Elements of a Modern SEO Friendly CMS

by Matthew Diehl on October 16, 2009


Content Management Systems (CMS) are inherently designed to make a webmaster’s life easier. They have been around for quite a long time so there is much to be expected from the CMS platform that runs your site. One area that comes under great scrutiny is how “friendly” a CMS is to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This can be the deciding factor between your top two CMS choices.

Most CMS platforms have the very basic of the basics of SEO down, by the basics I mean:

  • Customizable Title, Description & Keyword Tags
  • Image Alt Text Editing
  • Header Tag Usage

There is much more beyond those basics that you should take into account when evaluating a CMS for it’s level of SEO integration. Here are the features your CMS should have for you to be successful with SEO:

  1. Code Cleanliness
    Here you should be looking for
    • External CSS & Javascript Files (with access to edit these) – which reduces page size, load time and code-to-content ratio
    • Main menu is not “code heavy” but utilizes the most HTML as possible – increase crawlability of your site which increases quicker indexing in search engines
  2. Ability to add custom Meta Tags such as Robots, Sitemap Validators, NOYDIR, NOODP, etc.
  3. Override dynamic URLs containing variables with search friendly URLs
    Regular Dynamic URL : http://www.yoursite.com/page.php?id=134&content=456&…..
    Search Friendly URL: http://www.yoursite.com/seo-friendly-page
  4. Usage of Canonical tagging to eliminate onsite duplicate content issues
  5. Ability to run A/B/Multi-variant testing for landing pages within the system – if this is not available you should at least be able to upload stand-alone pages outside the CMS to run your own testing
  6. Easy integration of web analytics on to all the pages of your site
  7. Auto-generating sitemaps (both HTML & XML) when pages are either created, edited or deleted from the site – an updated sitemap is important to getting new pages crawled asap and managing your sitemaps manually can be time consumer for larger sites
  8. Broken link checkers – you may not think of this when you take a page off of your website but there may be another page or two or more that link to it, so being notified that those links exist and are now broken is important
  9. Keyword usage in page content – everyone knows Content is King so having a CMS that backs you up in showing you that your content is composed of the keywords you are trying to target just makes it a no-brainer

This should be a good start on what you should be looking at when you are evaluating your next CMS for how friendly it is towards SEO.

What other features would you expect from a modern CMS in regards to SEO? Please let me know below so the list can be as complete as possible.

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