Making the most of SEO using your website CMS system
Is your Website or Webshop Content Management System Search Engine Friendly? Do you know how to make the most of using it for search engine optimisation or is that something you think is being done automatically for you by the software? If you are just updating your web site and are not thinking about SEO you are missing out on opportunities to get better search rankings for your website.
Is a Content Management System good for SEO?
SEO is becoming more and more competitive as more people are trying to get to the top of the search engine rankings. There was a time when a well-constructed website would be enough to get you good search results but that is no longer the case for most web sites. One of the things that does help is to regularly update and improve the content of your website. This shows Google and the other search engines, that your site is still active and worth looking at. New content tends to give your site a boost in the search rankings.
So it makes a lot of sense to have a CMS system attached to your website so that you can update your website regularly.
My CMS does the SEO for me! Sorry but No it doesn't!
There was a time when CMS systems usually resulted in websites that were not search engine friendly and occasionally this is still the case but in the main the problem is more related to the operator than the system.
I have been told by site owners that their web designer told them their CMS does the SEO automatically so they need not worry about it. This is just nonsense. The best a CMS system is going to do for you is use what you input. If you input the right things in the right places then the CMS is going to output your data in the right places. If you do not know how to use keywords and where to input them the CMS system isn't going to sort it out for you.
So what do you need to know?
The basic concept of a CMS system is to allow people with little or no understanding of web coding to publish content on their website but if you have little or no understanding of what makes your content search engine friendly or optimisation it just isn't going to work.
Content Management Systems and Search Engine Optimisation are usually compatible if you know how to make the most of the opportunities. So you need to understand about:
- Focussing on Keywords and Phrases. At its most basic this means making sure that these are included in as many places on your page as makes sense (always remembering that it all must make sense to the human visitor), particularly the more important places as indicated by the HTML markup listed next.
- How to place keywords and phrases for best effect in:
- Page names and paths
- Title Tags (the most important place for relevant keywords)
- Description Tags (useful in that it is often used in search results lists so it may be the best chance you have to attract a visitor)
- Page Heading (h1) (the second most important place for relevant keywords)
- First paragraph (a good place to reinforce your focus on the relevant keywords)
- Sub-headings (h2, h3...) (good for breaking up the content and reinforce your focus on the relevant keywords)
- Links and anchor text (using keywords here implies there is more to be found on the next pages)
- Lists (are more important than paragraphs)
- Paragraphs and line breaks (paragraphs are supposed to be paragraphs, not blocks of text broken up with line breaks)
- Images, file names and alternative text (bottom of the heap but still useful to reinforce focus on keywords)
- What your CMS is doing with the above. Some strip out HTML, or limit HTML allowed, others have multiple uses for certain fields so an understanding of how the output compares to what you input is essential.
Then you are best placed to make the most of regularly updating your website with better search engine rankings.
How do you tell if my CMS Search Engine Friendly?
As a web designer, for me the most search engine friendly CMS does not attempt to do the optimisation for you, it lets you do it all yourself. This doesn't mean it ignores SEO, it means it covers all SEO requirements but is designed to allow the user to amend or set them all as required on a web page by web page basis. This provides the greatest level of flexibility.
Some CMS systems go this far (or can be adjusted to do so), others try to strike a balance by setting some things automatically for you (based on fields you input for other purposes), others still just get it wrong.
CMS software getting it wrong includes:
- Setting Page Names and Paths automatically with what appears to be meaningless codes. Page names and paths should be made up of meaningful words.
- Setting Page Titles automatically and commonly across all pages. This is doubly wrong, this is the PAGE TITLE not the site title, it is supposed to vary page by page, and together with Page Heading, is one of the two most important places to put Keywords relevant to that page.
- Setting Page Heading (h1) automatically as the site name (or anything else common) in the page template. Like page title above, this is doubly wrong, this is the PAGE HEADING, not the site heading, it is supposed to vary page by page and is one of the two most important places to put Keywords relevant to that page along with page title.
- Setting Page Heading (h1) automatically in multiple places on each page. There is only room for one Page Heading per page, more than one will confuse.
- Not allowing the user to set up Subheadings, links, lists and paragraphs as they see fit. Just putting some text in a field is not good enough for the main content of a page or to describe a product.
Any of these is definitely a problem that needs to be corrected. If not give up and get a better CMS for your website.
Otherwise if you know what the system is setting for you and you understand the basics of what you are trying to achieve you can adapt your input to get the best results.
Posted December 2010
Epsilis - Web Designers and Website Optimisation Specialists
47 Farthing Drive
Letchworth Garden City
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