Content Management Systems (CMS)

 Content Management Systems
Content is one of the most important elements of your web site because it can organically improve your search engine rankings. However, that only applies if the content is well written, interesting, and focused. If you have a web site that’s hundreds of pages in size and those pages change regularly because of your content strategy, managing all that content can be a nightmare. That’s where a content management system (CMS) is very useful. A content management system is a tool used to create, update,

publish, discover, and distribute content for your web site. This piece of software is usually very easy to use, and it quickly becomes one of the most useful tools you’ll find for developing and maintaining your web site.

Once your Content Management Systems is up and running, ease of administration is a consideration. For instance, the CMS MODx would be very tough for a newbie to administer compared to Blogger.com. If you just want to get content on the Web, Blogger will do about 90% of the most important SEO features, and any nontechnical user can use it which makes it really attractive compared to MODx.

When should you use CMS?
Content management systems are hugely helpful for web sites that have hundreds of pages of content to manage. If your web site is smaller than that, should you use it? That depends on how you would answer the following questions:
  • How much content do you actually have that needs to be managed?
  • How much time do you have to manage it?
  • How much of your budget do you want to invest in managing it?
For the last point, there is good news. Some content management systems are completely free. Drupal (http://drupal.org) is probably one of the best-known free systems. It’s open source, which means that the software is both free and can be tweaked by you to meet your specific needs. It’s through this collaborative development that open-source software applications are improved for everyone involved.  In addition to Drupal There are many sites with open source :
  • b2evolution (http://b2evolution.net): Full-featured weblog tool. PHP- and MySQL-based with extended file and photo management features.
  • CMS Made Simple (http://cmsmadesimple.org): One of the simplest CMSs out there. Can set up a site in minutes. More than 300 modules. PHP/MySQL based.
  • Django (http://www.djangoproject.com): Python-based open source (model-view-controller) web application framework supporting PostgreSQL, MySQL, SQLite, and Microsoft SQL databases. Allows rapid application development.
  • e107 (http://e107.org) : Another PHP/MySQL CMS, with more than 250 plug-ins. Actively developed.
  • eZ Publish (http://ez.no) : An open source CMS, providing web content management solutions for intranets, e-commerce, and digital media publishing. Based on PHP and MySQL (or PostgreSQL).
  • Joomla! (http://www.joomla.org) : One of the most popular CMSs. PHP- and MySQL-based, boasting 4,400+ extensions.
If you think you need a CMS that’s a little more sophisticated (and expensive, as opposed to free), you can find those, too. The cost of the most basic CMS software starts at around $1,500 and increases to more than $7,000 for the initial license.

More complex versions can cost as much as $500,000 for the initial licensing. Fees for additional licenses, extra features, or monthly maintenance fees may also apply.

Of course, price should not be the main reason you choose a content management system. Your CMS decisions should be based on your business needs, which obviously vary from one organization to another.

Choosing the right CMS
If you decide that a content management system is a tool you need for managing your web site content, you should take some time to investigate the different options available to you. Like any other software, not all CMS systems are created equal.

When you begin to look for the right CMS, the first thing you should do is consider your budget for the solution. Your budget will narrow your field some. Then you can begin considering different factors about each company that will help you narrow the field even more:
  • Company history: 
Companies that are new to the market are risky, especially if they are drastically different from existing companies. The length of time that a company has been in business is a good indicator of its strength. This is not foolproof, but you can generally have more trust in companies that have been in business longer.
  • Workflow and collaboration features: 
You know what you need to accomplish with a content management system. Whether it is plugging in content from vendors outside your company or allowing for collaboration within your organization, make sure that the services you are considering can meet all your needs both now and as your business grows. It’s difficult to migrate from one content management system to another, so think long-term as you’re making your decision.
  • Software integration: 
Consider how the software will integrate with your organization. Do you need software that you install and manage from your own machines or will a web-based program serve your needs better? In addition, how will the system you choose work with the technology that you already have in place? If you have to invest in additional technology to support the CMS, the actual cost of the system will be higher than you originally anticipated.
  • Personalization options:
How much personalization do you need? Will multiple people need different capabilities? What about dealing with archived content? Personalization encompasses more than just defining how many users will use the Content Management Systems for different jobs. It also means looking deeper into all the situations in which a different element of CMS may be needed.

As with any technology, there are many other factors to consider, but the preceding questions will get you started. As you narrow the field, you can request references from organizations that currently use the Content Management Systems software you’re considering.

Keep in mind, though, that a vendor isn’t going to supply a reference to an unhappy customer, so also check Internet forums and software reviews to round out your picture of the company that you’re considering. A great resource for comparing CMS software is www.cmsmatrix.org.

How CMS affects SEO
One valid concern many web site designers have is how a content management system will affect their SEO efforts. In the past, CMS applications often published content with long, complex URLs or created multiple copies, which you now know is anathema to search engine
crawlers. 

Today, however, CMS applications are much more SEO-friendly. SEO has become a large part of owning any kind of web site. Even individuals now consider how they’re going to get their sites to rank well in search engines, and small or even micro-businesses need an increasing amount of technological assistance, including SEO assistance.

Therefore, CMS companies have listened when customers demanded a management system that plays well with search engines.

Today, most CMS applications are designed to improve your SEO, rather than to hinder it. Nonetheless, it’s a factor that you should consider as you’re looking for a solution. Ask very specific questions, such as ‘‘How does your software or application help with my SEO efforts?’’ and ‘‘What specific elements of your application or software will help to improve my SEO efforts?’’

When looking at CMS applications, you should also consider the structure it uses to help you develop your content. Because a Content Management Systems is designed to maintain your content in an orderly manner, it can help to solidify your content strategy and your web site structure.

Most dynamic websites today are running some sort of content management system (CMS). The open source community has a lot to offer when it comes to CMSs. Many CMSs have various plug-ins or modules that allow you to run just about any type of site with decent on-page SEO support.

No system will ever be perfect. Paid software is not exempt from this rule; it will also have some bugs. You will need to fully understand your platform to achieve the best SEO results. At times, you will need to perform small or big SEO-type hacks if you’re striving for perfection.

Selecting a CMS is an important process. If you make the wrong choice, you will doom your site to failure. Like most software, CMSs are a moving target what’s missing today may be a new feature tomorrow. In addition, just because a feature exists doesn’t mean it is the default option, so in many instances the desired functionality will need to be enabled and possibly customized to work to your specifications.

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