SEO Plugins for Textpattern
There are many things I love about Textpattern (enough, in fact, to help write a book), but one of the most powerful aspects its architecture offers is the complete blank slate for web professionals to integrate their designs. Unlike Wordpress’ themes or the difficult customization of Drupal, TXP provides — literally — an empty field in which to construct templates. For a control freak like me, it’s an essential attribute.
Because of Textpattern’s completely open approach to templates, there is no pre-determined means or inherent best practices for building search engine optimization into a website. The web developer must implement optimization themselves. Thankfully, we have a little help from the plugin community.
Websites wishing to even get into the SEO game have to ante up with some solid metadata. There are a couple plugins out there that help generate good meta, including the following:
- rah_metas is a clever plugin that outputs most of the content that appears inside the
<head>tag; you can define the page’s character set, language, author, robots, keywords, and a description extracted from either the body or the excerpt.
- art_meta_description is designed to output the meta description. It uses the same technique as rah_metas; you choose your source (body or excerpt) and the maximum number of words or characters.
Of course, with a few conditional tags and custom fields, creating custom metadata for every page is not too difficult. I wrote about it previously, but that was written before version 4 and a lot of things have changed. The best text I can offer is actually the one I wrote for Textpattern Solutions, which covers custom metadata for individual articles, section landing pages, category landing pages, and the homepage.
One aspect of SEO that I have personally seen affect rankings, and one which was confirmed by others when I was doing research for my other book (cough), is the actual URL of a web page. Textpattern’s messy mode is just no good. Using clean URLs with keywords in the string can dramatically affect performance, and there are several plugins that expand the native functionality:
- gbp_permanent_links is the newest and best at controlling URLs. It provides a comprehensive set of conditional rules developers can use to dictate different URL structures. For instance, a blog might be /year/month/day/title-of-post, whereas a static section in the same site might be /section/web-page or even /section/category/web-page. I use it on this site and it works wonderfully.
- ajw_clean_feed creates clean URLs for RSS feeds. TXP’s built-in RSS strings are ugly database calls, but this plugin supports all types of clean configurations. Great for creating feeds for specific categories, comments and more.
More Plugins for SEO
- asy_sitemap is a brilliant plugin that aggregates your articles into an XML-based Google Sitemap. Requires you to have an account, but makes the sitemap creation and submission process unbelievably effortless.
- tru_tags enables complete tagging functionality, including article tagging, a special tag URL, tag cloud generation, and more. This taxonomy hooks into Technorati, which helps build incoming links to the site.
- myt_google_hilite is a small plugin that highlights the search terms people used to find you.
- ako_social allows you to quickly add social bookmarking links to a web page. All of the usual suspects are included: Digg, StumbleUpon, del.icio.us, Ma.gnolia, Newsvine, and about 20 other fashionable Web Two-Point-Ohhh names.
The Painfully Obvious
These plugins help lay a structural and architectural foundation that supports the optimization efforts of the content. Of course good SEO tactics are nothing without attractive content that people actually want to consume, so make sure what you publish through your Textpattern site is worth looking at.