CMS Tutorial - A Guide to Everything You Need to Know about Selecting and Using a CMS
As the name suggests, a Content Management System is a software that helps businesses manage their content, allowing them to add, update, delete, and constantly improve the look and feel of their website. Prior to the current generation of CMSes, the website content had to be built by manually writing the HTML and CSS code, but modern CMSes have made the job a whole lot easier, and with templated web pages, businesses can custom their website without knowing any code.
Of course, with visibility on search the priority for most businesses, a CMS helps them streamline their workflow, stay up-to-date with the latest SEO practices, has key insight to improve its presence on search and features to improve revenue.
According to Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management 2020, listed below are the functions that CMS features need to have:
Basic and advanced content creation functions such as templating, workflow and change management
Content repository that provides metadata about the content
Key website management features, such as the layout of the website, menus and navigation options
Content deployment tools
Analytics and personalization capabilities
Integrations via APIs, to connect with digital commerce platforms, social media platforms, and marketing automation platforms
Hybrid and API-driven omnichannel content delivery options
Why do businesses need a CMS?
With the way search has evolved, whether a business has a dedicated website or not, it needs to consider Google as its homepage. Why? With Google's rich results on search, to deliver the most relevant result for a user query, Google SERPs are a customer's first interaction with the business, and not the website as was the case a few years back.
A CMS is imperative as it streamlines the workflow of the business irrespective of IT expertise when it comes to building a website, and takes care of other key requirements such as advanced SEO, omni-channel presence, compliance, and lots more. Here a quick brief on why your business needs a CMS:
A good CMS will offer a business a complete and scalable website solution that includes the website architecture, hosting service, design and content. When it comes to the design and content, user intent is forever evolving and having an experiential website design is key to create conversions for a business and this can be done easily using CMS web page templates.
In addition, having dedicated pages with relevant content and schema markup for local-flavored content such as meetings, weddings, a new product launch, etc., will help drive a business’s ranking on search for local content.
For a business to drive traffic to its website, it needs to keep up with the latest technology that is built to suit customer behavioral patterns and it also needs to have flawless SEO for it to climb the rankings on search. Starting with advanced SEO, implementing schemas help a website go hand-in-hand with Google shift to semantic search from keyword-based search. Schemas allow the business to dictate to the search engine what exactly the content is all about and in the process helping the search engine to display the content as a relevant result for a query online.
Having on-page FAQs will help the business’s content suit Google BERT algorithm which now prefers displaying the most relevant result in a conversational format. The benefits of FAQs are multi-fold, but in a nutshell, they help a business create local flavored content and show up as relevant search result for a local query. Most importantly, it optimizes the website for voice search which is certainly the future of search. Talking about localized content, having an integrated events tool will help the business show up for local searches and drive traffic to its website.
The website needs to be optimized for platform performance and site speed (minimize HTTP requests, image optimized, etc.), crawlability (HTML, CSS, XML Sitemap validations, etc.) and search (schemas, optimized Alt tags, Header tags, Meta Tags, Social tags, etc.), and a CMS takes care of this to streamline the process of visibility of a brand on search.
A good and scalable CMS will help the business seamlessly integrate revenue optimizing features and AI-driven personalization to drive user experience and conversions.
Not just to avoid lawsuits that could run into millions for a business, but to primarily ensure that the website is accessible to all, the website should be compliant following the guidelines of ADA, GDPR, and WCAG 2.1.
Having key insights that are centralized will help the business make faster decisions to improve and scale. In addition, a CMS with Analytics reporting will save the business from excel report preparations, give it an integrated view of their marketing strategy, consolidate the performance of all locations and properties across the globe, and give key insights with competitive benchmarking in SEO, voice search, mobile-first development, omni-channel presence and website technology.
How does a CMS work?
A Content Management System allows the business to build a website and make changes to the content without having to know any code. Previously, all websites were built manually using HTML, CSS and Javascipt codes, etc., which required in depth programming skills and any changes that had to be made to the website required the help of a programmer, web designer and so on.
With a CMS, irrespective of the expertise of the individual, the website can be built and modified based on the required look and feel using templates, basically like putting a puzzle or lego together. A CMS can be broken into 2 parts:
Content Management Application: This is used by the content creators, marketing professionals or individuals managing the website to create content within the templates based on the business requirements without the need of coding expertise
Content Delivery Application: This is the backend of the CMS that converts content changes within the templates into a functioning website real-time
In brief, the web authors decide on the website content while the web designer create templates that can be chosen by the business with the help of the QA team. This is then stored on the CMS which has an in-built directory and security service. Once the business chooses the templates, the website is built one web page at a time (depending on the number of pages required by the business) and this is delivered through intranet and extranet servers which can then be viewed by users online.
There are 3 types of CMSes that businesses can choose from based on their requirement:
Traditional or coupled CMS A traditional CMS comes with ease-of-use and the business can use a WYSIWYG (what you see if what you get) editor to make website content changes. The CSS then automatically structures the page layout based on the template already chosen
Decoupled CMS As suggested by the name, a decoupled CMS is one in which the frontend and backend are separate. So, the business enters the content changes in the backend of the CMS and the frontend is automatically manipulated based on the requirement
Headless CMS Similar to a decoupled CMS, a Headless CMS separates the backend content repository from the frontend publishing tools and any changes made in the backend is delivered via API to various platforms
CMS Key Features
Apart from easing the content management process of a website, here are some other factors that determine the need for businesses to employ the best CMSes:
Security Good CMSes come with strong security against cybercrimes and malware attacks as they have advanced authentication, firewalls and strict permission steps for access
Omnichannel delivery On a single screen, businesses can deliver content in a number of languages to multiple channels and platforms which works great for multi-location and enterprise businesses
User friendly Search is constantly evolving and businesses to adapt with fresh content at all times to engage with users online and a CMS makes the whole process user friendly
Good for Experimentations A CMS allows a business to experiment with the website look, usability, content flow and so on, to see what works best for them. Such changes can be made with ease
Content can be personalized Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) the content can be personalized to customer needs to drive revenue of a business
Scalable Using cloud services that are forever evolving, brands can ensure their presence online gets bigger with their fame and popularity. Businesses can scale their online requirements with ease and in no time
Analytics A CMS should ideally have Analytics support to gauge their performance and know what they are doing right or wrong. In fact, they can even bring competitive benchmarking into the picture to draw a roadmap to beat their competitors
Example of CMS offering ease of use for businesses
Which are the best CMSes in the market?
CMSes like Adobe Experience Manager (the market leader), Drupal (open sourced and decoupled CMS) Acquia, SiteCore, Oracle and Episerver are the biggest CMSes in the market and cater to large enterprises. That said, they charge premium fees and the features are bundled and are not customizable to give business only what they need.
What does Milestone have and do that would help?
All client websites of Milestone are designed on Milestone CMS which uses Azure as the hosting provider and the application framework is built on ASP.NET - where the code and business logic are integrated. To avoid repeated SQL calls from the servers and improve response time, Milestone CMS uses Content Delivery Networks (CDN) Cloudfare and Cloudinary.
Cloudfare functions in caching to improve response time for repeated website visitors and is also used to flush cache for any changes done on the website presentation, business logic, etc. Cloudinary on the other hand is used to pull image data from the source system as it has superior image manipulation features as compared to Cloudfare. In addition, Microsoft SQL is used to store data where as Midguard API is used to retrieve data from the servers through API calls.
Milestone CMS caters to small-medium business to supporting enterprise businesses as well, and allows customization of features with flexible packages to give businesses the liberty to choose just what they need and the option to add features as the business scales and modifies their scope. Milestone CMS offer the lowest total cost of ownership and bundles the key requirements for any business such as the hosting infrastructure, security, speed and technical SEO and does not package these key elements and features separately. Milestone covers the 4-key requirement for a small-medium business to an enterprise business to scale, ensure visibility on search, enhance engagement and drive their revenue:
Enhanced User experience and engagement
Business can use Milestone CMS templates to build their website or even custom their web pages as per their requirement. It offers flexibility for a business to change its website look and feel and keep up with the latest customer trends. In addition, our CMS ensures that website visitors have the best user experience and this is done using a responsive and mobile-first approach that is integrated with Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and Progressive Web Apps (PWA). Of course, our built-in schema markup tool ensures that all the content attains the best possible visibility on search in the form of rich results.
Latest website technology and SEO requirements
Milestone CMS is the only SEO-first CMS in the market and our schema implementation allow the business offers clarity to the search engine what exactly the content is all about to help the content be picked as a relevant result for a query online. In addition, our FAQ managing tool with schema markup allows businesses to create local flavored content and show up as relevant search result for a local query. In addition, it optimizes the website for voice search. Our CMS ensures that the website is optimized for platform performance, crawlability and meets the all the SEO requirements to be visible on search.
Revenue Optimization features
To boost revenue of a business, Milestone CMS comes with third-party booking integration, website and booking abandonment recovery features, rate parity widgets to drive direct bookings on the website, and AI-driven personalization to target the right audience. Compliance is a priority and we ensure that all the websites are WCAG 2.1, ADA and GDPR compliant.
Analytics and Insights support
Our Analytics and Insights support will help a business make key comparisons with their competitors, give them an in-depth view of their marketing strategies and decisions and consolidate the performance of all their business locations across the globe when it comes to website speed, voice search impact, schema implementation results, omni-channel presence, local performance, revenue generated, etc.
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