Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a hot topic these days and you want to ensure that your site is discoverable by the crawlers that index the World Wide Web. One of the most frequent questions we get from new clients is "How will the public find our site?" You are going to want your on-site SEO be as easy and automated as possible.
Deploying Plone as your Content Management System has many advantages such as making it easy to keep your content fresh and add new content easily, but it also handles many of these SEO tasks for you. Quite often we have launched a Plone site and had Google index most of the site in a matter of days without any additional work. Searches for key phrases that are relevant to our content quickly surface in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
So without further ado, here is the list:
Automatic <title> tag generation with page and site title
The <title> tag is important for a couple of reason. First, on the SERP, it is used typically as the heading for that result. The second benefit is that the Search Engines weight these keywords a bit more heavily and having relevant terms here is especially important.
Easy control of the description <meta> tag
Just like the <title> tag, the description <meta> tag is used to display text on the SERP and it is also considered as indexable text by the crawlers.
Keyword rich, human-readable URL structure
Plone will automatically take the title of your page in the site and create an ID that is used in the URL by separating the words with hyphens. In the SEO world, the search engines will use these as additional keywords when indexing the content. The folders that are above your page in the site also are used as segments in the URL for additional keywords and context. This performs much better than a URL like this:
Plone will create URLs that look more like this:
Automatic XML Sitemap file generation
Many of the search engines will allow you to help its crawlers index your site more efficiently by submitting a XML file that describes the structure of your content. This can help ensure that you have the maximum coverage of your content indexed. Google goes so far as to give you tools to show you how much of that sitemap has been indexed and lets you know how often it checks with your site.
Automatic "breadcrumb" navigation generation
"Breadcrumb" navigation allows your pages to contain more keywords based on the folders that are above the current page in the site. Since the folders above should have titles with relevant keywords to your content, this can add a small boost to the relevance of your page.
Useful 404 page
Plone will respond to requests for pages that do not exist with the correct status code, 404, and will also suggest content that you may have been looking for by querying the site using keywords from the URL entered. This helps humans, and it also provides links to pages that may have moved to crawlers.
Built-in editor encourages appropriate use of header tags
Plone will use an <h1> tag around the title of the page in your site and any headings or subheadings in your content are converted into <h2> or <h3> tags and so on. This will help highlight what should be the important concepts in your content and give more weight to the headings. The search engines value well-structured content and can use this structure to determine the relevance of keywords in your content.
Built-in support for analytics such as Google Analytics
This is related to the appropriate usage of headers in your pages. The search engines will place some favor on pages that are valid. You get some extra credit here for knowing what you are doing.
Easily exposes Dublin Core metadata
The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) has taken on the task of developing a standard set of interoperable metadata standards for a broad ranges of purposes. Plone allows the site to expose these as additional <meta> tags in the <head> of your page. These additional metadata tags can be used by any system that also understands the Dublin Core and search engines can choose to weight this additional information when indexing your site.
Not many systems can say they cover as many areas for SEO out of the box as Plone does. In addition,there are even some community contributed add-ons that can increase the on site SEO of your site even further.
The whole reason to have a website is to have people find it. Using Plone can increase the chances of that happening with less effort from the members of your organization.