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If you are considering a future as an SEO professional, getting your content management system, or as it’s known in the trade CMS, right is one of the most important aspects of your role. The below information will help you to get it right by considering the top ten issues faced by those setting up a CMS. It will also give you some helpful pointers to make sure that your CMS is search engine friendly.
A good CMS must allow you to choose your own page title and meta tags including the meta description tags, the meta keyword tags and the H tags. Not only that, but it is important that the page titles and meta tags are completely independent of each other. That is to say that the system you use does not have defaults to choose your tags based on your title. Full customisation according to your requirements is the key; however having the functionality to auto populate meta tags based on your own rules should you wish is also important.
For a search engine to be able to find your site, it’s essential that it can be indexed by that search engine. Drop-down navigation menus, of the right type, are one of the main ways in which a site is indexed by a search engine. The correct navigation menus ensure that each page on your site is deemed relevant to the search engine.
Again, customization is important in your drop-down menus – make sure that you have full control of the text in the links of your drop-down menus and that there is not a default setting based on your page title.
Make sure that your CMS allows you to choose your own URL is essential so as to ensure that you can choose the most effective keywords.
A major issue faced by those using CMS systems is how to display a shopping item on two different pages, for example a rucksack which could be displayed on your travel items page or on your sporting pages, without falling victim to duplicate content. Duplicate content is a big no-no for search engines – so even if your item is suitable for two categories of your web page, it is important to make sure that it is only linked to one URL.
Finally on the subject of URLs, it is important to choose a CMS system which does not change every time someone new visits the site as this can play havoc with your search engine rankings.
As discussed, duplicate content is your search engine foe – and a canonical tag can be your search engine friend. Using a rel=canonical tag on your website defines a static URL for your specific pages. It is also of use if you use codes for affiliate marketing or SEO campaigns. To be ahead of the CMS game, make sure that the CMS you choose has the functionality to use and to customize the rel=canonical tag.
Rel=Next and Rel=Prev tags are another search engine friend when it comes to duplicate content. These types of tags can help to consolidate information on your site so that it does not appear to be duplicate content and Google in particular recognizes this approach.
Whilst it is possible to create your own XML sitemap, there are some CMS systems that can do this automatically and again having such a sitemap helps in the search engine game. For those new to the game, not having to build an XML sitemap yourself can be extremely helpful.
A frame is when there is more than one webpage displayed in the same internet window – whether that is from the same website or from two or more websites. Whilst frames may be user friendly in some instances, again search engines don’t particularly like them and therefore it is best to avoid CMS systems which use frames as a general rule.
If you need to change a page URL from what is shown in search results, for example if you have changed the domain of your site or are going through a process of merging two sites, you will need to use a redirect. CMS systems usually use two types of redirects – 301 redirects and 201 directs.
301 redirects make sure that your audience is directed to the right page whilst also ensuring that link metrics are also transferred. 302 redirects on the other hand do not transfer link connectivity and can, again because the dreaded duplicate content issues. For this reason, it is important to use a CMS system that uses 301 directs as standard.
The term “Alt Tags” refers to providing alternative text for images, media or other content which is not text based. If your alt text is missing or of poor quality this can reduce the relevancy of your site on the search engines leading to a reduction in its rankings. It is therefore important to choose a CMS that allows you to choose your alternative text of Alt tags to ensure that they are maximised for search engine purposes.
Breadcrumb trails, as the name suggests, allows the user of your website to know which pages of your website they have visited. It not only makes things easier for your website user but can also aid link connectivity for pages not in the main drop-down menu. Many CMS systems provide breadcrumb trails and whilst they are not essential, they can make things a lot easier. Furthermore, some CMS systems allow you to customize the breadcrumb functionality and as discussed, customization is key to being in control of your CMS.
Remember that the right CMS system can make or break your performance in the search engines and knowing what makes the right CMS can put you on the right track.