I’ll be speaking about SEO through the Blogs & Feeds panel at SES New York on March 26. This follows a site clinic panel in SES London this past month where I answered some interesting questions along with Brett Tabke from PubCon and Jill Whalen of High Rankings. Thanks to Chris Sherman for moderating this session. I wanted to give a brief summary of information for a few members in the audience. One person was wondering about SEO-friendly content management systems (CMS). I did not quite feel at ease with the question due to the potential conflict of interest given my position at SEO Samba, so the final answer was more on the general principles that should guide one’s selection of a SEO friendly CMS.
1. Segregate production from the actual publishing/serving of web pages. This is a must if you want to distinguish CMS-related issues from web site issues, which simplifies maintenance and maximizes availability. As a side benefit, you can maximize cross-linking value. Unfortunately, CMSs seldom let you do this.
2. Avoid duplicated content creation and links, or mitigate their potential negative effect by having some kind of canonical URL linking strategy in its place.
3. Stick to page-driven CMSs as opposed to assets-based systems if possible. Assets-based frameworks are harder to understand by end-users.
4. Pick an online solution. It just makes sense to minimize IT involvement as much as possible in these times, and this is where things are heading anyway. If you’re in IT, ride the wave, don’t fight it.
A more detailed review of execution factors can be found here:
Now, this being said, at the time I would have loved to complete my answer with the following remark, so if the gentleman from London happens to read this post, this is for you.
I feel that CMSs are the right answer to the wrong question. Given the number of stakeholders in a typical decision process, I’ve seen many CMS-related projects stall, becoming overly complex, expensive, confusing and with no clear ROI for anyone. Between IT, brand and product marketing, sales, operations, and support, everyone has their say in such a project, which results in mentioning all the adjectives associated with the project above.
As a result, I believe the best path is to clearly pin a project’s ownership on a single area of the organization. In many instances, I have seen that the expressed or implied endgame is to generate sales leads. If that is the case in your organization, then sales should be in charge, period. This changes everything. Now you’re not looking for a CMS anymore, you’re looking for a sales generation engine. The priorities are clear: the return on investment can be easily measured and the execution time frame drastically cut down. For that later reason only, pinning down the project on sales will make this approach ROI much greater than the original alternative. While others are still planning, you’re already generating additional sales, or so the thinking goes.
It does not mean that all other departments can be forgotten and sacrificed. It just means you build a solid foundation to incrementally improve and better serve the needs of everyone else within the organization.
In a down economy, shorter, less complex projects with clear driving forces, accountability and ROI make sense to me. Does it make sense to you? Please let me know your thoughts.