DotNetNuke Has Plenty of SEO Built Into It

As you likely know, I am a user of twitter.  You’ll find me at:  http://twitter.com/WillStrohl.  Lately, I don’t contribute as much as I used to, but I still try and pay attention to what’s going on.  For example, I have an ongoing search that filters all tweets based on some DotNetNuke® keywords.  Today, this search came across a blog post titled, Does DNN Allow Me To Do SEO Stuff.  I liked this post, despite it being on a non-DNN blog platform.  It only scrapes the surface though.

Basically, it mentions that DNN makes it easy to manage the Page Title, Keywords, and Description.  Unfortunately, the only thing here that is very important these days with SEO is the Page Title.  The Kewords and Description can help, but by all accounts, little to no improvements are seen these days with the Keywords and Description.

So where does that leave us?  Does DNN end there and leave us to our own wits when it comes to SEO?  Absolutely not!

XML Site Map

DNN also automatically generates an XML Site Map for its portals.  You still have to submit it though.  In order to view it, you simply need to visit your site root, and append SiteMap.aspx to the end.  For example, here’s mine:

http://www.WillStrohl.com/SiteMap.aspx

This feature had historically been given a bad reputation, as it would automatically assign the same importance value of 0.5 to every page in your site.  As you might imagine, most sites would have pages that rate more or less value than that.  With a scale from 0.1 to 1.0, that leaves plenty of room to play with.  Luckily, DNN has the ability in the Advanced Settings area of the Page Settings to adjust this value.

DotNetNuke > Page Settings: Site Map Priority

Submit Your Site to Search Engines

Each DNN portal allows you to submit your website to various search engines in the Site Settings.  However, you should make sure that you do not do this until your site is at a stable point with plenty of content on it (or as much as you’ll have).  Also, if you plan to make your URLs SEO-friendly in some way, I’d wait until that is done as well.

DotNetNuke > Site Settings : Submit To Search Engines

Page URLs

One of the biggest weaknesses with DNN is also one of its biggest strengths – Page URLs.  The weakness is that there are literally infinite possible URLs to reach any given web page on a typical DNN site.  For example, the following URLs might all render the same exact page in a web browser:

http://www.domain.com
http://www.domain.com/Default.aspx
http://www.domain.com/Default.aspx?tabid=36
http://www.domain.com/Home.aspx
http://www.domain.com/Home/tabid/36/Default.aspx
http://www.domain.com/AnythingAnyoneWantsToPutHereWillNotMatter/tabid/36/Default.aspx

The list goes on…  You get the idea, I hope.  Luckily, DNN comes with a feature called Human Friendly URLs.  It was only enabled by default with new installations of DNN 05.01.xx sites and above.  Previously, you had to enable this on your own, and it had to be done in the web.config.  This will render the human-readable URLs to the page, using the Page Name in the Page Settings, instead of the others.

However, I mentioned that this is one of the biggest strengths.  How is that?  I can sum that up in one word: extensibility.  There are a variety of ways to apply 3rd party solutions to this potential problem.  With the simple installation of a module, you can have complete control over the URLs that are emitted to your web pages.  Examples of this are PageBlaster by Snapsis, URL Master by Ifinity, or the SEO Modules by DNNMasters.  With a very low cost, you can have all of the power that you could ask for with your URLs.

Canonical URLs

One of the best things that could have happened recently, and to my knowledge, the only thing that the various search engines have openly collaborated on is Canonical URLs or Links.  This is HUGE!  This allows us to help reduce how search engines perceive dynamic websites like DNN where it would appear that there is duplicate content, where there really isn’t duplicate content.

DotNetNuke® allows you to add this to your page, and any other Meta Data for that matter, in the Page Settings.  Just add the canonical link tag into the Page Header Tags field in the Page Settings.  The URL you specify here will be recognized by search engines as the “official” or only URL for the content on that page, no matter how many URLs are pointing to it.

DotNetNuke > Page Settings : Page Header Tags

Google Analytics Module

One of the awesome things about version 05.xx of the DNN releases is that it now comes preinstalled with a Google Analytics module, allowing you to automatically include your GA script without any programmers or additional modules being installed on your site.  You will find it in the Admin Menu.  I have already blogged about how to use the Google Analytics module, so I will not rehash it now.

Site Design: Skinning

There are many areas that an SEO campaign needs to focus on when optimizing your website.  One of the most important in this area is the design of the site itself - meaning the HTML and CSS that renders the design, not the design itself.  With DNN, you have 100% control over of the way that your web pages are rendered though the DNN skinning engine.  The only caveat here is that you need to pay attention to the mark-up that is rendered by the modules on your pages.

Summary

In general, the most important part of SEO has nothing to do with your site at all.  You need to build the reputation of your site by having other reputable websites link to yours.

There are many other areas where SEO comes into play with DNN, but this post would go on forever.  Remember this though…  Content is KING!  If you don’t have content that is of value, then the rest of your SEO work is for nothing.  Keep high-quality content on your site, and make sure your content is refreshed regularly.  If your content has value, people will link to it.  If it is refreshed, search engines will come back more often.

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