How to Do SEO Right With a Headless CMS

Ranking high on search engine ranking pages (SERPs) is the target most companies strive to achieve. A website's search engine optimization ranking is crucial to its visibility and attracts new clients. According to a study by Brightedge Research, organic search accounts for 53.3% of all site traffic.

In order to organically grow your pages, you should ensure that you maintain control over SEO elements such as the URLs, metadata, site performance, and so much more. That can be a concern with a headless CMS.

Although a headless CMS is ideal for delivering omnichannel experiences across multiple devices and channels, it can still cause some confusion when it comes to SEO. After all, content exists separately from the frontend layer.

This article will ease your fears about doing SEO with a headless CMS, and help you optimize your site for SEO success with the headless CrafterCMS platform.

Headless CMS and SEO

In a traditional CMS, you have the frontend, backend to manage content, and a database to store the content. In the same way, it has the advantage of having almost everything out-of-the-box. That may present some additional complexity, but it also comes with built-in options--and plugins-- to optimize SEO, customize metadata such as descriptions, titles, alt image texts, and more.

In an age of connected IoT devices, traditional CMS platforms struggle to deliver content across new channels and devices. With more people accessing the web through smartphones and smart IoT devices than through desktop computers, traditional CMSs can't keep up. That made way for a new kind of CMS--the headless CMS.

A headless CMS decouples the frontend from the back-end architecture. To put it simply, headless represents a backend-only content repository. That implies, all your content and authoring procedures are separate from the logic and viewing layer of the application. Developers have the freedom to build applications with any frontend framework of their choice.

With a headless CMS, you can edit and update content structure and metadata to model channel-specific content. It also provides options to deliver optimal user experience by tailoring metadata to help it rank higher. But a typical headless CMS stops there, leaving the rest of the SEO puzzle alone.

Why Server-Side Rendering Is Important For SEO

A headless CMS provides marketers and developers with the flexibility to connect and deliver content over an API to multiple channels. The choice of platform, framework, or language comes into play when you have to render applications. However, the typical headless application is client-side rendered (e.g., in the browser for a website example).

Google can crawl client-side rendered applications, but the results may not be what you expect. For instance, Google may fail to access page content if there’s an error in your client-side JavaScript code.Several other search engines fail to crawl content from client-side rendering applications.

You might ask, why is SSR better? With server-side rendering (SSR) the client-side browser gets nothing but clean markup, exactly what you want to deliver to search engine crawlers that are ranking your search results.

With these facts in mind, you can agree that SSR is the best option to ranking high on SEO across all search engines. A headless CMS that natively supports SSR is best for SEO.

Read More: Server-Side Rendering: The Missing Component of Headless CMS

How a Headless CMS Enhances Performance and Visibility

Recently, application performance has played an important role in rankings. Since a high-performing site mostly translates to a better user experience. Back in July 2018, Google announced the usage of mobile page speed as a high ranking factor for mobile search results.

Coupled with mobile friendliness, responsive design, and faster content delivery, they all represent crucial factors for improving SERPs. These factors are not surprising because nearly 40% of users leave a website if it fails to load within three seconds.

With the right choice of headless CMS, you can easily optimize page speed with the flexibility to adapt and respond to changes. Not all headless CMSs are created equal; public SaaS-only CMSs run on shared infrastructure and can have lots of performance variability. For SEO, choose a headless CMS that can deliver content predictably and with high performance.

6 Tips to Improve Headless CMS SEO

1. Ensure Fast Website Performance 

As mentioned earlier, site performance is crucial to having high-ranking pages. Before choosing a framework or language, make sure to take advantage of the ones that offer SSR. That also means improving loading speeds for both templated sites as well as single-page applications (SPAs). Make sure you use SEO-friendly development frameworks and a headless CMS that supports SSR.

2. Regularly Create New Content

No matter how good your content is, you can't deny that search engines like Google favor large websites over smaller ones. If you want to increase your site visibility, you must develop a habit of consistently producing high-quality content. To achieve this, you can set up a content team to manage all content production and ensure it's of the highest quality standard.

3. Optimize Titles, Meta Tags, and Other Metadata

The importance of metadata cannot be overemphasized when building applications for a headless CMS. Titles, headers, and metadata represent a vital part of on-site SEO. While crawling your web page for search terms, the search crawler goes through these areas. With that in mind, don’t forget to include all relevant keywords, descriptions, and tags in your headless CMS to facilitate better SEO performance.

4. Enable Mobile-friendly User Experience

As mobile devices and tablets become more popular, more and more people are spending time on them. Mobile is fast becoming the go-to channel to access digital experiences. Because of this, it’s necessary to place more emphasis on optimizing & delivering responsive, mobile-friendly experiences.

5. Create Compelling Content that Drives Engagement (and Backlinks)

Several websites are in the habit of creating content with filler keywords and spam. While this might seem like a smart way to game the system in your favor, there’s a high chance that you’ll hurt your rankings and brand in the process. High-quality content is the new gold. When working on your headless CMS, be sure to build engaging content that is informative, entertaining, and unique. Keep your content conversational and friendly at all times. Doing this will also increase your backlinks that will enhance SEO as well.

6. Delivery Clean Markup (HTML) to the Browser

As discussed above, search engine crawlers expect HTML and client-side rendered applications have issues in this regard. Use SSR to deliver clean and fast markup to the browser.

Native Benefits of Building Website SEO With CrafterCMS

With the challenges that marketing teams face with SEO and SERP, Crafter provides a headless CMS that supports SEO-optimized websites. Here are a few ways you can improve your SEO with Crafter.

SSR Support

SSR is one key advantage when looking to achieving high rankings. Some headless CMSs fail to provide the platform to build and deliver server-side rendering for applications. However, Crafter provides built-in support for Groovy and Freemarker, along with integration support for other backend technologies such as Node.js, Next.js and Nuxt.js to easily enable building and delivering SSR applications extremely fast.

Crafter also promotes the DevContentOps approach. An approach that facilitates collaboration between Devs, Content Authors, and Ops to “shift code and content left” without any interruptions in the development and publishing processes. Seamless collaboration among content and development teams on new features, new content models, and such enable rapid innovation and fast time to market with SEO-friendly content and user experiences.

Read More: DevContentOps: Headless CMS Meets DevOps

Comprehensive Content Authoring

CrafterCMS has powerful and easy-to-use authoring tools including drag/drop page building, in-context editing, and mobile preview capabilities. It allows marketers to create SEO-enhancing keywords and metadata for all your digital properties. Crafter Studio includes sophisticated workflows for collaborative content creation and publishing. You also have access to SEO plugins such as Yoast, allowing you to optimize your content's keyword usage.

Marketing teams can leverage these features to deliver continuous, keyword-rich, and relevant content to boost search rankings through content marketing.

Marketers Have Complete Control

Marketers have full control over the content. They can modify and update URLs, markup, and metadata. Through SEO-friendly URLs and metadata, content authors can ensure their content gets indexed by search engines.

These keywords, title tags, and meta descriptions provide search engines with relevant information about your content.

Analytics Integration

There’s nothing you can improve if you fail to gather insights on content visibility. Crafter provides native integrations with Google Analytics and Omniture. Marketers can use Google Analytics to track organic traffic, identify the most effective content, and more. These insights will be crucial to optimizing, repositioning, and delivering SEO.

Deliver Better Experiences With CrafterCMS

Improving your search ranking with a headless CMS used to seem daunting. But nowadays, that is no longer the case. By leveraging modern technologies and embracing composability, most organizations can move ahead and get things done. That’s the potential with a headless CMS built for major enterprises such as Crafter. For a traditional CMS, it can take a long time to build and deliver applications. There are no such limitations for a headless CMS.

CrafterCMS is designed to offer developers and marketers comprehensive features and functionalities. In addition to that, it facilitates the potential of innovative technology, deploying high-performance sites, and delivering great digital experiences. Marketers can create SEO-friendly content with the authoring tools and publish it quickly across multiple channels.

Moreover, CrafterCMS provides native SEO support by integrating with best-in-class tools like Yoast SEO to deliver keyword optimization, site optimization, and recommendations. To learn more, have a look here: CrafterCMS & SEO: Why Crafter Is Great For SEO and Content Marketing

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Posted by Mike Vertal

Mike Vertal brings over 25 years of operational, technical and executive leadership experience to CrafterCMS. Over the course of his career, Mike has served in executive positions at leading software and services companies. Mike holds BSEE and MSEE degrees from Case Western Reserve University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

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