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Optimizing content for search engines

Everything matters when it comes to higher visibility, from the way you write your content to how you design your URLs and metadata. When considering adopting a Content as a Service (CaaS) model, you probably wondered if it might cause a decline in your content's findability and overall ranking compared to using a traditional CMS.

Table of contents

    Traditional CMSs have fields where you can fill out metadata, but they fail to give it any sort of context as to why you need those fields and what difference they make in the end. This article will focus on explaining a set of practices for how you can set up your content in such a way to rank with all search engines as high as possible. In other words, this article will be covering search engine optimization, also known as SEO. 

    Before we get into that, it's necessary to distinguish the traditional CMS model from CaaS. Generally speaking, traditional CMSs fall into the “masters-of-none” category, which means they can do the job, but they do not excel at anything. In contrast, CaaS is flexible as is it allows you to utilize the “best-of-breed” approach. This means that you will have the possibility to integrate only the best tools in order to guarantee that the ranking of your site will be as high as possible. The article will get into specific content optimization suggestions and metadata later.

    SEO has come a long way from bad practices such as keyword stuffing and developed new ways of managing your metadata, which is one of the crucial factors when it comes to ranking.

    Optimizing Your Content

    Person looking at performance reports

    The three most important segments of your articles, which are your titles, headers, and metadata, have to contain relevant keywords. This means that while you are creating new content, try to think about which terms your users would search for in order to find this piece of content. Make sure to use those keywords in your article's title, because it will result in a higher placement ranking-wise.

    Improving your URLs

    With Kentico Kontent you can use URL slugs to build high-quality URLs or you can at any time manually change the URL. This guarantees higher visibility because one of the key metrics Google pays attention to is whether the URL is SEO-friendly. If you compare https://www.coffeegrinders.com/2018/01/15/287539884.php and https://www.coffeegrinders.com/bialetti-macinacaffe-review/, the later one will score higher in Google rankings. 

    Improving readability

    You can test your content before releasing it, such as by using tools that measure its readability score. If your content has a high readability score that means that it is simple to understand (for example, a value between 60 and 80 should be easy for a 12–15-year-old to understand). If you have content ready which you would like to test for readability, you can try this free WebFxs readability tool. It can test your entire webpage by providing the URL, or you can copy and paste your content to test the readability before publishing.

    Decreasing render time

    Another key metric when it comes to your website ranking is the render time and if you have scripts running on your page that prevent it from being crawled. What you can use to test how Google or Bing see your page is Fetch. Copy the URL of your website, then select a User Agent, the default one selected is Google. Make sure to tick the option Render because it will return valuable information such as which parts of your website are blocked from crawling and why. It will also list your render time, which is vital as multiple studies have confirmed that over 80% of users will leave a page if it fails to load in under three seconds. This means that your website's bounce rate will be quite high, which will cause your rankings to drop significantly.  You can also test page speed using Google's PageSpeed Insights by providing your website URL.

    To see if you are on the right path, compare the numbers that you receive for your website with one of the industry titans (Google, Facebook, and so forth) and make decisions based on the results to continuously improve traffic to your site. Please note that Fetch only works on live websites. A possible workaround would be to create a preview environment and then use the link in Fetch to test your content before publishing it.

    Metadata in CaaS

    Implementing snippets

    When talking about metadata, there are two types, website and content metadata. One way to understand the difference between website and content metadata is that structural (or website) metadata defines the form fields for the information you want to gather and descriptive (or content) metadata provides the values for those fields. Simply put, website metadata determines the structure or layout of the page and content metadata then passes the content into the layout. Metadata definitions that can be defined and move along with the content via API. 

    To add metadata, it's recommended to use snippets. This will allow you to add metadata to any content type, and if you create a similar content type, snippets can be reused for that purpose. For example, if your website is going to contain both articles and landing pages, they'll use different content types but they will require similar metadata for sharing on social media

    A screenshot of a metadata snippet all set up.

    Schema.org provides a collection of shared vocabularies webmasters can use to mark up their pages in ways that can be understood by the major search engines including Google, Bing, and Yandex. In other words, while you are creating snippets it is recommended to use the parameters provided in schema.org if you want to significantly improve the ranking of your published content.

    Implementing content groups

    Another thing that you can do is create a content group, name it "Metadata", and either add the snippet you created before or add at least two text elements called Meta keywords and Meta description and a third URL slug element with the name URL pattern. If you decide to do this, the benefit is that your content creators won't have to think about metadata while writing content. Content creators can focus on their daily tasks and later on, once the content has been finalized, SEO people can come along and tie it all together.

    Using content groups for metadata

    Make sure that your URL is SEO-friendly. You can make all the fields mandatory and even limit them to a specific number of keywords that you allow, which will result in content developers resolving your SEO while creating new content. Content groups can also be used together with the schema.org parameters to achieve the best possible result. For example, if you were to create a content group named Books, you would check the properties that define a book according to schema.org

    Now, besides the obvious information such as the title of the book and the author, what you can do to further improve the visibility of your content is add the properties suggested by schema.org. For the sake of our example, say you want to list all the available formats of a book. You'd go to your content type named Books, create a content group named Formats, then add a Multiple choice field with the name bookFormat, and provide the values listed for book schemas.

    Sitemaps

    Sitemaps are very important for SEO. To be clear, they don’t help you with better search rankings, but the benefits of sitemaps are faster indexation, better indexation of deep pages, and monitoring of indexed pages. Here's what Google has to say about sitemaps: A sitemap is a file where you can list the web pages of your site to tell Google and other search engines about the organization of your site content. In other words, sitemaps are a hierarchy. 

    What is recommended is to organize your content with taxonomies. You can use taxonomy to represent your website hierarchy and assign content items to their locations in the hierarchy. Another way they can be managed is like navigation menus. That article explains three possible ways to deal with hierarchy depending on the particular use case.

    What's next?

    As you can see, if you choose to adopt the CaaS model against the traditional CMS, and have the right approach, you can be sure that your rankings can only go one way and that is up. You have learned about various ways of optimizing content and organizing metadata and what tools you can use in order to achieve the best possible result.