Key Features of a Search Optimized CMS

You’ll find there is a lot of elements to take into consideration when you’re deciding on the options for which Content Management System or CMS to use for your new website or site update. Off the shelf or custom development? Free or paid? PHP or Coldfusion? Linux or IIS? If your website is large, you’re likely to have a lot of considerations to plan and prioritise when scoping CMS functions. Smaller websites also have to think about what they need to achieve from their website management system, however the required functions might be less exhaustive. One of the features you shouldn’t put off until its too late to assess is the search friendliness or search engine optimisation (SEO) functions of the web sites management system. Many websites I have researched have been built before looking at how Google can see them and therefore are instantly on the back foot when it comes to search marketing.

Search engine friendly URL’s

Because most content management systems create dynamic pages on the fly some use ugly url strings like http://www.mysite.com/?p=123456 – although Google can read and index this type of URL, dynamic URL’s often cause other issues for search engines for example creating duplicate versions of the same page accessible by different URL query strings. It may also benefit your SEO to have keyword rich URL’s like http://www.mysite.com/keyword-1-keyword-2/.

Titles and meta data need to be content managed

In order to SEO your pages you need the option to modify the title on any page. You also need to be able too add a custom meta description to each important SEO page on your site. Additionally the CMS wants to automatically generate default meta data if you forget to input data manually on any certain web page.

HTML/ CSS Based

Google have always struggled to read copy that is not rendered as conventional hyper text markup. The big issue here is swf driven content management system which aren’t that common but still need to be watched out for when assessing your platform. Also of note is to make sure your site won’t be overly reliant on documents like PDF’s and Word files to show important information on your site – Google should be able to index these files, but are less likely to rank them in results due to the fact they are usually poorly linked to and may not give a positive user experience for visitors.

Blogging features

Having a blog or another type of content area on your site where you can upload regular entries, without having to build new pages into your main navigation each time, can be really useful for your sites SEO. On one hand it allows you to create more fresh content quickly and easily which may drive more long tail search traffic to your site. Posting useful content on your blog is also a great way to attract links to the site. That isn’t going to happen by magic, but its useful to have the option of a blog built into whatever CMS you choose.

Image optimisation

It goes without saying that you’ll want to be able to upload and control the images which you use on your website. You’ll also want to be able to optimise those images so that they appear in Google image search. Flashy image galleries and slideshows are all well and good but many can’t be read by search engines. Look for a CMS which uses a javascript based gallery (if any) and make sure you can add titles and alt text to each image you upload to the system.