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    CMS or Static Content - Which is Best?


    Background: I started a web site in 1999 and it has remained:

    (a) A static, hand written home page with static subpage content - hand written, 100% unique code, that is static as well. Also contains "include" modules on sidebar like (latest forum posts, news articles, etc).

    (b) Attached to this primarily static web site are PHP plug ins like Forums, News CMS, Online Store, etc.

    With this primarily 100% static, unchanging, custom, hand written code structure, my web site has enjoyed # 1 placement on Google out of 64 million search results for nearly 10 years.

    How we got there, God only knows. I didn't spend a penny on advertising or link building. I simply built my website the old fashioned way. I poured months of time into hand writing every single page, and the code behind every single page. Old school to the core. As a result, part of me has come to the conclusion that we were doing something unique among all the sites out there. That Google was rewarding us for taking the time to pour tender loving care into our web site. Rewarding us for hand writing it, and having back-end code that was 100% unique. No CMS with a template that 10,000 other web sites were using already. No CMS theme with a structure and a flow that can be seen all over the web (WordPress comes to mind).

    No matter how you looked at our web site, it looked unique. Both in front end content and back end code. We wrote it from scratch.

    That being said ...

    I see a lot of WordPress themes lately that are utterly outstanding. I am now seeing a lot of "Responsive Design" themes which are impressive as heck. These sites are optimized for the future - *MOBILE*. My site is not. Its old school and it can't do 1/10th of the things these new "Responsive Design" themes can do. They look good on any mobile or tablet platform, and any resolution. They expand and contract, dynamically adding new sidebars as the browser window goes wider (try it!). This kind of functionality is being built in to all the new WordPress themes. I dare say it would take me a million years to hand pick a designer who could throw this together from scratch.

    My point? I feel like I need to make the transition to CMS, but I absolutely do not want to use WordPress. I hear good things about Joomla but I am too afraid to take this leap from Static to CMS. To make my home page just another "WordPress" home page with "WordPress" articles. Not to mention my favorite WordPress theme is being used by no less than 25,000 other web sites.

    Is there any merit whatsoever to the fear that Google doesn't rank *HIGHLY RE-USED* CMS sites as high as custom, hand written, uniquely coded web sites?


    Note: I am not referring to sites that have custom created their own CMS. (CNN.com, etc).
    Im referring to WordPress mass production sites. Joomla. Drupal.
    Sites that your 17 year old neighbor threw together in 10 minutes using a plugged-in theme.

    And I am referring to those themes which are used en masse (10,000+ web sites).

    If I tank from Page 1/2, my income goes in the tank as well.
    I can not move forward with this decision unless I am certain of the facts.
    I could very easily "convert" my site into a CMS powered site, but I am too afraid to at this point.
    I need some solid facts.

    Thanks so much everyone.
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    I think CMS would be useful, because using CMS it will be easy maintenance and needn't have to hire developers for maintenance and std procedure can be followed for website maintenance. So it can help in SEO also and unique code doesn't matter, what matter is quality website along with unique content on website. So my choice is CMS for you.
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    My 10-year-old e-commerce site site is "hand-built" as well (except for the back-end cart). I think there are advantages going either way. But no reason to start over if you are happy overall with your site.

    A visual theme can get updated easily if your site is well structured to begin with. Make some new graphics and tweak your CSS. I've given my site a "face lift" five times in 10 years.

    IMHO, most templates are boring and look cookie-cutter with each element in it's own little box. Designed for all and optimized for none. Plus, I've seen some really bloated code and conflicting code on some of these sites. But no, I've never seen any evidence that Google frowns on code just because it's used on 1,000's of sites - they care about what gets delivered to the visitor's screen.

    But don't write off responsive design as a major task - there are lots of tutorials and articles on modifying your CSS for responsive design. A tip - don't set your screen breakpoints to match any particular mobile device. Apple and others can change their screen dimensions at any time going forward. Instead, set your breakpoints where they best naturally fit in your site. Research and experiment before giving up on updating your existing site.

    Ed
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    That Google was rewarding us for taking the time to pour tender loving care into our web site. Rewarding us for hand writing it
    Nailed it! That is absolutely correct.

    Moving to a new platform is a delicate process but how you deliver your content, as long as you deliver it, there is not much between different platforms.

    That being said, when you go to a platform like Joomla or Wordpress your URLs will change and managing that process needs to be done carefully and will cause some temporary drop in the SERPs.

    Now, it is entirely possible to build a new custom platform with a responsive design that uses the same URLs and appears as a nominally static site structure.

    This might be your best bet.

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