Before covering the topic, how a content management system can ruin your search engine positions, let me clear up what each of these things are.
A content management system (known as a CMS) is a facility that allows a user to manage text, images, etc on their web site without having any web design skills. An example of a CMS is a latest news section on a corporate site. The CMS allows the website owners to add new news items without having to learn the technicalities of web development.
Your search engine position is where your website appears on the search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc) for a given phrase. Obviously, the higher you appear, the better. The process of making your site appear higher is known as search engine optimisation (SEO).
Sometimes clients ask to have all their site editable via a CMS. They do so in fear of being lumbered with future bills for amends. Additionally, if you have a CMS you can access this whenever you want; you’re not waiting for a third party. However, making the entire site content managed is not a good idea. One of the keys to designing a good content management system is to only allow a client to edit the areas they really need to. These would primarily be areas where pages would be added (such as a blog) or areas of transient content (such as special offers and events).
So, why is this a bad idea?
Constantly changing content can seriously harm your search engine rankings. There’s a lot of misinformation surrounding the subject. In fact, many people think the more you change content, the more likely they are to rise in the ranks. While this is true of adding new content if you constantly fiddle with the information on a page that ranks well for a particular search term, you may jeopardise its position. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing: a well-meaning client could throw their rankings away if they change information on an important page.
The proliferation of the use of open-source content management systems (such as WordPress and Joomla) has meant more and more people have complete access to their site’s contents. Because of this some clients think they’re being conned if they can change what they want, when they want. For this reason, although these open source products do serve a purpose, they should be used with caution.
So, what is the solution? Pages that rely on search engine rankings should be created by an expert and left to work their way up the search engine rankings. The home page, for example, is the most important page on your site and—for the most part—shouldn’t be editable by a client. As mentioned earlier, CMSs are for publishing additional pages and updating content that is subject to frequent amends.
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