Sometimes making changes to a website can be difficult.
You haven’t got the right access or the CMS they are using is just not user friendly…
In these cases, editing something as simple as a meta description is something that requires you to use all of your meditation skills to not have a mental break down.
Fortunately, there are ways to get around this.
So discard that strongly worded email you were about to send to the developers and read on.
1) Google Tag Manager
If you have been in the SEO community at all in the last few years, you have probably heard about Google Tag Manager.
This fantastic tool allows you, among other things, to dynamically implement pieces of code on the website. This means you can add anything to your header without needing direct access to the code!
In SEO terms, that means: JSON-LD, meta robots noindex/nofollow, canonical tags, titles, images, editing CSS, injecting 3rd party JS for tracking tools, and much more.
All that without needing any input from the IT department.
A digital marketer’s dream.
Here is an example:
Your client’s blog is using tags to categorize posts, creating pages such as www.client_name/blog/tag/food
You wish to noindex these but it’s not as easy as a simple click in a WordPress plugin…
That’s where Google Tag Manager comes in, where instead all you need is a simple custom HTML tag:
By setting the trigger to be on every /tag pages, you ensure all will now have the meta robot noindex.
But you can take it even further, by following a similar process and implementing meta descriptions and titles through GTM:
Although this should be used as a last resort kind of solution, testing have shown this works and “Google crawlers index dynamically injected meta data as well.”
Another way to implement changes easily is by installing a plugin.
It’s also very tempting, especially when you see how many of them there are available for a CMS such as WordPress or Shopify.
Sometime they may also be the safest solutions.
For example, implementing Google Analytics through a plugin, instead of directly in the core code, can avoid scenarios where your client updates his theme, and wipes out your code along with your precious data.
Again these are things that you would do if all standard implementation is impossible.
Plugins may decrease your website performances and load time – yikes!
So keep that in mind before installing that arguably valuable plugin that plays an air horn every time you login (it’s a thing).
3) Work with the client’s developers
This is maybe the solution you didn’t want to hear about.
But the truth is sometimes there is just no other way around working with the people that actually made the custom work on the CMS.
Although they probably had the best intentions in mind, there may be some changes that need to be done to the code in order to better suit SEO.
For example, a simple change in the template could fix a H1 missing issue.
Or adding a simple line of code would have automatic self-referencing canonicalization for all pages.
A few things to keep in mind to make this process easier:
- Clearly communicate what changes you recommend and why, along with how that would benefit the website.
- Be willing to compromise and prioritize the changes that will make the biggest impact. I know you really want them to upload these optimized images you sent them, but you may have to push that to later for now
- Be patient.
In conclusion, as we’ve seen there are things you can do to improve SEO in spite of a difficult CMS: By using tools to make this faster and more efficient that it has ever been. But remember that nothing trumps conventional implementation, and good communication with the client is key.