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HTML vs. CMS: Which is your better ally in the SEO battle?

When clients come to us with older HTML websites, they always ask why we want to switch them to CMS for their new site. As the SEO battle gets tougher and tougher, we felt it was time to explain: The problem with HTML is that it was developed more than two decades ago, long before SEO was even on the horizon.

HTML is a programming language – specifically Hypertext Markup Language – that browsers read to display a webpage. CMS, on the other hand, is not a language but a programming system – a Customer Management System – that can be used by both developers and website owners.


The pros and cons of HTML

We agree that HTML does offer some specific advantages:

  • Its technology is proven.
  • Many programmers know it.
  • It can offer a totally custom site with the precise look and functionality you want.
  • It can be more affordable to set up than CMS.

Sounds pretty good. So, why are we so hard on HTML?

If SEO weren’t so critical to a site’s organic ranking with search engines, HTML would still be fine. However, because of SEO’s demand for constantly changing content, HTML is not a good choice for a small business without an on-staff programmer. Here’s why:

  • Because HTML sites are built from scratch with hand-coded software, making changes requires knowledge of complex programming codes.
  • Few website owners know this code and can therefore not make changes on their own, affordably and in a timely fashion.
  • Changes, updates and upgrades require the help of a professional programmer – thus erasing any potential initial cost savings.
  • As a result, HTML website pages therefore tend to be static and unchanging. This is the kiss of death in the eyes of search engines always looking for new content!
  • Besides for being bad for SEO, this inflexibility makes HTML sites unsuitable for blogs and anything that is time-sensitive, such as the latest news and new-product updates.


 The pros and cons of CMS

CMS websites, on the other hand, were made for today’s voracious appetite for constantly new content. WordPress and Joomla, the world’s most popular CMS systems, offer similar benefits that suit them better to today’s SEO environment.

With a CMS website, you don’t need a programmer on staff to win the SEO race. Here’s why:

  • CMS platforms are database driven as opposed to complex programming codes and offer tremendous opportunities for customization.
  • Their code structures are optimized so search engines can more easily index your site.
  • Most importantly, after some initial basic training, you and others on your staff can easily and affordably update your copy and visuals.
  • This user-friendly technology also allows you to:
    • Easily install Google Analytics for better analytics.
    • Take advantage of many free plug-ins to increase functionality.
    • Add a blog or a shopping cart with plug-ins rather than redesign.
    • Allow multiple people to post to your website.
    • Keep everything fresh, current and responsive to your customers’ needs.
    • Save time and money over the long term.


The verdict

If your company’s ranking with the search engines is important to you, go with CMS.


To learn more

If you’d like to know which way to go for your new website or are interesting in changing over an HTML site to CMS, please email or call 866.413.7952.