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Using a CMS to Improve Your SEO: Best Practices for Businesses

30 Aug 2023

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Search engine optimisation (SEO) is not just about sprinkling in keywords or creating backlinks anymore.

The core of today's SEO lies in crafting quality content, ensuring user-friendliness, and leveraging technology to your advantage.

Today, we'll delve into how a Content Management System (CMS) plays a pivotal role in boosting your website's SEO, with a particular focus on our experience here at Elcom.

We’ll answer the question ‘how does a CMS help SEO’, as well as CMS best practices for SEO you can implement for your own website.

What is SEO and Why is it Important?

SEO is about enhancing your online content so that a search engine, like Google, showcases it as a top result.

Think of it as a compass pointing users directly to your content in the vast outback of the internet.  

SEO is important for:

1. Visibility

Every day, around 5.6 billion searches are conducted on Google alone. Every one of those searches is a quest for information, products, services, or solutions.

Without SEO, even the most beautifully designed and content-rich websites risk being lost in the sea of information, unseen and unnoticed by potential clients, customers, or followers.

2. Credibility and Trust

Ranking high on search engines implicitly signals credibility.

When your website appears on the first page of search results, users often see it as an endorsement by search engines. It’s akin to a digital vote of confidence, implying that the content is relevant and trustworthy.

3. User Experience and Engagement

SEO isn’t just about pleasing algorithms; it's also about providing users with the best possible experience and successfully managing online engagement.

Optimised websites are faster, easier to navigate, and compatible across devices. A smooth user experience often translates to longer site visits, lower bounce rates, and higher conversions.

4. Cost-effective Marketing

Compared to traditional advertising methods, SEO is incredibly cost-effective. Instead of casting a wide net and hoping for a bite, SEO focuses on attracting users actively searching for your products or services. This means that the traffic you get is more relevant, leading to higher conversion rates.

A great piece of content that is optimised for SEO can bring you website traffic for years and years.

5. Continuous Results

Unlike paid ads which stop yielding results once you stop paying, SEO efforts often continue to bear fruit long after the initial work is done.

While it requires ongoing maintenance, a well-optimised site can maintain its ranking and continue to attract organic traffic over time.

6. Local to Global Reach

From local businesses looking to attract nearby customers to international corporations aiming to expand their global footprint, SEO caters to all.

Local SEO strategies can put your business on the map (quite literally) for nearby searchers, while broader SEO strategies can increase global visibility.

7. Outrank Competitors

Your competitors are investing in SEO, and if you're not, you're giving them a clear advantage.

It’s a digital race, and while SEO doesn't guarantee the top spot, it ensures you're in the running.

8. Evolving with the Times

SEO is dynamic.

As search algorithms and user preferences evolve, SEO practices adapt. This adaptability ensures that businesses stay relevant, catering not just to search engines, but to the changing habits and preferences of users.

What is a CMS and How Can it Help You Improve Your SEO?

A CMS isn't just about neatly storing and organising content; it's a dynamic platform enabling businesses to efficiently manage, modify, and monitor digital content without the need for intricate technical knowledge. 

A CMS can help you improve your SEO through:

  • Effortless Content Updates: Regularly refreshing your content is a gold standard in SEO. A CMS facilitates easy content updates, sending positive signals to search engines about your site's relevance.
  • Optimised Media Management: Image alt tags, video transcripts, and other media optimisations become streamlined, making your content more accessible and SEO-friendly.
  • SEO Plugins and Modules: Modern CMS platforms often come equipped with plugins specifically designed to aid SEO efforts. These tools guide you on how to use a CMS to improve SEO through meta descriptions, keyword placements, and more.
  • Mobile Responsiveness: A majority of today's searches are mobile. CMS platforms inherently focus on responsive design, ensuring your site ranks well in mobile searches.
  • URL Structuring: Clean and coherent URLs aren’t just user-friendly; they’re search engine favourites. CMS aids in creating structured URLs that boost your website’s SEO. You may find that migrating to a new domain that is better optimised for your audience and your business assists with this.

Advantages of Using a CMS

At its heart, a CMS is the digital equivalent of a maestro, orchestrating various pieces of content into a coherent, streamlined, and easily accessible symphony for users.

While many associate CMS strictly with website content, its prowess stretches far beyond, especially into the realms of intranet and portal! Calculating the ROI of a CMS project often takes into account it's incredible long term potential.

Here are the key advantages of using a CMS.

Streamlined Content Management

The ability to make prompt content updates becomes essential for business continuity when staff are working across different locations.

A CMS is tailored to facilitate rapid changes without the dependency on specialised technical teams.

One primary advantage of a CMS is its ability to make content updates a breeze. You won’t need to chase down the IT specialist every time you want to upload the latest company newsletter.

Templates

With templates and predefined settings, a CMS ensures all your content maintains a consistent look and feel, making it easier for employees to find and digest information.

A consistent interface not only strengthens brand identity but also augments user efficiency. When employees engage with a uniform and predictable environment, the time expended in locating and processing information is significantly reduced.

Taking a global consultancy firm for example. With numerous project updates, research reports, and client communications, a CMS ensures that every piece of content, regardless of its origin or purpose, aligns with a unified brand standard, thereby reinforcing professionalism and facilitating ease of access.

User Access Control

Worried about too many cooks in the kitchen? Enterprise CMS solutions allow you to set permissions, ensuring only authorised individuals can make changes.

As businesses become increasingly data-driven, the sanctity and accuracy of information have never been more critical.

A CMS with robust user access controls ensures that content modifications are confined to authorised personnel, thereby mitigating potential data breaches or inadvertent information alterations.

For instance, in a multinational pharmaceutical company, while R&D may need to upload proprietary research data, the sales team might be updating product brochures. A sophisticated CMS would provide granular access controls, ensuring that each team's content remains uncompromised and distinct.

SEO Friendly

Now, you might wonder, "how does a CMS help SEO?"

Searchability matters. The right CMS can enhance content visibility, making sure important documents and pages are easily found.

A well-configured CMS is designed to be SEO-friendly, ensuring that crucial documents and updates are effortlessly discoverable.

For businesses that house extensive repositories of information, such as legal firms with myriad case files, an SEO-optimised CMS ensures that employees can swiftly locate pertinent documents, augmenting operational efficiency.

For more information, check out:

How to Use a CMS to Boost Your Website's SEO

The structure and functionality of your CMS can profoundly impact SEO.

In fact, taking into account SEO is one of the key website redesign best practices recommended.

A CMS that supports SEO-friendly URLs, offers customisable metadata fields, and has responsive design features can go a long way in ensuring your content is search-friendly.

Streamlined Site Architecture

Keep your website's architecture clean and straightforward. Nested pages or complicated hierarchies can confuse search engines and users alike. An organised, logical layout ensures that crawlers index your content efficiently.

Best practices:

  • Hierarchy: Begin by mapping out your content hierarchy. This should follow a logical flow, representing the structure of your organisation and its departments.
  • Breadcrumbs: Employ breadcrumbs. They not only help users trace back their navigation steps but also allow search engines to understand the layout and categorise information effectively.
  • Avoid Deep Nesting: Limit the levels of nested pages. A rule of thumb is to ensure essential information is available within three clicks from the homepage.

Image Optimisation

While it's tempting to upload high-res images, they can slow down your site. Use your CMS to compress images, ensuring they're high quality yet lightweight.

Best practices:

  • Compression Tools: Before uploading, use your CMS's built-in tools or third-party apps to compress images without compromising quality.
  • Alt Text: Always add relevant 'alt text' to images. It enhances accessibility, aids users who rely on screen readers, and provides search engines with context about the image.
  • File Naming: Rename image files to reflect the content, rather than leaving default names like 'IMG_1234.jpg'. This helps search engines understand the image relevance.

Integrate Social Sharing

Allow people to share content on their professional social media networks. This not only fosters a sense of community but can indirectly boost your external website's SEO.

Best practices:

  • Easy Share Buttons: Ensure your CMS provides easy-to-locate social sharing buttons on content-rich pages.
  • Guidelines: Draft a clear, concise guide for employees on what can and cannot be shared externally, ensuring no breaches in company policy or sensitive information leaks.
  • Track Engagement: Use integrated analytics to monitor which content gets shared most. This can provide insights into what resonates most with your workforce and help shape future content.

Stay Updated

Ensure your CMS is always up-to-date. CMS providers, like us at Elcom, often release updates that include SEO improvements, enhanced security features, and other essential upgrades.

Best practices:

  • Regular Check-ins: Establish a routine, perhaps quarterly, to check for CMS updates. Companies like Elcom frequently roll out updates to ensure optimal performance.
  • Backup: Before any significant update, always backup your content. This safeguards against any potential data loss.
  • Leverage New Features: Stay informed about the features that come with updates. Often, there are functionalities tailored to enhance SEO, security, or user interface. Adopt and adapt them as per your organisation's needs.

Content is King (or Queen)

High-quality, relevant content is the foundation of any SEO strategy. Regularly update your webpages with fresh, engaging content that employees find valuable.

Best practices:

  • Consistent Updates: Schedule regular content audits to identify outdated or irrelevant information. Replace or update this with current and engaging content.
  • Engage the Audience: Survey your employees periodically. Find out what they're looking for, what's missing, and what can be improved. Direct feedback is gold.
  • Diversify the Content: Incorporate varied formats like blogs, videos, infographics, and podcasts. Different users have different preferences, and a rich media mix caters to all.

Mobile-First Approach

Ensure your CMS offers responsive design templates. With many people accessing websites from mobile devices, your content needs to be easily readable and accessible on all screens.

Best practices:

  • Responsive Templates: Prioritise CMS platforms, like Elcom, that offer responsive design templates. This ensures your content adjusts and looks perfect, irrespective of the device.
  • Test Regularly: Periodically test how your pages appear on different mobile devices. This helps in identifying and rectifying any glitches.
  • Optimise for Speed: Mobile devices often run on varied network speeds. Ensure your content, especially media-rich elements, load swiftly to prevent user drop-offs.

Meta Matters

Use your CMS's custom metadata fields to input relevant keywords, descriptions, and titles for your content. This not only makes it easy for search engines to understand your content but also improves the user experience by providing context.

Best practices:

  • Keyword Research: Before populating the metadata fields, conduct internal keyword research. Understand the terms your employees frequently use and incorporate them into your meta descriptions, titles, and tags.
  • Detailed Descriptions: When crafting meta descriptions, ensure they're concise yet detailed. Offer enough information to give users and search engines a clear snapshot of the content.
  • Stay Updated: SEO is dynamic. The terms your employees search for today might evolve over time. Make it a practice to review and update metadata regularly, ensuring it always aligns with user needs and search behaviours.

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Measuring Your Site's SEO Success

How do you truly measure the success of your site's SEO? Here are CMS best practices for SEO reporting and analytics. 

1. Setting Benchmarks

Before diving into metrics, it's crucial to understand your end goal. Are you aiming for increased document retrievals, higher page views on new announcements, or more engagement with training modules?

Practical Tip: Establish SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) tailored to your site's objectives.

2. Key Metrics to Monitor

Some important metrics to monitor include:

  • Organic Search Traffic: Using tools integrated into your CMS, monitor the volume of organic searches. An uptick indicates your SEO efforts are bearing fruit.
  • Top-Performing Pages: Identify which pages garner the most traffic. This not only reflects what's working but offers insights into what your employees find most valuable.
  • Bounce Rate: This metric indicates the percentage of users who navigate away after viewing only one page. A high bounce rate could hint at irrelevant content or poor user experience.
  • Practical Tip: Utilise heatmaps for a visual representation of areas most engaged with on a page.

3. Feedback

Incorporate regular surveys or feedback loops. Direct input from your website users can often provide insights that metrics might overlook.

Practical Tip: Run bi-annual focus groups to deep dive into user experience and gather qualitative data.

4.  Compare and Contrast

Periodically compare your site's performance with past data to identify trends. Are there consistent peak periods? Which SEO strategies yielded the best results? This retrospection is invaluable for forward planning.

Choosing the Right CMS for Your Business

With the myriad of options out there, how do you make the right choice? Here are a strategies for choosing the right CMS for your business.

1. Understand Your Unique Needs

Different businesses have different requirements. While some might benefit from a highly customisable system, others might need something straightforward and user-friendly.

Practical Tip: Gather a diverse focus group from various departments. List down specific needs, from daily communications to document storage and retrieval. This will give you a clear blueprint of what you're looking for.

2. Prioritise User Experience

Your website will be accessed by people across different levels of tech-savviness. A good CMS offers an intuitive, easy-to-use interface that requires minimal training.

Practical Tip: Test-drive a few CMS options. If possible, let a few employees from different departments have a go and gather their feedback.

3. Flexibility and Scalability

Your organisation is dynamic. The CMS you choose should not only serve your current needs but also be scalable as your company grows and changes.

Practical Tip: Look for platforms, like Elcom, that offer modular structures. You can add or remove features as per your evolving requirements.

4. Security is Non-negotiable

In today's digital age, cyber threats are very real. Your CMS should have robust security measures in place, especially if sensitive company data is to be shared.

Practical Tip: Ensure your potential CMS offers multi-layered security features, regular security patches, and updates.

5. Seamless Integration Capabilities

Your CMS shouldn't exist in isolation. It should seamlessly integrate with other tools and platforms your business utilises, be it CRM systems, email platforms, or project management tools.

Practical Tip: Create a list of all the tools your organisation currently uses. Ensure your CMS of choice supports integration with most, if not all, of these tools.

6. Support and Training

Even the most intuitive CMS will have a learning curve. Choose a provider that offers thorough training and reliable ongoing support.

Practical Tip: Before finalising your CMS, test the provider's support system. Check response times, availability, and the quality of assistance offered.

7. Cost Implications

While it's essential to invest in a good system, ensure you're getting value for money. Consider not just the initial costs, but also ongoing maintenance, support, and upgrade fees.

Practical Tip: Draw up a 5-year projection of costs for each potential CMS, factoring in potential business growth and changing needs.

Conclusion

A CMS is not just a platform but an ecosystem in which your company's knowledge thrives and grows.

Your SEO success isn't just about numbers. It's about ensuring that every piece of information, every announcement, and every update seamlessly finds its way to the right individual at the right time. And a CMS can help you with just that! 

Need more assistance selecting the right CMS for your needs?

Check out 'The Ultimate Guide to Selecting Your Ideal CMS'. Developed by experts, this guide is your essential resource for selecting and implementing the ideal CMS for your needs. It comes packed with ready-to-use templates for content audits, migration, and implementation plans, setting you up for success from day one. Simply fill in the form below to receive your copy.

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