This is my first outing here at DNN blog central so to get my blogging off to a start I’m covering a topic near and dear to my heart, which is the combination of DNN sites and SEO. Hardened SEO warriors might find this entry a little easy going, but those who are tentatively exploring DNN and the world of getting your DNN site to climb up the search engine rankings should find this an easy-going introduction. Let’s get started.
What are 5 common SEO mistakes?
And who are you to judge what are common mistakes? You may well ask!
Well, in this case, I’m not going to judge, instead I have taken the lead from Matt Cutts, who is from the Google search spam team. Matt runs a very popular webmaster video series and recently published an entry which listed the top 5 errors according to Google.
See Matt Cutts’ video here.
1. Not having a website, or having a website that is not crawlable
The biggest mistake of all! If you’re not on the web, you barely exist according to Google. Those of us in the web world can’t imagine any business or entity not having a web presence, but of course much of the world remains offline and unreachable from a search engine. Or worse, you have a third party that lists your information, but that information is incorrect. The part B to this answer is that your site is not crawlable, meaning that it is built out of technology that search engines such as Google cannot read and decipher. And part C is that the content might be there, but it might not be able to be found by search engines or humans.
How DNN Fixes this: Getting online with a DNN website is easy. It’s a fast route to having an online presence that non-technical people can control. The barriers to entry to having a website are so low with a product like DNN that everyone should have their business, club, school, organization or pets online.
For part B of the mistake – not being crawlable – DNN again solves this without question. All DNN sites are crawlable, and submitting a search engine sitemap is a simple operation. A search engine sitemap is a special file that search engines can read and find all the pages in your site.
Finally, part C is addressed by DNN by having a strong, fully featured menu system out of the box. You can extend, configure, customize and modify the menu as much as you like, but the basic setup is ready to go right out of the box.
2. Not including the right words on the page.
In the video, Matt gives the example : don’t just write “Mt. Everest Height”; instead write in the way people talk. The way people talk is the way they search. The better way to put that into content is ‘How high is Mt Everest’. Writing natural language phrases aligns well with the way people search, and it’s easier for a search engine to connect the search phrase with the web page. There are many examples of this in the world today : often people will write content in the jargon of their company instead of thinking about how their customers or other people would talk about it. It’s OK to use jargon specific to an industry - any car mechanic knows what a creeper is – but companies and organizations tend to develop their own jargon, and that may not match what people are looking for.
How DNN Fixes this: DNN includes an easy to use content editor. Just put the site into edit mode, and edit the content in-place to how you want it to look. Save the changes and you are ready to go. You can continually fine-tune the content of your site to get the best matches with the types of search phrases that people are searching for.
Above : Easy content editing using the DNN Editor
3. Don’t think about link building, think about compelling content and marketing
Lots of SEO content on the web will talk about the importance of link building, and how search results only come to those with a lot of links. Well, that is partially true, because links into your site from other sites (inbound links in the jargon) are still very important in terms of getting your site ranked well, it is very easy to put the link cart before the content horse.
Compelling content for your site is the number 1 task for a site owner. You have to provide a reason for people to visit the site. Site visits can turn into links, which turn into search engine traffic, which turns into more links in a virtuous feedback loop. But without the compelling content, chasing links is unlikely to yield results. Content marketing is also important – it is a way to jump-start the link-building process. The primary task is still the creation of compelling content. (In case you are wondering, you’re ready what I hope is compelling content right now –how about a link?)
How DNN Fixes this : There is a universe of extensions available from the DNN Forge and the DNN Store. Many of these extensions give you endless options on creating content, whether it is through a blog, a forum, a Q&A page or just some plain-old-html-content. You can create marketing for events, products, services, classifieds and more. All by browsing the extensive catalog of different extensions from within your DNN site.
Above : Using the built-in Extensions Gallery to find new ways of creating and delivering compelling content
4. Don’t’ forget about the title and description of your most important pages
The title of your content pages is the text that is shown at the very top of the page, right there in the browser. It’s also shown on the page header when you print a page out, and is [usually] the top line of block of content shown in a search engine results page (SERP in the jargon).
The description of your page lurks deeper beneath the surface. That’s the part that sits within the html of the page, ready for search engine programs (bots in the jargon) to read your page and try and figure out what it’s about. The description not usually seen by regular visitors, but search engines regularly use it in the block of content shown in the results page – the SERP.
And that’s why your title and description are important. Drilling down, it’s actually for two reasons. The first is that search engines read and understand the title and the description, and it is an input factor into the decision to associate the page with specific search phrases. You can’t stuff the description and title full of all sorts of different keywords because there’s a limit to how many you can use. So you must choose carefully, and your careful choice reveals what you think the page is about.
The second reason for the importance of title and description are because, as I’ve already stated, these make up the header and first couple of lines of text for when your site does appear in the search results. And a descriptive title and well-written description will garner more clicks to your site from the SERP (clickthroughs in the jargon).
How DNN Fixes this : DNN makes it very simple to edit the page title and description for all the pages on your site. In the page settings, you can specify the title of the page, and the description. You can concentrate on getting the message right, and not on how you have to implement it.
Above : Setting the Page Title and Description for a DNN page – simple and easy
5. Not using webmaster resources and learning about how Google works and what SEO is about.
Google and Bing and other search engines provide Webmaster resources in the form of webmaster accounts. Once you verify that you own a particular site (usually by adding a file or a piece of code to your home page), then you can access a wealth of information about your site. This is very useful information about your site : you can see any errors that a search engine is finding, see what the common search terms your site is matching for, and generally gather actionable information about how search engines see your site and how customers are finding it.
How DNN Fixes this : DNN makes it easy to verify your site, submit your site and submit your search engine sitemap. This makes it a simple task to hook your site up to Search Engine Webmaster services.
Concluding : How DNN can fix 5 common SEO mistakes
There was a time when a CMS like DNN was considered the worst sin you could make in terms of attracting the attention of search engines and their large amounts of traffic. Thanks to incremental improvements in the DNN platform, and search engines which are better at understanding more advanced website technologies like DNN, the gap has been closed. You can now achieve many SEO tasks simply with DNN, and getting into more powerful techniques is easily within reach. But those are topics for another day.
If you’re not familiar with how DNN can achieve all of the tasks shown in this post, you should get your free trial today. It’s a fully-functional DNN site created for you to try out for 14 days. Go get your free trial now!