Working With Search Engine Optimization Settings in SharePoint 2013

SharePoint 2013 introduces native support for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that requires custom solutions in SharePoint Server 2010 and earlier versions of the product. This feature primarily focuses on Web Content Management (WCM) implementations, because it is available only for publishing sites with the feature activated.

To streamline administration, the feature is configured at the site collection level. With SharePoint 2013, you can use SEO functionality to:
  • Verify site ownership with search engines.
  • Configure canonical URLs.
  • Generate a site map.
  • Add SEO properties for managed navigation.
Particularly for popular internet search engines, there are engine-specific webmaster tools through which you sign up to the search engine. When you register with some search engines, such as Bing, the engine provides a verification code that you can add to a meta tag. You can have meta tags in web pages, where each tag has a name and a value and they can be used for a variety of purposes. You can copy this into the site collection's Search Engine Optimization Settings page. This includes the meta tag in the site pages. For example, the Bing meta tag is:
  1. <meta name="desvalidate.01" content="unique code number" />  
For most search engines, the URL that represents content uniquely is called the canonical URL. This means that you do not get duplicate indexing if two URLs referencing the same content and it provides a higher concentration of popularity for the single URL. SharePoint 2013 provides automatic site map generation. This is configured by activating the Search Engine Sitemap feature at the site collection level. This registers your site collection with a timer job that generates a site map. When an XML site map path is specified in Robots.txt, search engines use it to further discover content on your website. The timer job updates Robots.txt with its path. It is unlikely that you want all of the pages on a site to have the same priority for your site map; therefore, you can set priorities from 0.0 to 1.0, where 1.0 indicates an important page.

In addition, you can specify the volatility of pages so that important pages that change frequently, such as product or news pages for example, are tagged as changing from Hourly to Never. This means that search engines can “learn” the properties of your pages from your site map. You can also tag pages to be excluded from the site map if you have pages with content that you consider to not be appropriate for an internet search engine to reference.

Term sets can be used to determine a navigation hierarchy that displays on a page. You can set SEO properties as terms that render SEO-compliant URLs.