In this post, our SEO Executive, Patrick Crier, evaluates strategies that are already working that will likely become more important in 2020 or considerations agencies have always needed to be aware of that are only likely to become more relevant over the next 12 months.
Sitecore is one of the best enterprise platforms to offer support for most, if not all, of your SEO needs.
A new website developed in Sitecore can be built and optimised from the start with the latest technical SEO advancements implemented. Plus, all of your SEO requirements can be addressed as part of the initial project approach.
Out of the Box Sitecore SEO Capabilities
Sitecore also boasts a wide range of out of the box features, which include:
1. SEO-Friendly URL Production
SEO-friendly URLs are URLs that are easy to read and rich in keywords. Users and search engines should be able to understand what is on each page by looking at the URL. Keywords are an important ingredient in SEO. URLs should contain reasonable amount of target keywords, without an overkill.
Sitecore can produce user-friendly URLs, handling things such as:
- Replacing spaces and special symbols with hyphens
- Making all letters lowering case
- Removing file extensions such as .html.
2. Titles and Metadata Editing
Title tags are used to tell search engines and visitors what any given page on a site is about in the most concise and accurate way possible. The title is usually pulled in as the anchor text when sharing on other websites and social media channels. The title tag is also the boldest, most obvious element in a search result and therefore a major part in the decision making process of whether a searcher will click on your result or not.
The meta description is the short paragraph of text placed in the HTML of a webpage that describes its content. A meta description can influence the decision of the searcher as to whether they want to click through on your content from search results or not.
Basic editing and tagging of title tags and meta descriptions on the page in Sitecore can be done via a simple set of dialog boxes.
3. Internal Linking Management
Internal links are hyperlinks that point at the same domain as the domain that the link exists on. In layman's terms, an internal link is one that points to another page on the same website. Internal links are very useful for establishing site architecture and spreading link equity.
Internal linking management in Sitecore is simple. CMS users can easily navigate to a page they wish to link to through the CMS page tree, without needing to manually add any links. Also, if a page’s URL changes and other pages link to this page, all these links will be updated automatically meaning you won’t get any broken links.
4. XML Sitemap Generator
Sitecore has an XML sitemap generator which automatically includes all pages from the CMS page tree into your XML sitemap file. The CMS user can then prioritise a page in the XML sitemap and increase crawl rate speed by changing the page update frequency.
5. Multilingual Capability, including Hreflang
A key feature of Sitecore is its multilingual capabilities. Should you need to create versions of your web pages in different languages, it can configure your solution and templates to include correctly formed Hreflang tags. This automatically aids multilingual search engine discovery and determines which version of the page should be indexed and serve in international search results.
6. A 301 Redirection Module
The Sitecore marketplace offers a 301 redirection module that’s easy to use and can be updated via the Sitecore interface.
7. Canonical URLs
This is another SEO-focused feature which can be configured at a template level and rendered automatically following a pre-configured set of rules.
Extended Sitecore SEO Capabilities
The configuration of other critical SEO features at both a template and component level is also supported by Sitecore. These include:
1. Pagination Markup
Pagination SEO-focused markup can be configured at a template/component level by Sitecore developers and would automatically render on all pages featuring it.
There isn’t a robots.txt file in the system, so what our team would do is create a template in Sitecore to render this file. Setting this up as a template means it’s easier for SEO consultants to manage its contents and won’t require developer intervention in the future.
3. Automatic Generation of URLs
If your website is heavily dynamic, large volumes of pages will be created from templates and database-driven content. If you need to have the ability to automatically generate URLs for these pages following a defined set of rules and formulas, with the ability to manually overwrite it in CMS, this can be easily implemented in Sitecore.
For example, the rule for blog pages could be as follows:
Which would produce something like this:
4. Automatically Generated Title Tags, Meta Data, Open Graph Tags and Twitter Cards
With heavily dynamic content you will also need to accommodate the complex dynamic generation of title tags, metadata and specific social media tags following a defined set of rules and formulas. You will also probably need to have the ability to manually overwrite any of it in the CMS.
5. Featured Snippets and ‘Position 0’ Results
Today, Google attempts to answer queries in SERPs with featured snippets or scraped answers. For every 100 searches on Google mobile, there are now 62 no-click searches.
Optimising for featured snippets requires on-page SEO and structured markup, but there isn’t any special markup which will make sure your site gets featured - instead it’s a case of following best practice tactics like making your sure your content semantically structured and well written that make your it more findable and indexable.
Organising your content in a certain way and using clean HTML tags such as paragraphs, lists and tables also helps, while using Schema.org helps to make it easier for search engines to understand, rank and then show as rich snippets in search results.
Sitecore templates can be optimised and configured to to assist with achieving position zero rankings and rich snippets within Google and other external search engines for as many pages as possible.
6. Voice Search and Query Answers
Optimising for voice search doesn’t rely on any special markup as the majority of voice answers come from position zero and scraped results. However fast-loading sites have an edge in Google Voice Search results. With Sitecore you can optimise your templates and content, as well as your overall website performance and page speed, to support voice search.
7. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
Sitecore Marketplace offers a great module for AMP output which can be used for pages such as products, events, news, blogs and video. This module has been developed by Delete's own Solution Architect.
8. Page Speed Optimisation
Page speed is important as it directly affects conversions and rankings. Research from ‘Think With Google’ found that as page load time increases from 1 to 3 seconds, the probability of a bounce increases 32%, and from 1 to 10 seconds by 123%.
According to the same research, in 2019, on average it takes 15 seconds to fully load a mobile landing page, which is far too slow when 53% of mobile site visits leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.
High page speed can be achieved for any Sitecore website through a range of different simple and more advanced techniques.
Using the Dianoga tool from Sitecore marketplace allows us to images uploaded into the Sitecore media library to save bandwidth and improve page loading times as a result.
Taking the necessary resources (JS, CSS) for a page and then inlining them into HTML markup, in a tag helps to deliver quick page load time on first visit. Lazy loading images and assets will mean faster downloads and less data transfered. These and many more page speed optimisation tactics can be deployed in Sitecore to make your pages fast.
I hope that this blog shows you that Sitecore is indeed a top enterprise platform for all of your SEO needs. But also, we want you to have every chance of getting your Sitecore website content indexed and ranked highly and our experts can help you with your website project and all your SEO needs.
Search is a fundamental aspect of all the Sitecore projects we work on, and Delete’s dedicated SEO team is highly experienced in handling technical SEO and website migrations, helping define and support website builds to ensure that they are optimised once launched.
Contact us today if you’d like to find out more on firstname.lastname@example.org.