There are often cases where a business will choose to develop a custom content management system (CMS) rather than buying something off the shelf. I have some first hand experience building my own content management system and can testify that if it's implemented corrrectly it will rank as well as any commercial CMS powered website. The key to a developing a good CMS is to first understand the purpose of your website (requirements) and secondly to design the framework (database, business logic, GUI) to support it. There are also some fundamental SEO related guidelines you should build into your proprietary CMS if you hope to rank well in the search engines.

  • Unique Meta Tags: Each page on your website should allow for unique meta tags. This will keep your site away from any supplemental index issues and allow you to rank for a broader range of keywords.
  • URL Rewriter: Stay away from dynamic URLs/querystring variables to load content, static URLs are the only way to go. Keywords in the URL are an important ranking factor so make sure to use relevant kewyords in your static URLs. Creating static URLs often requires parsing your URL for keywords so that you can query your database for the correct content.
  • Links: To help search spiders easily crawl throughout the site, add the ability to have unique links within the body content and footer. Implementing a strategy such as bread crumb navigation (with keyword rich anchor text) is both useful for crawlability and search engine rankings.
  • Content/Keyword Insertion: Not only should your content be unique for each page, you should also allow for your CMS to dynamically insert relevant keywords into your content for image alt tags, links, page copy, and meta tags.

July 3, 2008

Manoj has been in the Digital marketing industry for over 10 years with experience at some of Canada's largest companies: WestJet and Shaw Communications. Manoj first started in the search marketing industry with Enquiro Search Solutions, where he spearheaded web analytics, SEO Training and the development of cutting edge search marketing solutions for clients. Manoj is also an entrepreneur in the Mobile and Local Deals space.

Manoj is a Professional Speaker having participated at events such as Web Analytics Congress (Amsterdam), Emetrics, Web Analytics Xchange, WebTrends Engage, Internet Marketing Conference, Social Media Innovation Summit and Search Engine Strategies. He has also contributed to several leading online publications such as: Search Engine Land, Marketing Pilgrim, WebProNews, Search Engine Guide and the Web Analytics Assocation.

He founded and successfully sold Web Analytics World (a top 100 Digital Marketing Blog – and was voted #39th Most Influential Digital Marketer in North America – 2009 (see:


Solid, well-proven points - thanks. I hadn't heard of number 4 before though. Well, I've known that img alt tags can help with SEO. However, I had never thought about inserting those dynamically. Can you expand on what you mean by that? How do you determine which copy to dynamically use as the alt source?


Some good points.

Also some other critical ones:

Make sure the CMS handles missing pages correctly with 404 HTTP headers else you can have all sorts of problems with google indexing existing pages and finding 404 errors and marking it down as 'gone' and finding missing pages as present etc None of which helps your cause or the user experience.

In a similar vein don't forward using 302 redirects - bad news for your ranking with google and chums.

My understanding is that these days keywords in the url isn't really a huge SEO benefit but is certainly better for human users and won't harm . Also google etc al, are a lot better at handling dynamic url query strings these days so if you have a few then don't worry but once again, the advice is good. If you can use url rewriting then do it.

Hope these help

Hi Jon,

What I meant by keyword insertion was based around how your database was setup. For example if you had a Texas real estate site and each of your website's pages were unique to a city (i.e. Houston, Dallas, etc...) then you would want to dynamically insert the names of those cities into the meta tags, page copy, links, etc...

- Manoj


Great additional points on 404 error pages and 302 redirects.

I agree that Google is now smarter at indexing dynamic URLs, however I believe that having keywords in the URL are still the optimum way to go (especially if the URLs match the search queries of users).

- Manoj

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