Articles written in May, 2009

May 29 2009

Content Management Systems and SEO Part 2


This is part two of a two-part topic.

In my last post, I introduced content management systems and listed a few of their benefits to a web site creator, including search engine optimization benefits. To review, a CMS organizes and stores the content portion of a website, separating the content from common visual page elements and from the inner-workings of the system used to organize and display your content. It can standardize a content creation workflow that simplifies can allow multiple authors and multiple site administrators. Standardizing your processes, as well as having organized content saves you time. Whether it is starting a website from scratch, or updating many pages at once, using a pre-built CMS can help you move towards your goal faster.

SEO benefits of quality content management systems include being able to easily and quickly create keyword-rich, SEO-friendly URLs and remembering to create accessible and valid HTML code when you forget. It can also help maintain and properly display your articles’ meta information and titles. The ease and speed in which a CMS will allow you to update meta information, titles, URLs and content can be a huge time saver, but can get you into trouble quickly if you’re not careful: the automatic and global nature of a CMS will multiply effects of any un-optimized aspects of your website.

For example, if you don’t realize that your CMS is not using search engine friendly URLs, (out of the box, many of them do not) every page in your website can suffer. An inflexible CMS may reduce the effectiveness your site if it does not support SEO-friendly html code such as alt (alternate text) attributes or allow you to control what text goes into the H tags. In addition, possible ‘code bloat’ may occur from including useless features which causes the user to wait for unneeded features to download. By its very presence, this extra code will reduce the effectiveness of your valuable content on your web pages, especially since it’s likely that your content will be pushed further down in the HTML code. A CMS can readily propagate all these problems to every page of your site instead of potentially only a few if you did not use a CMS.

You should be aware that without a solid transition plan, changing URL patterns (or structure) after your web site has been indexed can be extremely detrimental to your SEO efforts.

Before using a CMS, I recommend that you spend plenty of time evaluating different systems while considering your requirements. Also weigh heavily the skill level of the people who will be using the content management system day in and day out.

There are three final suggestions I’d like to leave with you:

  1. Be prepared to spend time tuning your CMS for the best SEO results possible.
  2. Remember that the more flexibility you require, the steeper the learning curve.
  3. It’s likely that someone has already developed a solution for the problem or CMS customization you’re working on.
May 28 2009

Content Management Systems and SEO Part 1


This is part one of a two-part topic.

The first commandment of a successful website is that you must have content. So, you’ve realized that maintaining that content is taking a lot of your time. You don’t want to keep track of URLs and meta data for all your pages. You need a content management system, or CMS.

In addition to helping you with the above tasks, a CMS can provide an efficient way to syndicate the content you create to other websites. Similar to a blog, it can also keep track of who created the content when.

Essentially, a CMS allows you and your staff to create and update content quickly and without the use of a stand-alone program like Microsoft FrontPage or Adobe Dreamweaver (and the maintenance and expensive licenses of such desktop software). The content you create can be web pages, sections of web pages such as a common footer, stories, blog entries, news items and pretty much anything your e-publishing workflow demands. A CMS can keep track of those content types (or custom content types) and whether a specific piece of content is viewable (or “published”) to your visitors or just in the draft stage, as well as putting content behind secure sections of your site. The CMS will automatically integrate the common sections of your web pages with your content so you only need to create clean and search engine-optimized code for your common sections once.

Using a CMS has benefits for your search engine rankings as well. Each content type or content category can be assigned its own section of your site even though it’s managed in a central location. This allows the CMS to create keyword-rich, search engine friendly URLs easily. Your meta data and title tags can be managed in a central location also, making changes simpler and faster.

While using a Content Management System can make your life easier, there are a few significant gotchas to be aware of including how they could become SEO unfriendly. Stay tuned next time when I review those pitfalls and offer helpful suggestions. While I can’t promise you’ll get a raise when you implement a CMS at your office, I’m sure you’ll wonder how you got along without a CMS.

May 26 2009

Google’s New Search Features


Google continuously strives to make certain that searchers have a positive experience, and recently further updates have been made to take personalized search results to the next level.

Earlier this month, an announcement was made regarding the release of “Show options…”   You can access these new options via the link positioned just above the search results.


When you click this link, additional selections are provided to the left of the search results, enabling you to further customize your search.
According to Google, this new feature is “a collection of tools that let you slice and dice your results and generate different views to find what you need faster and easier. Search Options helps solve a problem that can be vexing: what query should I ask?”

There are numerous ways for you to sort the data — by videos, forums, reviews, date, etc.   For example, if you are planning a Caribbean vacation, doing your homework before solidifying your plans is now a bit easier.   When searching for “Caribbean vacation”, you can easily view forums where people are discussing topics related to Caribbean vacations. You can also view related results from the past 24 hours, the past week, or even the past year.

Another great feature is Rich Snippets. “Rich Snippets give users convenient summary information about their search results at a glance”. Google looks for markup formats that can be added to pages of your website’s pages. More information on Rich Snippets can be found on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog.

One thing that still remains consistent is that even though searchers are able to customize how they want to sort the results (videos, reviews, forums, etc.), basic search engine optimization and social media tactics still hold true.   In order for your video to be found for keywords when someone selects the video link within these additional options, your video must be optimized with those keywords. If you want to appear for reviews, it will be beneficial to encourage customers to write reviews of your products or services.   As these constant changes are being made by the search engines, don’t forget to address the fundamentals of search engine optimization and even consider encouraging reviews and other user generated content that can help to propel your site upward in the search results.

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