Content Management Systems & SEO Revisited

CMS - content management systemsBack in 2007, I published an article entitled “Content Management Systems Equal Business Suicide.” The articles basic premise was at that time, CMS software applications as produced were essentially bereft of even the most primitive SEO features or functions. Building a new website, or converting an existing website to the existing CMS versions of 2007 was rapid way of consigning those websites to the outer reaches of Google’s supplementary index.

  • Lacking inbuilt SEF-URLs (search engine friendly URL’s)
  • Cursed with duplicate titles, descriptions and keywords across all pages…
  • No ability to have customised SEO Titles that differed from Page Title/Headings

All of these shortcomings conspired to render the 2007 crop of CMS somewhat impotent in the SEO world..

WP CMS Today

Since 2007, things have changed dramatically. Whilst some deficiencies are still apparent in some SMS solutions, those that have survived and prospered have evolved! Or, they’ve survived because they’ve evolved is perhaps more to the point! Regardless, most have addressed those previously missing, basic SEO shortcomings.

WordPress – my personal favourite CMS! I began using WP at v1.5 and over the 12 years or so to v4.7.5 there has been a wealth of feature expansion in the core application, the availability of plugins that expand on the core functionality, and the advent of professional / premium Plugins and Design Themes that have allowed WordPress to soar to new heights.

WordPress has truly blossomed into a fully matured CMS with exceptional Search Engine Optimisation features. As such, its fully deserving of the “Best CMS Awards” that have come its way.

Essential SEO Functionality for CMS

Lets take a closer look at the SEO functionality. As Google et al are attempting to analyse and categorise a web site, there are an estimated 200 individual elements that are calculated in the SE relevancy ranking algorithms. Every one of these you can get right improves your chances of attaining your full ranking potential. Individually, each element offers incremental albeit small gains, but collectively, they can add up to the winning difference in the ranking stakes for competitive search terms. Duplicate content is Google’s pet hate, and its vital to every site’s standing that every single page be accurately described and categorised. Here are 10 of the most prominent among the many opportunities to achieve this individualization of pages are;

1: SEF URLS:

Search engine friendly URL’s are important, because inclusion of keywords in page URL’s are taken into account, and have a bearing on rankings. Being able to exercise total control over page URL’s is important, and WordPress allows this with its Permalink functionality, coupled with manual URL control on every page or post!

2: Meta-Tags:

There are several WordPress SEO plugins that provide total control of title, descriptions and keywords, and these are easily installed and configured.

3: Titles:

Being able to control the off-page Title separately from the on-page heading is very important. The title’s 70 character limitation needs to be exploited to maximum effect, it is still an important SEO element in 2015! Page Headings are usually space-constrained, and in systems where the Heading automatically become the Title, you are deprived of a significant advantage.

4: Description:

The off-page Description (meta-tag) is a vital element in accurately describing the page contents. If each page has accurate, custom-written Description content, it is used verbatim in the search engine results pages (SERPs). In contrast, if you don’tuse a Description, then Google will helpfully do its level best to generate an ‘ad lib’ Description of the page based on content. The result of that can either be not so bad, or truly awful. Regardless, its essential that YOU have control of the Description, and that you use it to maximum effect!

5: Keywords:

The Keyword (meta-tag) has no part to play these days. Stuff it full of vaguely relevant garbage unrelated to page content and it will be either ignored or penalised. Don’t use it.

5: Image File Names:

Accurately name your image files, and include keywords relevant to the page. WordPress allows you to upload media and retain the original files names even when auto-generating thumbnail images etc.

6: Image ALT Tags:

Accurately describe your images using the Image ALT tag, and include keywords/phrases relevant to the page. WordPress Add Media tools allow you to add ALT text and captions, enabling inclusion of additional relevant text content. Used wisely, without spamming, it is another useful element.

7: Anchor Text:

The words you use to link to other pages / sections of the site. WordPress Link Editor allows full control of anchor Text links, including the ability to specify “Hyperlink Title” which essentially work like Image ALT text – the title of the link pops up when the mouse pointer hovers over the link… Again, used wisely, it is another useful SEO element.

8: CSS Drop-down Menus:

The core WordPress has good menu functionality to produce CSS drop down menus, which is extremely important in aiding search engines to locate and index internal pages. This also facilitates Google’s ability to pass Page Rank throughout the internal page structure! Contrast that to the silly use of JavaScript or Flash for menus that was once in vogue.

9: Google Sitemaps:

Another delightful WordPress plugin is the automatic Google Sitemap Generator! Once installed and configured, every new page, post or edit of a page or post automatically updates the sitemap.xml page!

10: RSS Feeds:

WordPress RSS feeds are easily extended by installation of email subscription services, where your posts and pages are automatically distributed to subscribers by email. Moreover, this site feed gives your site a pipeline directly into the Google index! I regularly see WordPress posts that make it into Google Alerts distribution in less than 4 hours!

10/10 for WordPress CMS?

So, on that basis I’m happy to accord WordPress 10 out of 10 for SEO functionality. Couple that with the thousands of available plugins to extend the core functionality, the thousands of available design templates or themes, the ease-of-use factor, robust software, ease of installation etc, and we clearly see a winning CMS formula.