Tuning your content to optimize your website performance

Published on October 20, 2016 by Andrew Warinner



It’s not easy to create fresh and engaging content. So when you’ve put in all the work, you want to make sure your content gets the traffic it deserves. But it’s not always straightforward to figure out how. If your CMS can help you quickly identify these issues, that makes your life easier.

Andrew Warriner is Senior Solution Architect in Magnolia’s Services team. He is proud to have written a whole post about tuning without making a single “you can tune your content but can’t tune a fish” joke.

As we say here at Magnolia: there’s an app for that. An app that helps you check your content to ensure it’s optimized: the Content Tuner app.

When you are optimizing your content there are a lot of things to consider:

  • How does your page rate in search engines?
  • Is your content fully internationalized?
  • Does your page conform to HTML standards?
  • Does your page conform to internal standards?

Optimizing your content means different things to different people. Are you a content author or editor? A front end developer? A ‘Jack of all trades’ with varied responsibilities? All of those roles affect what you need to know about your content to optimize it.

Tuning SEO performance can involve both content authors and front end developers. Content authors may want to tweak the content used for the meta description or the page. Front end developers have to ensure meta content is rendered correctly, and how page content is rendered which can affect page ranking.

 

When you optimize your content also matters

There are things that can be checked before content is published - like properly rendered pages and fully entered content - and other things that can only be checked after content has been published and monitored over time - like SEO ranking.

When you choose to tune your content (pre-publish versus post-publish) means that content tuning might not easily fit into a workflow process, especially a content publishing workflow. You might want to check your content many times while it is being developed.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for content tuning but the Content Tuner aims to accommodate all. It gives you a suite of tests to vet your content and pages before and after publishing and gives you helpful feedback whether you are a content author, an editor, front end dev or utility infielder.

 

The Content Tuner app

The Content Tuner is part of the  Magnolia SEO module (available for Magnolia 5.4). The Content Tuner app has a number of tests out of the box for checking your pages and content, and like any good Magnolia app, you can tune the Content Tuner.

Spoiler alert: the Content Tuner app is built on a flexible, extensible analysis framework for checking and validating your content and you tweak and extend it to make it do what you want. Another blog post on tuning the Content Tuner will be coming soon (stay tuned!)

 

Audits can be fun and easy!

Well, maybe not fun, but with the Content Tuner it certainly is easy to audit your content and pages. First, a bit of terminology. The Content Tuner user has small self-contained checks or tests defined in the SEO module. We like to call these checks or tests “audits.”

You can run one or many audits with the Content Tuner app. You can select what audits you want to run and you can even run the audits on a page and all its subpages. The result of an audit can be good (hopefully) but they also can give bad news of varying degrees.

Audits have one of four outcomes:

  • error: a significant problem was found that should be corrected
  • warning: a problem was found
  • note: a minor problem was found
  • passed: no errors, warnings or notes were found. Good to go!

 

Content Tuning

So let’s tune some content!

After you’ve installed the SEO module (more on that here), the Content Tuner app will appear in the Edit menu bar:

contenttunerinstalled.png

The Content Tuner app has two main views: the browser view (tree or list) -  just like the Pages app -  and the audit details view.

 

 

The browser view lets you pick the pages you want to audit. You can navigate through the pages, expand or collapse the page hierarchy and pick pages for auditing. The browser view of the Content Tuner has two new columns: the “Audit” column and the “Audited on” column. They give a quick view of when the page was last checked (if at all) and what the results were.

Running an audit is easy: pick your pages and click on the “Check page” menu item in the toolbar. You’ll see the audit selection dialog and you can pick and choose the audits you want to run.

auditselection.png

 

Let’s look in detail at what Content Tuner’s audits can do for you.

 

SEO tuning

Search Engine Optimization is an ever evolving subject but much of it boils down to the basics: the title, meta description and meta keywords of your page. If these don’t appear in your page, your page ranking in search engines will suffer.

The Content Tuner has audits to help with this.

  • Check for defined meta description (pre-prod)
  • Check for defined meta keywords (pre-prod)
  • Check for defined window title (pre-prod)

These check to see if the meta description, keywords and window title fields of the page have been entered. If one of them has not been defined, you’ll see this in the audit details:

 

undefinedproperty.png

That handy button there will take you to the page editor of the Pages app where you can enter the meta description property for the page.

 

Ensuring that content appears in rendered pages

Just because the page authors have done their job well and entered everything they should does not necessarily mean that the content appears in rendered pages.

The Content Tuner has audits for that too:

  • Check if the meta description is rendered (pre-prod)
  • Check if the meta keywords are rendered (pre-prod)
  • Check if the window title is rendered (pre-prod)
  • Check for valid meta description (pre-prod)
  • Check for valid meta keywords (pre-prod)
  • Check for valid window title (pre-prod)

These audits will check two different things: the “Check if rendered” audits will check if the rendered page contains valid HTML elements for the meta description, keywords and window (i.e. the meta tag with description and keywords attributes and the title tag) and the “Check if valid” audits check to see if the meta description, keywords and window title actually have content (they could be empty).

Here’s a concrete example. A hapless author has entered some meta keywords but hasn’t done the best of jobs from an SEO perspective:

 

pageproperties.png

The “Check for valid meta keywords” audit expects at least three keywords and, no cheating, all the keywords have to be at least four characters long. “Check for valid meta keywords” will catch this kind of mistake.

There’s one last SEO audit that can be useful: “Check length of defined meta description”.

Search engines give some weight to the meta description in their rankings but only up to a point: most search engines look at the first 160 characters of the meta description and ignore the rest. “Check length of defined meta description”’s job is simple: it will warn you if your meta description is longer than 160 characters.

 

Internationalization auditing

If you have an internationalized site and you have many pages, each with many components, each with one or more internationalized fields, you may struggle with figuring out whether all those fields have content for all your site’s languages.

The “Check for I18N coverage” audit will do that job for you. It will crawl your whole page checking each component for missing internationalized fields and report what’s missing:

 

i18ncoverage.png

“Check for I18N coverage” can do more than that: you can tweak it to ignore fields that don’t interest you.

Internationalization coverage isn’t an all-or-nothing check. You can set thresholds for judging the coverage: 90% is a pass, 80% to 90% is a warning, below 80% is an error.

(Spoiler alert! Tweaking audits to make them do what you want will be the subject of a blog post coming soon!)

 

Dead link auditing

Checking all the links that appear in a page is another onerous job and is not always straightforward, considering that links might come from content or from templates. “Check for dead links” can help you with that.

Like the I18N coverage audit, “Check for dead links” will check all links it finds in your rendered page and note any links that don’t work.

 

HTML auditing

The last audit we’ll look at is: “Check for valid HTML”.

Checking the HTML of your rendered page can be done in lots of ways, but this audit shows the extensibility of the Content Tuner; the Content Tuner doesn’t validate the HTML itself, it renders the page and ships the result off to the W3C HTML validation service to do the heavy lifting and records any problems found.

It’s not hard to imagine integrating other external services into the Content Tuner. Fortunately it is easy to integrate outside services into the SEO module’s analysis framework and make them available in the Content Tuner.

We would love to hear about other services you would like to use in the Content Tuning app.

 

The Results

I’ve shown you snippets of the audit details view. Here’s what else it can show you:

Running one or more audits might turn up lots of problems - errors, warnings and notes. The most severe is shown for the audit status. The audit status column gives you the bad (or good) news, but it doesn’t give the details: that’s what the audit details view does.

If you double click on a page that has been audited, or select a page and then click on the “View details” workbench menu item, the Audit Details view opens.

The audit details view has an overview showing how many errors, warnings and notes were found and expandable sections for each audit run telling exactly was found..  

 

 

The audit details view also has a couple of extra useful tools in its toolbar: you can export the audit results into an Excel spreadsheet.

Future Directions

What’s next for the Content Tuning app?

More auditors, of course. More auditors with integrations to external services for analysis (especially SEO services). More compliance type auditors.

The Content Tuner doesn’t force any audits on you. However, it’s easy to see audits taking part in a workflow or publication, to enforce bottom-line ‘must-conform checks’ or to inform others when a published page fails to meet them.

So we’re looking for feedback from you on what you'd like to see in the Content Tuner app. Don’t be shy!

 



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About the author Andrew Warinner

Andrew Warinner is Senior Solution Architect in Magnolia’s Services team. He has wide ranging experience in product development and management, technical leadership and people management. He's a keen reader and also a very prolific writer on quora. Andrew is originally from Illinois (U.S.) but has lived in Switzerland for longer than he'd like to admit.


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