Headless CMSs have been on the rise in recent years thanks to the many advantages in terms of development and simulation that they promise. The multiple solutions available on the market today are helping to democratize headless CMS, but it remains to be seen whether they are well-suited with SEO requirements.
Classic content management systems such as WordPress or Drupal are called coupled CMS. These solutions manage both the writing of data in the database, their editing through an operator interface, and the distribution of this data to end-users (display of content). A website built from a couple, traditional CMS is entirely dependent on the latter for its administration. By using WordPress, for example, each action on the website (creating a page, modifying the design of certain templates, etc.) involves following rules and constraints defined by the very functioning of the CMS.[caption id="attachment_700" align="alignnone" width="600"] A traditional CMS is linked to the back-end, front-end, and @storyblock database[/caption]
A so-called "headless" CMS separates the data (back-end) from its presentation (front-end). The system responsible for editing the content of a page is not the one responsible for its display to the end-user. The headless CMS focuses only on the data of a site, so it does not manage the presentation of this data, which requires APIs allowing the transfer of the various contents of the CMS to the user.[caption id="attachment_701" align="alignnone" width="600"] The headless CMS separates the back-end from the front-end @Storyblock[/caption]
On the other hand, headless CMS is designed to distribute the same content on a multitude of devices: website, application, etc. It is thus easier for a brand to relay the same content on different devices, with a format always perfectly suited. Finally, since the distribution of the data is managed by API, it is possible to easily modify the presentation of the various contents of a site or an app without having to edit them in the back.
Many players have positioned themselves in the headless CMS segment. Among the main ones, can be mentioned: Sitecore, Front-Commerce, Contentful, Sanity, Strapi, Magnolia, Contentstack, Netlify, Kentico Kentent, ... Also note solutions like REST API (WordPress) and RESTful (Drupal) allow to transform a CMS coupled to headless CMS.
A headless CMS has advantages and disadvantages to SEO optimization. While it can natively present high risks to the positioning of a site in search results, it also offers benefits about current ranking criteria.
The flexibility mentioned above, a strong argument in favor of headless CMS, is also an asset for SEO. Since the front can be built without the constraints of the back, it is possible to build a site perfectly optimized for search engine bots. Be careful, however, this strength of headless CMS is also a weakness (see below). While it is theoretically easier to deploy advanced SEO optimizations on a headless CMS, this requires specific preparation and may require development time.
Another SEO advantage of headless CMS: loading performance. Sites developed from these solutions generally have favorable speed scores, which helps bots crawl and improve their ranking in search results. And while Google is preparing to integrate the Core Web Vitals speed criteria into its ranking algorithm, the question of website performance remains very topical.
Google's new performance criteria: Core Web Vitals
Headless CMS presents two major SEO issues. The first is the inability to natively edit-key SEO tags such as the title, the alt attribute of an image, or the meta description of a page. While most solutions provide modules to optimize these elements, their implementation is therefore essential from the site construction phase via a headless CMS.
Native, a headless CMS is therefore not SEO friendly: specific developments will be necessary to allow the integration of optimizations, even the most mundane generally covered by traditional CMS. Migrating from a CMS coupled to headless without SEO expert could therefore have heavy impacts on the positioning, traffic, and organic revenue of a site. However, with SEO logic embedded from its design, a headless CMS could achieve a higher level of optimization than a traditional CMS could offer, thanks to unparalleled flexibility in terms of development.
Need digital marketing support for the creation of your site under headless CMS? Please do not hesitate to contact us.
Digital Piloto, September 20, 2021
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