September 19, 2008

DNN SEO Case Study Part 1

From Mitchel: I'm happy to announce that Tom Kraak of Seablick Consulting will lend his expertise in the area of DNN Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and DNN Ecommerce as a guest blogger on You may already know Tom from the DNN forums, DNN conferences and community events … welcome Tom!

Mitchel recently relaunched his company website and while certainly functional and visually pleasing, there is room for improvement on the search engine optimization front. So let’s help out a good friend and business partner by applying my DNN SEO Quickstart Guide to (ICG.)

Title and Description Meta Tags

First, let’s change the home page title from "Welcome to IowaComputerGurus Inc." to "DotNetNuke Modules & Custom .NET Development | IowaComputerGurus." The title now contains important keywords and at the same time much better reflects the company and its mission. While branding is important, I do prefer to put keywords first and the brand name last especially for product and service oriented small businesses.

While it can be challenging to stick to the recommended limit of 65 characters including spaces for page titles, we do have slightly more freedom when it comes to the meta description (about 100 characters more to be exact.) With that in mind, let’s rewrite "Welcome to IowaComputerGurus Inc. a Des Moines Iowa based software consulting firm. Specializing in .NET and DotNetNuke solutions" to something more enticing such as "As a Microsoft Certified Partner, IowaComputerGurus provides information technology consulting services with a focus on .NET and DotNetNuke software development." Remember, as opposed to the page title, the meta description carries almost no weight as a ranking factor and therefore acts more like a pay-per-click ad with the main purpose of attracting clicks in search engine result pages (SERPs) by accurately describing the page content.

Here is one more suggestion of a meta title and description combination, this time for the Custom Module Development page:

Custom DotNetNuke (DNN) Module Development | IowaComputerGurus

IGC specializes in the development of custom DotNetNuke modules by following DNN programming best practices and a proven approach to software development.

Link Building

Yahoo! Site Explorer (Defunct) reports about 9,000 off-domain, incoming links to the ICG home page, which in part contributes to the healthy 5 Google toolbar PageRank. However, the majority of these incoming links are from Mitchel’s own blog as well as the forums, where Mitchel is one of the most active participants. So I recommend diversifying by seeking links from relevant business partners, affiliates and organizations (such as the Microsoft Partner program, the local chamber of comments, etc) and reputable directories. Furthermore, it’s important to pay attention to the anchor text of any links to be acquired going forward. I do realize that this is not always possible, but if the opportunity does arise, Mitchel should request keyword-laden anchor text such as "DNN Module Development" and "Free DNN Modules" pointing to the appropriate pages.

Quality Copy & Content

In regards to website copy and other textual content, is a bit too wordy for my taste. I would eliminating some of the corporate jargon and then rewrite the copy starting with the home page by injection keywords and key phrases gathered from free tools such as this one, that one or even Google itself (search for "DotNetNuke" and scroll to the bottom of the search engine result page to find the "searches related to" section.) Also, short of combining with, I would reserve case-study type articles for ICG to satisfy the hunger of search bots for fresh and original content.

XML Sitemap

I usually shun DNN’s native xml sitemap implementation and use a 3rd party tool such as this one instead, but for a site mainly build around traditional DNN pages it works quite well as all relevant pages are indeed present in sitemap.aspx. While that’s a good start, I still don’t like the idea of having the lastmod, changefreq, and priority nodes read all the same for every single page. Call me picky, but that takes me straight back to my Notepad "drawing board." And lastly, to get the most of an xml sitemap, I suggest submitting it to Google Webmaster Tools, and Live Search Webmaster Center.

Robots.txt Exclusion Protocol

Mitchel currently has no robots.txt file in the root directory of (server returns a 404 HTTP status code), which signals to the search engines that access is allowed to all resources served by the website. That’s not an ideal situation as some of DNN’s supporting directories and files have no business being indexed and subsequently appearing in SERPs. To remedy that, I usually recommend using’s robots.txt implementation as a base and then adding exclusions specific to your website. In the case of ICG, I would at least additionally disallow /home/ctl/privacy.aspx, /home/ctl/terms.aspx, and /forums/afv/ to restrict access to the privacy statement, terms of use, and certain areas of Active Forum.

That wraps up part one of my SEO overhaul of Check back in a week or two as I conclude this series with a closer look at local search, search engine friendly skins and menu systems as well as Url rewriting and canonicalization.

And as always, comments and questions are appreciated.

tags: DNN, Tutorials, DNN Administration
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