Is Your Website CMS Holding Your Business Back?
Dealing with hundreds of clients every month, it’s become shockingly clear that there is one common thing that is damaging so many Australian businesses’ online journeys – it’s their CMS.
What is a CMS?
CMS stands for Content Management System – it’s the platform (or web design program) that your site is built on, and it’s the number one thing you need to pay close attention to when building your website.
Unfortunately, not all CMSs are created equal and there are some major things you need to look out for when deciding what platform is right for your business.
As well as not being equal, there are hundreds of different CMSs out there, and they are often designed for different knowledge levels of user – so while some CMSs may actually be amazingly versatile, they might simply be too complicated for some business owners, requiring expert level knowledge of HTML to do simple design changes or site additions.
For most business owners, there are a few traits you need in a CMS, and if the CMS you’re currently using – or thinking of building on – doesn’t have these traits, it might be time to look elsewhere.
If you’ve ever had to use an outdated CMS, you’ve probably had to struggle through a clunky and un-intuitive page creation process. Pages are the building blocks of your site, and if the process of adding new pages is not simple, you’ll probably be put off creating that extra page of content. The cost? It can negatively affect your Google rankings and the overall visitor experience.
This can be a major issue for many businesses, and one that I see all too regularly. We’ve recently been dealing with a client’s site that actually requires you to hard code new blog pages – this means we need someone who can code in HTML just to upload a blog. That’s not a problem for us (after all, we’re a full-service digital agency with a whole team of developers), but for your average business owner, it’s something they probably don’t have access to.
It your CMS doesn’t allow easy page additions and website structure changes, then it’s time to go somewhere else. We highly recommend WordPress as a CMS because it has a simple and intuitive backend that enables the least tech-savvy people to add new content to their site – something we highly recommend doing regularly from an SEO point of view.
Crawlable by search engine bots
One of the most important things for your digital journey is website visibility, and that means appearing at the top of relevant search engine results.
For those who don’t know, Google and other search engines use “bots” to “crawl’ websites to gather data. This data is then fed into their algorithms, which determine the rankings for certain searches.
These bots go through the code of your website and pull out the important information, including the content on your site, a whole range of meta data, as well as internal and external linking.
If there are elements of your site that the Google bots can’t read, then important ranking factors might not be accounted for by the search engine. This means no ranks, and no organic traffic – which can be a death sentence for your online business.
Always investigate just how “SEO-able” your CMS is and make sure it’s not stopping you from ranking.
Customisable and expandable CMS
Something that you should do – not only for your website, but business-wide – is actively engage in future-proofing.
So, what does future-proofing actually mean? It means preparing and planning for the future. When it comes to websites, it means building on a CMS that has the ability to be expanded and have functionality added – without having to completely rebuild the site.
For a new start-up business, this can be very important. You may initially only need a basic website that gives potential clients information, but in the future, you may want to allow online bookings or purchases, or even add more complex functionality. To save money in the future, it’s going to be better to invest in a website that can be changed and updated easily; not one that you’ll have to completely replace every couple of years.
While Google Analytics will handle much of your reporting workload, there’s a whole lot more your CMS can do for you – especially if you run an e-commerce store. From basic tax reporting to complex product breakdowns, sales stats and demographic tracking, a good CMS can be a data goldmine.
Most e-commerce CMSs have some level of reporting available to a business owner, but it’s important to look at exactly what reports can be created, as well as go through the process and see how difficult it is to do the reporting. No one wants to spend hours trying to get the exact right report printed out, so put some research into what different CMSs can offer you.
At WME, we deal with hundreds of small and medium businesses all over Australia every day, and we’ve come to know just how important a stress-free digital experience is. In a lot of cases, this journey starts with choosing a CMS, so we recommend two of the simplest and most adaptable CMSs on offer.
For all standard websites and most basic e-commerce platforms, we recommend building on WordPress. It’s a highly customisable system that is incredibly simple to use and optimise for search engines, and it is very easy to incorporate additional functionality. The woo-commerce plug-in (the code that enables e-commerce functionality) also offers comprehensive reporting options. Another bonus is that WordPress interacts quite well with many third-party marketing tools, like EDM platforms.
For more complex sites with a high number of product variations, we will occasionally recommend building on a platform called Magento. This is a dedicated e-commerce platform that is slightly more complex than WordPress, but still very simple to use.
If you need to chat to a web development or digital marketing expert to help get your business online, contact one of our experts today – we’re always happy to help.