Content Management Systems and SEO Part 2

- May 29, 2009

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.

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