Ensuring that your Sitecore website has the best possible chance of ranking on page one of search results pages
It is without doubt that Sitecore is well-positioned to be a great CMS to help cater for SEO. With Sitecore’s enterprise capabilities, it can handle a vast amount of content which is the key to effective SEO for your website. There are a large number of out-of-the-box SEO capabilities that Sitecore has which can help your website rank at the top of the search engine’s results pages (SERPs). Here we look at five of these capabilities.
One of the greatest assets of the way Sitecore is built is its content tree structure, which allows websites to be structured in ways that make sense, with tidy folders making the user experience (UX) and navigation for users slick. Sitecore is great at creating user-friendly URLs, by actioning things such as replacing spaces with hyphens, making all letters lower case and removing file extensions. Remember that when making a URL as SEO-friendly as possible, it’s important to include the keyword in the URL structure, in most cases at the end of the slug. This allows the website to have a well-understood hierarchical structure.
Sitecore has a number of in-built modules which can help with SEO efforts. One of these is the XML sitemap module. The purpose of a sitemap is to index pages of your website into one xml file, aiding search engines when they crawl your website. This looks for the best possible page that suits a user’s search query. It may be the case that you may want to exclude certain pages from the sitemap, therefore this Sitecore module has a simple checkbox on each page’s content page which will allow you to do just that. Most importantly, the sitemap will automatically update itself when new pages and content is added to the site, so it will always be up to date, giving search engines the best possible chance to find your SEO optimised content.
Once you have set up your website to be technically SEO sound, you will then want to focus on which keywords you want to rank for and the content that will align with those keywords. You will want to optimise your pages for those keywords, starting off with the metadata of your page. Metadata is split into different elements:
The great thing about Sitecore, is that it already has in-built dialog boxes in the CMS in which this vital SEO data can be filled in.
Internal links are important for SEO. Internal links are most useful for establishing site architecture and spreading link equity. Google crawls websites by following links, using a bot called ‘Google bot’. This bot arrives at the homepage of a website, starts to render the page and follows the first link. By following links Google can work out the relationship between the various pages, posts and other content. This way Google finds out which pages on your site cover similar subject matter. For example, when you’ve written various articles about a certain topic you should link them with each other. This will show Google, as well as users, that those articles are topically related. You can link directly from sentences in your copy or add links at the end of your post.
Sitecore has an inbuilt internal link management system which is incredibly simple to use. To create a link on a page, you simply navigate through the site’s content tree to the page you want to link to and select. Simple as that.
To aid with Sitecore SEO, Sitecore has downloadable 301 redirect modules which can be used to permanently redirect pages that may be broken or lost. This is particularly useful for when a site has just been launched and there may be a number of 404 pages that appear. In general, 404 pages are detrimental as they hinder the user experience for the user and they may navigate away from the site. When you 301 redirect a page this effectively diverts that broken page to another page on the site. It is important that this page is relevant to the broken page though, otherwise that could further confuse a website user who may be confused that they are now on the homepage when they clicked an article.
We’ve mentioned just a few ways that prove that the way Sitecore is built aligns with the work of SEOs, but if you’d like to know more – contact us, we’d love to chat. We are Kagool, a top tier Sitecore Partner and digital marketing specialists. Since 1999 we have been working with enterprise-level organisations to help them get the most from their Sitecore investment. We ensure our clients’ websites follow SEO best practice to help them achieve great results that drive their wider digital strategy.
Sitecore search marketing is fundamental to all of our projects and we recommend considering Sitecore SEO at the early design and build stages. Get in touch today to speak to one of our experts about your organisation’s SEO aspirations.