Your CMS Is Adversely Affecting Your SEO

To combat this, you can update your website regularly

Everybody needs a CMS, right? Everyone needs the power and ability to update their website – add pictures and text etc. – all without having to go through an expensive middleman web designer, right? You NEED that control.

You need that control because all that you plan to every week over the next 6 months is update your website with juicy content.

Listen to my rant about why having a CMS’ is becoming problematic in 2017…

The Control You Think You Need Over Site Content

An SEO hit on slow site speed might not be worth the bother

I see it time and time again. The cycle of production goes something like this . . .

During Website Scope

Client: I want a website
Me: Your website is like a coat-hanger for content. It’s difficult to get found these days and Google favours sites with most content. So do you have an update plan?
Client: I can update it myself. Or our new secretary will. We have lots of documents.
Me: Okay. Perhaps later we can talk about a plan and strategy.
Client: It needs to have all the bells and whistles. It has to be better than [competitor X]’s site.
Me: Ok. I can add some animation, but it will slow your site down a bit. This may impact SEO.
Client: I want it finished by X date.
Me: Sure.

I go ahead and build a huge website – with bells and whistles galore – most often on WordPress. Most websites take 4 weeks to build, but some clients like to to and fro. Within reason, i think that’s their prerogative. It’s fine.

Then, During Website Production

Client: The pics in that slider need to be a lot wider. Can you fill the screen width?
Me: I can, but it will slow your site down quite a bit if I add such huge files.
Client: I want 6 slides.
Me: Are you sure. That means your home page will be over 1Mb.
Client: It just needs to look more attractive than [competitor X]’s.
Me: Ok.

I add 6 huge 150Kb images (optimised at GXmetrix.com) to the slider – alongside a bunch of animation to make it look nice and modern. I’m already using 25 x 3Mb plug-ins to get everything working okay (often plug-ins “bump into each other” – causing incompatibilities. The advantage is that they’re mostly free and save a lot of time coding). Each plug-in (or “extension” if it’s Joomla or Drupal) adds 3Mb to the code base and I’m already thinking “Gee. 55Kb is the average page size.”

To be honest, there’s often so much code flapping about on websites I build that I have no idea how some of it is working.

Now I’m thinking, “How do people with no CSS experience deal with such behemoth websites? This is huge!”

But it looks fantastic and everyone, for the most part, is very happy (I rarely break budget).

Time to go Live

I switch the website on. 50-100 visitors in the first month . . . Two months later, I check the site and do some minor CMS updates. Everything is running smoothly. Site health is good. But no updates from the client. The traffic? 50-100 visitors per month. Consistently. I cringe at the “last updated 3 months ago” blurb as I gingerly send through a link to my Content Marketing Plans. It feels like I’m up-selling my service. I’m not. My heart is simply aching.

Some pages are so big, I can see Google spider timing out – ERROR 408. This effectively means that Google has stopped indexing the site because it was waiting on an image.

If the client is saving money on hosting (e.g. by using HostGator or GoDaddy) then there are more 408s. Because those servers are slow and cheap. The Woolies of web hosting.

Regular Website Content Updates

While we all intend to update our beautiful and recently-built website on a regular basis, it rarely happens. Sure – you might add a new product or post something about Seasonal 25% OFF once in a while, but are you really adding 2,000 words of new content on a weekly (or even monthly) basis? (as this article on Search Engine Journal explores: A 1,000 Word Post vs. A 2,000 Word Post: Which Has Better ROI?).

If you aren’t adding beefy content to your website, then (according to the top players in SEO – www.Moz.com, www.searchenginewatch.com) Google probably doesn’t care. You, along with all your middling competitors are enjoying a slow-motion race to the bottom of search when it comes to SEO.

A typical question clients have been asking since the beginning of the millenium is:

Client: We need a WordPress Content Management System so that our secretary can update the website. It has to be easy. No code.
Me: Cool. WordPress will be good for that.

I’m not lying. But a better and more honest question might be:

Client: We need our website to be updated regularly as we know it’s hard to get found and this helps, right?
Me: Content is king. We have affordable content plans for that very reason.

Regular Website Updates

cms wordpress joomla drupal magento logosSince about 2002, most of our clients were given the ability to update their website on a regular basis via Content Management System (CMS). A CMS can come in a variety of flavours, but the most common CMS by far is WordPress with 27% of the entire web using it for websites.

Other Issues with Content management Systems

There are a few, pretty major issues arising from the proliferation of Content Managed websites since 2000AD.

  1. 95% of clients get their web developer to update their website anyway
  2. They aren’t super secure and common code bases are regularly targets for hackers
  3. They are very slow – which adversely affects your SEO

Slim CSS Frameworks

slim css framework no cmsWithout a CMS, your site can be hand-coded using one of the many open-source CSS Frameworks. Some of these frameworks are very small. In fact, the smallest one is barely 1Kb in size – far different to WordPress.

WordPress Size

  • a code base of 25Mb
  • uses PHP to access a MySQL (server-side processing)
  • a theme (some are over 250Mb)
  • large images (256Kb ea.)
  • multiple plug-ins
  • other bells, whistles & javascript
  • jquery code (250Kb)

That’s way more than one MB per page.

Most SEO websites and software recommend 55Kb for a page and 5 seconds load time. Needless to say, WP websites are vastly proud of that figure – even when on fast servers.

CSS Frameworks as a CMS Alternative

The web has become so complex since 2011 when designers often had to design 2 websites (one for mobile) at a time. An alternative to the cumbersome Content Management Systems is the much-slimmer CSS framework which usually consists of a javascript library and a bunch of pre-written CSS. But even some of these are large…

You can go all “bare bones” with a the slimmest CSS framework in the world min.css – weighing in at just 1kb.

You can read more about slim CSS frameworks here.

Code to Content Ratio

Your text to code ratio plays a part. Since Google’s Panda Update back in 2014, emphasis was placed on content. When you have more code than written content on your website, it creates reading problem, both for humans and for Google’s spider.

Google releases a lot of updates to its algorithm but the Panda update was a major one which gave emphasis to content:

Google Panda Update

Content that’s thin. Too short.
No value. With the aim of adding one page to the site.
Content that’s spun or repurposed.
Basically old content (or stolen) written with new keywords.
Content that’s unreadable or purely keyword-driven.
Written with the intention to rank. Keyword-stuffed. Hard to read. Thin.
Duplicate content.
Content from other sites (Google finds the origin of the piece and devalues duplicates).

Content is King

The best way forward with any website is always to add fresh new content to your website (like this). If your images are large or your site has a lot of animation, adding content to your website is your ONLY option.

Luckily for you, we have content marketing plans here. For less than $2,000 per annum, you can have content added to your site every month. Together with a $350pa website maintenance plan (for those with a CMS such as Drupal, WordPress or Joomla) both your site’s content and code will always be up to date.

All you then need to do is work on your business.

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Author: Edwin James Lynch

Edwin wrote his first (Harrier Jumpjet) computer program in 1982. Today he builds websites utilising best practice, future-proof web development, online marketing and SEO. He lectured for 15yrs+ at Curtin University where (in 2007) he was voted 5th best out of 2,500+ university lecturers in Australia.

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