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.
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
There 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+.