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With hundreds of CMS platforms available, choosing the right one for your small business can seem overwhelming. Start by researching eight foundational CMS features that benefit every business.

CMS, or content management systems, allow you to create, manage, and edit your website content without any coding skills.

When choosing a CMS platform, it is important to find the one that best suits your business needs. But with hundreds of options available, narrowing down your choices can feel overwhelming. Start by researching the crucial CMS technology and features that benefit every business.

8 must-have CMS features your small business needs:

  • Intuitive content editor
  • Social media integration
  • Responsive Themes
  • Multi-level permissions
  • SEO tools
  • Complete analyzes
  • Robust selection of add-ons
  • Security and quality support

1. Intuitive content editor

With the right content management tools, managing your website is much easier than you might think. Look for an intuitive content editor that you find easy to use. Test out a few platforms and ask yourself these questions:

  • How to add images and videos?
  • What if I want to change the color, font or size of the text?
  • How can I rearrange the elements on the page?
  • Can I preview the page before publishing it?
  • How to publish the page?
  • Is it easy to update published content?
  • Can I schedule content?
  • What other content features will I need and are they available on this platform?

Ideally, you will easily find the answers to these questions. You want the ability to create and publish different types of content that will help meet your needs and goals.

2. Social Media Integration

Social media integration lets you leverage the power of social media to connect with your audience. It also ensures that your website and social media platforms work together, creating a cohesive experience for consumers.

An e-commerce site highlighting its sharing buttons on social networks.

Education company Big Life Journal optimizes its Shopify website for social media by including the use of share buttons on the side and bottom of blog posts. Image source: author

Ask questions such as:

  • Can I easily add social media share buttons to my site?
  • Is the content optimized for various social media platforms?
  • Does this CMS allow me to schedule publications on social networks?
  • Can I find social media analytics on my dashboard?
  • If these features are not built-in, is there a compatible add-on or plugin I can use?

These tools increase your reach and drive referral traffic to your site, in addition to saving you time and simplifying in-app marketing.

3. Responsive Themes

Themes give your site a cohesive look that appeals to your audience. When choosing your CMS platform, browse through the available themes.

Some platforms offer a wide variety of free themes that you can apply to your site with just a few clicks. The ability to customize these themes varies. Make sure you have the customization capabilities you need for your business site.

A website displaying WordPress theme options.

WordPress offers over 7,700 easily searchable themes for your website. Image source: author

Make sure the platform offers responsive themes. Responsive themes automatically adjust to look crisp on any device. They offer better readability and usability on smartphones. With mobile phones accounting for more than half of website visits worldwide, responsiveness of your theme is key.

4. Multi-Level Permissions

From building your site to producing content, publishing and managing content, multiple people will likely need access to your website. However, the level of access you want to give each person will likely vary.

For example, you might not want to give everyone the ability to update themes or post articles. It is at this level of access that multi-level permissions become important.

On WordPress, for example, you can assign six roles with varying degrees of access: super admin, admin, editor, author, contributor, and subscriber. Each role comes with a predefined list of “capabilities” or actions they can perform on your site.

You have the flexibility to add and remove features as needed.

The super admin has all possible abilities, and the number of abilities decreases from there. An editor can publish, manage or delete any post or page. Authors can only publish and edit their own articles. During this time, contributors have the ability to create posts, but they cannot publish them.

Tiered permissions keep your site secure and clearly define the roles and responsibilities of your team members.

5. SEO Tools

SEO, or search engine optimization, increases your website’s visibility. It helps you rank higher on search engines, improving the quality and quantity of site traffic. Unfortunately, SEO is notoriously complicated and constantly changing.

Choose an SEO-optimized CMS to make optimization easier and consider finding a platform with built-in SEO tools. In the absence of built-in tools, your CMS should offer SEO plugins and add-ons.

For example, does your platform automatically create SEO-optimized URLs? Does it help you to add meta descriptions and alt tags? What advanced SEO features, such as recommendations for improving performance, does it offer? And if these features are not integrated, is the platform compatible with SEO plugins?

6. Full scans

Tracking engagement and measuring the performance of your content gives you invaluable insight into your target audience. This information is called analytics, and it shapes and improves your content strategy.

Your CMS should offer built-in analytics or integrate with popular analytics tools, such as Google Analytics. You want to be able to track these performance indicators directly from your dashboard.

With comprehensive analytics, you’ll know where your audience lives, what devices they use, how they interact with your website, and what pieces of content perform best. You can use this information to create more content that your audience will love.

7. Robust selection of add-ons

Whichever CMS you choose, its standard features won’t encompass all the functionality you’d like to see. But if you have plenty of add-ons, you can still create and customize the site of your dreams.

A website displaying WordPress plugin options.

WordPress offers the most plugins with a huge selection of mostly free extensions. Image source: author

Although WordPress has the most plugins, many competitors have their own impressive selections. Make a list of features that are most important to you. Then choose a CMS platform with extensions that meet your wish list.

8. Security and quality support

Finally, a secure CMS platform with quality support is essential. In addition to protecting your own data, you need to protect your customers’ data and keep your website running smoothly to maintain your brand reputation.

When it comes to security, look for features like a web application firewall, content delivery network (CDN), and security team. Will you need to purchase an SSL certificate to authenticate your website, or is it included?

Are software updates automatic? If not, are they quick and easy? Staying up to date is essential for site security.

For support, some CMS, especially free platforms, rely exclusively on FAQs and community forums. You can also find a wide range of video tutorials online to answer most questions. While this type of support is sufficient for day-to-day issues, think about what you would do in an emergency, such as if your website went down.

The level of support you need depends on whether or not you have an in-house IT person or team. Many small businesses don’t, and you might want to choose a CMS platform that offers live support.

Choose a CMS with the best features for your small business

The CMS features you need depend on your business and your goals. But these eight features are fundamental to the performance of any website. With the right mix of features, creating great content that engages your audience just got a whole lot easier.

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