More than 75 million websites are built using CMS platforms and the number is growing. So what is it and how do you choose one for blogging?
What is a CMS?
A CMS (short for content management system), is a platform where you place your website’s content and media files. It allows users to build and manage a website without having to code it from scratch, or even know how to code. CMSs make managing all the content a whole lot easier.
Which CMS is best for blogging?
Over the past few years, CMSs have seen an unprecedented growth that’s taken them from static web pages to interactive, animated websites. While the primary goal for those first solutions was making it easier to build websites, today CMSs functionality continues to grow.
Now, a CMS puts content first — especially because content marketers, editors, and writers all demand easy access and seamless experiences within their CMS platform.
As a result there are so many CMS options available, that they frequently all look (or sound) alike. Most claim to be robust, scalable and secure, as well as having the must-have features and functionalities.
That makes the task of choosing a CMS a little challenging when your key goal is an engaging blog that’s performance-oriented and optimized for search. So, let’s look at the most widely used and reliable ones currently available, that answer that need.
7 Top criteria for choosing a blogging platform
Everyone’s content needs and goals are different, so for our review we only look at the most universally important factors to consider when evaluating a CMS:
Market presence. Some CMSs have a clear dominance in the market.
Price. Every CMS has a different pricing strategy.
Ease of use. Ideally, everyone in the team should be able to easily use the CMS — even without development knowledge or skill.
Customization. To stay on brand, personalize visitor experience, improve marketing and conversion rates, an ideal CMS should offer lots of customization options and flexibility.
Support. Some CMSs don’t have central support options, while others come with 24/7 support.
SEO. It’s important that your CMS follows SEO best practices.
Security. Some CMS tools do not provide for (or protect) a site’s security.
Popular blogging platforms overview
WordPress is the most popular out of all the CMSs, especially when it comes to running a blog. WordPress powers 43% of all the websites worldwide, there are thousands of themes to choose from and 55,000+ free plugins to install.
WordPress itself is a free, open-source CMS. However you’ll have to pay for a domain name (around US$ 9 — US$ 15 per year), hosting (normally from US$ 7.99/month), and any premium plugins or themes you want to install.
WordPress is easy enough to use — even for users without technical skills or coding knowledge. Its interface is intuitive, you can quickly create great looking pages on your site with the Gutenberg editor, themes and plugins available (both paid and free). If you decide to move to another CMS, you can download all your content in XML format.
Being a free open-source CMS, WordPress offers lots of design options and flexibility — making the variations virtually limitless. There are no restrictions on customizations, and by using the themes and plugins available you can add any element you need.
The downside of WordPress is that there’s no dedicated support. But there’s an extensive and supportive community of developers, content creators, and site owners who can assist you.
WordPress is SEO oriented — you can create SEO-friendly URLs, categories, and tags for your posts, and mobile responsive content. And of course, there are SEO plugins that highlight and upgrade your SEO opportunities and benefits.
With WordPress you have total control over your blog, including security and backups.
Ghost pricing plans depend on the number of people (staff users or subscribers) who’ve signed up to your site. You’ll also need to pay for a domain name, web hosting and it isn’t supported by many web hosts.
Ghost is an intuitive editor. You can choose from hundreds of themes — beautifully designed publication templates, connect thousands of apps and services with your website. However it doesn’t offer the same amount of power and flexibility as WordPress. Ghost is also well set up for charging for content (ie. via subscribers), so it’s perfect for an online magazine or publication with paid subscriptions.
Ghost support depends on the plan you choose. It also comes with built-in SEO tools so there’s no need to add any plugins to deliver optimization benefits.
Drupal is another open source CMS platform that’s widely used by ‘The Economist’ site, large corporations and government agencies like NASA, and a number of universities. Drupal is used by 1.2% of all websites.
Drupal pricing is estimated to start from US$ 5,000. It’s a popular choice for developers, marketers, and agencies alike. However, it does require developer skills. With Drupal you can build a highly customized site, using multiple page templates and different content types. Drupal also has easy user management — you can create roles and specify permissions.
In addition to its out-of-the-box features, there are 47,000 modules available (they work like WordPress plugins), and thousands of free themes. Its custom content types are flexible and plenty of options are on offer.
Support is available via community support — similar to other popular platforms like Joomla and WordPress.
Drupal is considered to be one of the safest CMSs in the world, is SEO-friendly and offers tools that provide reporting, analysis and optimization.
HubSpot’s CMS Hub
HubSpot’s CMS Hub is a fully integrated content management system that’s specifically designed for marketers and business owners. It’s used by 0.3% of all the websites. Because it was built on top of HubSpot’s CRM platform, CMS Hub is a great solution for those marketers considering to use (or already using) HubSpot.
CMS Hub starts from US$ 21/month and premium hosting is included in the subscription fee. The higher tiers are better suited for building more complex web apps, with dynamic personalization and internal processes.
HubSpot doesn’t require technical skills and being a CMS Hub that was specifically built for marketers, it provides an easy to use interface for writing, optimizing, publishing, and analyzing blog content in one-place.
CMS Hub has over 3,500 free and paid templates in the HubSpot Asset Marketplace. However, to create more custom solutions, developers might be needed — there are serverless functions, flexible theme options, and command line tools.
All customers get access to the support team 24/7.
CMS Hub includes built-in SEO tools, and you can also organize your content in a way that’s optimized for search. It also has a native integration with Google Search Console.
CMS Hub comes with built-in security features — including a global CDN and Web Application Firewall — along with a dedicated security team to keep your site safe from DDoS attacks, hackers, and other anomalies.
Webflow is probably the most visual-first CMS. Its main audience is web designers and agencies who want to focus on creating and customizing sites without worrying about hosting, security, or performance. Webflow is used by 0.5% of all the websites.
You can start by using the free plan and then prices vary, depending on your needs.
There are hundreds of pre-built templates to choose from, or you can start from scratch. The Webflow CMS was designed with designers, developers, editors, and content managers in mind, so teams can either work collaboratively or independently.
However, it does require at least some knowledge of HTML, CSS, and web design. You can create custom content types and structures, extend the functionality and design through third-party integrations or embedding HTML code. Their Webflow University and in their forum also share helpful content.
Webflow sites are also SEO-friendly. Its blazing-fast hosting, standards-based code, free SSL, and mobile-friendliness all help Webflow sites rank well in search.
Secure hosting is on offer, as is customer support via email and priority support for paying customers.
Magento is a powerful open source eCommerce platform from the huge software company Adobe. Magento is used by 57.8% of all the websites who use Adobe Systems (used by 1.1% of all websites). It is ideal for ecommerce websites.
Magento OpenSource is free to install, but you’ll need to pay for your hosting, domain, and security. The cost of using Magento is estimated to start from around US$ 15,000 and the final price depends on your gross sales revenue.
The downside is that Magento might be overwhelming for beginners and users with no coding knowledge. It can be time-consuming to find good developers for Magento projects, and it can be very expensive to hire them.
That said, Magento is highly flexible, customizable, with lots of third-party extensions available to add extra features. Its blog extensions offer all the basic structures for starting a blog — backend post building, content management, and content search functionalities for users, and more. You can connect different payment gateways to Magento — PayPal, cash on delivery, and bank transfer are already built-in.
The support available varies on the pricing. With Magento OpenSource you might need to use online forums while Magento Commerce comes with full support.
Magento is SEO friendly and secure, While it can handle lots of products and customers without affecting the website performance.
Building a custom CMS might be a good option if none of the pre-built ones fit your needs. Around 33% of the websites use a non listed CMS.
Custom building costs substantially more than a pre-built CMS, and it requires a team of experienced developers. However, if it’s built with the key stakeholders’ demands in mind, a custom CMS is very intuitive to use. And you’ll have the exact specifications that suit your web, content, and marketing needs.
Unfortunately not all the external content tools are easily integrated with a custom CMS, so you might need to extend your budget to cover the cost of developing something that’s already out there or you’ll need to do a thorough research to find a solution.
Having a custom CMS usually means you’ll have in-house support from developers who are experts on the entire platform. That means issues will be fixed significantly quicker.
There is no certainty that custom sites are better for SEO but it’s definitely an advantage that your code can be optimized to increase the site speed.
A custom CMS being designed from scratch, clean coded and without multiple plugins and themes makes sites less vulnerable. Plus in-house it’s easier to add extra security measures as needed.
Choosing the best CMS for blogging
Every website, blog and business is different, so there’s no straight answer which CMS is the best. The best CMS for you will be specific to you but it definitely has to solve content creation and design problems — not cause new ones.
Regardless of which CMS you choose, you can easily optimize, add mobile-first, interactive and engaging content with Setka — within your CMS or in the Cloud. Learn more.