So you have a SharePoint site and now you’re ready to optimize it? Here are the high level steps involved with ensuring your WCM site is ready for the internet search engines.
Step 1: Make a list of the search terms you want people to find your WCM site with. Start with the broadest terms and then get more specific. These should be terms which describe the overall theme of the site. Example; SharePoint, SEO, SharePoint 2010, SharePoint 2010 WCM, SharePoint 2010 WCM SEO, WCM SEO, etc…
Step 2: Identify and research your competition. Your competitors include any site which ranks in the first ten slots using the above search terms. Now that you have identified your completion, it’s time to research. Determine the keyword density of the page which is ranked well. You do not want to publish a page with a keyword density much greater than the site which is ranked number one. You want your pages keyword density to pretty much mimic it. How long have they been around? What exactly do they offer and why do people go to their site? Basically you are sizing them up to see what you are up against. Document these findings for each search term in your list.
Step 3: Analyze your WCM site. For each search term, identify which page is most suited or relevant. Determine its keyword density and add or subtract content accordingly – again, you want to have about the same keyword density as the page ranked number one. Always tailor your content for users, not search engines. Once your page is ranged within the top positions, you can almost forget about keyword density and focus on fresh theme relevant content.
Step 4: Ensure your WCM site is being crawled. This can be determined by searching for your domain name. If it’s not already being crawled by a particular search engine, manually submit your site. Do not pay a so-called “SEO” company (online or otherwise) to submit your site to “thousands of internet search engines”. Use some good old common sense on this one – how many search engines are really out there? Hint: you care about the ones you have actually heard of, which is likely something less than “thousands”.
Step 5: Create a sitemap.xml file, register it with the major search engines and keep it up to date. Keeping the sitemap.xml file up to date can be a daunting task with even the smallest of WCM sites due largely to the nature of a healthy SharePoint WCM site (multiple authors publishing content all the time, hopefully). For this reason, it is recommended that you automate this process. You want your sitemap.xml file to be updated every time a page is published/approved as well as moved, removed or otherwise modified.
Step 6: Secure quality in-bound links to your site. These links should come from sites which are theme relevant and ranked better than your WCM site. Do not participate in “link exchange programs”, or other shady short-cuts. Pick up the phone and make some calls after figuring out what you can offer in return. You want the in-bound link to originate from text describing the page on your WCM site it is linking to, which should be the relevant search term. More quality in-bound links equal higher rankings.
Step 7: Keep watching your rankings and continue adding fresh content. Continue trying to secure quality in-bound links to relevant pages. Do not get frustrated and try to cut corners, you will undoubtedly regret it, especially if your sweet SharePoint WCM site gets blacklisted. Mostly, continue tailoring your content for your intended audiences. Proper SharePoint WCM site SEO is handled at the page level, not the site level. In other words, let your content authors do their jobs and ensure they understand the rules.