Blog items tagged with "tips"

Website Optimization Tips to Apply to Your Exponent Site

Whether you own local business or an ecommerce brand, optimizing your company's website is must in today's digital age.

Below I share with you an insightful video describing some of the ways in which you can optimize your Exponent website. The video shares a number of simple website optimization tips that your company's webmaster or marketing team can employ.

Even if your website is not using the Exponent CMS, you can employ some of these website optimization tips. To learn more website optimization tips and strategies, click here to visit the Web Presence Group, a professional website optimization company that specializes in organic SEO, PPC, social media marketing, content marketing, and more.

This article was produced by Tyler Tafelsky. Tyler offers over five years of experience in the website optimization profession. To learn more, you can connect with Tyler on Google+.

Coping with the v2.0.9 Upgrade

Unlike most previous releases, the release of v2.0.9 has seen it's share of problems.  Though most of these are minor issues, they can seem to be an obstacle if not addressed.  Here's some things to watch out for, and steps to correct these issues:

Git Pull upgrade creates a merge conflict and the site 'crashes':

'Git' is supposed to prevent this, but for some reason when updating (git pull) a 'git' maintained site from 2.0.8 (or the patches) to 2.0.9, you'll receive a notice of a merge conflict and the site will no longer work.  The problem lies in two files (exponent_version.php and framework/modules-1/calendarmodule/class.php).  There are a couple different options to fix this, so you'll find the details in this forum post.  We are working to alleviate this issue!

Menus don't work the same as before the upgrade:

Even though the new navigation controller includes some compatibility to still allow old style navigationmodule modules to work...this apparently isn't true in all circumstances, especially complex menus.  The solution is to update the calls and the templates/views to the new 2.0 navigation module format.  This is a fairly simple change as it entails copying and renaming those custom templates.  You'll find the details in this forum post.

My customized site 'crashes':

This occurs if you are running customized modules (controllers) on your site.  Because PHP v5.4.x enforces greater code standards, we've had to update some of the main code which in turn requires updates to any custom modules (controllers).  This is a fairly simple update as it entails adding the 'static' keyword to the static functions inherited from the parent expController class.  You'll find the details in this forum post.

We'll keep this article up to date as things progress.

About the author

Dave Leffler
Exponent CMS Developer

On-Page SEO Tips for Your Exponent CMS Website

On-page SEO is essential to ensure the pages of your site are indexed according to certain keyword targets. On-page SEO, or on-page optimization, is the art of using specific keywords throughout the content of a page.

As a result, pages of your site will be stored in the right 'search engine deck' or keyword category, and your potential to rank on those keywords is optimized. When it comes to on-page SEO, having an Exponent CMS website offers many advantages. Exponent aids the on-page optimization process by providing content editing fields for the page elements that have the most impact on SEO.

Three of those page elements are the Page Title, Meta Description, and Page Copy (or text). In short, it's critical that you establish keyword relevancy in these three areas of the page. For the context of this article, we'll assume you've done your keyword research and move forward with the on-page SEO process.

Optimizing Page Titles

The page title highlights the main focus or subject matter of a page. The text of the page title makes up the hyperlink that's shown on a Google search engine results page. Page titles have the most weight for on-page SEO and establishing keyword relevancy for a page.

It is thus important to write well-balanced page titles that are both keyword optimized and user focused. Below are several tips to keep in mind when creating well optimized page titles:

  1. Always include the exact phrase match of your primary keyword target for each page. It also helps to introduce the keyword phrase as early as possible in the page title.
     
  2. Make sure the page title accurately describes the content of the webpage (and is not overly keyword-stuffed.) This gives search engine users a good representation of what the page is about.
     
  3. Try to keep the length of each page title between 60 and 70 characters. Google will only display so many characters, so keep your titles tight and to the point.
     
  4. Ensure that the title for each page is unique. This is extremely important for ecommerce SEO, for some deep websites have automatically generated page titles that are duplicated throughout the site. Taking the time to customize and keyword optimized the title for each page is critical for SEO.

Optimizing Meta Descriptions

In essence, Meta descriptions are short summaries of a page that are displayed just below page titles in a search results listing. Similar to page titles, Meta descriptions are not visible on the actual page (only in the search results,) yet they still carry a great deal of importance for SEO and establishing keyword relevancy.

In addition to including keywords for SEO, good Meta descriptions are informative, value-oriented, and will usually include a call to action. Below are a few tips for writing quality Meta descriptions with both SEO and users in mind.

  1. Keep your Meta descriptions about one sentence long, or between 150 and 200 characters. Google and other search engine will only display about 160 characters.
     
  2. Use your primary keyword target early in the Meta description. If you have room or if it makes sense in the copy, try using a keyword variation towards the end, but do this respectively and avoid keyword stuffing.
     
  3. Write creative and compelling Meta descriptions. Include verbs and call to action statements, and really promote what’s unique and valuable about the page or what's being offered.

Optimizing On-Page Copy

The on-page copy or visible text is what users read while on your pages. It is also what spiders crawl after they hit the page title and Meta description. Thus it is important that your page copy is user-focused in that it reads smoothly and expresses value to visitors, as well as keyword-focused in that the copy includes a balance of keywords in the right places. Writing keyword-optimized copy is not always easy. The process is a balancing act of writing with a natural, creative flow while making sure your targeted keywords are mentioned throughout the copy. Below are some on-page optimization tips to keep top of mind while scribing optimized webpage copy.

  1. Use different types of headers in your page copy. That is, group or chunk your copy based on various ideas and concepts, and make use of H1's, H2's, and H3's while separating each idea. Think of H1's as the primary title of a page, while h2's and h3's are supportive sub-headers for each topic. Respectively include your keyword targets in headers.
     
  2. Strong tag (not bold) instances of keywords in the copy. This tells search engine spiders that a specific word or phrase is a bit more significant.
     
  3. Apply other text styling attributes, like italics or underlining, to the copy. Whether or not your keywords are involved, these styling elements can offer a bit more stimulation for users when reading your page copy.
     
  4. Reference your primary keyword target a few times in the page copy. Mention your keyword target in first H1 and in the first few sentences of the copy, but avoid keyword-stuffing. Use keywords naturally while writing optimized copy.
     
  5. Try to include a sufficient amount of text on each page. Pages that have been well optimized will have between 200 and 2,000 words of text, depending on the nature of the page. Typically, the more (unique and valuable) content you include on your optimized pages, the better potential they'll have of ranking well in the search engines.

Optimizing the Page Title, Meta Description, and Page Copy is not rocket science, and neither is search engine optimization. The focus of on-page SEO is to establish keyword relevancy with creative and logical use of certain semantics. Although this phase is essential for SEO, it is only half the battle of achieving a top ranking. Off-page SEO holds just as much importance to the website optimization process.

Tips: How to set-up, maintain, and update a web site using git and github

Here are some basics of using git and github to initially get or update the code to your site.  I've found this is an easy way to initial install, and the perform updates on my web sites.  There is a little bit of overhead (~105 MBytes), however the reduction in effort is worth it in most cases.

We’ll assume you have shell access to the server, and git is installed (‘git –v’ should work).

To (initially) Install ExponentCMS as your website:

  • ‘cd’ to the root folder of your web (this folder should be empty since you are building a site from scratch.)
  • To get the latest released code contained in the “master” or default code branch:
git clone git://github.com/exponentcms/exponent-cms.git .
  • HOWEVER, the folder MUST be empty for the clone to work.  The work-around is to leave the "." off the end of that last command and then mv it to the root folder
    • git clone git://github.com/exponentcms/exponent-cms.git
    • mv exponent-cms/* .
  • Launch the web site installer and complete the installation. (www.mysite.org/install/index.php)
  • Install any custom themes or other local mods.

To update the code on your site to the most recent released version:

  • ‘cd’ to the root folder of your web (this folder should be empty since you are building a site from scratch.)
  • First save any local modifications to prevent any (merge) conflicts:
git stash save
  • Next, download and merge the updated code:
git pull
  • Next, restore any local modifications, if you choose (optional).  If you are (still) using a standard/shipped theme your theme configuration settings were reset to default unless you restore them):
git stash pop
  • Then, log into your site as an admin user.  It's always a good idea to run an 'upgrade' so the database and any other changes are incorporated. (www.mysite.org/install/index.php)  In many cases, you'll see a message recommending the upgrade with a link to start the upgrade process.

To switch the code on your site to a development or pre-release testing version:

  • ‘cd’ to the root folder of your web (this folder should be empty since you are building a site from scratch.)
  • First save any local modifications in the current (master) branch:
git stash save
  • Next, switch to and download the development/testing code:
  • To get the bleeding edge code contained in the “develop” branch:
git checkout develop
  • (or) To get and help test a version prior to its release contained in the “release/xxx” branch:
git checkout release/xxx
  • (of course you’ll need to know the release tag or do a ‘git branch –a’ to list the branches)
  • Please bear in mind the release/xxx branch is temporary and will only exist between code freeze and code release.  The “xxx” will be the actual release tag like “v2.0.8”
  • If you’re having problems establishing the develop branch when working from an earlier clone:
git fetch
git checkout –-track –b develop origin/develop
git pull
  • If you’re having problems establishing the release/xxx branch when working from an earlier clone:
git fetch
git checkout –-track –b release/xxx origin/release/xxx
git pull
  • If you are using a custom theme or modifications (in the custom theme folder), your customizations remain intact.  However, if you were modifying system code, it'll have been replaced by the code from the git repo.
  • Log into your site as an admin user and run the upgrade process (www.mysite.org/install/index.php)

To switch the code on your site BACK to the release version:

  • ‘cd’ to the root folder of your web (this folder should be empty since you are building a site from scratch.)
  • First save any local modifications to your development/testing branch:
git stash save
  • Next, switch to the release code branch:
git checkout master
  • Next, download any updated code:
git pull
git stash pop

 

About the author

Dave Leffler
Exponent CMS Developer

Tips: Resize Your Images Before Uploading to Your Exponent CMS Website

As a general rule of thumb, any images that will be placed into text modules should be resized using an external image editing program such as Microsoft Picture Manager or Picasa before it is uploaded to the Exponent CMS File Manager.

Resizing your images to the exact pixel dimensions that they will appear on the website helps:

  • Reduce the amount of time it takes to upload the image to the File Manager
  • Optimize loading time for the page the image(s) is on
  • Control the amount of disk space and bandwidth that is being used by the website

Example Image that Needs Resized

The image below is a prime example of an image that should have been resized before it was uploaded to the File Manager and inserted into the text module. The image looks slightly distorted and hangs over the side nearly into the next content module beside it.

By right clicking on the image and selecting “View Image” the image will open up in a new tab and show the actual size of the image.

As you can see in the image above, is the actual size of the image is substantially larger (1085px wide by 695 px tall in reality) than how it appears in the text box that is only 273px wide. This image should have been resized to 273px wide by 185px tall.

Resizing Images

To properly resize the image you must first open it up in your picture editing software. For the purposes of this Blog Tip, I'm using Microsoft Picture Manager.

Once you've opened the image in Picture Manager, select the “Edit Picture” button at the top of the editor.

After you've selected “Edit Pictures,” on the right side you can select to “Resize” the image.

Once you select "Resize" on the right hand column, you have the option to type in the new pixel dimension size that you want for the image, or you can reduce the image size by percentage until you reach the dimensions that fit the space that your image will be placed in.

Once your image has reached the desired size, you can choose to save over the existing image or save a new smaller version of the image.

Once you've re-saved your image to the size it needs to be on the website, you can then upload it to the Exponent CMS File Manager and place it onto the site. Read more on uploading files to the Exponent CMS File Manager.

As you can see below, the new resized image is crisper and no longer hangs outside of the boundaries of the text module. Read more on Inserting Images into Text Modules.

This is the proper way to manage images on your Exponent CMS website!