SEO requirements for a new website platform

 SEO requirements for a new website platform

Not just facing a site redesign but a full platform? Columnist Clay Cazier presents the features most important to ensure your new site can support today’s SEO best practices. Those choosing a new enterprise platform to serve their website are often not well-versed in today’s SEO requirements. Systems integration and indexation are the focus of many IT-minded project managers. CMS features are often key to marketing directors’ and CMOs’ decision-making. Some platform requirements may slip under the radar even for savvy marketers in their due diligence. To support all those tasked with selecting a new website platform, let’s recap the top elements to consider when vetting different solutions.

Platform SEO requirements

In my experience, the following are must-have elements when assessing new website platforms. Missing one or more of these elements likely means your site will see poor representation in search engine indices and forget an important quality guideline.


1. Hosted on dedicated IP (IP shared with dev site OK)

Too often, I see major websites or blogs hosted along with dozens or hundreds of other websites. This generally hurts site performance and should be avoided.


2. Supports basic mobile-friendly viewport features

Whether or not you adopt a “mobile-first” mindset, being mobile-friendly should be a big part of your platform consideration. Two major elements of being deemed mobile-friendly:

  • Pages specify a viewport matching the accessing device’s size.
  • Contents of pages fit within the viewport.

In short, a platform supporting a responsive website is the fastest way of meeting these viewport requirements.

3. Allows (non-secure) JS and CSS to be indexed

As Google notes, Displaying Javascript or CSS files in your site’s robots.txt directly harms how well our algorithms render and index your content and can result in suboptimal rankings. ‘Nuff said.

4. Supports canonical tag “rule sets” on all pages, specifically around sort, pagination, and faceting

This is one of the most important elements of a site platform that people miss — does the platform support canonical tags? Probably so… but how easy is it to integrate advanced rules around category facets? Does it follow Google’s advice on pagination? Why is this important? Canonicals allow you to eliminate duplicate and low-quality content that many platforms inevitably produce, and, from an SEO point of view, it will enable a site owner to direct the SEO “power” of those pages.

5. Supports ad hoc 301 redirect mapping

The devil is in the details here. Most platforms allow web admins to create 301 redirects. Many platforms insist you do it through their GUI using a complicated table and row limits. Any ability to author individual redirects satisfies this requirement and looks at the ease of their implementation.

6. Page URLs do not require sessions

The issue with sessions in-page URLs is that they commonly create duplicate content if the pages are not properly canonicalized and excluded within Google Search Console’s URL Parameters section. Few platforms use sessions in the URL any longer.

7. Supports a custom robots.txt file

Having a robots.txt file that prevents indexation of cart and admin elements of a site is good, but controlling directory finely and file-level permissions should also be something you ask of a website platform.

8. Automated XML Sitemap production (“one-click” is OK)

While it could be argued that a well-structured site does not need an XML sitemap to help search engines discover site pages, consider the following:

  • It is a standard way of interacting with search engines through their webmaster tools utilities.

Dennis Bailey

Professional beer geek. Alcohol ninja. Social media scholar. Award-winning twitter fanatic. Writer. Basketball fan, mother of 2, audiophile, Saul Bass fan and communicator, collector, connector, creator. Producing at the sweet spot between simplicity and purpose to create strong, lasting and remarkable design. I'm a designer and this is my work.