The content management system (CMS) that you use to build your website is definitely a powerful technology, no matter which one you choose. However, choosing a perfect platform to build your website is always a top concern. A CMS that can deliver to your expectations and objectives should be your priority in this regard.
All the CMSs available today are exceptionally competitive and offer almost similar functionalities and extensions to meet your requirements. Despite these CMSs appear almost similar, we often tend to ignore a very basic parameter that can differentiate them very well- the availability of quality SEO.
Apart from the basic content management functionalities, the SEO capability of these CMSs is so crucial to take into the account. Otherwise, you might end up with something that would give you a quite hard time in what that can be easily achieved with some other CMS.
In this post, I have enlisted 5 most important SEO features that a perfect CMS must provide. Furthermore, ignoring these features would automatically inject the 5 SEO issues that are very bad your visibility and search marketing.
1. The SEO friendly or Customizable URLs-
Most of the content management systems create URLs automatically for the new pages added to system. This URL creation is generally based on the location of the page within the website’s directory using on-page behaviors like title tags, H1, H2 etc.
This system will generate the URLs something like this:
The automatic URL generation is done by the CMSs to make it easy for the admin users and ensure better URL structures. However, there are many instances when you will need a greater control on the Page URL structure.
The issue: The URLs automatically generated are generally too long and can confuse your visitors. They fail to clarify where they are going in a manner easily guessable by the visitors. As a result, the users do not get a clear understanding of the destination page by looking at these URLs.
The main issue is, if you post content in more than one category, it will generate separate URLs for every category or subcategory resulting in content duplication and SEO penalties at last.
The solution: An efficient and ideal content management system would allow the admin user to edit and customize the automatically generated URLs. It would also allow the admin to add and edit canonical annotations for 301 redirects if parent domain name is changed.
The most important solution would be the CMS allowing you to add custom URL pattern to avoid the issues like content duplication.
PrestaShop is primarily an eCommerce platform but it provides a quite impressive CMS system too. For SEO friendly URLs a PrestaShop admin can go to Preferences>>SEO & URLs and add SEO friendly URL to any of the pages on the site.
Moreover, you can also handle the canonical URL redirection with a simple one time setting for 301 or 302 redirects. This helps in avoiding the content duplication problem in just a few clicks.
Please note: While customizing your URLs make sure they are clear and precise as possible. Make the best use of keywords and hyphens, and try to keep the parent domain as close as possible.
is more reliable and better URL than
2. Customization for Meta Tags-
Search engines like Google emphasize on content relevancy more than anything. Keywords, Description, and Robots are the three crucial Meta tags used by the search engines to define the relevancy of the content. They can make or break your SEO by defining how the search-bots will reach to the content.
Some content management systems make the task easy for the admin by automatically generating the Meta tags (like Title and Description). However, there are CMSs that don’t emphasize on this usability, but still, you can achieve this feature by adding some extensions or plugins.
Automatic Meta tag generation is definitely a boon for the large database driven websites (like Amazon) where manual writing of description for each product or category page would be a tedious task. However, similar to the URLs, there are cases when you will want to give some pages a customized Meta tag input to ensure better ranking.
The issue: Google search engine which shares around 79.88% of the total search market share, doesn’t emphasize on meta tags as a primary signal for ranking pages on its SERP. However, still, the Meta tags are important from the point of maintaining the relevancy in the content.
The most crucial issue with the automatically generated URLs is they may fail to impart the relevancy to the content. The auto-created tags are based on the main content itself, but they may often fail to match off with the major content idea.
The solution: The solution can be effectively seen in an ideal content management system itself. A CMS that lets you edit and set patterns for Page title element and Meta description generation should be your preference. You may look for additional plugins if the feature is not available in the core CMS functionality. While customizing the patterns, don’t forget to use keywords in the Title and description to ensure better SERP ranks and relevance for the readers.
3. Alt Text for images and other visual content-
Most of the search engines emphasize on using more and more relevant visual content to make the content valuable and useful. Unfortunately, the search engines like Google cannot see the images or any type of visual content on your site.
Search engines take the help alternative text (Alt text) to identify an image or visual content on a page. Providing an Alt text is one of the best practices in maintaining both the accessibility and search engine optimization of your web pages.
There are CMSs that disregard the Alt Text attribute for images and video contents, making them invisible from the eyes of the search-bots. For example, if I post a video tutorial for “how to edit the SEO friendly URL on PrestaShop” without providing the relevant captions, alt text, and description, the only thing that search-bots would be able to index would be the video title.
The issue: The lack of Alt text makes your visual content orphan and irrelevant. There are extreme chances that you might receive high bounce rates as the search engines would not be able to serve the content to the relevant audience without an Alt text. Just imagine the case when your video content would be shown to a searcher with hearing or sight disability.
The solution: The solution is best defined by the CMSs like WordPress which allow the users to add and edit alternative texts along with a caption and a short description of the content. Always choose a CMS system that provides these features as a core or extended functionality. You can take a cue from WordPress here.
4. The Website structure and Navigation-
The site data structure is more important than your own website’s structure, design, and usability.
Though it depends a lot on the web designer and your content hierarchy, often times some poorly planned content management systems can spoil the site structure and create issues with the navigation.
For example, in the first point, I mentioned that pages close to the parent domain are more relevant. It doesn’t mean you have to just stuff your homepage with links to achieve the relevancy, as the home page is the closest page to the parent domain.
The issue: The bad site structures are the main reason for why search-bots find a hard time crawling your website. Moreover, to quickly find what they are looking for, visitors are more likely to look for a website search function. The issue is, internal search can create content duplication issue. The CMS that cannot handle the site data structure will always kill your SEO here.
The solution: Look for a CMS system that provides inbuilt tools and features to ensure better site navigation in the form of Categorization, Breadcrumbs, and customizable anchor text. It should also provide the options for configuration of the site links search box (by avoiding content duplication).
Moreover, automatic XML sitemap generation would be an important feature to look for. This feature should be accompanied by the configuration options to hide non-indexed content from being included.
The last thing to look would be the ability to generate a Robot.txt file which is editable and can be customized to define the site areas that search-bot can crawl.
5. Optimization in page loading speed-
The Content Management system can alone be a strong reason for prolonged page loading time of a particular or even the whole website.
With increased page loading time you are more likely to lose your visitors days after days.
Did you know?
– If your website or page takes more than 3 seconds to load, 40 % of the visitors will abandon the site before it even loads.
– With every 1 second delay in page loading after 2 seconds, you will lose 7 % of your potential visitors. – Source
The page loading time is a crucial factor in both the Search engine optimization and conversion rate optimization of the websites. For content management systems, a major proportion of page load speed is affected by the changes in the core codes from plugins, extensions, and themes etc. More often, we tend to overload the website with plugins, extensions, and themes from any random source that doesn’t even guaranty the consistency in coding standards.
The issue: The un-optimized plugins, extensions, and heavy contents make the CMS overloaded with bad codes. As a result, it gradually starts to slow down the website or the pages targeted by these elements.
Additionally, non-technical users unknowingly overload the CMS with heavy images and visual contents that usually take a long time to load completely.
The solution: The first and foremost solution would be to avoid installing the plugins, extensions, and themes from any random source. You must verify the reputation of the developer and check how their previously developed solutions are working for the users. You can check the reviews and testimonials of the users. Always install the plugin from reputed developers.
For example, For PrestaShop, you can get the modules and themes from the official PrestaShop marketplace or even from a reputed official seller.
To avoid other speed issues, you need to verify if your CMS platform provides the back-office optimization features like caching, media content compression, minifying resources, etc. There are several other back office optimizations that you can adopt. For example, a Magento based site can be speed boosted with some the simple optimizations that are available on this CMS cum eCommerce platform.
The bottom line
A content management system is a one-time investment. You cannot afford to frequently switch the platforms, trying and rejecting things. SEO being the most crucial factor for the success of your website as well as business, an ideal CMS should possess all the 5 SEO requirements mentioned in this content. Moreover, it should also avoid the blunders that bad CMS platforms create.
Choose a CMS that fits your business requirement and satisfies the SEO needs at the same time. Put questions on the forums, discuss your requirements with the SEO and website development professionals, tally the SEO factors with the ones given in this content etc, there are so many ways to decide a better CMS for your website development. You just need to take a wise step forward.
Author Bio: Ethan Roy, a technical content writer by Profession. With years of experience on various eCommerce platforms (Magento, PrestaShop, OpenCart, Shopify), he has a lot to share with the readers. Currently working as Technical Content Writer at Velsof.