CMS Challenges – Usability and SEO

The factors of SEO and usability are broad and can be very extensive. However, the below points can make the task achievable practically.

Batoi Research Group Oct 25, 2011 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Pinterest

Content Management System (CMS) has come a long way. CMS may be used for Intranet information management or for public website management. While the latter requires SEO aspects to be addressed adequately, both must focus on the usability of content patterns and organisations achieved through a content management system.

While the administration side of CMS does not need any SEO, it requires usability as a major aspect usually in a multiuser environment. It is basically important when the CMS has a workflow built into. Admin users or authors need to be able to use the system to write and publish content. Moreover, the parameters of usability also encompass the flexibility of the system to adapt to the custom workflow in a publishing environment.

The second case where content is used or generated is the Intranet page. Here again, the usability factor is the single most important part of CMS. SEO is not required at all for this situation. Content organisation, workflow management, and search facility play decisive roles in determining the usability of the system.

Finally, the ubiquitous usage of content pages based on the percentage of Internet users lies in the public web pages that remain wide open to search engine crawlers. Often the site owners tend to put their entire effort to make the site visible to search engines – they optimise the website for search engines. There are many instances when they forget the situation where the consumers or visitors in flesh and blood use the website after finding it through search engines. The usability factor comes in.

Content organisation and reorganisation

Any content management system must be capable of organising and reorganising content across websites and web pages. Important activities that must be achievable through a CMS are:

  • There should be a template system with a page being divided into various parts and can be controlled independently to organising them on a web page.
  • A web page should be enabled to take visitors' inputs, and should also be controlled to make it public protected or maybe conditionally regulated for accessing.
  • The facility must be there to build and edit a site-wide navigation structure (usually called information architecture of a website).
  • There must be a way out to develop or integrate new applications to the core system as in the case of Drupal modules.

Content validation and publishing

Content validation is an emerging area of web2.0 where an author can validate new content created before publication, with the existing database of content and semantics that is aggregated and classified separately and independently. It uses high-level algorithms to achieve its purposes; in fact, there has been quite a number of startups have set their feet in this arena of semantic publishing and automated publishing.

Publishing is itself a dedicated area to look upon. Usually, the software environment of the publishing system and the publication platform are the same. However, rapid technological development has pushed the requirements of distributed publishing where varying platforms come into play like cell phones, PC, servers, etc. In such diverse platforms, adherence to common protocol of communication between applications on different platforms is a must. Web services with XML interface have been a de facto standard here, and many technologies have now evolved around it to facilitate distributed publishing effort.

In short, content validation and publishing are two important aspects of any modern Content Management System, and the user is handicapped without it.

Browser compatibility and W3C Compliance

As the published content is fully exposed to all Internet users, the usages of content happen on a variety of platforms. People use quite a few browsers, and again behavior of browsers slightly differs on different platforms – Linux, Windows, Mac, etc. The best possible solution is W3C compliance with respect to XHTML and CSS. It ensures a uniform look across all browsers as all standard browsers adhere to most of the W3C recommendations.

A good CMS provides tools to verify browser compatibility of content and W3C compliance. The former can be provided through various means; the best possible approach is to test with The latter may be implemented through an API to validate XHTML and CSS parts of content and style respectively.

Workflow Management

Workflow management is critical in the case of a multi-user environment. In this case usability of the system is valuable to achieve greater performance for the authors and website administrators. In such cases, a CMS should supply adequate tools to customise user screens with appropriate access privileges.

Installation procedures, portability, and extensibility

Usability engineering may be applied to the entire making and deployment scenario of CMS. The CMS must be easily installable and should be sitting comfortably on any platform with an easily available (ubiquitous) software environment. Of course, another very important aspect of a good CMS is that it can be adapted to various vertical scenarios by extending the system through its pluggable interface. The best example here is WordPress.

If you review the above seriously, you would come to a conclusion about several aspects of CMS that are essential to incorporate both SEO and usability factors:

  • Facility for Title and META tags of every web page created through CMS.
  • The template should be W3C validated and should have an h1 tag for each page. Javascript and CSS can be externally placed to make the XHTML content-centric.
  • Search engine friendly URLs should be adopted – query strings determining unique page content should be avoided.

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