When it comes to your website’s search engine optimisation (SEO), the same principles apply no matter what content management system (CMS) your website is built on. For example, having a well-defined bottom-up keyword strategy that aligns with your business goals (e.g., leads and sales acquisition) applies to websites built on WordPress, Drupal, Kentico, and/or Magento.
Kentico is, in short, a CMS for ASP.NET. Like many other content management systems, Kentico is a tool for building websites, online stores and community sites. With drag-and-drop page-building abilities, Kentico is easy to use for both site owners and developers.
But is Kentico good for SEO?
As you may know, search engine optimisation can be broken down to two types: on-page and off-page SEO.
On-page SEO (also referred to as on-site SEO) typically involves URL structure, including appropriate alt tags for images, optimising for faster page loading times, use of appropriate headings, internal and external linking, and ensuring that the website’s content is easy-to-read, shareable and provide value to your audience.
Off-page SEO refers to how relevant and trustworthy your website is and typically involves link acquisition.
Out-of-the-box, Kentico offers all the on-page SEO customisation one would need to. For example, Kentico CMS offers custom keyword-optimised URLs, serve content over HTTPS protocol, automatically generate a sitemap according to the Google Sitemap Protocol, and the ability to configure custom meta description. Furthermore Kentico websites are compliant with W3C WAI standard at the AAA level that allows people with disabilities to navigate your website with screen readers.
In short, Kentico CMS is fairly decent from a SEO point of view and in the following section, you will find these actionable SEO tips to take your Kentico website to the next level.
1. Go extension-less
URLs without extensions are the standard for most websites. This is because a new direct visitor will often type in a clean URL (without extensions – .html, .aspx). If your website is configured with extensions, this will result in a redirect which in turn, slows things down and augments the user experience.
By default, all pages created in Kentico end with .aspx.
To configure Kentico to use URLs without an extension:
- Open the Settings application.
- Select the URLs and SEO category.
- Set the Friendly UL extensions setting to an empty value.
- Click Save.2. Configure the trailing slash setting globally
Back in December 2017, Google’s John Mueller posted about the ‘to trailing-slash or not’ question saying that although not SEO-specific, trailing slash on path/file and different protocols (http, https) do matter.
WIthin Kentico CMS, you may leave the URL as is, choose to always use URLs with a trailing slash, or choose to always use URLs without a trailing slash.
Pro-tip: use a trailing slash at the end of your URLs to avoid any form of redirect that would negatively impact on page load times.
3. Avoid long URLs
Quicksprout researched top 100 results of 1000 keywords and found that the average length of URLs ranked in the top 10 results was 37 characters. Shorter URLs are easier to speed-read, to copy and paste, and share on social media. Although these provide very small SEO improvements, every bit helps!
Pro-tip: aim for a URL length of 40 characters or less. One trick to getting shorter URLs is by removing stop words (e.g., a, but, does, the). Read it out loud and determine whether the URL provides an accurate summary of what the page and/or piece of content is about.
4. Use metadata strategically
As part of your on-page SEO, the page title and page description play important roles in determining a page’s click-through-rate (CTR). Search engines such as Google will use the page title and page description in their search result snippets.
In a blog post. Google defined good meta descriptions as “short blurbs that describe accurately the content of the page.”
Common meta description mistakes are:
- Forgetting about them completely.
- Using duplicate meta descriptions across multiple pages.
- Using page titles and descriptions that are too long.
- Not aligning strategic keywords in the meta description with a page’s content.
- Writing boring self-centred copy.
To edit the metadata of a page:
- Open the Pages application.
- Select the corresponding page in the content tree.
- Open the Properties > Metadata tab.
Whilst Kentico gives you the ability to configure global metadata settings, you should be writing unique meta descriptions for each page to encourage CTR.
Pro-tip: Did you know that meta description length does not depend on the number of characters but rather on the width in pixels? For best multi-device display, try to keep meta descriptions under 150 characters.
5. Use formatting (headings, paragraphs, shorter sentences) to your advantage
One of the first things you should have already done is map out your keyword strategy. You can use tools such as ahrefs, SEMRush and MOZ to see what organic keywords your competitors rank for.
Headings are signposts that help guide readers through written text. Most new visitors to a page will quickly scroll down to scan for interesting headings. If they come across headings that answer their query, they will usually scroll back to the top and begin reading line by line. The last thing someone wants to come across is an unending wall of text.
A common mistake many websites (commercial and enterprise) have is either having no H1 tags or multiple H1 tags on the same page (you can perform a quick check using Screaming Frog). Ideally, each page should have its own unique H1 heading. Any subsequent headings should be H2 tags.
Before CSS became mainstream, the H1 tag was the largest text on the. Search engines back in the day would place higher weight on the largest text on the page. Since CSS could ‘game’ this, search engines still interpret H1 tags as a signal but less important.
In the Kentico, H1 and H2 tags are defined in the WYSIWYG editor.
Pro-tip: Keep sentences short with no more than four sentences per paragraph. This is because the same amount of text displays very differently for a desktop visitor compared to a mobile visitor. Each page should have a H1 (and only one). It should describe the topic of your page, preferably using a relevant keyword.
6. Use HTTPS (Get An SSL Certificate)
As of August 2014, Google made it official by announcing in this blog post that HTTPS is a ranking signal. Originally stated as a very lightweight signal, Google strongly hinted that strong HTTPS encryption will become a stronger ranking signal saying that “.. we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.”
To demonstrate Google’s position on encryption, Google Chrome (which happens to be the world’s most used web browser with almost 60% market share) began calling out websites with unencrypted connections as “Not Secure” in the URL bar in July 2018.
FYI, configuration of SSL must be handed at the IIS level, not within Kentico, using IIS Manager.
7. Create a custom 404 error page
404s are inevitable – from broken links to a visitor mistying a URL. Upon arriving at a 404, a typical website visitor will either click back or close the tab/window.
One solution is to create a custom branded 404 page that has a number of internal links. This will encourage the visitor from clicking back or from closing the tab/window and instead, click on one of the provided links. Google even recommends creating custom 404 pages in this blog post.
Like most CMS, Kentico allows site owners the ability to create custom error pages. This can either be a physical .aspx file file placed under the web project or a dedicated page created within the content tree.
To create a custom 404 page:
- Go to Content Management page and select the option Documents and Pages
- Create a New Page and select a desired template.
- Add content, including a number of internal links.
To assign a custom error page within Kentico:
- Go to Settings > Content
- Enter the URL of the given page as the value of the Page not found URL setting
- Click Save.8. Insert multiple keywords into each page
Many people still believe (mistakenly) that each page should have a single keyword. As such, they will cram a page with the same keyword as many times as possible. This practice looks incredibly spammy. Because it is.
Your keyword research should identify head terms and related long-tail keywords.
When it comes to keyword density there is no hard and fast rule. Copy should always be written with the audience in mind. Overusing a keyword will easily come across as unnatural.
Unfortunately, Kentico does not have an in-built on-page SEO checker like Yoast SEO or All-In-One for WordPress CMS. As a workaround, you can use the Keyword Density Checker to analyse your content. It can crawl an existing page or you can copy and paste your content into the free tool.
9. Improve page load times
Google announced page speed as a ranking signal back in 2010. Page speed is a measurement of how fast the content on your page loads. Check your page speed via Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.
With regards to compression, Kentico provides code minification and resource compression. Code minification and compression can be enabled or disabled in Settings > System > Performance.
Similarly, you may configure Kentico to compress the HTML output code of all pages by:
- Going to Settings > System > Performance.
- Check Enable output compression.
- Click Save.
To meet the requirements of PageSpeed Insights tool, browser caching needs to be set to at least a month. To do this in Kentico, specify that you would like to hold the client cache for 44,640 minutes (which translates to 31 days).
When it comes to CDN, Kentico supports Amazon S3 and Azure Storage out-of-the-box.
In terms of image optimisation for reducing page load times, best practices include providing multiple versions of an image depending on the characteristics of the user’s device and image compression. This can be achieved through using the picture element to decide what image to render based on the media query (see this for further Kentico responsive images implementation) and using image optimisation APIs such as ShortPixel, Kraken.io, TinyPNG or Imagify.
10. Make the most of internal linking opportunities
Internal linking signals to the visitor and search engine that the target of the link is relevant and important to the extent that they should stop what they’re reading and go straight to the linked content. Linking internally also correlates to longer dwell time (which may or may not be a ranking signal).
To link internally using the Kentico WYSIWYG editor, refer to this page.
11. Don’t forget about off-page SEO
As mentioned in the beginning of this article, off-page SEO refers to how relevant and trustworthy your website is and typically involves link acquisition.
You can spend countless hours in getting all the on-page technical SEO right but without an appropriate link acquisition strategy, your visibility in search results will be limited.
If you would like further help scaling your Kentico SEO do not hesitate to contact the team at Prosperity Media we have worked on several Kentico SEO projects over the years.