How You Can Use

Content Management

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Top Search Engine Ranking Using Content Management Systems
Copyright 2004, Mufad 


What Is A CMS?


A Content Management System (CMS) allows you to add, edit or 
delete content to your website without having to create and 
format the pages manually. All the pages get generated on the 
fly, the CMS application picks the template, adds the headers 
and footers, generates the menus and blocks for your page and 
then automatically renders the page. As an example, when I 
wanted to add Google ads to all the pages of my CMS site, I 
created a block with the Google Adsense code. When I activated 
it, it automatically appeared on all my pages. If I had to do 
this page by page, it would have been a nightmare (since my 
site contains thousands of pages)!


The main reason people hesitate to use CMS is because they 
think a CMS site will not perform well with search engines. 
But when used properly, CMS can actually help with scoring 
points with the search engines. This article shows you how.


We all know that content is king and that the primary function 
of today's Internet is to deliver content to those that are 
seeking it. Most people who do Search Engine Optimization know 
that the secret to high ranking on the search engines is to get 
links from external sites, but that's only half the story. The 
other face of the SEO coin is to have many internal content 
pages that point to your main page, thereby increasing the 
link popularity of that page. CMS allows you to easily manage 
multiple pages on your site, categorized into appropriate 
topics and categories.


If you run a community site, CMS allows visitors to submit 
content, which can later be reviewed and approved by a moderator. 
Such a system can lead to exponential growth of your website and 
can be very effective if the quality of the content is 
maintained.


While it is a fact that most free CMS's available were not 
designed with the search engine spider in mind, CMS applications 
are flexible and can be tweaked to help you gain a top rankings 
with search engines.


How Do You Customize A CMS Application To Improve Search Engine 
Rankings?


First, there is the issue of dynamic URLs. Most CMS's will 
generate URLs with parameters embedded into them. As an example, 
each article link on your site may look like this: 


http://yoursite.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article
&sid=35&SESSIONID=200dbf5df81843102bc2ba2560207841


Not only does it look ugly, the search engines probably won't 
spider it. Google has partial support for dynamic URLs but it's 
not likely to index your internal pages unless you have a good 
page rank on your main page to begin with. It's is best to cast 
that URL, into something like this:


http://yoursite.com/article35.html


This can be achieved by making use of the web server module 
called mod-rewrite. To use this, you'll need to add a rule to 
your .htaccess file using regular expressions to convert the 
URL. The following 2 lines added to your .htaccess file (in 
your document root) will achieve the URL conversion for the 
example above.


RewriteEngine on
RewriteRule ^article([1-9][0-9]*).* 
modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=$1

You need to add one RewriteRule line for each transformation 
for different types of URLs. For more details on mod-rewrite, 
have a look at http://powersitesystem.com/article1.html
This casting using Mod-Rewrite will convert an elegant URL into 
an ugly one which CMS expects, but in the pages being returned 
from your CMS, how do you convert from the ugly URL to the 
elegant one? 


Most CMS's come with header and footer includes which you can 
append with a custom header and footer to apply to all your 
pages. Assuming that you use PHP and that the HTML is the 
variable $HTML, you can use PHP code in the footer (wherever we 
have the entire HTML available before sending to the browser 
client) to convert the ugly URLs to elegant ones.


$in = array(
"'(?<!/)modules.php\?op=modload&amp;name=News&amp;file=article&am
p;sid=([0-9]*)'"
); $out = array("article\\1.html");
$html = preg_replace($in, $out, $html);


The above example shows only one element in the array but we can 
have as many elements as we need for our URL transformations. 
This will work only if you have the entire html buffered into a 
variable before sending it out. Assuming you are using PHP, An 
elegant way to achieve this is to use output buffering, you can 
use http://in2.php.net/manual/en/function.ob-start.php in the 
header to start output buffering and 
http://in2.php.net/manual/en/function.ob-get-contents.php in 
the footer to get the buffered output.


The session id is usually not necessary. Even if it's critical 
to the functionality of your website, it need not be in the URL. 
Most users have cookies enabled so CMS can store the session id 
using cookies. The web server appends the session id to the URL 
the first time a visitor comes to the website just to make sure 
that the application will work even in the rare case that the 
user doesn't have cookies enabled, but search engines don't 
accept cookies so they always get to see the session id! URL 
rewriting for session maintenance can and should be turned off 
within your web server settings.


Which CMS Application Do You Use And Where Do You Find Them?

For my purposes, the PostNuke Open Source Content Management 
System works well. But there are many CMS applications available 
that are open source and are easy to install. They all have a 
loyal community base with support forums where you can get your 
questions answered. To access a review of the various CMS's 
available and where you can download them, please have a look 
at: http://biz-whiz.com/article225.html


Note: In order to run such a system on your web site, your web 
server will need to provide scripting and database support. For 
a hands-free CMS setup with training to help build a search 
engine friendly website see http://powersitesystem.com


Using Search Engine Friendly Themes

Your CMS system will include several templates (also called 
themes) that you can use on your website, but most likely they 
won't be search engine friendly. With little modification, these 
can be updated to automatically optimize your pages. When you 
create an article using CMS, you can specify a title, summary 
and main body. You can modify the theme you and repeat the title 
in H1 and ALT tags, in bold and italics, etc. You only have to 
modify the template once and all the pages of your website become 
automatically optimized! Now all you have to do, is to choose 
an appropriate title for each article that you add and all your 
pages will get automatically optimized for the keywords you use 
in your title!


Site Navigation

Generally SEO's feel that having the navigation links at the 
bottom or on the right side of your page allow you to position 
your optimized content towards the beginning of your html page, 
but users are accustomed to naturally look for a navigation menu 
towards the top left of the page. If you want to go with your 
visitor's intuition at the cost of placing your navigation links 
at the top of your HTML code, you need to make sure that the 
links are well optimized with your keywords. It might not be 
obvious, but attention to the anchor text used in the navigation 
links is important because these links will appear on all the 
pages of your site. If you can, try to have at least one of 
your important keywords in the link that leads to your main 
page. i.e. Instead of using "Home" use "Your-Keywords" in the 
link back to your main page; this will have a big impact on 
the search engine ranking of your main page.


Topical Islands of Related Content

When you add content to your CMS, you would classify it into a 
topic. A CMS like PostNuke, allows you to choose a category and 
a topic for each article that you add. The CMS will automatically
create links in the chosen category page and topics page. If you 
define your topics and your categories properly, you can create 
a brilliant linking strategy. Since your main page links to your 
topics page and since each topic page contains links to the 
articles for that topic, it creates a three level sitemap for 
the search engine spider to follow. Since each article will have 
a link back to the main page and to the related topic, you can 
establish islands of targeted topics, which the search engines 
love. Without a CMS application, you would have to manually 
create all the links every time you add an article, but when 
you use a customized CMS application, the linking from related 
topic pages happens automatically.

Conclusion

Setting up a CMS managed website that can achieve good search 
engine rankings is possible if you take care of the key factors 
as outlined above. For proof that a properly customized CMS 
application can help you to gain top search engine rankings 
see the links in the signature below.


Mufad has successfully setup a high ranking work at home 
community that ranks on top for "work at home" and "home 
business" at http://biz-whiz.com using CMS. He provides his 
clients with a template driven website setup using a search 
engine friendly CMS at http://powersitesystem.com


See Also:

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