Kentico CMS 7: SEO Improvements
Search Engine Optimization is one of the most crucial aspects of running a successful website. Kentico CMS 7 contains several improvements that make it easier to perform operations that have an impact on SEO. This post provides a basic overview of the new features and settings.
7 adds many new settings and general enhancements that help create a SEO-friendly
website without complicated configuration. Many of the following features are already supported in the current version, but they don’t provide quite as many options, aren’t as straightforward and in some cases require customization.
Review of HTTP response codes
If a page isn’t successfully serving content, the returned HTTP response code shouldn’t be 200. It should always correspond with the current state (Page not found – 404, Site offline – 503, Access denied – 403 etc.), so that applications and web crawlers can correctly interpret the situation. All status-pages have been reviewed and now return the appropriate response code.
Document-based 404 pages
Even though Kentico CMS 6 has partial support for 404 error pages specified in the content tree, the recommended approach is to create a physical page in the file system. This scenario however has limitations when it comes to instances with multiple sites and multilingual websites
. In version 7, 404 pages can be defined in the content tree just like any other document, with all the advantages that Kentico CMS offers.
Accessible URLs for deleted pages
There is a new option of specifying a replacement page when deleting documents. This means that one of your website’s other pages will be displayed whenever the URL of the deleted document is accessed. Of course, this can be combined with a permanent 301 redirection of the URL.
Consider a situation where a visitor opens a deleted page and sees a Page not found error instead of the expected content. In this case, the user will probably lose interest and leave the website to look somewhere else. But if you display alternative content that is similar to the original document, or at least offers an explanation and further options, the visitor will often stay.
Avoiding duplicate content
One of the key rules of SEO is “Don’t create duplicate content”. This happens whenever multiple URLs are used to serve the same page and it can have a significant negative effect on the search ranking of the given page. Consider the following URLs that could be used for a website’s Home page:
All of these URLs lead to the same page. In Kentico CMS 7, you can set up the system to perform permanent redirects to the preferred Home page URL using a simple setting.
It is also possible to force consistency of the www domain prefix in URLs. You can choose to leave the domain as it was entered or have it rewritten to either always or never include the prefix.
Culture specific domains
Kentico CMS 6 already has support for language prefixes, which insert a custom subdirectory into the URL according to the current language. This offers a way to split multilingual content without having a negative effect on SEO. Version 7 extends the multilingual SEO support by providing a way to enforce separate domain names for individual culture versions of the website.
If this feature is enabled, the lang query string parameter and language prefix options are ignored. Visitors are always redirected to the appropriate domain when the language is changed. The domain-language relationships are specified by assigning the primary culture to the website’s main domain and additional ones to specific domain aliases.
XML Sitemap and robots.txt management
The XML Sitemap (Google sitemap) was optimized to generate unified URLs with dependence on all settings which affect SEO (domain, culture, format, etc.). Documents also have new settings for specifying the values of the optional tags in the XML Sitemap.
A new XML Sitemap web part allows you to create a custom sitemap page as a document in the content tree. This offers a way to specify exactly which pages should be included, and even modify the format of the output XML.
Robots.txt instructions can now be generated directly by the site’s content thanks to the new Custom response web part. The advantage over a regular text file is that you can use macros to get values dynamically, set a custom robots.txt response for every website on a multi-site instance, and edit the content directly without having to access the file system.
Securing user links
While user-generated content can be a good way to improve SEO
, it also carries risks in some cases. In version 7, you can choose to instruct search engine crawlers not to follow links posted by users on forums, message boards or in blog comments. The system will then automatically include the rel="nofollow" attribute in the output code of all such link tags.
Using this precaution can prevent spammers from damaging the search ranking of your website by posting a large numbers of links leading to unrelated content, and it also stops them from passing page rank to other sites.
Search crawler reports
Kentico CMS 7 brings a new web analytics statistic for tracking search crawlers. You can review your search engine optimization by monitoring what types of crawlers visit your website and how many pages are crawled.
This statistic is also available for individual documents, so you can see in detail how often a given page or its specific version is actually crawled.
More details and examples will be available in the documentation for version 7. In future posts, I would like to expand on this and provide more specific information on how to create SEO friendly websites in Kentico CMS.