SEO Best Practices when using Sitecore

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July 16, 2019

Sitecore is gaining traction as one of the most popular paid CMS platforms for websites in 2019. Its customisable framework allows digital marketers greater flexibility of what they can do with their website, compared to many platforms on the market.

This customisation selling point all comes from the development side though. If you want to change things after launch date, it could be a potential headache for both parties to fix in terms of time and price. It is therefore imperative you consider SEO before signing off new shiny Sitecore components for your site. If you don’t, you could seriously damage your organic website traffic.

Having worked with many Sitecore hosted websites either in the office or in previous lives, here are MediaVision’s top tips for maximising SEO performance with Sitecore.

Always Use Canonical Tags to Avoid Duplicate Content

When working with Sitecore, being aware of duplicate content is probably more important in this CMS than any other. Sitecore lists each URL in a variety of formats by default. E.g. /Home, /home.aspx and /en are all common extensions for a site’s homepage and all will be listed in Sitecore’s CMS.

To ensure you avoid Google penalising your organic rankings for duplicate content issues, the simplest solution is to set up canonical tags on all your desired URLS. This will tell Google what the master URL is and will control which URL is displayed in search engine results.

If you have an international site, using a Hreflang tag to designate which country a page should be displayed in is another solution for duplicate content.

SEO Module Installations

Sitecore doesn’t have an in-built SEO plugin like WordPress’s Yoast but a wide marketplace of modules you can install to your site. This is part and parcel of it’s customisable selling point. The core SEO modules you MUST install from its marketplace would be the “Meta Data” and “Redirect” modules.

Meta Data will allow you to change the key title tags and meta descriptions of your pages. The redirect module is there for you to 301 redirect your old, changed or deleted URLS to correct pages, improving your UX and keeping your link juice intact.

We would also recommend adding the Dynamic Sitemap module once your content tree has been built out in the CMS. This will allow your website editors to constantly update your website’s existing sitemap on file when you publish or update new content without having to manually request developers to upload the XML file.

Be Clear on Stylised Header Tags in Components

Header Tags have always been an important part of on-page SEO. In 2019, it is vital the unique title of your page is marked up as a H1 – and used only once – with additional headers marked as H2. Having multiple H1 tags on a page or published out of sequence is going to confuse Google on what your page’s content is about and what it is prioritising.

Because of the way Sitecore’s components are built into the CMS, header tags are usually hard coded upon release. This can lead to headers being completely misused across multiple pages of your site and will cause havoc with how Google will see your page.

Avoiding/fixing this will require the Sitecore developers to action two potential solutions.

  • Make the header tag in the content editor customisable
  • Plan out precise locations where components will sit on the site and tag them accordingly.

Want to know more about SEO requirements you should discuss with your Sitecore developers before your website launches?

Contact MediaVision on 0845 006 0709 or email us today.

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