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How to Find the Right Content Management System and get More Out of Your Web Site

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How to Find the Right Content Management System and get More Out of Your Web Site

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: October 20, 2010 Updated: November 9, 2011

It used to be that putting your business online was a relatively straightforward affair; you built a Web site, added information about your products and services, told your customers where to find you, and maybe incorporated an e-commerce tool to let customers do business with you online.

Unfortunately those days are over.

Today, being online is one thing, but generating traffic to your site is quite another. And while your outbound marketing efforts, such as flyers, ads and emails, can help promote your Web presence with a well-placed URL , if you really want customers to find you- you need them to be able to search or stumble upon you on the Web.

One way to do this is to add your business to local listings such as Google Places, Yahoo Local, Yelp.com and so on (for tips on doing this and getting the most out of your listing, read Get to the Top!- Tips for Making your Business Web Site More Prominent in an Online Search).

Another must do is to keep your Web site fresh' adding new and relevant content to your site on a regular basis is a must if you want to pop to the top of search listings.

The trouble is, many business Web sites are built on static and /or complex content management systems that make it hard to quickly add custom content such as blogs, articles, advertisements, and other resources that draw customers in and which search engines love.

Today there are a variety of content management systems (CMS) that make it easier than ever for small business owners to plug new content onto their Web sites without disrupting the site architecture or look and feel.

Here is an explanation of some of the more popular content management systems, and how they can help you achieve your online marketing goals.

For Novices, Start with the Basics

Depending on your needs and, of course, how tech-savvy you are, there are a number of basic CMS platforms that can make adding search-engine friendly content such as blogs, photos, and videos to your Web site reasonably easy.

For small boutique businesses, a simple blogging site might be all you need to let your customers know about your latest products, events, insights, and so on. In which case, free CMS platforms such as Blogger or Posterous are worth looking into. These tools are extremely easy to build, customize and update, as well as being search engine friendly.

If you want to beef up the basics, you might want to consider WordPress. WordPress started life as a blogging platform but has evolved to offer a variety of plug-ins that you can add to build your site out, such as themes, templates, e-commerce capabilities, and more.

Getting started with WordPress can be a little daunting, so unless you want to run with one of WordPres' readymade themes, i's worth making the relatively low investment of hiring someone to help design your site (an experienced Web developer could likely help you build your site for approximately $1,000). Once up and running, the simplicity of WordPres' WYSIWYG editor and its Microsoft-like interface makes the uploading and customizing of content a straightforward process. WordPress also has an active forum making it easy to troubleshoot problems with other users.

At the end of the day, if your business Web site needs are really just to have a static product/service and corporate information together with a blog' then i's worth considering WordPress If you want a more dynamic and informational site, then you might want to consider more advanced CMS options.

The More Advanced Options' When you Need Bells and Whistles

Now we get into the realm of two free open source content management systems' Drupal and Joomla - and a level of customization that isn't for the novice.

Both these CMS tools allow you to build and manage complex custom content including blogs, articles, videos, photos, and powerful community features such as enhanced search, user polls, discussion forums, and more. If you want to integrate e-commerce into your site, both Joomla and Drupal support this function with the added benefit of incorporating online user reviews and product ratings.

While a developer can help you build-out these capabilities, once your site is up and running you can easily update your product inventory on the back-end without having to fiddle with the appearance of your site.

In terms of usability, Joomla does require some ramp-up and a reasonable comfort-level with technology. Drupal, on the other hand, is really best left to developers and is best suited to online businesses who rely on regular, fresh content to keep them in business - such as news sites, online communities, and so on.

At the end of the day, consult a developer or a Web design company who can help advise you on the pros and cons of each CMS based on your needs, and their experience.

If you're not ready for the big time yet, start with and a blog-friendly site based on WordPress - you can always upgrade over time. And don't forget to post frequent and relevant content that gets your business noticed on the Web.


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Note: This article is intended to provide objective guidance on CMS options; it is not intended to endorse one particular CMS over another.

About the Author:

Caron Beesley


Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley


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Excellent post...... Building a website is all about content building (and back linking). Once you are on your way there is always time to study more complicated content management systems.
I am a huge WordPress fan. I encourage novices to consider it. If you can use Blogger, you can use WP. Find a hosting provider that will install WordPress for you, or one that uses the Fantastico application to install blogging software. Once you get the hang of WP, you'll find that it allows you to easily create and update a wide variety of websites.
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