Duane Forrester, Chris Moore and I held a SEO workshop at this year’s Microsoft MVP Summit, and fifty brave MVPs registered to have their websites put into the meat grinder of our collective SEO knowledge. These tech savvy experts submitted personal blogs, corporate websites and forums to be analyzed for missed opportunities and white hat analysis.
Again, I noticed similar take-aways compared to past workshops:
- Custom built CMS can really burn a website and client
- Disturbing understanding of keyword utilization
- Lions, Tigers, Robots.txt and Sitemap.xml Oh My!
I have met numerous web developers that recreate the wheel in the name of value add for their clients. They justify charging high fees for their design services by “building” a Content Management System for their clients completely ignoring the fact that there are many tried and true free systems available. The skilled web guys take the time to understand SEO and the importance of building a proper CMS that does not violate best SEO practices. However, if you are a designer or developer and have zero SEO knowledge please stop building CMS. If you have “researched” SEO one afternoon please do not feel confident enough to bake SEO into your CMS. You will only provide a terrible disservice to your clients.
One site reviewed had a 65,000+ character chunk of CMS code immediately after the <body> tag significantly contributing to the 100k+ file size of that page and burying the page content deep in the source code. You want the search engine crawler to spider your code and more importantly page content quickly. Placing your content behind 65,000+ characters of code hurts. Keep your page file size under 100k and try to make your content appear as soon as possible in the page code.
Another site included a default Title tag that was copied to each published page. Each page needs a unique Title tag. There is a common implementation scheme to include branding in your Title tags, but to allow for an editor to add wording to create a unique tag for each page. For example, some clients demand their company name is included in Title tags so they create this kind of scheme:
Editor created topic page title – Company name
The CMS appends “- Company name” at the end of every Title tag. The beginning of the Title tag is manually created by an editor and should match the content on that specific page and be influenced with proper keyword research. The site we reviewed published the same Title tag across the entire website. To add insult to injury any link or image on that page was also given a Title tag and utilized the exact same wording as the default Title tag. Some pages had 50 internal/external links and a handful of images. These pages published the same Title tag wording 50+ times per page. This certainly will raise red flags with the engines and is NOT a recommended practice.
Generally, do not add the title element to links. The anchor text and content text around the anchor text help the engines understand the relationship between the anchor text and the destination URL. Do not add a title element to the link to pile on the “help.” Also, do not use the title element for images. It is best to use the Image Alt Text tag to explain what the image is utilizing keywords.
Another website was utilizing a CMS that did not allow the site owner to produce Image Alt Text or other vital META tags. This is a problem because your SEO success is not hinged upon executing one element well. Success requires implementation of every SEO best practice. The more you implement properly on your site the better your site will perform.
More to come in MVP Summit SEO Workshop a Success Part 2 which will be published very soon.