Last week I had the pleasure of presenting a knowledge sharing session to the staff here at Engage around SEO (search engine optimization). Since SEO is an ever-evolving practice, I supplemented my own experience with research done on the following sites, which I encourage you to bookmark as resources:
Given that Google drives 65% or so of all internet searches, I also checked in with Matt Cutts of Google (who is the guy all of the above sites turn to for their insights and to verify their assumptions about Google's latest algorithm changes).
The point of this presentation wasn't to give our developers the skill to do day-to-day SEO (which I believe should be the purview of our partner companies who practice this art in-depth, day in - day out), but instead to give our team a strong foundation for those SEO firms (and our clients) to build on.
The good news is that the DNN CMS inherently offers a great base for optimizing your site for search engines once you have an understanding of where the priorities of SEO lie.
HTML Titles. It is considered a best practice is to use keywords in your titles and to keep them unique and relevant to each individual page. Limit your character count to 60-80. page. Limit your character count to 60-80. DNN skins allow for CSS, and the Telerik WYSIWYG editor makes using the CSS (with SEO important tags like the H1 title tag) simple for site managers.
DNN’s URL re-writer (acquired from iFinity in 2013) allows editors to simply pen their own SEO-friendly and extension-less URLs.
It also allows for canonical URLs (Canonicalization allows you to select the best URL among multiple or duplicate choices -- typically your home page: /, index.html, home.aspx, etc.), which is good for both SEO and clean Google Analytics results.
Entering a keyword-rich description is good SEO, and it’s very helpful for humans using the search engines, so likely to have an impact on click through (which in turn also lifts your SEO performance).
DNN allows for meta keywords, but the pundits and pros say this type of keyword entry is old-school and no longer needed (at least for Google). For other less popular search engines, the field is right there in DNN and ready for you to use.
DNN doesn't inherently offer an editor or fields for structured data such as Schema.com (yet), but a good DNN developer (Engage for example - hey, I am the VP of Sales after all ;) ) can help with this one. The topic of structured data and search is an interesting one. See Search Engine Journal for more.
The CMS has a SEO (and human)-friendly menu provider system, renders dynamic hierarchical navigation and generates a XML SiteMap with direct control over ranking priorities for each page.
The platform makes easy work of developing 404 pages and setting up 301 redirects (important, so you don’t lose your old page’s valuable historic presence in the search engines).
Thanks to the skinning engine in DNN, building either a mobile site or a responsive design is a straightforward effort. Good news since Google’s latest algorithm favors sites that have a mobile strategy and rewards them with higher rankings.
Social sharing modules are simple additions through DNN’s extensions (modules). Enabling shares of your site can give you an additional lift (if you don’t have a Google+ account associated with the site already, I encourage you to get one).
If your site a global one, DNN’s localization features can give you a boost as well.
Finally, DNN offers built-in functionality for submitting sites directly to search engines as well as a simple plug-and-play solution for adding Google Analytics to every page on the site.
DNN has given you the tools you need to get started. Now comes the harder part: constant, fresh content production, testing and re-testing and the general generation of trust from your human users. It's not easy, but well worth the result of a strong presence in the place users are most likely to find you.