Enterprise SEO with the new EPiServer SEO plugin
Although I’m a big fan of WordPress & Interspire for smaller projects we use EPiServer a fair bit for enterprise level site builds. Licenses don’t come cheap (it’s in the Â£10k+ range) but for large scale sites it’s one of the more robust content management systems available.
We’re in the middle of a fairly major site build using EPiServer at the moment and I spotted a new SEO plugin which only launched 2 weeks ago. This plugin doesn’t actually optimise the page and site structure like the WordPress All in One SEO Plugin – it goes much further that and does proactive things like auditing copy & title tags during the publication process, monitoring rankings and displaying popular search keywords within the CMS.
The system is ideal for companies with a lot of people creating and editing content. They would need some level of initial SEO training to ensure they don’t get carried away with features such as the keyword density tool but overall it should be a very scalable way of optimising content at the publication stage. Giving access to basic keyword analytics within the interface is something that every CMS should offer.
Here is a neat description from the detailed users guide (pdf):
EPiServer SEO, fully integrated with EPiServer CMS at both site and page level, empowers your Web team in the long-term as well as in making SEO an integrated and simplified part of the daily activities of your team â€“ as they publish/add new content, as they quality assure or evaluate existing Web site, as they train and coach colleagues and, last but not least, as they develop or revise Web sites or templates, EPiServer SEO includes easy to understand and use SEO and findability analysis tools, prioritized work lists, SEO best practice guidance, goal setting, bench marking and SEO performance reporting.
My favourite feature is the automated auditing tool during the content publication process. Authors simply need to provide some keywords that are related to the article and the system checks that elements such as titles, h1 tags and body content contain those keywords and gives helpful messages explaining how to improve things.
The system would be better if it integrated with something like Wordtracker or the AdWords keyword tool to automatically find & suggest related keywords based on the body text and search volumes but perhaps that will be added later.
The system also shows warnings about the length of title and meta description tags, something that all CMS’s should do.
The link report section works by finding links that have sent traffic in the past 30 days rather than using an external data source. It also uses PageRank as a metric to show how important a link is which is totally useless and will really confuse people using the system. The vast majority of (natural) new links are added from blog posts and news articles and all of those will be PageRank 0 because they are brand new pages. They stay PR 0 until Google does and update in a few months time. It would be far better for the system to look at something like the overall domain mozRank using the SEOmoz API.
Another feature which I’m not sure about is the keyword density analysis for articles. It’s OK for the system to look at keyword density but to the untrained operator it’s going to cause problems especially when it actually highlights in red articles where the density is too low.
The system also allows users to set up and define KIP’s such as top rankings for a keyword, traffic over a 30 day period and PageRank which is just about the worst KPI I can imagine.
One of the more useful features is pre-flight testing and continual automated auditing for errors and issues. Results are show in an “Alerts” tab so users can log in and fix errors on a regular basis.
Finally there is a section for monitoring rankings which is great in principle but appears to have a few big flaws. First of all it is giving data on the number of search results for a particular keyword in Google to judge competition which is a bit misleading – far better to show perhaps search volume for the keyword as well as an “intitle:” query if they really want to show competition.
It’s not clear if you can configure the search engines where rankings are checked but that is a major requirement for me – at present search engines included will normally be Google.com, Yahoo.com, Msn/Bing.com as well as the country specific Google version if the domain is a top level country domain which wouldn’t be very good if I wanted to check google.co.uk for my .com domains.