Watching Your Backend: Content Management System Troubles
Avoiding SEO Problems Caused by Content Management Systems
Content management systems can be a website owner’s best friend. A CMS gets a website operational fast and keeps it running smoothly. It can manage data, image files, audio files, documents, and other types of content, and it puts them together into web pages.
A CMS creates the pages based on templates, which are standard layouts that you design, so that your website has a consistent and cohesive look. Large sites that manage thousands of items use a CMS because it keeps everything organized and systematic.
Small‐site owners benefit because if they use a CMS, they don’t even have to know HTML (HyperText Markup Language, the predominant markup language used on the web): The CMS can do the technical work for them.
Understanding why dynamically generated pages can be friend or foe
If you have a store with several thousand products for sale, you don’t want to create a page for each item by hand. Instead, you’re going to use a CMS to assemble web pages with product descriptions, pictures, prices, and other content pulled directly out of your product database. These dynamic pages look unique to the end user, but behind the scenes, they’re usually not.
CMSs may create all kinds of duplicate content problems. If not looked after, they may build no targeted content, or generic text that isn’t customized for your various subject themes and keywords. You want to make sure each and every one of your web pages has unique text for all parts of your web pages, including
Choosing the Right Content Management System
Despite the extra maintenance a content management system may require to keep your site SEO‐friendly, many websites simply can’t do without one. For large stores, social media sites, forums, and other sites that have a large amount of page content that changes frequently, a CMS that can produce a site dynamically is a practical necessity.
To ensure that a CMS won’t impede your SEO efforts, the main thing you want to find is a customizable system. You need to be able to change anything and everything on a per‐page basis and not have your hands tied. SEO requires a lot of tweaking as you monitor each page’s performance, your competitors’ pages, the user experience on your site, and so forth. You must be able to modify a Title tag here, a Meta keywords tag there.
Customizing Your CMS for SEO
The shopping list we just laid out can help you pick out a good CMS if you plan to purchase one. Or, if you already have a website that runs on a CMS, the preceding section should help you figure out the strengths or weaknesses of that purchase.
Better yet, if your site doesn’t have lots of changing content, you can avoid the CMS issue altogether and code the whole website from scratch! But for those websites that need a content management system, this section gives you tips for making your CMS work for you.
Often, manufacturers require that all retailers use their predefined product descriptions. You might be struggling with this very same problem because obviously it’s hard to rank well for product searches if your page just duplicates the same text shown on countless other sites.
You should specify rules for every output element possible. You want to take advantage of the CMS’s ability to automate your site, but you also want to control that efficiency. Make sure that your resulting site is search engine–friendly and user‐friendly, full of pages that are each unique.