Many of our clients and leads ask us: “which content management system should I use?” Some may even ask us “what is a content management system anyway?”
With so many options available for starting and designing a website, it can be (understandably) confusing to know which solution may be best for your brand, and for overall SEO.
In this post, we’ll cover the main differences between the three popular content management systems and which one you should choose for your brand.
What is a Content Management System?
A content management system (or CMS) is a way for a user or team of users to create, edit, and publish digital content.
For many businesses, a CMS us a means of developing and organizing their website’s pages and blog posts. In fact, this blog post page you are currently viewing was made using a CMS system. If you are viewing a site on the world wide web, it was made using a CMS.
As mentioned, the most popular CMS options are WordPress, Squarespace, and Wix. Here’s a quick look at each one.
About: Squarespace has developed a name for itself through national ad campaigns. Out of the three options, Squarespace has the best balance between ease of use and customizability.
Functionality: Squarespace features a large number of different and professionally-designed templates to choose from, as well as support for CSS. Its streamlining does come at a cost- it has significantly less customizability and plugins compared to WordPress.
SEO: Squarespace is set up to optimize for various search engines, and in recent years the company has expanded its analytics and e-commerce features.
Target Audience: If you work as a self-employed entrepreneur or in a startup or small business, then Squarespace is for you. This CMS is designed for those with limited coding experience and still want some deep integrations for e-commerce.
Popularity: While Squarespace has not released any hard figures on their latest user base, popular brands such as Lyft and Halo Top have used Squarespace for their website, as well as public figures such as Keanu Reeves and John Malkovich.
Learning Curve: Squarespace has a grid-based drag-and-drop system for building websites, making it one of the most user-friendly CMS options.
Cost: There are two plans, personal for a simple website, or business for running an e-commerce site. The Personal plan is billed $12 per month (billed annually) or $16 month to month. The Business plan is $18 per month (billed annually) or $26 month to month.
Squarespace has its own hosting solution, so you don’t have to find a web host for your domain. It’s a popular choice among entrepreneurs and small businesses because you don’t need any coding experience to set websites up. On top of it all, there’s a super friendly 24/7 support team that can assist you with any issues.
About: Wix.com is an Israeli-based web development platform that allows users to make HTML5 websites. Wix allows functionalities such as social integration, e-commerce, and lead generation for businesses or users with little to zero coding experience for free (premium packages offer personal domains, the removal of ads, and other features).
Functionality: Similar to Squarespace, Wix users can also, use a drag-and-drop tool to add graphics, apps, text, and other types of content. There is even an editor for developing websites for mobile.
SEO: Wix has all the basic SEO functionality out of the box, from hyperlinking to meta-tags.
Target Audiences: Unlike Squarespace and WordPress, Wix is geared towards people and businesses who want a website up and running quickly, and with little coding experience.
Popularity: Wix may be the least popular of the three choices, but it still has a major user base of casual web developers and startup businesses.
Learning Curve: You can start a Wix site almost immediately, in just a few steps. No need to learn any fancy language or jump through any technical hurdles.
Cost: Wix has a free plan, but with a premium subscription you can get rid of ads and gain higher bandwidth, a custom domain, and other e-commerce support. There are four plans: Basic $5 per month (but still has ads), Combo for $11 per month, Unlimited for $14 per month, and VIP for $29 per month. Explore the different options here.
About: Without a doubt, WordPress is the most popular and most powerful of the three content management systems. WordPress is free and completely open-source, based on PHP and MySQL. It also has the most extensive plugin and template collection, with thousands of submissions each month.
Functionality: WordPress must first be installed on a web server, a hosting service, or a computer running the software package. The dashboard includes menus for adding pages and posts, as well as a media gallery for images and videos, comments, and themes. WordPress websites can be fully coded in HTML, structured PHP, and CSS, or through one of thousands of themes.
SEO: Not only does WordPress support basic SEO functions, but it also supports thousands of plugins that can benefit SEO.
Target Audiences: WordPress is for brands that are serious about professional-looking websites with high-quality pages.
Popularity: WordPress is the most popular content management system available. That’s not an exaggeration- more than 60 million websites are on the platform, as well as more than 30% of the top ten million websites.
Learning Curve: WordPress can have a steep learning curve if you don’t know what you’re doing. WordPress themes can make designing a website easy, but bigger brands tend to hire developers to ensure they have full control over the website’s elements.
Cost: WordPress itself is totally free. However, your website will need a host, and prices may vary. If you want to use a fancy theme from the WordPress store, that may cost anywhere from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars.
Which CMS is best for SEO?
Each of these three CMSs has benefits and setbacks, and each one has a different end user in mind. Recommending a CMS is like recommending a computer- all of them will get the job done, but some are more powerful than others.
In our experience, WordPress is the way to go. Not just because it’s the most popular, but because of its extensive feature set and community. Want to integrate a blog and an online store all in your brand’s colors? Go with WordPress. Encountered a page-breaking bug and don’t know what to do? Consult the WordPress community. Or perhaps you need some way of knowing how many keywords to add to your blog post? There’s a plugin for that. In short, WordPress has everything you need to make your website yours, even if it can be overwhelming at first.
While Arcalea doesn’t build websites, we can refer you to a trusted development team and create content in the CMS of your choice. At the end of the day, the CMS is just a vehicle. How the SEO is conducted depends entirely on the agency you partner with.