After the fact SEO work-arounds create major challenges for websites entrenched with antiquated systems using CMS (content management systems) or custom CRM (customer relationship management) platforms for portals or e-commerce websites.
I must admit, I am an advocate of SEO from the start and building the platform with an optimization goal in mind. However, often enough it isn’t until it is too late that businesses realize that their custom platform is great (for end users) however search engines cannot see it due to programming preferences, data platforms or coding etiquette that exists outside the bounds of being considered SEO friendly.
The thing to remember in these circumstances is, if user agents (search engine spiders that scour the web for data) cannot see or index it, there are no respective rankings. Much like stragglers (pages that are orphaned) if you have 1000 pages in your website, and search engines can only register 100, then you have some major issues to address with your selection of the coding platform.
Things such as:
- segments blocked by robots.txt *such as /CGI/ folders to keep spiders from crawling too deep into the infrastructure
- https:// secure layers for sensitive data
- sections of a site that employ java script, like rollover menus that prevent link weight from being distributed or moving about the site to supply pages starving from link attrition
The point being, for every problem there is a solution, otherwise it wouldn’t be a problem, and it is not a solution if it causes more problems. Hence, in most instances SEO’s are expected to create workarounds that not only hinge on the old platform, but are also capable of impressing and leaving their mark on search engines.
In circumstances such as this, creating a hybrid segment of the site can be just what the doctor ordered. Although there are many distinct ways to address this, we will just examine a few examples one could utilize as a viable alternative for a site that is not SEO friendly.
Creating SEO Friendly Features for Non SEO Friendly Platforms
1) Migration of platforms
2) sub folders using optimized naming conventions
3) managing link flow and landing page selection
Although this is not the easiest, sometime migrating to a new platform (at least partially) can infuse your site with the elements it needs. Although in some instances, starting fresh isn’t a bad idea, if long term longevity is the goal.
In the past week, we have been approached by 4 companies who all have a similar dilemma. That dilemma is (1) they all have custom programming platforms (2) either the original developers are MIA or have moved on to other projects and left their business fending for itself without support (3) the dependency on the platform is entrenched to deeply for them to not use it as their operations and monetization model depends on it, yet they want enhanced features that would cost an arm and a leg to implement or (4) optimization was considered after the fact when it was already built and released.
Create Sub Folders using a New CMS
The solution, use a CMS system that is compatible with search engine spiders (such as WordPress) and create a segment of the site used solely to manage inbound links in coherent SEO friendly categories which you can funnel to the legacy site.
As long as pages are capable of being crawled and indexed then they can participate in the process of sculpting which page appears and in what order in search engines.
Manage Link Weight / Link Flow
Internal link management can be accomplished through capping outbound links, finding and shifting where internal page rank (the real page rank, not the toolbar page rank) has settled in the site architecture, then use anchor text and links to elevate the preferred landing page for the end user.
Without making this a how to manual, the suggestion here is, despite the fact that legacy systems exist, and they need a lot of work to whip into shape, consider creating an SEO friendly staging area.
The advantages are immense, for example, you can still have your old drupal or asp system working in the background (on the root) but still use WordPress to create friendly landing pages and call functions from the old database or page through html or PHP into the new CMS.
This way, you have an area you can use to create keyword rich silos for mapping and distributing inbound link flow / link weight as well as link to from the legacy pages to shift the order of importance. Obviously scalable solutions exist, but the main situation is just the pages are invisible to search engine spiders. This will address that with pure CSS and code that validates which if surrounded by topical content (well written copy) and linked properly will provide a solution for the invisible web page dilemma.
From there, it is business as usual for SEO’s, since your new hybrid platform appeases search engine spiders, as well as provides you with thousands of scalable options from WordPress plugins or features that would have costs thousands of dollars to implement. Now, instead of headaches, stress and woe, you can add numerous functions through modules or plugins to the new landing page format in minutes that enhance the user experience and keep the costs low to the business in question.