A client recently migrated from a proprietary association content management system to Umbraco, a flexible, open-source dot .NET web content management system. I have been impressed by the flexibility and ease of use of Umbraco for everything from authoring new content, to front-end/back-end development, to the ease-of-use of the templates.
The client now needed a blogging solution. When evaluating blog packages, the team looked at a few options including WordPress and Articulate, a blog package for the Umbraco content management system. From the organization and development perspective, managing the blog within Umbraco made the most sense. I am the SEO Consultant, so I reviewed the Articulate blog package from an SEO and user experience perspective and provided the recommendations below.
Hopefully, an Umbraco/Articulate developer will find this post and consider adding these features to the core Articulate blog package. These changes improve the product, make SEO and User Experience Designers more inclined to use the Articulate blog package, and improve the visibility of Articulate hosted blogs in search engines. I don't have all the technical details on how the changes below were implemented, but hopefully, you have a developer to help with those steps.
Blog Business Requirements
- To host multiple blogs under a single install of whatever blog package we choose.
- If multiple blogs exist, the /blogs/ page should turn into a directory that has a listing of each of the blogs and most recent posts with links and a snippet of text about each.
SEO & UX Functionality that should be added to the Articulate blog package
- It was a hassle for the software developers to get multiple blogs in the same /blogs/ folder. There are still some peculiarities with this in how the content is managed in Umbraco.
- If there are multiple blogs in a single instance, make the /blogs/ folder a directory of currently published blogs with the following configuration options:
- Allow the user to select how many posts to show on the page.
- Set an option to show the most recent blog post as highlighted, with an image, larger text, display the excerpt/description inline.
- Set an option to show the excerpt/description, date, and date format along with the blog post link.
- Set an option to enable/disable RSS feed for the blog.
- The default settings automatically place all blog posts inside a folder called /archives/ Why not make the default folder something like /posts/? Or just put the blog post in a corresponding month and year folder?
- Consider turning date on by default in the URL. This should help prevent duplicate blog URLs and will help organize blog posts into month and year folders, similar to other blog software.
- Add breadcrumbs to blogs and blog posts. These are helpful to users, so they have a consistent experience across the site. Breadcrumbs also help Google and search engines crawl and index blog posts and content.
- Consider an option to add an on/off switch that would add a meta noindex tag in the header of tag pages. Often these pages aren't incredibly useful to search engine crawlers.
- When published, blog posts should be added to global sitemap.xml file. This is an XML file with a list of all of the important web pages on a website, it is used by search engines to determine which pages to crawl first and can be useful in notifying search engines that you have new content available.
- By default, both category and tags should be switched to lowercase and spaces should be replaced with hyphens before the tags and categories are written into URLs. Not doing this, you end up with category and tag URLs that look like this.