by Joel Tarplin from The Creare Group
As millions of bloggers will testify, you don’t actually have to chain yourself to a tree, push flowers down the barrels of guns or set yourself on fire to make your voice heard. These are all fabulous methods of protest and if you do voice your opinions in these ways, then good luck to you. No honestly, happy tree hugging.
But with the invention of blogging, both on a personal and commercial basis, all you need is a decent website and a catalogue of strong opinions to get your views out there.
However, before you can thrust your blog into the online consciousness of millions, you have to decide how you’re going to upload and process your wisdom filled posts, including perhaps the decision as to which content management system (CMS) to use.
Choosing which CMS or blogging platform to go with for your precious website is like trying to pick your favourite child: difficult, but not impossible. Seriously though, there’s so much fabulous software out there, all for free, that many designers and bloggers are crippled with indecision, and the worry that somewhere down the line they’ll want to do something with their blog which their chosen CMS simply won’t allow.
Of course, for full flexibility why not just work from templates; simply update home page links, sitemap links, the XML sitemap and resubmit the sitemaps to webmaster tools. Oh and don’t forget to edit the text on the new page in the first place. Sound confusing? It is, and that’s why a content management system is so useful.
So in the interests of making this difficult decision easier, below are a few functions to look out for in a blogging platform, and data concerning how each of the biggest players fare against one another.
I <3 Search Engines
Most websites are needy, clingy and above all crave attention, FACT. If you have a product, brand or blog that you want people to invest in, subscribe to or simply read, then you’re going to need to pander every algorithm based whim of the omnipotent search engines. If only this were as simple as taking the executive out for dinner and complimenting his wife on her lovely earrings. If only.
Instead, bringing visitors to your blog requires you to jump through some very specific hoops, and which CMS/blogging platform you use can make a big difference as to how easy or difficult this is.
- SEO Friendly Permalinks
Both WordPress and Drupal create nice simple permalinks with every blog from the word go. These tend to be generated from your title field, so as long as you make sure you get your keywords in its title; your latest article is guaranteed to climb at least one rung on its way to dizzying SERP heights.
Joomla does possess this functionality, but it comes in the form of OpenSEF component, which has to be added by the user themselves. Sadly, newbies can and do overlook this and similar components, meaning they miss the added SEO benefit.
- SEO Friendly title tags
Like the permalink function, both Drupal and WordPress automatically insert a new article’s title in the title tags of your new page. Once again, a keyword rich title means effective tags for search engine consumption. Sounding like a broken record now, but if you want this level of functionality from Joomla, prepare to get your wallet out – you’re going component shopping.
- HTML Tags
The SEO Consultant’s best friend is the CMS which provides structure, whilst evolving as your web skills do. This means allowing you to edit source code and insert the relevant HTML tags. I’m not talking about any drastic alterations here, but if you want to chuck the search engines a few well placed strong tags or tag up the odd ‘nofollow’ link to an interesting article, you’re going to need your CMS to allow HTML tags.
In the early days Joomla experienced trouble on this point, with some users complaining that the platform stripped away their code when they tried to publish. Nowadays, this kind of functionality tends to come as standard.
As a minor aside, the ability to customise the html tags governing other fields in your platform’s dashboard, such as the title area, is extremely useful. This kind of function will take away the temptation to use h3 tags for aesthetic reasons, when actually you should use h2′s.
If you’ve got this far, it may seem like there’s no real difference between each of the blogging platforms. While this isn’t entirely true, it’s not entirely false either. The constant redevelopment of each platform has led to a convergence of functionality, and most users will find that they’re not lacking anything with regard to their platform that will have any life threatening effect on their SEO campaign.
For my part, I prefer WordPress, but only because it’s the software I’ve had most experience with. My advice would be stick to what you know, and if you don’t know any, dive straight in and trial either of the big three I’ve mentioned. The beauty of open source software like this is that it’s free, so you can easily change from one CMS to another until you find your favourite.
As a rough guide based upon my research, WordPress is excellent for SEO success from the word go, and WordPress sites will often out -perform competitors in the early days of their existence, making them popular with commercial users.
However for amateurs, beginners and those with more time on their hands to play around with things, Joomla might be the right choice. Simple sites are a breeze, and useful components are out there if you know where to look.
It might be conspicuously convenient conclusion, but many users view Drupal as somewhere in between. It’s probably WordPress’ closet rival in terms of commercial popularity, but has its uses for Joe Bloggers too due to the existence of a useful and thriving support network.
Joel Tarplin is a Content Writer for Creare; specialists in SEO, web design, ecommerce, internet marketing, email marketing and video production.