Website content management systems streamline the process of getting a website up and running. Known as CMSs they include WordPress, Magento and Joomla- as well as a number of proprietary ones, based on the web. Almost any of them have the potential to rank really well. “Almost” is a different word to “all”. We’re going to look at some of the attributes of each one, to help you make the a decision on which CMS gives the best performance, with regards to SEO.
A CMS makes content management easier, by way of a friendlier user interface.
While it’s great to have a simple CMS, the bottom line is bringing traffic to your site, providing visitors with a great user experience, and getting a conversion.
Templates- the Makeup Your Website Wears When Visitors Call In
Templates are the window dressings of your website. They are coded in a way that pages are built on the fly, using a combination of PHP files, extensions and assets. How these files, and assets work together to create a page can impact your website’s search engine compliance. Here are some common flaws we find, throughout all CMSs in varying degrees.
- Is the design responsive- how’s the user experience for people who use phones, big monitors and everything in between?
- Has the developer made provision for people using older browsers?
- Does the site have accessibility issues for people who use screen readers?
- How’s the website code- does it output semantically correct, structured code which encourages search engines to explore?
- Does the CMS allow you to specify the sequence and content-of the first handful of lines in the head section of the website?
- To you have granular control over browser bar titles, metas and log alts and title text?
- Can you use SEO friendly URLs?
- Can you write your own unique headings on the page?
- Can you write unique filenames, use your own directory structure and as well as custom titles and alt text for your images?
All the above are critical level elements for SEO. Some items have sub-categoies which could become separate articles of their own.
It’s important to mention that the popular CMSs- Joomla, WordPress and Magento all make it possible to achieve outstanding SEO performance. All have their quirks- and all can be overcome. The main thing is addressing those items unique to the CMS before the website goes live. It avoids a whole host of problems as band-aid solutions get called in. Let’s look at some of the more common fixes we get called to help implement.
WordPress SEO Problems
The most popular web publishing platform is easy to use, and most people love it. Extensions, plug-ins and widgets can do just about anything. Don’t get carried away- fewer extensions mean fewer upgrades- and far less conflicts. Check your WordPress Theme for compliance on the following points:
- The main heading for each page should be tagged h1;
- Your theme should call appearance rules from CSS file- and not have the styles declared between the head tags of the page, or worse still- inline!;
- The main blog page should have links to individual blog posts through h2 headings which should render as an h1 once the page for the post loads;
- Write unique titles and meta descriptions for each page;
- Install an SEO extension which allows you to specify SEO friendly URLs;
- You should only ever have one h1 heading per page- check that widgets or sidebar items use CSS to style text, and not heading tags when the text is not really a heading;
A separate post will follow on SEO factors affecting a website rebuild. If you find any of the above points are causing problems, fix them sooner rather than later.
Joomla SEO Improvements
Love it or loathe it- Joomla is a fantastic system. We regularly fix the following things with Joomla websites, to make them perform better in search results:
- Engage SEO Friendly URLs by renaming your htaccess file and selecting the correct configuration option;
- Joomla provides lots of settings with which to fine-tune your page output- use them! Engage the “Show Page Heading” in the menu options so you can write custom h1s through “Menu Manager”;
- Remove the ID from Joomla URLs- be careful doing this! Joomla core php files need to be modified for this- and updates can break customized php files, leaving you with a whole bunch of 404s and lost rank;
- Ensure your template allows the rendering of link title text when you publish menu items
- Check that you can deploy schema microdata;
- Write your image titles and alts manually- don’t use the Joomla Content Editor- it has been known to mirror the same text throughout the alt and image title, when uniqueness is defintely better for SEO;
Many of the core modifications Joomla needs in order to perform better, get overwritten during upgrades. This is particularly true with article ID removal, blog page heading tag rendering and menu link title attribute text.
Every time you update Joomla, be sure to check the functionality of your website. Go in and fix those files which call the custom performance functions right away- and you’ll be fine.
Magento SEO Pointers
Magento is right up there as far as ecommerce platforms are concerned. It offers the advanced webmaster many opportunities for customisation of settings for better SEO performance. We’ll look at some of the more basic ones here.
- Create and publish unique product descriptions- don’t take them from another site. The single biggest problem we see, is that website owners have copied them, from the manufacturer’s website.
- Ensure you have a current sitemap in your Magento site. This avoids the problem of a new product being online, and not getting indexed.
- Remove the product category from the URLs
- Be sure to set the Canonical Tag for any product page which appears more than once on the website, under different URLs. Examples could be a coat which appears under “raincoats” and “men’s raincoats”.
- Configure your robots text file to direct the robot away from pages or categories you don’t want indexed.
CMS systems are great when they are configured properly. You’ll enjoy a huge improvement to your SEO performance, by being vigilant when you configure and maintain your content management system.