Blog items tagged with "duplicate-content"
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.
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.
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:
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:
These two .htaccess modifications are critical for websites undergoing SEO programs, particularly when that site is going through a redesign.
About the Author
This 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+.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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
Chris 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.
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?
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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
Chris 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+.
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.
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:
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:
While not ideal, this relatively easy process will automatically add a rel=canonical tag on each of your web pages.
About the author
Chris 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+.