Do you need to know code if you have a CMS? with Jess Joyce

Or get it on:

Show notes

In this week's episode, Jack Chambers-Ward is joined by Jess Joyce to discuss if you need to know how to code if you have a CMS. Topics include:

  • Do you even need a CMS for your site if you can code?
  • Are all CMSes created equal when it comes to coding?
  • What’s the best CMS if you want to do a lot of coding?
  • What’s the best CMS if you don’t know any coding at all?
  • Is there a 'Goldilocks' CMS that allows you some flexibility?
  • What are the most useful coding languages to know when building sites using a CMS?

Show notes


Jack: Welcome to episode 86 of season two of the Search with Candour podcast. I am your host Jack Chambers Ward, and joining me this week is a fantastic freelance technical SEO consultant, Jess Joyce. We're going to be talking all about CMSs this week and also talking about coding and how important or perhaps unimportant that can be to your choice of CMS. We going talk about which CMSs you should pick. You don't know how to code, which CMS to pick if you do know how to code and really want to get your hands dirty and get stuck in there. All sorts of stuff in my conversation with Jess Joyce coming up in a couple of minutes.

But before I get to that, I'd like to say a huge thank you. You do SISTRIX for sponsoring Search with Candour. Once again, continuing to sponsor us for season two. SISTRIX of course is the SEO's toolbox and if you go to, that stands for Search with Candour. You can check out some of their fantastic free tools such as their SERP snippet generator, the HF Lang validator, of course the Google update radar, which is very relevant as we're in the middle of a core update right now. And if you want to check your site's visibility index as well. Something I've touched on recently with SISTRIX is talking all about this new fresh live index they have, which is the hottest freshest SERP data available to you in SISTRIX. If you have SISTRIX already, this is available for you right now. This was launched as part of the 6th of September change log and I know combining a lot of these new features with keyword lists is a really powerful combination.

I've touched on this a couple of times over the last few weeks, but we now have the official release from SISTRIX in their change log. So let's dive in, shall we? One of the new features I really want to highlight is the top URL section and essentially this now gives you an expanded analysis of the most successful URLs for keywords in your list so you can see what your competitors are doing, who's ranking, who's not ranking, all that kind of stuff. It lists many pages, it lists how many keywords that page is ranking for and also the visibility index for that page as well. Basically at a glance you get to see which content is performing particularly well around a particular topic. It's per keyword and speaking of keywords, keyword clustering based on SERPs and this is part of these keyword lists options. So when you are in this section, there is now a keyword cluster section on the left-hand side.

Once you've selected your list, you can choose the keyword cluster on the left-hand side in the sidebar and it bases the clustering directly on the SERPs from Google, so it's understanding how much crossover there is between one SERP and another and understanding how those relate to each other, whether that's per domain or through their content and how much of the SERPs are similar between those keywords as well. So you can see a variety of different ways to cluster it depending on what you are looking at. This is taking Google's understanding of how these keywords overlap and basically will allow you to identify those subject areas that require separate pages and understanding where everything should be gathered together in a larger hub page for a particular topic. We've also got extended five-year search volume history. I know that's something I've talked about a lot with SISTRIX and how fantastic their search volume history is.

You can now look back all the way five years ago and I know that seems like a very long time, especially with the haze of the pandemic years and timers of Flat Circle and all that kind stuff. You can see a real consistency across five years for the SERPs and the searches there as well. And of course I mentioned earlier on, I think a couple of weeks ago now, you can hit the update SERP button and get the latest data from Google there as well. You can capture and update these SERPs SISTRIX have captured and will update these SERPs when you hit that update button and pretty much everything is kept up to date, but just in case you can hit that older than seven days old button and get everything up to date as soon as you want. So I'll put a link for this change log post in the show notes.

Like I said, there's a lot of stuff going on here from the live indexing to the top URLs to keyword clustering, some really, really powerful stuff that I think SISTRIX are doing really, really well. Keyword clustering in particular is a favorite of mine, something I'm very, very keen on to discuss something I discussed with Andy from Keywordinsights a little while ago. I'll put a link for that episode in the show notes as well and why keyword clustering is so important. Using this data from the SERPs actually to cluster the keywords based on the understanding from Google is a hugely important tool and something we should pretty much all be doing in 2023 at this point.

Go to, like I said, it's the changelog post. It'll be linked in the show notes and go and check that out. If you're not already using SISTRIX, this is likely to convince you to sign up and get involved.

Do you need to know code if you have a CMS with Jess Joyce

My guest for this week is a freelance SEO consultant who has been building websites since she was 15 years old. She has worked with companies from Pfizer all the way to Budweiser and has featured in everything from Content King to Forbes. Welcome to the show, Jess Joyce.

Jess: Hi. Thanks Jack and Candour for having me. This is so awesome.

Jack: This is awesome. I know we were just talking before we started recording how often how paths have crossed online and it's nice to actually properly have a conversation and sit down. And I feel like I say this every time when we chat, it's like, "Oh, we should schedule a podcast. We should have a chat, and it's nice to actually finally sit down and dive into a really interesting topic."

Jess: Here we are.

Jack: Here we are indeed. I'm really excited. You brought an interesting topic straight away and I know we chatted back and forth and had a few ideas and what we're going to be talking about today folks is do you need to know how to code if you have a CMS? And we're going to be talking about a load of different CMSs and how they all work and how much code you should be knowing in 2023 and all that kind of stuff. So it's going to be a pretty tech heavy episode. I think you are a pretty technical savvy SEO Jess. So I'm very much going to be leaning on you and your expertise. I'm not particularly tacky myself, but I know my way around a few CMSs, but we're going to dive into some data, dive into some CMSs and all that cool stuff and I'm very excited.

Jess: Me too.

Jack: So let's dive in. Shall we should talk about basically, I guess we'll start with do you even need a CMS in the first place if you are some super whizz coder and you can just ID your own site from scratch with HTML or CSS or whatever it is. Do you even need a CMS in 2023?

Jess: No. End of podcast.

Jack: I'll hit the outro music just there. There you go. Problem solved. Cool. Well thank you for joining me, Jess. How can people follow you on social media? We're done. Thank you so much. Fantastic two minute episode of the podcast, but no, seriously, please elaborate if you can.

Jess: Yeah, happy to. Yeah, I don't think you do because I feel like that toes the line of like are you a developer or are you a marketer or are you working with a team or all the variables that come into using a CMS. Usually you're using a CMS if you're not the only one using the website at some point or the other or if you're time strapped. So if you can code, there's a gazillion different options out there. You can pull down GitHub repos until you're blue in the face. And just start off with from scratch or my favorite way of doing it is if you're starting from scratch and you're a coder but you don't have the time, I could code a website from scratch. You can pull up Notepad and just upload something to the internet these days, but you don't really need to. I don't have the time for that, so I'll just load up a quick WordPress install and then load up a super easy theme. John Henshaw from Coywolf. Coywolf, yeah. He has a wonderful starting theme that because he's a tech SEO and he's super smarter than even me. Even me, my God.

Jack: Is that possible?!

Jess: “Than me”? Oh my gosh, yes. Oh my gosh. He's fantastic. He has a wonderful starting theme, which we can link in the description or I'll send it to you after. That's just he is made it perfectly for speed and it is chef's kiss.

It's got beautiful things out of the gate. So if you're just looking for content out of the gate as most SEOs are, then yeah, just load WordPress, which you can do one click installs you’re hosting setups these days, or you can roll your own if you're at Dev and just do your NPM installs up until you're, again loading in whatever intros, outros you want to do and then bada bing bada boom, Bob's your uncle, right? You're up and running in five minutes. Super easy. Same with all the CMSs out there because they've made the barrier to entry ridiculously easy for you to get started, right? Onboarding is the quickest thing ever because a CMS game is billions and billions of dollars at this point. Squarespace is rocking Keanu Reeves as a spokesperson. And John Malkovich was the biggest one that I saw that I was like, "What?"

Jack: I can't imagine John Malkovich has ever used the CMS in his life.

Jess: Right? But they made a website for him. And Dolly Parton I saw this morning when I was doing a little research, Dolly's rocking the web floor or the Squarespace world.

Jack: Mean. So I've seen Squarespace advertised all over the place. I've used Squarespace a couple of times and I absolutely hate Squarespace. I'll put it out there right now. Sorry if you're planning to sponsor the podcast Squarespace, but for SEO and stuff. We had a local event company come to us and work with some of our developers and they're like, "Oh, we built this thing on Squarespace and it was like auto generating page titles or something." And I was like, "So can you change that?" And they were like, "Nope, it's not an option." You can't change the page title. Why bother having a CMS if you can't change the page title? And I think for a lot of us, and for a lot of the listeners, that basic SEO functionality is such an important part of which CMS you choose.

Jess: Completely. And I guess it depends on the depth of the level that you want to go with your SEO, because I've seen a lot of people that are just WordPress, I live and die by the WordPress.

Jack: There are entire agencies that work exclusively on WordPress?

Jess: Completely. But there are other options out there, and especially if you're going into different verticals, e-com. Shopify has a legitimate stake in that market, and I think there's a legitimate use case for Shopify as well. Shopify is not just an e-comm platform, it is a CMS as well. And I think it's really helpful for merchants. So the perspective of just looking at things from an SEO perspective is cool as your audience does, but from a merchant's perspective or somebody who's actually selling something. Shopify has a legitimate use case and you can do a lot of wonderful things with Shopify that you can't do or are very difficult to kind of navigate if you're just hooking WooCommerce onto a WordPress install because that feels more comfortable for you.

Jack: Yeah, so right. There's so many different applications for when we say websites, when we say CMSs, it seems like such a broad topic because-

Jess: It is.

Jack: And it's like this, we said so many people specialise these days, and it's something I tackled on the show a few months ago with my lack of specialization in SEO feels a bit weird sometimes because I feel so many people and even entire agencies will specialise on one thing. I don't know. We've experienced this with proposals we've lost to clients where the agency claims to be a hyper-specific niche industry exclusively. I've got a foam microphone cover in front of me. So we're like, "Oh, we'll pitch to this and do a proposal for this foam microphone cover client." And we're actually, we went with the SEO agency that exclusively works with foam microphone cover companies. I'm like, "No, you didn't. That's not a thing. They're just completely making that up and claiming they're some super incredibly niche agency." But people do do that with CMSs, right? You get agencies, even development agencies and stuff like that that would exclusively work on one CMS. Sometimes that's through partnership stuff, so they're obviously getting a kickback from that company to do sponsored partnership stuff. But I do find it fascinating when, like you said, do you meet the people that are, "WordPress till I die, man?"

Jess: Yeah.

Jack: Yeah. Have you ever tried to find, It's great.

Jess: Yeah, and honestly, as much as I have my own personal opinions, like you do. You're not into Squarespace. I'm not really into Squarespace either, but you use the tool that you have at your disposal too. You have to use what's, there are some garbage ones, which we could talk about for days, but there's also the ones that you can roll into and agencies use a Dora, which I know has had some press, a lot of press lately. They're specifically that, right? They're a CMS or agency so that they can roll 60 to a hundred websites out and they can manage them more effectively and that's their niche, that's their vertical. CMSs for agencies.

Jack: Building sites at scale is their whole thing, right?

Jess: Yeah, exactly. So I think it's like a WordPress, but they've added in layers on top of it. So I think you have to have a vertical these days to sell your CMS. WordPress can't be all end all to end everything because as much as we like to squeeze it into everything it isn't.

Jack: Yeah, there was an interesting article you shared in the show notes, which I will link in the show notes for the listeners about the actual market share of respective CMS and stuff like that. The reason we mentioned WordPress so much is because it is more than 60% of the entire market is WordPress and it is the only one in double figures, let alone 60%.

Jess: Exactly. Like us as SEOs, we talk about SEO is overarching across all the search engines, but we all know how much market share Google is taking up, so it's the same conversation. We're all optimizing for Google.

Jack: You occasionally meet the Bing or the Baidu specialist and you're like, "Huh, interesting." Okay.

Jess: Yeah. Or I love a DuckDuckGo conversation.

Jack: Oh wow.

Jess: Let's have that privacy conversation all day every day. But they don't take up any market share, and they hid all the stats of how much they were growing last year, which I'm curious as to why they did. So I want to find out more about that, but that's not the topic of this podcast. But if you know how to code at a certain point, like roll your own. Honestly, it's as easy as a barrier to entry to create your own GitHub repo as it is to roll your own WordPress at this point. So I think it's honestly just personal preference. Do you like blue shirts? Do you like green shirts? What's the fashion at the time and what's the time available? You have to create your own and what's the end goal? If you're going to have other people managing your website that are not as techy as most of us working on the web do. Then you have to make sure that there's something available for those people to be able to update at a certain point. But if it's just for you, you're owning your own portfolio.

Jack: So thinking about that, is there anything, again, this is a broader topic in and of itself, but if somebody is looking to do that and get into coding and build their own website from scratch, what are going to be the essential languages that they're going to need to do that kind of stuff? Me, like I said, I'm not particularly techie. I know HTML pretty well at this point. I've dipped my toes into a bit of JavaScript and a bit of CSS, but really not enough to say anything about it. But yeah, is there anything from your side, Jess, is there anything you would recommend to be like, "These are the fundamentals you will need to roll up your own website in 2023?"

Jess: 100%. The three are still essential in my everyday language and every day that I talk about is HTML, like you said, which is essentially markup, right? It's just understanding the markup because Google, that's the language that Google still reads every day, and that's the language of the web. So understanding HTML, CSS because that's what modifies the HTML and styles it to make it look blue, green, yellow flash. I wish bring bling back and then a JavaScript, because that's the other layer. So whether or not you're doing vanilla, JavaScript, angular, whatever your flavor is in there, vanilla JavaScript is still the language of the internet too. So understanding variables, all that language loops, how to do display things with the console. Everything in the console of the browser that we're all probably using Chrome is all JavaScript. So just understanding some bits of those languages and most of those you can Google, so that's totally fair too. And all those languages are documented enough that you can literally Google your way out of any problem that you would need to do these days or you could chat GPT your way out of any problem. You could just talk to chat GPT I use chat GPT weekly for RegX still because I don't know RegX, and I don't want to know RegX at this point.

Jack: I won't tell Miriam you said Don't worry.

Jess: No, I know I love her. Gosh, but if I'm looking for all the non-branded searches and search console and then all the questions out of search console. I don't want to remember that RegX at the end of the day and Search Console wants me to include a RegX for that, so F it. I'm just going to go to chat GPT and I'm going to ask them how I can do this myself, which Google would also be able to answer. It's just easier, which chat GPT. But yeah, HTML, CSS and JavaScript are the three that I would say that you need to learn, and that's going all the way back when I worked at an agency as a full front-end developer. One of the front end developers that I work with, we had to go through an exercise where we had to write out all the tools we're using. And one of the higher end developers, senior front end developers, she wrote down Google as a tool that she was using. And I've still held onto that because our bosses were like, "Yeah, you need to know how to Google your way out of any problem that you get into whether or not that's stack overflow or whatever that cadence is that you use because our brains only can hold so much information in them." So it is a tool at the end of the day as much as it is helpful. So if you don't remember the exact way to write a link, you can use those tools in front of you, right? HRF and use the attributes and all that. I think those are the three essentials, HTML, CSS and JavaScript, just some basic stuff. There's basic code that you can learn that will level you up, especially in conversations when you start talking to clients.

Jack: Awesome. Well, let's dive back into the CMS side of things when it comes to coding and think about, we mentioned a couple so far on a couple of different variations. I think we already got to the answer to this question, but are all CMS is created equal When you want to say you've learned a bit of HTML, you've learned a bit of CSS, you want to play around and not just have your bog standard theme, your generic chuck it out there and let the CMS do its own thing. You want to have a little bit of an adjustment, a little bit of a play around, a little bit of customization. Are all CMSs created equal in that way?

Jess: No. Again, podcast over. I've touted this as the beginning of CMSs, but I think if you're building a project, think of the goal of that project before you think of the CMS and the tool that you're wanting to use. We all have our biases. You would be like, Squarespace, get out of here. I'm not even thinking of using you, but if it came to a point of you had a goal of creating a small store that just needed an easy front end, Squarespace might be the answer for you. So I wouldn't rule all of these things out. Start with the goal of what you're looking to achieve. So my latest example that I put in our show notes too, and this is a very Canadian example, so I'm sorry for diving into this right under the gate, but Tim Horton's, which you guys had in the UK, now.

Jack: I've yet to experience it, but apparently we do. Yes.

Jess: It's okay. Honestly, it used to be a-

Jack: I thought there was some Canadian institution that national pride you are proud of and stuff, and then everybody goes like, "It's fine."

Jess: It's fine, it's fine. But they started a merch shop so they didn't want to roll it into their main domain, so they started a Tim So they decided to look for the tool that would fulfill that need. And all they did was roll up a Shopify store, they rolled out a Shopify store, rolled it onto a subdomain. And they don't need to have all the integration of all of that stuff because they're running it like that high level enterprise company that speaks to the man, the every man of Canada. So screw it. They're just like, "We're going to roll it into a subdomain and see how it does." They're selling some T-shirts and some very gen, what is it? What are the younger kids?

Jack: Alpha?

Jess: The 20 something. Whatever.

Jack: Zed.

Jess: Zed, thank you. They're running really for the Gen Zed people who want their cool hip T-shirts that are oversized and what have you.

Jack: There is a big thing at the moment where there's almost a counter style thing where you wear purposefully crap supermarket branded shorts and stuff. Like I've seen, we have Little and Aldi over here in the UK and they're these super budget supermarkets that are originally European have come over here. But usually not something you would want to wear and show off or whatever, but now it's a huge thing. They're teaming up with Primark and you can get an entire clothes set from head to toe, underwear, over wear, active wear, all this kind of stuff, branded with a shit supermarket. I'm like, "It's weird counterculture." I mean, I'm about to turn 33 tomorrow, so I'm like, "I don't know what the hell I'm talking about."

Jess: Happy birthday.

Jack: Thank you. By the time you hear this listeners, this will have already happened.

Jess: Happy Birthday to you.

Jack: Thank you for using the cheaper Happy Birthday song there. By the way, the other one's much more expensive.

Jess: Yeah. And I imagine actually back to where if you need to know code thing. I imagine this is my hypothesis of why Tim Horton's did this this way is their marketing team was like, we want to sell those cheaper hip to the Gen Z people with the old school Tim Horton's logos so that they can sell their oversized t-shirts to them. Great, awesome. Do we have developer resources? No. Do we have time to roll up our own code? No. How much time do you have? Little to none. So I imagine someone in their marketing department was like, cool, let's just spin up a Shopify store done. We can load in all of our marketing stuff and they can connect it to their warehouses. Easy done, no problem. They can connect it to the Primemarks through or whoever are running their creation of the logos and the shirts.

They can pull a graphic designer off some other team to just modify a theme that they have, run it on a subdomain. QA it for three weeks, roll it out to the internet done. If it sells 500,000 shirts, then you can get buy-in to roll it into the main domain. And nobody needs to know code at the end of the day, especially if you're in the marketing side and you're like, "Listen, I want to sell some T-shirts." Because you're Tim Horton's, you're a billion dollar brand.

You're not going to be able to get the buy-in once you're in there to be able to have code or to pull a developer off or to do these things or have them lift their head up from all the JIRA tasks that they're running, they're far too important to keep that train running of or or whatever you guys are running as your global brand. That is far more important. So that's our whole reason to run a Shopify that we've been talking about. If a little bit of code and you can get away with it, then you can run something like Shopify and get your buy-in, make your case, get some sales, and then eventually roll it into the main domain ideally.

Jack: Yeah, I think it's worth saying as well. You don't necessarily have to be married to a domain, sorry, I married to a CMS for the rest of your life. I know migrations is a whole other topic that we've covered on the show.

Jess: Oh my God. Let's not say we do.

Jack: We all roll our eyes and go, "Oh God, no migrations." But yeah, changing CMS as much as it can be a big hassle and an expensive thing, it's not the end of the world. And if you, like you said start off on one thing, you are a small startup, you start off with the smallest thing, you can manage just you and a handful of other people, even less. Maybe it's just yourself. When you turn into that billion dollar franchise a decade or however many years down the road, you can then start upscaling and getting, suddenly you have a team of developers on board or you are working with an agency and all this kind of stuff.

Jess: Exactly.

Jack: So let's think about the CMS that lets us do the most playing around and fiddling. Not quite just doing it ourselves, but you still want a little bit of that backbone and support from your experience. Jess, what do you think are some of the best that give you the most freedom CMS, I guess, to play around and play around with code stuff?

Jess: Mine currently, and this might change because CMS, like I say are like fashion, but mine currently right now is Webflow big time. I'm a nineties developer. I started on GeoCities and all these old school, which were CMSs as well. So all of your documentation literally talks to me directly. They're like, "Oh, if you coded stuff in GeoCities." I was like, "I am your fan for life."

Jack: We're speaking of niches there, right? They've nailed their perfect target audience. It's you, Jess!

Jess: They have, so I think they're speaking to me. Yeah, they're speaking then to the nineties developers who grew up and aged into the old school, but they give you a lovely flexibility of being able to code stuff if you want to code stuff, but also giving you the grid. So if you know CSS and grid layouts, grid layouts are just a standard way of creating the web now or flow the flow layouts. So it's a really good balance of if some code enough to be dangerous or enough to be able to know that you can break stuff and rebuild it again, because that's also coding.

Jack: That's a fundamental of coding, isn't it? I think pretty much.

Jess: Right? And then it gives you enough to be able to build in beautiful designs. So I've called myself a coder for a really long time, but I'm not a design by any stretch of the imagination. That is where I pull in wonderful people who have that lovely view of the internet or I'll pull in a template or I'll pull in my friends who can make things. They can go in and we call it zhuzh.

Jack: Zhuzh alphabet.

Jess: My web device. Yeah, just zhuzh it up a bit. Yeah, I don't use those terms, but they do so cool. Awesome. Please zhuzh away. And I love Webflow as well because they built it in a responsive mode from the ground up too. So if you're building stuff on the web and you're building stuff just for desktops, please don't. It's not the world we live in, we build things for these things. We have those little phones in front of us.

Jack: It's been the messaging from Google from an indexing perspective, but I think it's so true for the internet as a whole. It's not mobile first anymore. It's mobile only. Really. Let's be realistic about it.

Jess: Exactly.

Jack: So much of our browsing day-to-day is on our phones and so much of us interacting with sites, even outside of us being SEOs and us just being humans that exist in 2023. I use my phone all the time for all kinds of stuff. I recently got a new phone because I use it so much for so many different things, whether that's writing the show notes for podcasts or creating new... A lot of the CMSs have their own apps as well. You can manage your own site on your phone. So even if you get that emergency moment from a client where you're not at your desktop and you're like, "Yeah, I think I could do that." And you log into the app and you can have a little play around, but yeah, you're totally right. Please build for mobile, everybody just by default now.

Jess: And you can do that really easily with Webflow. I find personally, I know you can do it with page builders and stuff with WordPress as well, just as easily. But yeah, per your original question. What I love personally is Webflow is you can build, there's obviously trade-offs with going with every single CMS. So I don't think there's one silver bullet that you can hit for everyone across the web. So yeah, I just find playing around with Webflow these days is a fantastic place to live. They're also, oh... I also really love them because you can build out templates and build out scalable programmatic SEO plays really easily with them. You can import data through CSVs and then line it up to fields within your pages. So if you're looking to do city-based pages or something generic like that, or country or whatever you're targeting with your keyword research that you've found that there's a gap in, you can build and scale those pages just it's just, oh, it's a beautiful thing.

Jack: There you go. The future sponsor of the podcast by the sounds of it went flow.

Jess: Oh yeah. Just talk to me.

Jack: All. Thanks. You'll get a commission as well, Jess.

Jess: Yeah, yeah. This is my affiliate code. I'll be dropping after the podcast.

Jack: I think we definitely should go to WebCom slash I'm paid by-

Jess: I'm not paid by the way.

Jack: Jess Joyce. Get 10% off your first website.

Jess: I'm not paid by any of these CMSs. None of them at all. Yeah.

Jack: Just to clarify, we're not sponsored by any of these CMS either. Our current sponsor SISTRIX is not a CMS, so we have no bias either way. It's just me and Jess talking from personal experience about your love of Webflow and my hatred of Squarespace and then everything somewhere in there.

Jess: Exactly.

Jack: Feel like you are the light side to the dark side here. I'm bringing the hate. You're bringing the love.

Jess: Yeah, you're bringing the Darth to the, who's the other one? Oh god, I'm embarrassing myself now.

Jack: You know much of a stylists, but-

Jess: Going deep enough. I am. I'm just losing it at the moment. I've been in JK Land all day. My kids started on JK this week, so I'm in school mode of that instead of nerd mode.

Jack: That's understandable, mate. That's understandable. Don't worry. So let's think about the other end of it. I guess if you don't want to do any coding at all, and you're one of the similar to myself, a less techie SEO, but you still want to have a bit of flexibility. You still want to have the ability to do the fundamental SEO stuff we've talked about, right? You still want to be able to change your page titles, actually be able to build different templates using the CMS and not just be stuck with one single thing and all that kind of stuff. What would be the CMS that springs to mind for you or maybe a couple or a handful of them that spring to mind for you, Jess?

Jess: Yeah, I would say still Webflow because Webflow gives you the opportunity to not have to touch code at all as well. We sponsor web interface. I know, I know. I'm sorry. Okay, so I'll switch gears too is I still think that 63% of the market or whatever it's at is WordPress. As much as it has an incredible amount of trade-offs, which I will add to the end of this conversation as the stars and the caveats that go along with it. But it does give you the amount of flexibility that's really easy to get up and rolling and rocking and just play around. And as much as WordPress started as a blogging software, that was their main shtick. It has evolved very nicely into a lovely CMS that you can run very easily, very efficiently, very happily with not a lot of touching it because I feel like a lot of people understand the backend of WordPress now. So it does have that market saturation too almost, but I find a lot of people also know it. So if you're talking to, I work with a law firm who doesn't know code at all. But they can go into the backend of their WordPress and update stuff just because they have a visual editor in there and the new editors in Gutenberg and stuff who've given you visual editing that you didn't have before. So you don't need that level of knowing code anymore. You can still just click around and they have all those visual editors and they have their own editors and then they have the third party editors that are all available. So like the Elementors and the Beaver Builders or whatever, goodness gracious thing, you're going to be.

Jack: Beaver Builder drove me insane on a client a couple of years ago.

Jess: Same. Same.

Jack: I wanted to-

Jess: No more.

Jack: Tear it out of that WordPress site. Good Lord.

Jess: I've seen the fashion being that people are even moving away from Elementor and just using Gutenberg because Gutenberg's actually getting to the level that you can build out the blocks within your site, which is pretty much what Elementor was giving you the option of anyone. So I think the flow of WordPress has come back to very easy to manage my caveats though with WordPress, because there are a lot. It's built on PHP, which is the biggest programming language on the internet. It's also because it's the largest CMS, it's the most easily hacked CMS, much like the Windows versus PC discussion a couple years ago of using a PC was crappy because it was going to get hacked. It's like that with WordPress. So if you're using WordPress, please do never have a username as admin ever, ever in your entire life. Use a password manager and then set up a user in that account that you have no idea what the username and password is. And then number two, make sure you have backups set up with whatever hosting you have because you're going to start using plugins and things that may collide and break and things. You may break your entire website and that might not even be your problem. I've had to rebuild a site over the weekend because our backups didn't work and I pushed an update button which conflicted with three other plugins and then it blew up the entire site.

Jack: I've had a similar experience. There was a site I was working on that had about 60 active plugins on it. And somebody naming no names, pressed update all in the corner and it just updated. Let 20 of them at a time and they all just, as you said, they just smooshed together at a big old pile up of trouble and then you don't know what caused which problem. And then like you said, you have to roll back to a backup or restore an old version or whatever it is, and then it's like, "Okay, so what went wrong?" And you have to individually update each plugin and go through that process. Funny enough, I was talking to Luke while senior search specialist here in Candour just before we started recording, very tech-minded like yourself, Jess. I was like, I want to get your perspective on this, and he said, WordPress is great, but it is so easy to break and exactly as you said that as soon as you start tweaking anything ever so slightly, it can clash with a million other things that are going on in the backend.

As soon as you build, you have got a page builder on top of a bunch of other plugins. I've had it with clients where they try... They have an analytics plugin that is clashing with just the normal tag manager stuff you've put in there and then you try and put something like Rank math or Yoast in there, which then automatically also tries to put analytics on there as well and you're suddenly triple tracking and it's like, "Oh my God, what's going on?" It's all gone horribly wrong and it's just automatic stuff that you really need to read through and untick those boxes to make sure you're not going to have a big car crash of a website basically.

Jess: Exactly. I've called it Plug-inification.

Jack: Oh, I like that.

Jess: Just adding onto all the other ones because that's the answer in WordPress is like, "Oh, I want to add a table of contents, add a plugin." Right? You want to do X or Y, you want to add in e-comm, add a plugin. It's just the answer to every question because every problem that you've had in WordPress has probably been solved by a plugin.

Jack: And every problem you ever have with WordPress also is caused by a plugin.

Jess: Is caused by a plugin. So the answer and the cause, every problem is also a plugin.

Jack: I need to get on a T-shirt, we need that on a T-shirt right now.

Jess: We do.

Jack: The cause and answer to all of our problems are plugins.

Jess: Exactly. Shopify also has this, but the caveat with Shopify is every plugin seems to be paid. So you're also starting to add that monthly account on top of whatever you're looking for, which kind of makes you look at things in a different perspective. All of a sudden you're paying $10 extra for an email plugin and you're like, "What am I paying for?" So I actually like that model a little better lately because it makes you think of like, "Oh, how can I do this within the Shopify ecosystem without leaving the Shopify ecosystem?" Whereas in WordPress you're like, "Ah, it just push the button and we'll install it and we'll figure it out later." Which if you say figure it out later, who does that always rule down to?

Jack: That's future Jess's problem right there. Doesn't worry about that.

Jess: Right, but that's future Jack's problem too. When you're like, "Oh, your site takes 10 seconds to load." Whose problem is that now?

Jack: Yeah, that is a whole issue. The layers-

Jess: A whole other podcast.

Jack: The plugin application of websites is such a thing. Again, having that conversation with other agencies being like, "Oh yeah, we build bespoke websites and all that kind of stuff." You're like, "Are you just layering a few dozen plugins over the top of a theme and then that's it."

Jess: You are.

Jack: Yes, that's what-

Jess: They're probably making custom plugins as well, which is a whole other thing that's very complicated. Please stop making custom plugins. Everyone out there, you have the ability to make things default so that everybody can use them through the web. Be a good community user and please make things that other people can use.

Jack: I saw this the other day. People are creating plugins using chat and GPT and basically just being like, "Okay, I just want this thing to do this thing and just get a few different pieces of whatever CMS you're on." And be like, "Oh, I've created my new WordPress plugin and I'm just going to chuck it straight in there." Like, "Oh dear."

Jess: Oh, I'm so scared for that future.

Jack: As much as we were singing the praises of how useful chat G B T can be and how useful it can be specifically for helping with coding and stuff, it does need to kind of be that human QA process of, especially if you're less experienced, I wouldn't trust myself because I am not that experienced enough to just be like, Hey, chat GBT, build me this thing, write CSS for this thing. I would not be able to QA my own work and know that chat GBT has actually got it right. And that's a big part of actually being able to understand it whether enough to see where the problems are.

Jess: Yep. Context always. That's the biggest problem with SEO, right, is always context. You can answer any question in SEO as long as you have the context of whatever's going on. Same with all this coding stuff. It's there's a level of coders out there that are the copy and paste coders that I feel like I was for a long time too. The people who would go to Stack Overflow or whatever and just copy the code and paste it in, but you didn't know what that code did. It's the same thing with Chat GPT. Please don't take that code and paste it in because you don't have the context of whatever that person was using it for. So until you understand what the use case was for that and why you're using it, hold back.

Jack: So just start hitting random triggers and hoping for the best.

Jess: Yeah, make friends with your developers. You just were talking about Jack, ask them. I'm sure they would be happy to answer a quick question. Maybe don't pose it as a quick question. That always sounds very negative and you know that the question is going to be much larger when you're like, "I have a quick question." But just make friends with your developers or make friends with somebody who can answer those questions with the context of whatever project that you're looking at executing on. That's the biggest piece that I feel like.

Jack: I feel like there's so many bridges that need to be built as much as SEO is often feels like a bit of an echo chamber and a bit of a little bubble off in our internet world. It's so important to have those relationships with the other teams. You mentioned having the relationship with the marketing department as an SEO, you might not be directly related to that marketing department or me working as an agency or you working freelance. You are external to that company, but having that good rapport and relationship and understanding and understanding where their knowledge lies and where their knowledge doesn't lie and how you can kind of balance each other out and all that kind of stuff totally applies to developers as well. There is nothing better than onboarding a new client, meeting their developer and you just click and have that moment where the developer understands where you are coming from, you understand where they're coming from. And it's this lovely little Goldilocks zone where everybody's happy and just hanging out and then there's-

Jess: That's my next meeting. Honestly.

Jack: There you go.

Jess: Nice. I love that. That's my zone of influence, honestly. I totally agree. Yeah. Make friends honestly. Try to find where you can make the biggest moves, and this is an SEO too. You don't need to know how to code to make CMS back to the whole point of this podcast, but you can make friends with the people who do because then you can get buy-in to build whatever you're doing, which is the context that we're looking at building out for everything in SEO. Huge.

Jack: Yeah, definitely. I think that's such a key part of... Even within the SEO community, having the fact that you and I have connected online and now we're having this conversation, but knowing people like Miriam or bringing people like Lydia or all these different people with different skills coming together and helping each other out. And like you said, bouncing ideas and questions off each other and all this kind of stuff. I think that's a huge part of why I've enjoyed being a part of the SEO community over the last few years because it feels like we can have this conversation.

Jess: Same.

Jack: And like I said, your strengths are not my strengths and my weaknesses are not your weaknesses, so I can rely on you for, "Oh, hey Jess, I've written this piece of code. Am I completely insane? Does this make sense?" And you can go, "Jack, you got that bit wrong, but I like that idea, but you've fucked that up.

Jess: Shout out to Lydia because the one CMS that we haven't touched on are the headless CMS too.

Jack: Absolutely.

Jess: So across all the code and across the entire internet of everything you can do, headless CMSs are like the new hotness are the On Tuesdays we wear a pink hotness, Mean Girls side of this. And Lydia can speak to this in much better words than both you and I can. The headless CMSs go on top of your CMSs like a beautiful hat that you can wear, that you can inject all the wonderfulness into. So if you don't have access to doing the things that you want to do in your CMS, you can add sanity on top of that to be able to make things better, faster, stronger, to make your SEO go better, faster, stronger to build out those programmatic templates you can do in Webflow to do copious amounts of things, but on top of everything else with a beautiful hat.

Jack: Yeah, headless CMS is such an interesting topic. I talked with Alex Wright from Clicky a few months ago specifically about headless CMSs and the ability to say if you're working with a client who wants a site and an app and all these different various things. We said earlier on, "Oh, you should build mobile first, but headless CMS gives you that next level of flexibility to have it in a multitude of different formats and different platforms." And again, having that power to play around with a bit more stuff, pulling all of your content APIs into one thing and then pushing it out to various different platforms is very cool. I've yet to really play around with properly, to be honest.

Jess: It's beautiful.

Jack: I had one for a client a couple of years ago, but I was never given CMS access, so I only saw it from the outside. And I was just like, "Can I just have a little play around please?" I was pouring at the window just like, can you let me in please? I'd like to try this. That was Contentful. Was that head headless CMS again?

Jess: Yeah. Contentful's getting pretty large too.

Jack: Yeah. Yeah. I've never used it, but I'm interested to have a go at some headless CMS stuff.

Jess: Lots of awesome stuff you can do with them.

Jack: Awesome. Well that is a pretty good whistle-stop tour through CMSs. Jess. That is an interesting range of stuff. Like I said, from my rage to your joy and everything in between.

Jess: I love it. It's my favourite. We're like musical differences because you have the metal shirt on. I should have put on a happy pop band shirt.

Jack: Are we the Barbie Oppenheimers? Is this what we're doing? You're rocking the Barbie headphones. I'm rocking the Oppenheimer headphones.

Jess: Yes. Barbie Heimer.

Jack: We're with the BarbenHeimer podcasting duo. Right now.

Jess: We are for CMSes.

Jack: For CMSs. Well the Barbie to my Oppenheimer, where can people follow you on social media, on the internet and keep up with your excellent posts all around tech SEO and CMS and all that kind of stuff.

Jess: I'm still on Twitter refusing to call it X, so I'm on Twitter at JessJoyce until Elon ruins it and completely does whatever he does or flies to Mars. Please do. And then I'm also on LinkedIn. We've been doing a lot of awesome posts on there to share as much of our processes internally with the external world or I have my own website, which is run on WordPress.

Jack: Hey, there we go. Nice.

Jess: Hey, there we go.

Jack: Awesome links for all that stuff will be in the show notes, so please do go and follow Jess. She's a very entertaining follow on whatever you want to follow, whether you're still on X, but definitely on LinkedIn. I think LinkedIn is where a lot of us SEOs are gravitating towards and I seen some people are trying to make Mastodon a thing. Some people are trying to do Blue Sky. I think LinkedIn's probably going to be the SEO place to hang out once, as you said, Elon blasts it into Mars and turns it into X or whatever is going on.

Jess: Thank you for having me though. I love this podcast and I love Candour. We were talking about your boss too earlier, so thank you so much for having me.

Jack: Thank you for coming on. It's an absolute pleasure. It's really nice to, like I said, finally have a conversation actually sit down and chat with you after so long I've known each other online. Awesome. Well, thank you Jess for a fantastic episode.

Jess: Thanks.

Jack: And that about wraps up for this week. Thank you once again to Jess Joyce for joining me. That was a lot of fun. I hope you enjoyed the conversation about CMSs and coding as much as I did. I felt like I learned a lot and had a lot of fun while we were chatting as well. Coming up very soon as you hear this on Monday, later on this week, I'm going to be in Brighton with Mark and a few other Candourians at BrightonSEO. So if you are there, please do come and say hello. I'll be running around with a microphone. I'll be interviewing people and that will be the following episode will be the Brighton SEO special. That will be the live podcast that I record on Wednesday the 13th of September with Fantastic duo from the SEO Mindset podcast. That will be next week's episode, so you'll get the podcast version of the live event happening in Brighton and following that will the interviews I do around BrightonSEO with some of the top names and stars of the SEO world. It's going to be an interesting couple of weeks. I hope you enjoy the BrightonSEO specials. They're always some of my favorite episodes to record and edit and things like that. So please do stay tuned for that over the next couple of weeks.

Of course, we will also have the monthly recap when Mark and I get back together on SISTRIX'S YouTube channel and do SISTRIX with Candour at the end of the month every single month.

And I will have plenty of other guests coming up in September as well, including guests such as Adam Gent. We're going to talk about how to think like an SEO product manager, which I think is a really interesting topic. Adam has been doing some fantastic work with the SEO Sprint and the podcast over there. I'll put a link for that in the show notes as well, so you can go and check out Adam's podcast as well, talking all about SEO product managers with other SEO product managers, and I'm going to be talking with Adam about how to bring that thought process and mindset and adapt it. And things I can learn as a non SEO PM from the mindset of SEO PMs. We're going to give some examples from our clients, we're going to dive into all kinds of different stuff. The day-to-day of SEO PM stuff, it's going to be a really interesting conversation coming up in the next few weeks as well, so please do stay tuned for that. In the meantime, thank you so much for listening and have a lovely week.