Content Management Systems and search engine optimization (SEO) used to be mutually exclusive terms. But the SEO community has been driving the developers of Content Management Systems to integrate more SEO-friendly methodology within their systems.
Content Management Systems (CMS) are a hot topic right now with many corporate websites are turning to these systems to handle thousands of pages of dynamic data that they need to update regularly. Content Management Systems allow information to be added, edited or deleted automatically over the entire website. This can save hundreds of hours in manual updates. Pages of content are generated on the fly using a template driven system.
When Content Management Systems were first developed, most had little regard for the requirements of search engine optimization. For some Content Management Systems this still holds true. Most CMS’s, however, now have workarounds to accommodate those wanting to perform search engine optimization on their websites. The workarounds in the Content Management Systems involve two areas: writing search engine friendly URL’s and creating individualized title and meta tags per page.
Writing Search Engine Friendly URL’s
Some search engines (SE’s) and directories like Google and Yahoo! can now read dynamic URL’s but there are still a fair amount which can’t or can only partially read them. The SE’s like to see pages that have unique content per page and may limit the number of variable strings (i.e. ?, =. &) in a URL to assure unique content.
By using a web server module called Mod_Rewrite it is possible to remove the stop characters from the URL string, thus making it more SE-friendly. To do this you will need to add a rule to the .htaccess file. For more information, see the following article on the Apache website: http://httpd.apache.org/docs-2.0/mod/mod_rewrite.html
Creating Individualized Title and Meta Tags
Some Content Management Systems such the latest release from Hot Banana Software boast full integration with SEO performance such as offering Conversion Tracking tool, Robots.txt and Meta Tag Management. Other CMS’s such as PostNuke.com is struggling to catch up and offer workarounds to make their system more flexible and SE-friendly.
PostNuke.com says that their next version (.8 release at this writing) will be fully SEO compliant. Until then, they recommend the pnMeta module, which will give control over the title, keyword and description tags over an individual page. Dynamically generated meta tag information, however, is not recommended. For more information see: http://www.miragelab.com/News+article-sid-19.phtml
What Does CMS Mean For SEO’s?
Search engine optimization experts and others using SEO techniques will need to work closely with Webmasters and developers who use Content Management Systems on their web properties. This collaborative effort is necessary to insure that URL’s are SE-friendly and that unique title and meta tags are severed up for each optimized page. A large website with tons of valuable content, should rank well in the search engines according to the SE’s guidelines and the CMS technology would do well not to inhibit this, but rather would do well to promote good search engine rankings for large websites.