Sitecore SEO Best Practice .

Sitecore-seo

Sitecore is a fantastic platform for personalisation and marketing automation, but it can present technical SEO challenges to the uninitiated.

Why does this matter? Technical SEO is the ongoing and perhaps never ending process of ensuring that your website has a good reputation with search engines and can be indexed efficiently, to help surface your website content to the right audience. So getting your technical SEO right is crucial to your organic traffic and visibility.

As an established Sitecore development partner with an in house technical SEO team we are well placed to comment on and share SEO and the Sitecore platform.

Our previous experience working across numerous Sitecore projects, both platform migrations and existing Sitecore recovery projects, means that we have key knowledge of some of the most common SEO issues which can be caused through configuration of the platform and which are specific to Sitecore:

404 Pages

When an incorrect URL is entered, a custom 404 page need to be displayed. A common issue we have found with Sitecore is that it 302 temporary redirects to an error page that returns a 200 OK server response.

XML Sitemap

The sitemap by default includes all active pages and in Sitecore 8, ignores the ‘exclude from sitemap’ tickbox in the content section. Instead the pages to exclude from sitemaps (and so prevent being indexed) needs to be configured manually within the CMS.

Dynamic Links

When Sitecore adds an internal link, it creates an intermediary link that contains a ~ symbol. We have encountered problems in the past with these links being crawled and indexed and causing numerous soft 404 errors which can impact the overall SEO credibility of the site. These instances need to be detected and managed through the robots.txt file.

URL Spacing and Capitalisation

Unlike other platforms, when Sitecore creates a URL from a page title it does not remove capital letters or hyphenate spaces meaning URLs are easily duplicated and also contain html mark-up such as ‘%20’ where spaces should be. These are not user or SEO friendly and so we usually work with clients to improve how URL’s are created within the CMS by editors.

Duplicate via .aspx

Sitecore by default adds .aspx to the end of all URLs as well as allowing a version of the URL to exist without this extension. Therefore these alternate versions of pages need to be managed for SEO using canonical tags.

If you are more technically minded and want to see how these issues can be prevented or fixed, you can also read more about Sitecore and SEO for developers

Whether you are a Sitecore user, content manager or digital marketing/ SEO expert, we have the expertise and guidance to ensure that your Sitecore and SEO development is a success. We would love to hear from you so please do give us a call on 01233 467800 or email hello@sagittarius.agency

Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.

A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.

So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance. 

What is a Content Strategy?

It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.

But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business. 

Who are my Audience?

You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.

So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context. 

Do I need to tailor content?

As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.

 

Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:

  • What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?

  • Who are they most influenced by?

  • What voices influence their behaviour?

  • What type of content do they consume?

  • Where do they consume content and engage with brands?

Different Content, Different Objectives

 All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.

There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.

Hero Content

Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale. 

Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels. 

Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.

Hub Content

Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.

Hygiene Content

Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.

How do I manage all this?

Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.

Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.

Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.

If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.

want to speak to one of our experts?

 
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Sagittarius
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Sagittarius

22 Jun 2017 - 5 minute read
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