tips for using your content management system (cms) website

Content Management Systems give website owners the power to change the content on their site at will – gone are the days when you are reliant upon a web designer, or technical knowledge to publish/unpublish information, or upload new content. WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are the most popular platforms, but the market is full of other CMS products.

While CMS software has been developed to be user-friendly, it is important to adhere to a few basic rules to ensure that you are not inadvertently damaging your site and its effectiveness, particularly with search engines.

# 1 :: formatting – use heading tags, h1, h2, h3 etc

tips on using cms softwareIn your formatting toolbar you will have the options such as:
• “paragraph”
• “heading 1”
• “heading 2” etc.

These are all preformatted styles are controlled by your websites’ style-sheet to keep the look of your website uniform and to cut down on the amount of code used to display a page. It is highly advisable that you use these options when formatting your content as opposed to amending the font type, size or colour.

Although you cannot see it, when you deviate from these preformatted styles, additional code is generated in the page source. As a result, your page can become more cumbersome for search engines indexing the content on your page, or worst case scenario can cause your site can “break”.

Hot tip – use heading tags for headings and paragraph tags for paragraphs, only. For example, the over use of “headings” to make text more prominent can have adverse effects with search engine bots.

# 2 :: copying and pasting from other programs

You can prepare your content directly into your CMS, however is it quite common to prepare content in another program, eg MS Word, and then copy and paste into your CMS when you are happy what you have created.

If this is the case in your situation, it should be noted that copying from MS Word, or email, or most other such programs are going to bring in a lot of extra code (you cannot see but will affect the formatting) with it. An easy way to get around this problem is to paste your content into Notepad (or any program that strips away this extra code, ie HTML editors) and then into your article/page/post. You can then format your content within your CMS by applying heading styles where appropriate.

# 3 :: page title and aliases/slugs

When you are adding information to your articles/posts/pages, you will notice that you can give your pages a title and also an alias or slug – please see the diagram below to get an understanding on how these details are used, this example has been taken from a search query:

page titles and aliases - cms website

Where possible you can add a page description – if you do not do this, search engines will automatically take this from the first paragraph of the page. (In WordPress you will need a plugin to be able to customise page descriptions.)

Hot tip – use Page titles and descriptions effectively. When writing your page titles and page descriptions, think keywords and high descriptive words/phrases to meet possible search queries.

# 4 :: image sizes

Images are an asset to any webpage, but can be detrimental if not optimised for web. An image that has been optimised for viewing online will load quickly and delivers a much more user-friendly experience for those viewing your site.

While Photoshop is perfect for optimising images, not everyone has access to this program as it can be expensive to obtain and can complicated to use. I have located a free tool online that can easily optimise and resize images for loading onto your site:

Hot tip – make sure you fill in the “Image Title” and “Alt” fields when uploading images to your page, use strong keywords and descriptive words/phrases to boost your SEO.

# 5 :: regularly back-up your site

Whenever you make major changes to your site it is always a good idea to create a backup. The easiest way to do this is through cPanel:

In addition to the above tips, remember to always spell-check and proof-read your content, and always keep your login details secure.

If you require assistance developing a Content Management System site, or want more information on how you can maintain your CMS, please contact us for affordable website design and mentoring.