This is a continuation of the questions I was asked during a webinar presentation on website architecture. Before and during he presentation I was submitted over 70 question and each week I've been answering a handful of them. You can check out Parts one, two, three, four and five. Each of these Q&A has a lot of good information covering a variety of topics. Let's continue with the next round of questions...
How do you rank WordPress as a CMS?
It depends on the context of your question. Like any CMS Wordpress has it's pros and cons. But the question is, what do you want to do with it? As a blogging platform Wordpress is great. I like that fact that it is open source allowing plugins to be created fairly easily. You can get Wordpress to do just abut anything you want without having to hack up the source code.
If you're looking to use Wordpress in another fashion then you'll simply have to weigh that against other CMS programs. Investigate thoroughly to make sure you'll be able to do what you need in order to accomplish your goals
How about optimizing for password protected areas such as online educational courses? The site is in drupal.
If you have password protected an area of your site properly then optimizing it won't do much good. Search engines are unable to request a password so they would have no way to get past that barrier into the content. You'll have to decide what's more important, getting that content indexed in the search engines or keeping it hidden from anybody without a password. It's difficult to accomplish both.
Although you can make snippets of the content available on protected pages. For the sake of simplicity I'll assume that you have a bunch of articles that you want people to pay to subscribe to. For each article you can create a page that displays a paragraph or two of that content. A link at the end would be "click here to continue reading". If the readers is already logged in then they are given the rest of the content. If not then they are directed to a page that encourages them to subscribe so they can read the rest of the content.
Use that page to explain all the benefits of having a subscription to your content, and give them a form in which to register. On the same page you'll want a place where current subscribers can login so they can get right to the content.
Of course there are a number of other types of content that you would want protected content so you'll have to figure out what strategy will work best in terms of making some of that content available to the search engines. But remember, if you're only making small portions of information available, that's all the search engines will have in which to determine the relevance of the whole document. By keeping the bulk of it protected you'll miss out on getting rankings for a lot of long-tail phrases.
Are iframes searchable as well?
Typically iframes pull content into a web page on the client side, rather than the server side. That means the visitor sees the content in the browser, but it's not really there on the page. I just found a page with an iframe and viewed the source code. Here is what I saw:
<iframe src="/default.asp" width="100%"></iframe>
Technically, the search engine can follow that link and index the content separately. I suppose if they really wanted to they could then incorporate the information pulled from that separate file into the page that framed it.
The best way to accomplish what an iframe does but make sure the content is included in the page properly is to use a server side include. You can implement includes fairly easily with PHP. The difference with the server-side includes is that the information being pulled in actually gets inserted into the source code of the page. So to any visitor or search engine the included file appears to be hardcoded into the page being analyzed.
How big of an issue is multiple paths to the same content (with different URLs)? What are the main problems of this from an SEO perspective?
Having multiple paths to the same content, if the URL for that content remains the same, is all good. The problem is if that content gets pulled into different URLs depending on the navigation path used. This is something you want to avoid for a number of reasons.
First you have the duplicate content issue. Same content, different URLs essentially makes two or more pages that are just repeats each other. The search engines will then have to decide which one of pages should get dropped from the index and which page to keep. It may not be the one you want.
If the search engines find enough duplicate content on your site this may slow down the speed and frequency of them indexing your pages. They don't want to use up their resources grabbing page after page of dupes so they'll likely index fewer pages before moving on and possibly not return as frequently for further rounds of indexing.
Finally, by having duplicate pages out there you will very likely be splitting your incoming link juice. If you can consolidate both your internal and external inbound links to a single page then that page will perform far better in the search results than if the link flow is split to several other pages that may have already been dropped from the search engine's index.
A site overhaul can cause a duplicate URL for content pages. For instance old site used http://domain.com/product/1.html new site uses http://domain.com/products/1/. Since this might create a duplicate content issue, should a redirect be used to push the old URL to the new URL?
The only way this would create duplicate content is if you left the content at the old location. Typically the content would be removed from the old location in favor of the new location. But yes, you do want to implement redirects. Even if the content is no longer at the old location, you want to redirect any visitors and search engines who would frequent back to that old location so they find the new location.
Is it a bad practice to use alloneword file names? i.e. productsandservices.asp siteanddata.asp
No, not at all. I tend to use dashes because it's easier to read but there are also inherit usability issues with doing that. For that reason I don't like hyphens in the domain name, but don't have any real problems with them in the page filename. But either way, the search engines can decipher well enough what the words are in the file name based on the content of the page.
What are the rules for naming files to get a good ranking
There really are none. My suggestion is you use keywords in the file names but don't make them too long. If you use hyphens, don't use more than two if you can help it. If you use a keyword in a sub-directory then you don't necessarily need to use it in the file name too. There is nothing wrong with doing so, but just be wise about it.
That's about it, really. Filenames are not given a whole lot of weight. They can help, but they won't give you rankings all by themselves.
Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.
If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.
Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.
Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.
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