How to Avoid Shooting Yourself in the SEO

How to Avoid Shooting Yourself in the SEO



Fifteen Tips to Improve SEO on Sitecore Sites - June 23, 2013

Fifteen Tips to Improve SEO on Sitecore Sites - June 23, 2013



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  • •Wildcard nodes seem like an interesting error handling approach. I could imagine using that to try a 'We couldn't find that, but perhaps you'd like...' approach.
    •Google has a URL parameter tool on Webmaster tools... I'll have to check that out!
    •Going to check out the SEO-Friendly URL module and Jungle Torch module. They seem promising.
    • MozBar and Open Site Explorer are great resources.
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    How to Avoid Shooting Yourself in the SEO How to Avoid Shooting Yourself in the SEO Presentation Transcript

    • How to Avoid ShootingYourself in the SEOFifteen Tips to Improve SEO on Sitecore SitesJune 23, 20131
    • Sitecore Enterprise Web CMS• Popular .NET Web Content Management System formid-to-large organizations• Provides friendly tools for non-technical ContentAuthors and Marketers• Can be customized and extended to meet almost anyconceivable business need2
    • Why SEO is ImportantSearch Engine Optimization (SEO)• Getting listed on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)• Getting more traffic from listings on search engines• Getting your content recognized as the authority• What search engines consider most relevant to users• Search engines rank authority pages higherWhy Search Engine Optimization is Done• Search engines need to determine relevance• What the page is about• How the page would be useful• SEO helps the engines understand content context3
    • Things that Hurt SEO• Signs of a neglected or abandoned site• Having too many broken links on a page• Having too many HTML errors• Missing Alt Text for images• Substantially similar content on the same site• Having a country code top level domain• Helps site rank for that particular country• Limits the site’s ability to rank globally4
    • Static URLs are Better for SEOURLs can be static or dynamic• Dynamic URLs contain a question mark• Static -• Dynamic - static URLs over dynamic URLs for SEO• Static URLs typically rank better in search engines• Search engines are slower to index dynamic pages• Static URLs also appear more friendly to users5
    • Using Sitecore Wildcard NodesWildcard Node• A node in the Content Tree that matches all requestsfor the given level if the item is not found on that level• URL parameters can be passed without query strings• Used to create friendly URLs for external content• Content is not in the Content Tree• Query strings do not have to be used to access itHow to create Wildcard Nodes• Place a * node below a node• Node accepts all URLs for items not found at that level• Parse the URL for the data6
    • Handling URL Parameters for SEOGoogle provides a Parameter Handling Tool• Used to tell Google how to handle URL parameters• Used to reduce impact of duplicate content on SEO• Useful when query strings cannot be avoided• Available on the Webmaster Tools Dashboard7
    • Why Duplicate Content is BadDuplicate content• Identical or nearly identical content on…• Multiple pages of a site• Pages on different sites• URL variations pointing to the same pageImpact of duplicate content• Search engines try to index pages with distinct info• Links to the page contain multiple URLs• Popularity of the page can get divided across URLs• Page ranking of all the pages can be reduced• This can hinder pages performance in SERPs8
    • How Google Handles DuplicatesWhen Google detects duplicate content• Google groups the duplicate URLs into a cluster• Google selects one URL to represent the cluster• Google consolidates the link popularity to that URLWhen Google doesn’t detect duplicate content• Google cannot consolidate the link popularity• This can dilute the ranking by splitting it across URLs9
    • How Duplicate Content OccursSitecore Content Tree items• Content items are copied with little or no editing• Cloned items are created and used• Alias items are created and used• Campaign items are created and used for tracking• Multiple layouts are used to display the same content• Web, print, and mobile layouts, etc.URLs• Multiple domain names are bound to the same site• Links to a page contain formatting variations10
    • URL VariationsVariations that can occur in links to a page• Lowercase vs. mixed case• Www vs. no www• Trailing slash vs. no trailing slash• Language embedding vs. no embedding (localization)• URL parameters vs. no parameters (campaign tracking)URL variations are treated as duplicate content11
    • What is a Canonical Page?Canonical pages• Identify a page as the primary page over others• Useful when a site contains duplicate content• Multiple pages with (nearly) identical content• Multiple layouts used for the same content• Multiple URLs used to load the same page12
    • What is a Canonical Tag?Canonical tags• Used when pages contain duplicate content• Specifies the canonical page• Format: <link rel="canonical" href="http://primary-url>• Add to primary as well as secondary pages• Prevents search engines from picking a primary page• Supports duplicate content within a single domain• Supports pages across different sub-domain URLs• Does not support pages in different domain URLs 13
    • DNS Mistakes that Hurt SEODNS domain name mistakes• Don’t bind multiple generic domains to the primary site• Don’t bind your primary site using a wildcard for all names• DNS Admins can get requests to add new names for a site• Each name that connects to the site can dilute the SEO for allContent-related mistakes• Avoid creating multiple pages with duplicate content• Avoid varying the format of URLs on a site• Don’t let the search engines decide which page is primary 14
    • Other DNS Mistakes for SEODevelopment sites for developers• Can contain an out-of-date copy of site content• Should not be accessible over the Internet• Should not have a binding to a public DNS nameContent management sites for content authors• Can contain unapproved and unpublished content• Can have a separate IP address• Can be mapped to the master database for website• Should not have a binding to a public DNS name15
    • How to Set Up DNS for SEOUsing multiple DNS domain names for a live site• Bind a single generic domain name to the live site• Bind top-level country domain names to the live site• Create a second empty IIS site• Bind all other generic domain names to second site• Use the HTTP Redirect in IIS to set a 301 redirect• Select the second empty site in IIS• Open the HTTP Redirect tool in the IIS section• Add the primary URL in the Redirect text box• Set the status code to 30116
    • Setting Up DNS for LocalizationTry to use top level domains for localization• Get country specific domain names for each language version• Use for French, not• Use for German, not in top-level domains have distinct SERPS• Search Engines use an initial link for the root of the site tocrawl the site in a particular language• No session is needed to remember the language• Each page has a unique URL in the different languagesbecause the domain name is unique17
    • Geotargeting for SEOFor country-coded top-level domains• Sites are already associated with a geographic regionFor generic top-level domains (.com, .org, etc.)• Use Webmaster Tools to set geographic targets• You can target users in a particular geographic location• Targets help determine how site appears on SERPs18
    • What to Ask Your DNS AdminIdentify DNS names that point to your live site• Find the ones with no binding to your site• Add a binding for it to a secondary site that redirects• Alternatively, request the DNS name be removedIdentify DNS names that don’t point to your live site• Find the ones that display duplicate content• Create a 301 redirect to the real site or• Use a robots.txt file to prevent indexing of the site• Old links to the site will continue to work• Search engines will list only the real site19
    • Staging Mistakes that Reduce SEODuplicate content on a staging site• A separate staging site can exist for Sitecore sites• The staging site points to a copy of the web database• A DNS Address record can exist for the staging site• This DNS Address record may not be restricted• The binding for the staging site uses the DNS record• Search bots view the two sites as duplicate content• There is no robots.txt file at the root of the staging site• SEO can be reduced for the primary Live site 20
    • Setting up Staging Sites for SEOThere are good reasons to have a staging site• Authors can test content changes before going live• Admins can troubleshoot publishing issuesSet up your staging site without hurting SEO• Do one or more of the following…• Add a Robots.txt file to the root of the staging site• Restrict access with NTFS and Windows Authentication• Restrict access with IP Address restrictions• Allow DNS name resolution only on corporate network 21
    • How SEO Mistakes Can OccurA company decides to revamp their web site• Old site continues to run• New site is created over time with no robots.txt file• There are public DNS records for both sitesA company wants to test a version upgrade• Old site is copied as-is with configuration settings• Upgrade is applied to copy of site and tested over timeA company wants to keep their old site around• Robots.txt file is not added to old site• Default redirects in IIS (302s) are used instead of 301s<Your scenario here>22
    • Using Robots.txt to Help SEORobots.txt• Plain text file• Add to the root folder of the site• Reduces indexing of duplicate content by search bots• Can prevent indexing of specific folders or paths• Can prevent indexing of entire siteHow to prevent indexing of a siteUser-agent: *Disallow: / 23
    • Using a Sitemap to Improve SEOWhat is a Sitemap?• Lists a hierarchy of the site pages you want indexed• Helps search engines discover canonical pagesGuidelines for Sitemaps• Add a Sitemaps file to the root of your site• Periodically submit a Sitemap to all search engines• Use the Sitemap protocol so all search engines can use it• Specify your preferred URL for pages in your Sitemap• Identify the location of your Sitemap file in robots.txt 24
    • Redirect Mistakes that Reduce SEOTypes of redirects• 301 indicates “Moved Permanently”• 302 indicates “Moved Temporarily or Found”• 307 indicates “Temporary Redirect”The three biggest redirect mistakes for SEO• 302 Redirects are used• 307 Redirects are used• 301 Redirects are not usedOur next slide explains why… 25
    • Link JuiceMarketing term for "online ranking power“• The quantity and quality of inbound links to a page• One of the primary factors that determines rankingsHow Link Juice is affected by redirects• 302 redirects forward almost no link juice• 307 redirects forward almost no link juice• 301 redirects forward 90-99% of link juice26
    • When to Create a RedirectRedirects are useful when…• A page of content is moved on your site• You want an old link to work on your new site• You want the link juice from an old link to betransferred to the new location of the content• You want the link juice from multiple domain namestransferred to a single site name• You don’t mind if visitors type and isdisplayed in their address bar 27
    • The URL Rewrite ToolMicrosoft add-on for IIS 7• Permits Web admins to replace and redirect URLs• Rules are configured in IIS and saved to web.config• URLs can be more search engine friendly• Supports many types of redirects, including 301s• Supports regular expressions in addition to wildcards• Hint: Use regular expressions (regex) over wildcards28
    • Benefits of the URL Rewrite ToolThe URL Rewrite tool is very powerful• Should be installed on “Live” Sitecore server• Enables admins & webmasters to support redirects• Helps avoid binding non-primary generic domainsto secondary site and use 301 redirects (Slide #16)• Create a “Use Canonical Hostname” rule in URLRewrite tool instead (see next slide for details)29
    • The ‘Use Canonical Name’ RuleA rule created in the URL Rewrite tool• Install the URL Rewrite Tool add-on for IIS 7• Bind all domain names and wildcards to the main site• Create a rule named “Use Canonical Name”• Add all secondary generic domain names as conditions• Set the Logical Grouping to “Match Any”• Create a permanent redirect to your preferred URL• See examples on the next three slides30
    • ‘Use Canonical Name’ ExampleExample 1 – Top of URL Rewrite Window31
    • ‘Use Canonical Name’ ExampleExample 2 – Bottom of URL Rewrite Window32
    • ‘Use Canonical Name’ ExampleExample 3 – Resulting Rule in Web.config File<rule name="Use Canonical Name" stopProcessing="true"><match url="(.*)" /><conditions logicalGrouping="MatchAny“trackAllCaptures="false"><add input="{HTTP_HOST}" pattern="(.*)" /><add input="{HTTP_HOST}" pattern="(.*)" /></conditions><action type="Redirect"url="{tolower:{R:1}}" /></rule>33
    • Improving SEO with Internal LinksSEO guidelines for internal links on Sitecore sites• Use consistent URL formats for all internal links• Use the toolbar to configure links in Rich Text• Avoid adding markup for URLs manually• Use General Links over Rich Text to create links• Use Clones when displaying duplicate content• Review Broken Links Report and fix broken links34
    • Improving SEO with Link ManagerSitecore’s Link Manager settings• Located in the web.config file or a custom config fileGuidelines for Link Manager settings• Set Lowercase URLs to True• Set Add Aspx Extension to False• Set Always Include Server URL to True• Set Language Embedding to Always for multi-lingual sites• Set Language Location to File Path for multi-lingual sites• Set Shorten URLs to True for Content Trees with multiple sitesAdditional guidelines for SEO• Configure IIS to pass all requests to ASP.NET• Add a trailing slash to the URL when appropriate35
    • Use File Paths to Embed LanguagesLink Manager supports two types of embedding• Query Strings• Parameter sets the language in a session variable• Search engines cannot read session variables• File Paths• A session-less solution• Allows multiple languages in the same domainUse file paths over query strings36
    • Sitecore Shared Source for SEOSEO-Friendly URL module• Enables SEO-friendly URLs for Sitecore items• Implements a custom link provider & item resolverJungle Torch module• A SEO reporting and inbound marketing tool• Useful for social network analysisBoth are available from 37
    • MOZ Tools for SEOMozBar• A free SEO-Toolbar for Firefox or Chrome• Displays relevant SEO metrics as you surf the Web• Available from Site Explorer• A free tool that uses the Mozscape web index toanalyze links• Supports analyzing up to 10k links to any site or page• Available from
    • Tools To Locate Duplicate ContentDuplicate Content Tool• Performs a series of SEO checks on submitted URLs•• Scans site links and returns a table of all available URLs• Webmaster Tools• Reports site’s duplicate titles and meta descriptions•
    • Duplicate Content Tool Checks• WWW/NonWWW Header checks if site returns a 301redirect from www to non-www or vice versa• Google Cache checks if site has issues with www vs. nonwww in Google’s Cache• Similarity checks if site has pages omitted from Google forbeing too similar in the top 1000 results• Default Page checks if site appears to have redirected orstandardized on either the / or /index.{ext}• 404 checks if site correctly returns 404 errors for pagesthat do not exist• PageRank Dispersion compares page rankings for the wwwand non-www versions of the site to verify they are same40
    • In Summary1. Use consistent URL formats and minimize similar content2. Minimize the use of cloned items and alias items in Sitecore3. Use static URLs over dynamic URLs and avoid query strings4. Clean up broken links and HTML validation errors5. Add canonical tags to pages with duplicate content6. Specify canonical URLs in a Sitemap and submit it to search engines7. Use Google Webmaster tools to specify your preferred domain8. Analyze your site bindings and compare them with your DNS records9. Bind only your primary DNS domain(s) to your live site10. Bind generic DNS domains to a second site that redirects to live site11. Use 301 redirects instead of 302 or 307 redirects12. Use top-level domains for localization, not subdomains or folders13. Block public DNS resolution for all development and staging sites14. Add a robots.txt file to all development and staging sites15. Configure your Sitecore Link Manager settings for SEO41
    • Caveat EmptorThere are many ways to manage SEO for Sitecore sites• Skilled developers can provide other solutions• Review your SEO needs with your Sitecore partner• Review proposed changes with all stakeholders• Implement new configurations on a test system firstThis presentation is intended to be academic• To enhance public knowledge of SEO issues• To promote a better understanding of SEOAuthor cannot guarantee accuracy or fitness for your site• Author makes no representations or warranties• Author disclaims any liability if you act on this information42
    • BibliographyA Look at Googles 200 Search Ranking FactorsAbout /robots.txtDemystifying the "duplicate content penalty"Link Juice ExplainedMOZ - CanonicalizationMultiple Languages in SitecoreSDN - Languages and Search EnginesSitecore - Avoiding query string in dynamic URLWebmaster Tools - Duplicate ContentWebmaster Tools - GeotargetingWebmaster Tools - URL parametersDownload slide presentation to view URLs43
    • More Topics from Sitecore CraigAdding Context to Sitecore Content (Tagging) Web 2.0 Sitecore Sites to Select a CMS 7 – New Features for Users Mobile Users on Sitecore Sites
    • Get Help with your Sitecore SiteInvite Sitecore Craig to connect with you on LinkedIn• Sitecore Craig to your Circles on Google Plus• Sitecore Craig on Twitter• Craig Directly• Craig Nelson - Certified Developer and Sitecore Partner• cwnelson[at]• Mobile - 707.319.7446Visit Craig’s Sitecore Hobby Site• http://www.theinsidecorner.com45
    • Thankyoufor taking the time toviewthis presentationonHowto AvoidShootingYourselfin the SEOPleaseshare withothers and add acommentif youthinkit is usefulThanks! -CraigJune 23, 201346