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5 SEO Tips for CMS-driven Websites

Chris Osterhout SVP of Strategy
Published on June 19, 2013

The approach to SEO can be completely different for dynamic, or CMS-driven, websites than for static sites. There are 5 key points to understand when managing SEO for CMS websites.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a continual concern for any website, but what many people may not realize is that the approach to SEO can be completely different for dynamic, or CMS-driven, websites than for static sites. On static sites, each individual web page exists as a file on a server, while dynamic sites use templates that pull content from a database. This CMS-driven approach presents different challenges for SEO; here are five things to understand when considering how to approach SEO for CMS-driven sites:

  • Google, and other search engines, treat every page of a site as an individual page, even if the data for the page doesn't physically exist on a server. Many SEO firms approach sites in the same manner, not realizing that modifying one page on a CMS-driven site might affect all other pages on the site which use that template. It's important to keep in mind how any changes to a template affect the entire site, and this presents a challenge for SEO on a CMS-driven site.
  • The content on CMS-driven sites is often managed by marketers or content editors rather than technical staff, which means that they are updating the site through the CMS rather than accessing the web server directly. Many SEO firms recommend changes to the server that the people who manage the website do not have the capability to make.
  • A CMS-driven site will often allow content to be displayed using multiple URLs, but since search engines will treat each individual URL as a separate page, a strategy needs to be in place to handle the SEO. This can include the use of 301 redirects and Rel=Canonical links.
  • Adding rich HTML snippets / structured data to your CMS pages will allow search engines to better understand your content. However, the underlying HTML mark up is generally too complex for a website editor to understand. There are several tools out there today including Google's structured content tool http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets to help with this process without forcing a content editor to edit website HTML.
  • Many CMS platforms will automatically create a webpage URL when a new page is published. However, in many cases these URLs are not SEO friendly. It is important to have an automatic URL strategy in place prior to publishing large amounts of content.

These are just a few of the many things to consider when managing SEO for CMS-driven sites. Since many providers of SEO services are used to dealing with static sites, they may not understand the challenges and necessities of working with CMS-driven sites. It is important to understand the technical ramifications for all SEO website recommendations to ensure they will work for your CMS platform and your CMS content authors. If you are struggling with the implementation of your SEO strategy, give us a call or shoot us an email. We would be happy to discuss an approach that will work for you.