In the US alone online spending this year will generate more than $355 billion, and this figure is expected to exceed $400 billion in 2018. And these numbers don’t measure the impact that companies’ web presence has on sales made offline. These are big trends, which only small and local businesses can ignore (for now). For the rest of us an effective online presence is the Holy Grail and we really have to do it in the best possible way.
One of the biggest problems for many companies is that when they took their first steps into the online world, the idea was just to have a website. They didn’t consider the customer who will struggle to open it from his phone, or the hundreds of Google algorithms, that power their search engine. Big mistake, but you can still deal with it by shifting to the right content management system. To be sure of your choice, try to answer these questions:
Many businesses still struggle with the choices they have made in the past, and especially with their CMS choice. One of their biggest issues is their inability to adapt to the mobile-first world. According to Gartner, ecommerce-driven mobile revenue will increase 50% next year. Google has also shifted its strategy and is relying more and more on the mobile experience by pushing Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and mobile-first indexing. To compete in this world, you should be able to generate not just good, but superior experiences on all devices – desktop, mobile, no matter the size and resolution – which can easily be done with a good CMS. It is important also to have just one URL for all versions. This will keep your URL architecture consistent, in line with Google’s recommended best practices, and above all user-friendly.
Another issue, which you can easily resolve with good content management system, are missing or duplicated titles and meta descriptions. These titles and descriptions, which are shown in Google’s search, are one of the important factors which determines if a user will click on your result or your competitor’s. A good CMS should allow you not only to change them quickly, but also to check if there are missing ones. Besides these capabilities a good content management system checks automatically if your titles and meta descriptions are optimized for search engines, which gives you more certainty that the users will see what you want. Of course the final word is in Google’s “hands” (ie: algorithms).
There are many cases in which a website will have the same content in many places – different colors of the same product, blog posts, sorted by different author or industry, optimized for print versions etc. For Google all these pages are duplicated content, and the search engine struggles to choose which option to show to the user. While this will not directly affect your ranking or incur a penalty, it definitely makes it harder for Google to crawl your website and find the content with higher value. These issues could easily be resolved with a simple canonical tag. A good CMS should empower content authors and marketers to manage this type of tag, without help from developers.
If you are working in the sphere of the search engine optimization, you have heard the expression “that nothing is never lost.” If you created a page, the chance that its URL will continue to live long after you have forgotten about it is really high. Anyone could have a link to it – some of your own bookmarks might even fall into this category. This is the reason why we as marketers and content creators need to redirect old to new content. A good content management system should let you do this without engineering knowledge, or at least to make 301 and 302 redirects. Remember to always use the 301-redirect, when you want to remove an old asset. This is the redirect type which is recommended by Google, and with it you transfer the link quality to the new destination and enable your new content to rank higher.
Usually when people create a website they do it for a certain language. But websites are like living organisms and they evolve and change over time. For this reason, your CMS has to have the option to create localizable URLs. According to Google the use of subdirectories with generic top-level domains (gTLDs) is one of the recommended options for multiple language versions. If your content management system supports them, they are set up easily and require little maintenance.
This is a must have option of every CMS. If yours doesn’t support it, you definitely have to consider shifting to another one. Imagine that you have created a special campaign page, which you want to be shown only to a list of your users – or at least you don’t want to make it a public property. With the option to block search engines from indexing it you will easily accomplish this task.
Styling for humans and Google is a tricky task. The reason for this is that the human eye doesn’t see the HTML tags, which are for Google one of the most important clues on a page. In human terms the H1 and H2 tag could be the same or almost the same, but for Google they are totally different. A good CMS should give you options to style your text with these tags, even without knowledge of HTML or CSS. The best SEO practice is to use your most important keyword both in your URL, H1 tag, first paragraph of text and if you can in the alt tag (this will determine the text which will be shown if your images are not loaded).
If you are a digital marketer you are definitely sharing content on social media too. And of course there are times when nothing looks right. Social media doesn’t recognize your headline or your image and posts something which is a total mess, or at least doesn’t show what you want. To escape this, you have to mark up your content according the best practices – using Open Graph for Facebook and Twitter cards. Sounds like a heavy task if you are doing it manually. Thank goodness that the best content management systems usually do this automatically. They mark up your content, so it can be easily shared and it will look good at the same time. If your CMS can also mark up content according to schema.org requirements, you will win the search engine’s “hearts.”
Think of these and all other SEO related questions next time you choose a content management system. Making your website friendly for search engines will increase the chance that your content will be noticed by people too. This is a great advantage, because you can produce all the superior content you want, but it needs to be found if it’s not going to drown in the World Wide Web ocean – and a good CMS will help make that happen.
View all posts from Maria Georgieva on the Progress blog. Connect with us about all things application development and deployment, data integration and digital business.
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