoast. How long is Yoast going to take to implement that change in the markup? Yoast does a pretty good job with that. And it’s, again, not a game changer. For me, it’s a three-hour difference.

Dave: Well, that’s for this particular schema change. There could be another schema change coming down the road that it does get a little bit more important.

David: Yeah. Exactly. That’s what I’m trying to say. Yeah. Thank you.

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