A Strategy to Enhance Your SEO Results and AEM Productivity  

Web Development | May 24, 2018

Optimizing your SEO can get lost in the mix when migrating a site. The focus often goes toward maintaining the sites primary functionality and ensuring all the existing features are working as expected. But SEO is one of the most important things to consider and develop for during a migration.

One of our Fortune 100 clients went through this very situation, and with our help was able to maintain their SEO positions and continue to deliver the right content to their customers; both during and after the migration.

This client uses thousands of static pages designed to target customers in certain regions. For example, their Midwest customers are tied to specific keywords like “sports packages in Stillwater, Oklahoma” and “home and lifestyle TV in Lawrence, Kansas”. These pages rank extremely well because of the sites domain authority, crawlable and accessible URLs, and unique title and meta tags. If during the migration these pages were removed or tampered with,  our client would see a huge dip in leads generated by those keywords.

Why are Static Pages a Migration Challenge?

These pages were a productivity issue for a few reasons:

  • These pages are static HTML with unique content, meaning developers have to manually update each page. This equates to considerable development time.
  • The QA/UAT team will have to QA each of these pages – which for our client numbered in the 1,000s. Making any design or layout changes also equated to considerable development time

The Solution We Developed

We worked with key stakeholders, as well as their SEO team to determine a list of acceptance criteria for these pages:

  • A central location to update all pages.
  • Develop a template so that any content/layout changes can be made on a single template and reflected across pages.
  • Unique URLs per page.
  • Keep the existing URL structure.
  • Meta data such as keywords and description needs to be unique per page.
  • Unique title tags.

The primary objective was making these pages dynamic, maintainable and ensuring the SEO value was preserved. Since this was a step in the entire migration project the client was also making design changes. We developed a dynamic solution in which you can update all of the pages primary content, layout, and design in a single template. When it came time to update the design for the migration or make design changes in the future you would update a single template and all the pages would be reflected in the changes.  

Since we needed to ensure the SEO value was maintained we had to provide a solution for updating unique content on each page. We came to an agreement with the client that they only changed five main sections to make the pages unique: title, description, keywords, analytics tags and swapping out the product name in a given region.

We developed a back end solution using Sling selectors with apache rewrite rules.

When a user would come into a URL such as:

google.com/product/lincoln/nebraska

We pulled a page that was the following on the back end:

google.com/product/product.lincoln.nebraska.htm

On the back end of AEM we created a CSV lookup service that would look at the incoming URL such as /product/lincoln/nebraska and find a row in the CSV that had a matching URL. The row with the matching URL in the CSV would contain the other unique information that we needed to change per page. On the back end we modified the template to look for special tags on the page such as ${meta-description} and swap out the content with the row of the matching URL in the CSV. (You can also use a variety of other data sources such as .txt or .xml)

The client was able to update their unique content per page from a central location and in the case, they wanted to update additional sections of unique content it was a straightforward process of adding another column in the CSV.

With the above solution, we were able to meet every acceptance criteria presented by the client. They could also easily add as many additional pages or targeted regions that they wanted since we went with a dynamic solution.

The Final Outcome for the Client

When we launched the implementation we would regularly check in with the SEO team to ensure there was no drop in page rankings. There was indeed no drop and they were thrilled to know they could easily expand to other regions.

The group of developers and QA team that was working on these pages couldn’t thank us enough for the solution we provided and the time we saved them. The business team was thrilled because they were getting more productivity from their developers. This solution boosted the team’s productivity by saving multiple teams days of work.

More on Content Migration:

HOW A DELTA MIGRATION MOVES CONTENT MORE EFFICIENTLY INTO AEM

AEM FAQ: WHY IS CONTENT MIGRATION A COMMON STUMBLING BLOCK DURING AEM IMPLEMENTATION?

 

 

Kari Mayhew is the Marketing Manager for iCiDIGITAL, and has contributed engaging and educational ideas to a variety of enterprises, both on and off-line, for well over a decade. She can also be found experimenting in the kitchen, running on dirt trails and cheering for favorite teams.