SEO is important for most businesses as a source of sales leads or e-commerce revenue — often the most important. For any SEO campaign to succeed, the company website must be properly configured and maintained; if it isn’t, Google will not be able to read or understand the website’s content, and as a result won’t display its pages to search engine users. For all intents and purposes, the company will be invisible.
To make your CMS website perform for SEO, pay special attention to these three areas.
1. How to Resolve Technical SEO Issues
The very best way to keep a website functioning smoothly for SEO is to set up a Google Search Console account and use the site crawl errors report function. The purpose of this report is to alert you to any website issues that are preventing Google from reading and interpreting your website. These issues include duplicate content, site speed deficiencies, broken links and URL problems.
Once problems are identified, a competent Web developer familiar with your CMS platform should be able to make the necessary changes to resolve the errors. For open-source platforms such as WordPress and Drupal, there are plenty of outside support options if you lack the necessary expertise; for proprietary platforms, the development support options and procedures may be more complicated.
2. How to Create Rank-Worthy Content
To create rank-worthy content, focus on two things: the content, and how the content is organized on your website.
A. Content quality
For the content, Google looks for quality; it obviously wants to display great content to its organic search users when they conduct queries. What is quality? For Google and humans, it’s identical: quality means authoritative, relevant, coherent, useful, scannable and sharable. Many companies succeed in meeting these criteria by creating a solid content strategy, collecting technical inputs from internal subject matter experts, having skilled Web copywriters produce content, and then having skilled internal and external editors review the content before publication.
B. Content organization
In terms of content organization on the website, think primarily about navigation, keyword targeting and internal linking structure:
Navigation should intuitively — and as simply as possible — bucket products and services, and then put individual products and services in the proper hierarchy, so Google (and humans) can figure out which pages provide general information, detailed information, high-level product group information, granular product specifications, etc.
Strategically important keywords should be associated with a specific product and/or service page. Collectively, these pages are the ones you most want to be visible on Google, because they are tied to search terms that are the most popular and/or have the highest likelihood of producing conversions.
Internal linking structure should be organized to have the greatest number and most prominently displayed internal links pointing to the most important website pages from an SEO perspective — the pages mentioned in the bullet point just above, most likely. Emphasizing internal links this way gives Google (and again, humans) another cue that these linked-to pages are important.
Google is putting a lot of emphasis on mobile-friendliness in its organic search algorithm, and is certain to increase it. Mobile Internet usage now exceeds desktop usage, and the gap is widening. All other things being equal, mobile-friendly Web pages will outrank mobile-unfriendly pages on mobile searches, and mobile-unfriendly pages may incur ranking disadvantages even on desktop searches.
If your CMS has responsive templates, convert to one as quickly as possible. Responsive templates will adjust automatically for optimal viewing on desktop, mobile and tablet screens. If you don’t have responsive options, this presents a serious problem. Developing a second website for mobile users is certainly feasible, but is not as strong an option for SEO and creates all sorts of website and marketing management issues.
Converting to a responsive template may require a bit of effort, but it is a healthy exercise. Implementing a mobile-friendly website forces a company to simplify navigation, make content more scannable, and really think about how it is telling its story (because of all the vertical scrolling on mobile devices). In the end, the conversion will make your website more user-friendly and produce more leads and/or revenue.
These three tips are listed in order of priority. If your website is not functioning properly now for SEO, that is causing immediate problems. If your content and content structure needs cleaning, it should be cleaned up before trying to shift to a responsive template — you’ll be shifting the wrong information.
There are always exceptions, so think about your context. For instance, if your mobile website traffic is 80 percent of the total, you probably needed a mobile-friendly website yesterday. Or, if your content is already laid out properly, or if it lacks content, it wouldn’t hurt to go responsive and then expand the content on the new mobile template.
However you get there, once you get there, you’ll be in a great position for SEO.
Brad Shorr is the B2B Marketing Director at Straight North. They are an Internet marketing company in the Chicagoland area that offers SEO, PPC and web design services to businesses across the country. With Brad’s many years of writing experience, his articles have been featured on sites such as WebdesignerDepot.com, Moz and Forbes.