Blogs by author "ContentCzar"

Tutorials: How To Upload Files to the Exponent CMS File Manager

The first in our series of my How To tutorials for Site Administrators starts with the process of how to upload files to the file manager on an Exponent CMS website.

To get started, the Exponent CMS administrative tool bar at the top of the page has a tab called “Files”

If you click on “Files” you have two options. If you want to immediately upload files to the file server, you can select “Upload Files”. The other option is to select the “File Manager” button which allows you to view all the files on the file server in the File Manager.

Exponent CMS Admin Tool Bar Upload Files

If you've selected to view all of the files and clicked the “File Manager” option, you can see a paginated listing of all the files on your site's file server.

The Exponent file manager gives you the option of being able to search for a particular file based on keywords. For example, if you are looking for a particular file on the server and you know that it has the word “presentation” in it then you can type in “presentation” into the search box and the file manager will filter all files that have the word “presentation” in the file name or in the Meta Title or Alt Text Title of the file.

Exponent CMS File Manager Searc Filter Results

If you want to upload new files to the file server, there is a button in the upper right hand corner of the File Manager that says “Upload Files” ... You can also access the “Upload Files” page by selecting “Upload Files from the administration tool bar as well.

Upload Files to Exponent CMS File Manager

Once you've selected “Upload Files” you must select the files from your computer that you wish to upload to the file server. To do this click on the “Select Files” button in the upper right corner of the “Upload Files” page.

Select Files to Upload to Exponent CMS File Manager

Once you've clicked on the “Select Files” button you will be given a dialogue box to navigate to the files you want to upload on your computer's Desktop. From there, you can select as many files as you want to upload. In the Exponent CMS 2.0 codeline, you're no longer limited to uploading just one file at a time! Click “Open” once you're done selecting your files.

Select Files From Desktop

Once you've selected your files, you will now see them listed in the files queue to be uploaded. To finish uploading the files, now click on “Upload Files” in the upper right hand corner.

Exponent CMS File Manager Uploader

Once your files are done uploading, all of the bars underneath “Upload progress” will be red.

Finished Uploading Files

And now you know how to upload new images, PDFs and word documents to your Exponent CMS website!

Tutorials: How to Create Password Protected Pages on your Exponent CMS Website

Exponent CMS offers a robust permissions system giving Site Administrators the power to easily grant Viewing and Editing rights on a granular level. It is very easy to create these Password Protected pages using any combination of usernames, passwords, and group rights.

The permission system for Exponent CMS allows Site Administrators to create both User and Group accounts with varying levels of administrative and viewing privileges.

For example, Site Admins have the ability to create a “Members Only” group and grant that group permission to view a certain set of Password Protected pages on your website. It is also possible to grant that same group of people or an individual user on the website the right to administrate a particular page or piece of content on the website.

The process Site Administrators must follow in order to achieve this powerful feature in Exponent CMS is:

  1. Create the Individual User Accounts necessary
  2. Create the Group Account that will receive the special Viewing or Editing permissions
  3. Assign the Individual Users to the Group Account
  4. Configure the Page or Set of Pages that you want protected to allow these permissions

Creating Individual User Accounts

The first step in creating Password Protected pages on your website is creating Individual User Accounts for users to login with.

Site Administrators can access Exponent's User Account Manager by clicking on the Exponent CMS logo on the Administrative Tool Bar at the top of the website. After clicking on the Exponent CMS logo, one of the drop down menu options is “User Management”. When hovering your cursor over “User Management” there are additional flyout menut options, one called “User Accounts”. To create an Individual User Account, select this menu item.

Exponent CMS User Accounts

Once Site Administrators have clicked “User Accounts” they will be redirected to the “Manage Users” page. Here, the Site Administrator can not only create new user accounts but can also:

  1. Reset passwords
  2. Edit Usernames and Email Addresses
  3. Delete User Accounts

Exponent CMS User Management Page

For the purposes of Creating Password Protected Sections on your Exponent CMS Website, this tutorial will highlight how to Add a new User Account. To do this Site Administrators must first click the “Add” link above the User Accounts table.
Once the Site Administrator selects the “Add” link, they will be directed to the “Create New User Account” form. Here, the Site Administrator will configure the new account with:

  1. A Username
  2. A Password
  3. An Email Address
  4. A First and Last Name
  5. Whether or not the new Account has Full Administrator Privileges.

Create New User Account Exponent CMS

The Site Administrator will need to create an Individual User Account for all users who will need to be assigned to the Group Account to view the Password Protected Section on the website.

Creating User Group Accounts

After creating each of the Individual User Accounts, the next step in creating Password Protected pages on your website is creating a User Group Account for the Individual Users to be assigned to.

Site Administrators can access Exponent's User Group Account Manager by clicking on the Exponent CMS logo on the Administrative Tool Bar at the top of the website. After clicking on the Exponent CMS logo, one of the drop down menu options is “User Management”. When hovering your cursor over “User Management” there are additional flyout menut options, one called “Group Accounts”. To create a User Group Account, select this menu item.

Exponent CMS Group Accounts Management

Once Site Administrators have clicked “Group Accounts” they will be redirected to the “Manage User Groups” page.

Here, the Site Administrator can not only create new User Group Accounts but can also:

  1. Manage Group Membership
  2. Edit Group Names, Descriptions and Settings
  3. Delete User Groups

Exponent CMS Group Management Page

For the purposes of Creating Password Protected Sections on your Exponent CMS Website, this tutorial will highlight how to Add a new User Group Account. To do this Site Administrators must first click the “Create a New User Group” link above the User Group Accounts table.

Once the Site Administrator selects the “Create a New User Group” link, they will be directed to the “Create User Group” form. Here, the Site Administrator will configure the new Group with:

  1. A Group Name
  2. A Description of the Group
  3. Whether or not new Individual User Accounts should automatically become members of the group with their new account is created.

Create New User Group Account Exponent CMS

Once the Site Administrator has created the new User Group, they must next Manage Group Membership.

To manage Group Members, Site Administrators must click on the Member Management icon next to the particular Group they want to Manage:

Exponent CMS Manage Group Membership

Once the Site Administrator has selected to manage the membership of a particular group, they will be directed to the Group Management Page.

Here, the Site Administrator can select Individual User Accounts to be members of that group, or grant certain Individual Users permission to Manage Users for that Group.

Manage User Group Members Exponent CMS

Now that Individual Users have been assigned to the Group Account, the Group account can now be assigned permission to View a section of Password Protected pages.

Assigning Group Permissions to a Page

The first step when assigning Groups with permissions to view or edit a page or set of pages on a website is for Site Administrators to go to Exponent's Page Manager.

To access the Page Manager, click on “Pages” on the Administrative Tool Bar at the top of the Website. Once “Pages” has been selected, click on “Manage All Pages.”

Exponent CMS Manage All Pages

This will direct Site Administrators to the Page Manager. Once the Site Administrator has arrived at the Page Manager, they must first make sure that the page(s) they wish to Password Protect is marked as “Non Public” and is not able to be viewed by just any site visitors.

To configure a page as “Non Public”, the Site Administrator must Edit the page configuration for that page by right clicking on the page and selecting “Edit this Page.”

Edit Pages Exponent CMS

After the Site Administrator has selected “Edit this Page” they will be redirected to the page configuration form where they can uncheck the Public box and resave the page so it is no longer available to the general public.

Make Pages Non-Public Exponent CMS

Next, the Site Administrator must then go back to the Page Manager and again right click on the page they want to assign the permissions to. This time after right clicking on the page, the Site Administrator will select “Manage Group Permissions.”

Assign Group Permissions to Exponent CMS pages

Once “Manage Group Permissions” has been selected, the Site Administrator will be directed to the Group Permission Management form where they can select which group has Viewing or Management rights on that particular page.

Assign Group Permissions

The Site Administrator also has the ability to assign Individual User Accounts the ability to View or Edit a particular section on the site by Assigning User Permissions to that page.

To do so, the Site Administrator must go to the Page Manager and right click on the page they want to assign the permissions to. After right clicking, the Site Administrator will select “Manage User Permissions.”

Manage User Page Permissions Exponent CMS

Once “Manage User Permissions” has been selected, the Site Administrator will be directed to the User Permission Management form where they can select which Users have Viewing or Management rights on that particular page.

Assign User Permissions to Exponent CMS Page

Once the appropriate permissions have been assigned to their pages, the Users will be able to login to the Website with the Individual User Accounts created by the Site Administrators and will be able to View or Edit those select pages.

Tutorials: How to Insert an Image into an Exponent CMS Text Module

To insert an image from the Exponent CMS File Manager into a Text module, you must first click the edit icon on the text module to begin editing the module.

Exponent CMS Text Editor

Once you've clicked the edit icon, you will be directed to Exponent's text editor:

Exponent CMS Text Editor

To insert an image into a text module, you must first place your cursor before the sentence in which you want the photo to flow.

Exponent CMS Text Editor

Once you've selected where in the text you want the image to flow, you can then go and select the image you want by clicking on the Insert/Edit Image button in the text editor tool bar.

Exponent CMS Insert/Edit Image Button

Once you've clicked the Insert/Edit Image button, you will be prompted with an Insert/Edit Image dialogue box. To select the image you want to insert into the module, you must then click the “Browse Server” button.

Exponent CMS Insert Image Configuration

After you click the “Browse Server” Button, the Exponent CMS File Manager will open, allowing you to navigate to the image you want to insert (Read more information on how to upload new files to the Exponent CMS File Manager):

Exponent CMS File Manager

To select the image you wish to insert into the text module, you must find the image in the File Manager and then click on the Green arrow next to the image underneath the “Actions” Column of the File Manager:

Exponent CMS Insert Image Configuration

After you've selected your image, the Exponent CMS File Manager will automatically close and your image will be inserted into the Insert/Edit Image dialogue box where you can select positioning, linking and padding for your image as well as giving your image an Alternative text title:

Exponent CMS Insert Image Configuration

The Image properties dialogue box also has two tabs called "Links" and "Advanced" where you have other image configuration options. If you want to embed a link into the image, click on the "Link" tab. Here you can define the URL you'd like to link to and also determine whether that link should open up into a new window.

Exponent CMS Insert Image Configuration

On the Advanced tab, you have the option to type in a pre-determined CSS style class for your image such as "border" if there has been a CSS style sheet created that puts a border around your images. Here you can also add an Advisory title for the search engines to let them know what the image is that's being displayed.

Once you've finished configuring your image, click the “OK” button. You will now see the image pop into your text editor in the position you've defined:

Exponent CMS Text Editor

After you've clicked save, you're all done! Your image has successfully been inserted into the module and will appear on the page:

Exponent CMS Image Editing

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!

New Canonical URL Field Makes Exponent CMS More SEO Friendly

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.

Exponent CMS Canonical URL Page Configuration

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:

Exponent CMS Rel=Canonical URL Markup

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:

Exponent CMS Canonical URL Workaround

While not ideal, this relatively easy process will automatically add a rel=canonical tag on each of your web pages.

About the author

Atlanta SEO Consultant Chris J. EverettChris 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+.

SEO Friendly Features of Exponent CMS

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?

Router Maps

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:

Dynamic Exponent CMS URL String

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:

Exponent CMS Clean Router Mapped URL

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.

Exponent CMS URLs

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:

Exponent CMS Enhanced Nested URL Structures

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.

Rel=Canonical URLs

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.

Exponent CMS Rel Canonical URLs

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:

Exponent CMS Attachable Files

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.

Exponent CMS File Manager Image Meta Data

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:

Exponent CMS Attachable Files Image Meta Data

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

Atlanta SEO Consultant Chris J. EverettChris 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+.

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.

SEO Friendly Markup Tips for Exponent CMS Developers

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

SEO Friendly Markup Tips for Exponent CMS DevelopersThere 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+.

 

 

Advanced SEO Tips For Your Exponent CMS Website (Part I - Robots.txt)

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.

Robots.txt

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:

Exponent CMS Robots.txt for Advanced SEO

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:

Advanced SEO Tips: Duplicate URLs Robots.txt

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.

Modified Robots.txt file

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

Organic SEO Consultant Chris J. EverettChris 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.

Connect with Chris on Google+

Part II - .HTACCESS - Advanced SEO Tips For Your Exponent CMS Website

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.

.HTACCESS

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.

Show Hidden Dotfiles cPanel

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:

Force WWW in .HTACCESS Exponent CMS

301 Redirects

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:

301 Redirects .HTACCESS Exponent CMS

These two .htaccess modifications are critical for websites undergoing SEO programs, particularly when that site is going through a redesign.

About the Author

Atlanta SEO Consultant Chris J. EverettThis 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+.

 

Part III – Webmaster Tools – Advanced SEO Tips for Your Exponent CMS Website

If you're the webmaster of an Exponent CMS website that is undergoing a search engine marketing program, there are several metrics you'll need to analyze to measure the performance of your campaign.

Among those basic trends are web page indexation, as well as website traffic and its sources.

In this, the third part of my Advanced SEO Tips for Exponent CMS Websites series, I'll discuss how to verify and install Google & Bing Webmaster Tools. In later posts, I'll discuss how to create and upload XML sitemaps, as well has how to setup and install Google Analytics.

Webmaster Tools

Webmaster tools allow you to manage the indexation of your website, as well as analyze its visibility in the search index. Before you can do this, though, you must first verify ownership of your site with both Google and Bing search engines.

Install Google Webmaster Tools

After logging into your Google Account, you'll want to go to https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/. To setup your website profile, you'll need to select the red “Add a Site” Button on the right hand side of your screen.

Google Webmaster Tools Add A Site

A popup box will then appear, where you'll type in your website's domain name.

Enter Domain into Webmaster Tools

You'll next be directed to Verify ownership of your website.

There are multiple ways to verify ownership including inserting a meta tag in the header of your theme file or selecting your DNS provider, but the method I like to use is uploading an html verification file.

Google Webmaster Tools Verify Ownership

Simply download your HTML verification file and then upload that file to your public_html directory through cPanel or FTP.

Upload Webmaster Tools Verification File

Once your file is uploaded, go back to Google Webmaster Tools and click the red verify button.

If you've successfully uploaded your verification file, you'll get a Green check mark letting you know you've retained ownership of the site.

Install Bing Webmaster Tools

Similarly to Google, Bing Webmaster Tools can also be verified multiple ways. First you'll go to http://www.bing.com/toolbox/webmaster and either sign in or create a new account.

Once you are logged in you'll see your Bing Webmaster Tools domain dashboard and immediately you'll notice the “Add a Site” box where you can quickly type in your site's domain and then click “Add”

Bing Webmaster Tools Add a Site

You'll then be directed to a screen where you're given the option to declare whether an XML sitemap has been uploaded to your server:

Bing Webmaster Tools Add XML Sitemap

If you don't have an XML sitemap already on your web server, you can simply click “Add” and move forward through the process. I'll discuss creating and uploading XML sitemaps in Part IV of this advanced SEO tips for Exponent CMS websites.

Verify Bing Webmaster Tools

You can download your “BingSiteAuth.xml” verification file from Bing and then push that file up to public_html through FTP or cPanel/WHM. Once you've uploaded the file, click the “Verify” button to complete the process.

Bing Verification Button

Once you've verified ownership of your website with both Google and Bing Webmaster Tools, you can then remove URLs from the search index, view any crawl errors experienced by search spiders, analyze the overall health of your site, as well as submit XML sitemaps - all of which are essential tasks for properly maintaining a website undergoing an advanced SEO program.

About the Author

Atlanta SEO Consultant Chris J. EverettThis article was written by search marketing consultant Chris Everett of Captivate Search Marketing in Atlanta, Georgia.

Chris has worked with the Exponent CMS open source project since 2007.

Feel free to connect with him on Google+ or LinkedIn.