There are many ways that a developer can construct a website. Probably the easiest method for both the developer and the webmaster is by utilizing a publishing platform such as WordPress or Shopify. WordPress is open source and so widely used that it is working its way to becoming the standard platform for small business websites. As far as SEO is considered, your choice of development platform has no direct effect. Search engines are not biased toward one type of platform over another because when used effectively, they can all produce quality websites. We discuss a few development platforms and their pros and cons below:
Static vs Dynamic Websites
|Static HTML simply refers to building a website from pure HTML code. This type of website has a speed advantage over every type of development platform. This is because static HTML Websites are the most basic form of websites. Other types of development platforms are nothing more than fancy ways to manage the generation of HTML web pages for display in your browser. Static HTML pages are the original pages of the web and are generally only utilized by people who have a deep understanding of HTML code. If you don’t understand HTML, there are still a number of ways that you can run a static HTML website. Aside from hiring someone to design, code, and maintain such a site, static sites can also be created using programs that automate the HTML scripting process. Generally, these HTML editors will include a visual “drag and drop” type editor that makes web page design much more intuitive to the average user. The visual editor included in Microsoft Visual Studio is one example of such a tool, but like many others is almost impossible to use without knowing a great deal of programming. We recommend staying away from this type of website if you are not familiar with HTML code or prepared to hire someone who is.
|The advantage to dynamic websites is that they maintain the same level of customizability as static sites while opening up the opportunity for the user to interact with web page elements. Dynamic websites are most often maintained by professional programmers or large companies that have the resources to employ full-time web site developers. Dynamic websites often rank very well in search engines but not for the sole reason that they are dynamic. It takes a great deal of time and resources to deploy a dynamic website and for this reason, the tools offered by these sites are most often very well thought out. A useful tool on a dynamic website can be one of the most effective ways to engage users. Rather than offering simple text and image based information like a static web page, dynamic pages can accept input through one or more forms, then process this information and provide personalized output.
Search engines gather meta data on user interactions through many different venues. If the site employs google analytics or the user is browsing with google chrome, google can directly acquire measurements regarding user interactions. Some of the most important interactions include bounce rate, session duration, social signals, exit page, page views, events, and returning users. Dynamic web pages tend to perform very well in terms of social signals because they are built around tools that are interactive.
Pros: Very Fast Development Time, SEO Friendly, Very Intuitive
Cons: New users limited to predefined themes, steep learning curve to become developer, internally very complex, initial set up can be difficult
Publishing Platforms & Blogging Platforms
Publishing platforms such as WordPress.org (I’m referring to the blogging service from wordpress.org here, not to be confused with the open source content management system software offered from the same company at their sister site, wordpress.com which I explain further down in this post) are slowly taking over the internet, and for a good reason. This type of development platform is the most well-balanced trade-off between customizability and practicality. WordPress.org and other drag and drop blog hosting services are very easy to setup and customize, even for the average user. Such platforms often offer hundreds of free themes, and even more paid theme options. Such publishing platforms allow even inexperienced internet surfers to design and launch a website in minutes. Most of these services allow the site owner to log into a backend management console to update pages, add blog posts, and make very basic design changes. WordPress.org even includes a limited library of plugins that can be easily added through this backend to greatly simplify many aspects of website maintenance. The downside of blogging and publishing platforms is they often completely restrict the ability to make deep customizations and limit site owners to only a handful of predefined settings to choose from.
These platforms usually completely eliminate any necessity for the site owner to worry about SEO since the platforms are designed to be SEO friendly and generally disallow any nerd-level SEO/code tweaking. A variety of pre-designed plugins highlight, consolidate, and even automate many important parts of the SEO process, but these plugins are not available with every publishing platform.If you are running a WordPress hosted site (wordpress.org), you may have access to plugin libraries that have the following capabilities:
- Lossless Image Compression
- Meta Tag Editors
- JS and CSS minification
- Automatic HTTPS redirects
- AMP Pages
- Semantic Markup
Pros: Fast Development time, fast update time, widely used, easy to update, large online support communities, many SEO Plugins
Cons: Page load times, Can be difficult to set up initially, security
List of Popular Publishing/ Blogging Platforms
Pros: Ease of development, no server maintenance, security, free domain name, high rate of indexation
Cons: minimal customizability, little code access for SERP manipulation, at disposal of provider
Content Management Systems (CMS)
CMS’s are dynamic web applications that provide tools to simplify the development, launch, and maintenance of digital content. The customizability of these sites is usually limited to the options that each company/theme provides on an element by element basis. The majority of CMS’s are launched by a single click. Hosting is provided by the governing service and websites are located on a subdomain of the parent site in the format subdomain.parentsite.com ex: seotextbook.blogspot.com. The main advantage of a managed site is its ease of use and high rate of indexation in search engines. Managed websites often carry a high PageRank and thus can be leveraged in various ways for specific SEO ranking methods (these will be discussed in future sections). These sites are not meant to be e-commerce sites and in the cases that they are used as such are very unlikely to rank well. It is important to note that google owns blogger and therefore use of this platform is recommended if you intend on building a content managed website. Although it has never been publicly admitted, blogger sites seem to be given ranking preference for whatever reason by google.
List of Popular Content Management Systems (CMS’s)
You can find a comprehensive list of content management systems here.
Pros: Fully customizable, highly interactive, high user engagement, SEO Friendly, Open Source (WordPress), Very large support community
Cons: Often difficult to launch/setup, Customizations usually involve very complicated nerd-code, Medium to long Development Time (based on the level of customization, developer ability & site size).
This is a colossal amount of information to take in, and if you’re a new site owner, you’ve only reached the tip of the iceberg. If you are interested in launching a product, idea, or service through a new website, we suggest you consider consulting with our Pittsburgh website design specialists. Websites are complicated and we feel that it is our duty to allow business owners, inventors, and innovators like yourself to focus on their business. Contact us today to ask questions or get a quote for our web design, social media management, or Pittsburgh SEO services.