Exponent SEO Blog

Part V – Google Analytics – Advanced SEO Tips for Your Exponent CMS Website

In this, Part V of my advanced SEO tips for Exponent CMS websites, I'll discuss a critical component for search engine marketing: Analytics.

A gigantic aspect of search marketing is measuring, analyzing, and modifying your SEO and PPC campaigns to ensure they're always performing at their best. The best way to gather this data is by integrating a comprehensive traffic analytics program into your Exponent CMS website.

One of the most popular Analytics programs available – and is 100 percent free – is Google Analytics. Google Analytics gathers detailed statistics about web traffic and its sources and measures conversions and sales. All of this data is essential for running a well optimized SEO campaign.

So how do you get Google Analytics to work on your Exponent CMS website? If you're the webmaster of an Exponent site, the process takes a few steps but it's really quite simple.

Setting Up Your Google Analytics Account

If you or your client don't already have a Google Analytics account set up, it's very easy to get a new account. Simply go to Google.com/Analytics and sign in with your Google Account. From there, you'll need to go to Accounts list and click to add a “New Account.”

Create a new Google Analytics Account for your Exponent CMS Website

Next, fill out the pertinent information about your Exponent CMS website, giving it an account name and providing your website's URL. Whether or not you choose to allow Google to view your account data is up to you.

Setup Google Analytics Account for your Exponent CMS Website

When you're done, simply click “Get Tracking ID” and accept the Google Terms & Conditions to get the code snippet you'll need to integrate into your Exponent CMS theme files.

Google Analytics Tracking Code for your Exponent CMS Website

Installing Your Google Analytics Code

As you can see in the image above, you'll need to simply copy the code snippet tracking code found in the box that is specific to your account and paste it into each page of your site.

If you were working with a straight HTML site, this could get a little cumbersome, however because we're working with a dynamic CMS that uses themes/subthemes, you'll only need to paste it into each of your theme files.

You can access these theme files within cPanel or by pulling them down via FTP.

Within your public_html directory, you'll need to navigate into your Exponent theme folder and into the directory of the theme you're using for your website.

Google Analytics Edit Theme File Exponent CMS Website

Within your theme directory you'll first want to edit your index.php file, inserting your code snippet just before the closing body tag of the file:

Google Analytics Edit Theme File Exponent CMS Website

Once you've pasted in your snippet, save the file or push it back up via FTP. Go back into your theme folder and into “subthemes” and repeat this paste/save step for each of your website's subtheme files.

Google Analytics Edit Subthemes Exponent CMS Website

Once you've saved the snippet, you can verify its tracking status by going back to your Google Analytics account and into Tracking Info where you copied your code snippet. There you'll see the tracking status for your Analytics account:

Google Analytics Tracking Status

Now that you've successfully setup and installed Google Analytics into your Exponent CMS website, you can now set goals, track traffic sources and gather other pertinent website data that will help you continually measure and analyze the performance of your SEO marketing strategy.

About the Author

Atlanta SEO Consultant Chris J. EverettThis SEO tutorial article was written by Chris Everett, a search engine marketing consultant at Captivate Search Marketing in Atlanta, Georgia.

Chris has worked with Exponent CMS websites since 2007 and continues to help improve the system's SEO friendliness.

Connect with Chris on Google+ to learn more.

Part IV – XML Sitemaps – Advanced SEO Tips for Your Exponent CMS Website

As a follow up to Part III of my advanced SEO tips for Exponent CMS webmasters that discussed installing webmaster tools,  I'll now discuss the importance of XML Sitemaps and how to create and configure one for your Exponent site.

What are XML Sitemaps?

XML Sitemaps for your website that notifies the search engines about each web pages on your site, how important each page is, as well as how often the site is updated.

Creating a XML Sitemap also provides a way for the search engines to discover pages on your website that they might not have found through the normal site crawling process.

A complement to the Robots.txt file, after they are generated, XML Sitemaps are uploaded to Google and Bing Webmaster tools to help you manage the indexation of your web pages.

Creating & Uploading a XML Sitemap

Generating an XML sitemap is very easy by going to www.xml-sitemaps.com.

This website gives step by step instructions on how to create your XML Sitemap. You'll first need to enter your website URL and then select the frequency that your site is changed.

XML Sitemap Details

Next you can tell the search engines precisely when the last time your site was updated:

XML Sitemap Last Modification

The Priority tag for your XML sitemap assigns a value to your URLs between 0.0 and 1.0, where 0.0 identifies the lowest priority URLs on your site and 1.0 identifies the highest priority URLs. The default priority of a page is 0.5.

XML Sitemap Priority

Once you've filled out the necessary data, you can then run your XML Sitemap by clicking the “Start” Button.

Run XML Sitemap

As you can see in the image above, you can run a XML Sitemap for a website up to 500 pages for free. If your website has more than 500 pages that need to be indexed, you'll have to find an alternative sitemap generator, or pay for the advanced version.

Once you click “Start” the Sitemap crawler will start to build your XML Sitemap:

XML Sitemap Crawl

Once the Sitemap generator is finished running, you can download it and push it up to the public_html directory of your Exponent CMS website via FTP or cPanel/WHM.

Uploaded XML Sitemap

You can verify that you've properly uploaded your XML sitemap by going to www.yourwebsite.com/sitemap.xml It should look something like this:

XML Sitemap Display

Configuring Your XML Sitemap in Webmaster Tools

So now that you've created and uploaded your new XML Sitemap to your web server, you now must go to Webmaster tools for both Google and Bing and submit your XML Sitemap URL.

Google Webmaster Tools

In the Google Webmaster Tools, you can access the Sitemap configuration page from the dashboard, or on the left hand menu under Optimization by clicking the “Sitemaps” link.

Google Webmaster Tools Dashboard XML Sitemap

Once you've landed on the Sitemaps configuration page, you can submit a new sitemap by clicking the red “Add/Test Sitemap” button on the right hand side.

Google Webmaster Tools XML Sitemap

There, you'll simply enter “sitemap.xml” in the rest of the URL field and click “Submit Sitemap”

Add Sitemap Google Webmaster Tools

You'll receive a “Sitemap Submitted” message to let you know that you've successfully completed the process:

Webmaster Tools Sitemap Submitted

Bing Webmaster Tools

Similarly to the Google Webmaster Tools, you can submit a XML Sitemap on the Bing Webmaster Tools dashboard under the “Sitemaps” section:

XML Sitemap Bing Webmaster Tools

To submit the sitemap, simply click “Submit a Sitemap” and fill out your XML Sitemap URL:

Submit XML Sitemap Bing Webmaster Tools

Once you've filled out your URL, click submit and you're done.

You now have successfully notified the search engines about each page on your website. While it does not guarantee every page will be indexed, it does help eliminate URLs not getting picked up through normal crawling.

In Part V of this Advanced SEO Tips series, I'll discuss how to configure and install Google Analytics on your Exponent CMS website.

About the Author

Organic SEO Consultant Chris J. EverettChris Everett is an organic SEO expert and is the founder of the Captivate Search Marketing search engine marketing firm in Atlanta, GA.

If you'd like to learn more about how to optimize your Exponent CMS website for maximum SEO value, feel free to contact Chris on Google+ or by visiting his website.

 

 

Part III – Webmaster Tools – Advanced SEO Tips for Your Exponent CMS Website

If you're the webmaster of an Exponent CMS website that is undergoing a search engine marketing program, there are several metrics you'll need to analyze to measure the performance of your campaign.

Among those basic trends are web page indexation, as well as website traffic and its sources.

In this, the third part of my Advanced SEO Tips for Exponent CMS Websites series, I'll discuss how to verify and install Google & Bing Webmaster Tools. In later posts, I'll discuss how to create and upload XML sitemaps, as well has how to setup and install Google Analytics.

Webmaster Tools

Webmaster tools allow you to manage the indexation of your website, as well as analyze its visibility in the search index. Before you can do this, though, you must first verify ownership of your site with both Google and Bing search engines.

Install Google Webmaster Tools

After logging into your Google Account, you'll want to go to https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/. To setup your website profile, you'll need to select the red “Add a Site” Button on the right hand side of your screen.

Google Webmaster Tools Add A Site

A popup box will then appear, where you'll type in your website's domain name.

Enter Domain into Webmaster Tools

You'll next be directed to Verify ownership of your website.

There are multiple ways to verify ownership including inserting a meta tag in the header of your theme file or selecting your DNS provider, but the method I like to use is uploading an html verification file.

Google Webmaster Tools Verify Ownership

Simply download your HTML verification file and then upload that file to your public_html directory through cPanel or FTP.

Upload Webmaster Tools Verification File

Once your file is uploaded, go back to Google Webmaster Tools and click the red verify button.

If you've successfully uploaded your verification file, you'll get a Green check mark letting you know you've retained ownership of the site.

Install Bing Webmaster Tools

Similarly to Google, Bing Webmaster Tools can also be verified multiple ways. First you'll go to http://www.bing.com/toolbox/webmaster and either sign in or create a new account.

Once you are logged in you'll see your Bing Webmaster Tools domain dashboard and immediately you'll notice the “Add a Site” box where you can quickly type in your site's domain and then click “Add”

Bing Webmaster Tools Add a Site

You'll then be directed to a screen where you're given the option to declare whether an XML sitemap has been uploaded to your server:

Bing Webmaster Tools Add XML Sitemap

If you don't have an XML sitemap already on your web server, you can simply click “Add” and move forward through the process. I'll discuss creating and uploading XML sitemaps in Part IV of this advanced SEO tips for Exponent CMS websites.

Verify Bing Webmaster Tools

You can download your “BingSiteAuth.xml” verification file from Bing and then push that file up to public_html through FTP or cPanel/WHM. Once you've uploaded the file, click the “Verify” button to complete the process.

Bing Verification Button

Once you've verified ownership of your website with both Google and Bing Webmaster Tools, you can then remove URLs from the search index, view any crawl errors experienced by search spiders, analyze the overall health of your site, as well as submit XML sitemaps - all of which are essential tasks for properly maintaining a website undergoing an advanced SEO program.

About the Author

Atlanta SEO Consultant Chris J. EverettThis article was written by search marketing consultant Chris Everett of Captivate Search Marketing in Atlanta, Georgia.

Chris has worked with the Exponent CMS open source project since 2007.

Feel free to connect with him on Google+ or LinkedIn.

 

Part II - .HTACCESS - Advanced SEO Tips For Your Exponent CMS Website

In Part II of my Advanced SEO Tips for Exponent CMS websites, I'll discuss how you can utilize your .htaccess file to practice better SEO.

.HTACCESS

Your .htaccess file, which also ships in your Exponent CMS install, is used to override the Apache or PHP configuration files on your web server.

The .htaccess file can be pulled down from your Exponent site's public_html directory much like the robots.txt, which I discussed in Part I of this advanced series file can through FTP or cPanel/WHM. The one catch here is if you're trying to pull it down from cPanel/WHM, you must check the box that allows you to see hidden files (dotfiles) in your directories.

Show Hidden Dotfiles cPanel

For SEOs who are optimizing Exponent CMS sites, there are two primary modifications that they can make to the file in order to make their Exponent CMS sites more SEO friendly.

Forcing a Preferred Domain URL

The first .htaccess modification you can make to optimize your website for SEO is to force a www. or a non-www. domain URL structure. This prohibits the possibility of two identical pages being indexed by the search engines with a www. and a non-www. version of the same website (the dreaded duplicate content issue!)

In the latest releases of Exponent CMS that support canonical URLs, this isn't such a big deal (so long as you're defining the canonical URL), but in previous versions of Exponent CMS before 2.2.0, you'll want to make sure you put this modification in place.

All you need to do is pull down your .htaccess file, uncomment out the example rule you want to follow, fill in the proper domain name, save, and re-push your file to the live server:

Force WWW in .HTACCESS Exponent CMS

301 Redirects

During a website redesign project, one of the most important items to cross off the go-live check list (for the SEO minded at least) is to ensure you have any 301 redirects in place for URLs that have been indexed by the search engines.

Often times when a website is moved from one CMS platform to another, or undergoes an SEO overhaul, the URLs of each web page are updated.

When this happens, SEOs want to ensure that every URL that's been indexed by the search engines are permanently (301) redirected to their new URLs so the website does not lose any of their current organic rankings, nor deter potential customers who have found the website via organic search and landed on a “Page Not Found” (404 error) because the URL they landed on wasn't properly redirected.

Plotting out 301 Redirects is relatively simple in the .htaccess file. All you need to do is pull it down from your public_html directory and at the bottom of your .htaccess file start adding your 301 Redirect rules, which would look as such:

301 Redirects .HTACCESS Exponent CMS

These two .htaccess modifications are critical for websites undergoing SEO programs, particularly when that site is going through a redesign.

About the Author

Atlanta SEO Consultant Chris J. EverettThis blog post was written by Chris J. Everett, a small business SEO consultant based in Atlanta, Georgia.

Chris has used Exponent CMS extensively over the past 5 years and writes about topics related to the SEO friendliness of the system.

To learn more about Chris, connect with him on Google+.

 

Advanced SEO Tips For Your Exponent CMS Website (Part I - Robots.txt)

When reading blogs that discuss topics related to SEO, most of the time you'll read about on-site strategies such as keyword optimization, image optimization, cross linking, etc.

Most of these  on-site strategies can be easily executed through the administration interface of your Exponent CMS website.

Some of the mission critical items for SEO that you can't execute through the admin interface of your Exponent CMS must be done on the web server through a FTP or cPanel/WHM type interface.

This post is the first in a series of submissions I'll write over the next few days discussing advanced server-side SEO tips for your Exponent CMS website include editing your robots.txt and .htaccess files, as well as pushing webmaster tools verification files and XML sitemaps to your web server.

In this edition, Part I, I'll discuss how modifying the Robots.txt file that resides on your web server can eliminate issues with duplicate content.

Robots.txt

The Robots.txt file on your web server defines crawling parameters for robots that crawl websites all over the Internet. For SEO, the Robots.txt file is a way to allow/disallow search engine robots (such as Googlebot) that index your web pages from crawling specific directories on your website.

If you're working with a new install of Exponent CMS, the Robots.txt file will be included in your installation with a basic set of disallow parameters that will look like this:

Exponent CMS Robots.txt for Advanced SEO

Because Exponent CMS is a dynamic platform, there are several modules within the system such as blog/news/portfolio or ecommerce that can pose some SEO headaches revolving around duplicate content.

Some of the most frequent issues that I encounter from Exponent CMS websites in terms of duplicate title tags, content, etc., come from the tagging functionality (blogs in specific) and when login/view cart links are hard coded for users on ecommerce websites.

If a robot can crawl a link to a blog tag or a link to login, this often times causes that URL to be indexed – more often than not with a duplicate Title or Description tag as other dynamic pages on your site. The example below shows an ecommerce Exponent CMS website that has had its login module link indexed. As you can see, the meta description is exactly the same as the homepage meta description:

Advanced SEO Tips: Duplicate URLs Robots.txt

You can easily prevent this type of SEO issue by disallowing the /loginmodule (or for newer versions of Exponent the /login) or any other troublesome directories within your Robots.txt file.

In the screenshot below, you can see where this Robots.txt file has added more parameters than the initial file that comes with your Exponent CMS install.

Modified Robots.txt file

Simply pull down this file from public_html through your FTP or cPanel/WHM interface, make these modifications and push that file back up to your web server to ensure you don't experience these easily avoidable SEO headaches.

In Part II of these server-side SEO tips for Exponent CMS sites, I'll discuss how to modify the .htaccess in order to redirect URLs and set a preferred domain URL structure.

About the Author

Organic SEO Consultant Chris J. EverettChris J. Everett is an SEO expert and the founder of Captivate Search Marketing, a digital marketing firm based in Atlanta, Georgia.

Chris has worked with Exponent CMS in a variety of roles since 2007 and continues to work with the software's developers to further enhance its SEO friendliness.

Connect with Chris on Google+

SEO Friendly Markup Tips for Exponent CMS Developers

As I've optimized Exponent CMS websites over the years, one of the challenges that I've discovered is making sure the developers understand the proper SEO friendly markup principles required to maximize the organic search value of the site.

It's not that I blame the developers for some of the markup oversights I've come across when analyzing the level of SEO friendliness an Exponent CMS site might have – after all, it's their job to build the sites and the SEO consultant's job to optimize them.

With this in mind, I've come up with these SEO friendly markup tips to educate Exponent CMS developers who might not be as SEO savvy in order to make the development process more efficient – particularly for websites undergoing an organic search optimization program.

Don't apply the H1 Tag to the Website Logo

I've seen this done many, many times, where developers have created a logo style class in the CSS and have applied an H1 tag to the logo in every subtheme of the site.

SEO Friendly Markup Tips for Exponent CMS Developers

The problem with this from an SEO perspective is multifaceted. First, because the logo is typically at the top of the page markup, this H1 tag is the first tag that the search engine spider sees as it's crawling your page top to bottom.

In terms of content structure, the H1 tag is your web page's most important header tag, followed by the subheader tags H2 and H3, because it tells the search spider what the main topic (or keywords) is for the page. You also only want to use one H1 tag per web page. So if you're using the H1 tag in this fashion, you're literally telling the spider that whatever your logo title text is, is the main content topic for each page.

It also means that if you're building your Exponent CMS site with SEO in mind, you most likely have multiple H1 tags on each of your web pages, which isn't ideal for proper on-site optimization.

Don't Rely on Exponent's Out-of-the-Box Module Title Markup

SEO Friendly Markup Tips for Exponent CMS DevelopersThere are a lot of built in features that Exponent CMS has that are meant to be convenient time savers when it comes to markup.

One of those being the across-the-board H1 tag that is applied to each module title field.

The problem with this dovetails on the H1 logo markup that I discussed above, where if you're utilizing multiple types of content modules on one page, it becomes very easy to have multiple H1 tags on that single web page, which again, isn't best practice for on-site optimization.

If your homepage has a normal text module with a strong H1 tag, but you also have an upcoming events section, as well as a latest news section using a news module in summary/headlines view, topped off with a footer utilizing 3 or 4 separate link manager modules, you have potential for 7 or 8 different H1 tags on that one web page if you simply used Exponent's stock module markup.

Proper Markup Makes All the Difference

I'll illustrate for you an example of how using these two SEO friendly markup tips above can make a tremendous difference.

Earlier this year I had experienced some issues with a client's Exponent CMS website that was undergoing an SEO marketing program. The problem with the site was that we couldn't seem to get passed page 3 of the organic search results, and Google couldn't really decide which of our web pages it wanted to rank for some of our targeted keywords. Every couple of days, the page on our site that would show up in the middle of page 3 would change from the homepage to an internal page.

When I started digging into the code, I realized we not only had the H1 tag applied to our logo, but we also utilized all the stock module title H1 tags, so we had 9, yes 9 H1 tags on our homepage alone.

After finding this markup issue, we quickly stripped the H1 tag off of our logo, assigned H2 or H3 tags to our module titles that weren't the most important header tag our each of our web pages, and within about 10 days of me re-submitting our site through webmaster tools, we finally climbed onto page 1 of the search results, and to this day, every web page on this clients' site sits in the top 3 of the organic results.

If you're an Exponent CMS developer who has been utilizing these H1 tags in your markup, you might want to consider these SEO friendly tips to not only improve the organic value of your websites, but also to make your lives easier so you don't have to go back and fix it at a later date.

About the Author

Chris Everett is an SEO specialist in Atlanta, GA, and the founder of the Captivate Search Marketing Atlanta SEO Company.

To learn more about the technical SEO aspects of Exponent CMS, connect with Chris on Google+.

 

 

SEO Friendly Features of Exponent CMS

I've worked with Exponent CMS in a variety of roles since 2007, from being merely a user/customer of OIC Group, Inc., to becoming a project manager for OIC Group, and now as a SEO consultant for my own business in Atlanta.

While Exponent CMS doesn't have the community following of Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal, etc., I've had experience with all of these top CMS platforms, but Exponent is always the one I come back to.

In terms of SEO friendliness, Wordpress has several plugins that work quite well for optimizing websites, but what I love about Exponent CMS is that the markup is highly flexible and all of the SEO tools needed for to optimize your website are built in – no plugins necessary.

Over the last several weeks, I've been working with the lead developers on the Exponent CMS project – Phillip Ball and David Leffler – on enhancements to the CMS that make Exponent even more SEO friendly than it already was. In the coming weeks, we'll be adding even more features that I personally believe will make Exponent the most search engine friendly CMS platform in the open source marketplace.

So, aside from being able to control basic Meta Data on a page by page basis, what are some of the other built-in SEO friendly features of Exponent CMS?

Router Maps

When you're working with a CMS that allows for dynamic content publication and display, you're going to run into problems with long, nasty URL strings that include parameters for views, actions and sources that aren't friendly for either users or search engines.

Such is the case with most of the dynamic content modules within Exponent CMS such as news, portfolio, blog, ecommerce, etc. Luckily for SEO enthusiasts such as myself, Exponent has built in an awesome feature called Router Maps that allows you to clean up that nasty URL strings with a cleaner, more search engine friendly version of the URL.

For example, the dynamic blog module URL below is performing the “Show All By Tag” action, where a user can view every blog post that is labeled with that specific tag. The Exponent CMS site will dynamically pull up and display each of these posts, which is essential functionality for a blog, but as you can see the URL isn't exactly user friendly:

Dynamic Exponent CMS URL String

By configuring the Router Map function in your Exponent theme folder with the appropriate rule, you can change that nasty URL to a cleaner one such as this:

Exponent CMS Clean Router Mapped URL

Flexible URL Structures

Since SEF (Search Engine Friendly) URLs were integrated into Exponent in 2007, they've evolved to become more and more flexible for SEOs.

The benefit of SEF URLs, aside from being easy for users to read, is that SEOs can craft custom optimized URLs with keyword inclusion to make their clients' websites more friendly for organic search.

Exponent allows administrators to assign a variety of URL extensions to their SEF URL field such as .html, .php, .htm, etc., based on their preference.

Historically, all pages within Exponent CMS would display URLs at the root level.

Exponent CMS URLs

Recently though in Exponent's 2.2.0 stable release, the SEF URL field has become even more flexible. The system now allows for nested URL structures that are preferred by some SEO consultants that allow URLs to look like this:

Exponent CMS Enhanced Nested URL Structures

The flexibility of how SEOs can execute their URLs within our system makes Exponent a very powerful platform for websites focused on SEO and search engine placement.

Rel=Canonical URLs

Another new feature added in the 2.2.0 stable release is support for Rel=Canonical URLs on a page by page basis.

For SEOs dealing with large websites that have potential duplicate content issues (having the same exact content appearing in multiple places on your website, or if your site is receiving syndicated content), the Rel=Canonical tag configuration allows SEOs the ability to easily assign credit to a preferred source URL in the event that duplicate content needs to be avoided.

Exponent CMS Rel Canonical URLs

Rel=Canonical tag fields have been integrated throughout the system in the page manager configurations, and in specific dynamic module types such as Exponent's news, portfolio, blog, and ecommerce modules.

File Manager Image Meta Data

The final feature that makes Exponent CMS a SEO friendly CMS that I'll discuss in this post is related to Exponent's file manager and attachable files functionality.

Certain modules within the system utilize “attachable files” functionality to display images in certain views/layouts.

For example, Exponent's ecommerce, blog, portfolio, and news modules use attachable image files to display images related to that product/portfolio piece/post:

Exponent CMS Attachable Files

The SEO friendly feature related to this functionality is how the image is optimized for organic search engine value.

Rather than simply inserting image files into the WYSIWYG editor for display on the website as you would using a text module, you can assign your Image Alt Text and Image Title tags for attachable files within Exponent CMS' file manager.

Exponent CMS File Manager Image Meta Data

So as you've optimized your attachable file, your image Alt text and Title tags will show up in the HTML markup just as if you had inserted your image into a WYSIWYG editor and optimized the image that way:

Exponent CMS Attachable Files Image Meta Data

Future Exponent CMS SEO Friendly Feature Enhancements

As the CMS continues to evolve, I've made it my personal mission to ensure that we work in every SEO friendly feature possible into Exponent CMS.

In future releases, we'll be working on such enhancements as allowing administrators to configure “No Index, No Follow” type robots tags on a page and post level.

We also plan to enhance the Exponent CMS tagging system so administrators will be able to assign unique SEO friendly meta data on a tag by tag basis, as well as add link title attributes to the Exponent CMS link manager module configuration.

If one thing is for certain as we continue to make Exponent CMS more and more Search Engine Friendly, it's that our system is incredibly powerful and its future is very bright.

About the author

Atlanta SEO Consultant Chris J. EverettChris Everett is a contributor to the Exponent CMS project.

Chris is a search engine marketing consultant based in Atlanta, Georgia, and he's the founder of the Captivate Search Marketing SEO Company.

To learn more about the SEO friendly features of Exponent CMS, feel free to connect with Chris on Google+.

New Canonical URL Field Makes Exponent CMS More SEO Friendly

Over the years, Exponent CMS has proven itself to be one of the top search engine friendly CMS platforms available in the marketplace – and it just got better.

I recently teamed up with Exponent CMS code ninja Phillip Ball to integrate a new Canonical URL field into the core of the CMS, allowing webmasters to easily add a <link rel="canonical" > tag into the header of their Exponent CMS web pages, on a page by page basis.

The new Canonical URL field, which will be featured this Friday May 3, 2013 in the 2.2.0 release candidate, has been integrated into the Exponent CMS page manager configuration, and you can also assign a Canonical URL when creating a new news article or blog post.

If you're a developer using Exponent CMS and aren't familiar with the SEO ramifications of the Canonical URL field, you might be asking yourself why this new field matters and what its purpose is.

What's the Purpose of Canonical URLs?

In layman terms, what the Canonical URL Tag does is it tells the search engines what URL to give credit to in the case of multiple URLs having identical content.

For example, if you're trying to make finding information easy for your website users by adding the same content in multiple sections of your site, such as pricing information, photo galleries, etc. by using the Exponent CMS content aggregation feature on your website, you've created yourself a duplicate content issue with the search engines.

In this case, it's important to assign a <link rel=”canonical”> tag on the pages to let the search engine know which URL is the original (and often times only URL indexed) source of the content.

SEOMoz.org also suggests that the rel=canonical tag be utilized on each page of your website, even if you don't have a duplicate page, in case of future developments on your site that might cause a duplicate content issue.

How Do I Use the New Feature?

As Phillip and I have collaborated on this feature, we tried to make it as easy and straight forward as possible from an administrative perspective. If your website will be using Exponent CMS version 2.2.0 or newer, you'll find the Canonical URL field on any content page configuration under the “SEO” tab.

Exponent CMS Canonical URL Page Configuration

You'll also be able to find this Canonical URL field on the Exponent CMS blog, news, and ecommerce modules when adding or editing a post or product.

If you do not manually assign a Canonical URL within this field, the <link rel=”canonical”> tag will default to the SEF URL for that particular page/post/product.

In order to manually set a Canonical URL for a piece of content, simply type or paste in the FULL URL that you want to assign the canonical tag to.

What Does the Canonical URL Markup Look Like?

The canonical URL tag, whether you assign it manually or let it default automatically, will show up in the header tag of your Exponent CMS website, directly under the meta description tag:

Exponent CMS Rel=Canonical URL Markup

What if My Version of Exponent Doesn't Have the New Canonical URL Field?

If your website's version of Exponent CMS isn't the latest and greatest and you don't want to spend the time upgrading your theme in order to implement this new feature, Phillip Ball has come up with a work around that you can drop right into the header your site's theme.

However, because you should be assigning Canonical URLs on a page by page basis to eradicate duplicate content issues, this work around is not an ideal solution if duplicate content is what you're trying to fix. If you simply want to assign a Canonical URL tag to your web pages because it's a “SEO best practice” for pages not at risk of duplicate content, here's what you need to do.

Navigate into the backed files of your website, accessing the theme folder and adding this code snippet inside the header tag of your default theme and any subthemes you might have for your site:

 <link rel="canonical" href="<?php echo "http://$_SERVER[HTTP_HOST]$_SERVER[REQUEST_URI]" ?>"/>

Here's what that looks like in the theme file:

Exponent CMS Canonical URL Workaround

While not ideal, this relatively easy process will automatically add a rel=canonical tag on each of your web pages.

About the author

Atlanta SEO Consultant Chris J. EverettChris Everett is a SEO consultant and founder of Captivate Search Marketing in Atlanta, GA.

Chris has been a core contributor to the Exponent CMS open source project since 2008.

If you have any questions about rel=canonical tags or how to make your Exponent CMS site more SEO friendly, feel free to drop him a line on Google+.

3 Web Presence Optimization Tips Using Exponent CMS

Web presence optimization is a more holistic strategy of online brand building. Although SEO is central to building a strong web presence in search, social media and content marketing are two additional elements that play big roles growing your brand's web presence.

Exponent CMS is well-suited for web presence optimization in that it caters to certain needs to execute a cohesive strategy. Below are three ways in which you can leverage Exponent for web presence optimization.

1. Integrate Social Media Icons

social web presence optimizationWithout question, social media can have a momentous impact on your brand's web presence optimization strategy. "Social signals," (such as Tweets, Facebook Likes, Shares, Pins, and Google +1's) are becoming strong ranking factors for search. For this reason, it's a smart to include social media icons on the pages of your site with social and SEO value (e.g. blog posts.)

The social media marketing component of your brand's web presence optimization strategy will coincide with content marketing (mentioned below) and search engine optimization. This is because most of the content that you create will be shared and promoted via social media. As a result, you can better engage with your target audience and inbound direct traffic to your Exponent site.

2. Create a Blog for Content Marketing

Content marketing is a powerful portal to expand your web presence and make your voice known. Blogging is one of the easiest ways to start content marketing. By created awesome content and sharing it with your social media followers, you can direct quality traffic (and in-market leads) to your website.

Exponent makes it easy to build a blog on your website. Here you can take web presence optimization to the next level by publishing articles, videos, and other forms of engaging content. You can the leverage this content for both SEO and social media marketing.

3. Keyword Optimize Your Pages for SEO

The last web presence optimization tip focuses on SEO - which offers amazing potential to expand your web presence and increase web traffic. The nice thing about Exponent is that it's well-suited to easily keyword optimize the pages of your website. keyword web presence optimization

The fields that you'll want to ensure are keyword optimized for SEO are the:

  • SEF Name (or URL of the page)
  • Page Title (also known as the "Meta Title")
  • Keywords
  • Page Description (also known as the "Meta Description")

All of these fields can be found by click the "Pages" button on the blue column bar (when logged in to Exponent,) and then selecting "Edit This Page."

This keyword optimization is essential for SEO and establishing relevancy on your pages. As a result, you can maximize your SEO and web presence optimization potential.

3 Ways Exponent Makes Essential Web Design Elements SEO-Friendly

By now, you should be well aware that Exponent is one of the most SEO friendly CMS platforms available for free on the web. Professional web designers love Exponent because it automatically makes a number of web design elements and tasks SEO friendly. This can offer a number of efficiencies for SEO-conscious web designers and developers. SEO Friendly Web Design

If a SEO-friendly web design is priority for your website, then consider the follow three ways in which the Exponent CMS makes certain web design elements SEO friendly.

1. SEO Friendly Web Content

Certain tags that define web content are more SEO friendly than others. For example, the strong tag is considered more SEO friendly then the bold tag, although it performs the same function. This helps search engine spiders crawl and index a page for greater keyword relevancy and on-site SEO authority.

Exponent has been developed with SEO as a top priority. As a result, tags that define content are all defaulted to represent SEO best practices. This makes it easy for add optimized content to a page without having to open-up the website's backend.

2. Social Media Integration Made Ease

A truly SEO friendly web design will have social touch points integrated and easily visible. This touch points may be as simple as social sharing widgets for blog posts, or site-wide social icons to promote for Facebook or Google Plus followers.

With Exponent, you can easily integrate social meda on your web design. In addition to help growing your social media following, this can encourage "likes, tweets, +1's, etc" (or social signals) that can influence your pages' rankings.

3. SEO Friendly Media Elements

Aside from text, media elements like images and videos can either help or hinder SEO performance. Skilled web designers can optimize robust media files so they do not stand in the way of SEO. However with Exponent, this process is made more efficient.

Media files can be easily adjusted and keyword optimized directly via the CMS editor interface. Users can adjust the sizing, image Alt tag, linking, and other attributes on the fly.

Interested in learn more about SEO friendly web design? Check out the SEO Friendly Web Design blog for related tips and insights.