When choosing a content management system (CMS platform) to run your website, SEO should be near the top of the list of considerations.
Optimizing your website for search engines isn’t just about the technology. What really has the greatest impact is a combination of your SEO keywords and content mixed with a CMS platform that helps organize and deliver your content to the engines.
However, even if you’ve established your keyword and content approach, you still need to have a CMS that enhances and gives you flexibility to deploy an SEO friendly website.
When choosing a CMS platform, make sure it is capable of the following:
Customization of Title Tags and Heading Tags
Title and heading tags are important for increasing SEO page rank. When Google or other search engines crawl your site, they are looking for unique and quality content, but also for keyword focused SEO elements, such as heading and title tags.
- Will your CMS allow you to customize title tags and not default to something such as a title tag of “Home – Your Company”?
- Will your CMS default your company suffix so you maintain consistency across pages?
- Does the CMS provide a “dummy” approach for creating content elements on the page to help you organize heading tags?
Tip: Read Title Tags – SEO Best Practices and How to Distinguish Between and Use Different HTML Headings to get tips on how to write and structure your SEO elements.
Creates SEO-Friendy XML SiteMaps
A site map is a no brainer for SEO. It helps the search engine spiders crawl your website. An SEO oriented CMS will allow the inclusion of additional information in the sitemap file, like priority and modification dates. Any new pages created on your website will automatically be submitted to search engines for crawling. Using Google’s Webmaster Tools, you can submit your sitemap to ensure your site will be indexed by Google. One important thing to consider – is your sitemap creating more harm than good? A poorly created sitemap might actually prevent Google from crawling new pages.
- Does the CMS you’re considering generate an SEO friendly sitemap?
- How frequently is this sitemap created?
Check with an SEO professional to review the sitemaps generated by the CMS to ensure they are being created in a way and in a frequency that helps, not hurts your SEO reputation.
Offers SEO Breadcrumb Navigation
Next in line to a sitemap is the breadcrumb navigation. In a sense, this is the human version of the sitemap that search engine spiders use to comb through your website.
Will your CMS auto create breadcrumbs?
Is the linking structure behind the breadcrumbs consistent with your navigation links?
You will want to be sure the CMS isn’t linking breadcrumbs in a way that duplicates indexed pages in search engines. This can occur when the breadcrumb is pointing to a shortened version of the indexed page.
Creates SEO-Friendly URL Page Structure
How the CMS allows you to create SEO friendly URLs is very important. First, every URL on your website should be unique and you should never have two URLs directing to the same page or you will be stepping into the SEO “no-no” land of duplicate content.
You also don’t want the CMS to take over naming your sections and page names. Your CMS should give you control to modify section names and page names. If not, you will end up with something like:
www.yourdomain.com/girls/girls-coats/girls-coats.htm (Keyword Stuffing)
Your CMS web development company should help you with your URL naming strategy based on upfront keyword research and theme development. This is another reason to understand that a CMS tool alone can’t automate your SEO.
Customization of Meta Data
Although Google no longer takes Meta data into account when indexing your pages, other search engines may, and it is an important aspect of user experience in the SERPs.
- Be sure your CMS allows you to customize your Meta description and Meta keywords
Tip: Read Meta Descriptions – SEO Best Practices to learn how to write effective Meta data.
Customization of Alt Tags
Image alt tags also need to be unique and keyword focused. Although your image file names should be relevant and keyword focused, you do not want a CMS that defaults your alt tags to your image file names. A good CMS will allow you to change your image file names and your image alt tags.
- Be sure your CMS allows you to name your files accordingly
- Check to see if you can create “Alt” tags for each image
Allows for Implementation of rel=canonical Tags
Sometimes pages in your CMS don’t need a parent page (e.g., a product page) or the internal search results create a different link than the actual page URL. In any case, your CMS should allow you the ability to either (a) auto create the rel=canonical tag or (b) manually create it so you can define the exact page URL that Google should index.
Provides 301 URL Redirection
A 301 URL redirect allows you to redirect a page from one URL to another while maintaining the “SEO credit” given by search engines to the redirected page.
- Does your CMS provide you with a way to create 301’s from within the CMS without having to call tech support?
The search to find the perfect SEO-friendly CMS can be a difficult one. While finding a system that you understand and can use is very important, being able to customize these areas of your pages is a must if you expect your pages to rank well in search engines, which if it isn’t already, this should be one of your main online objectives.